Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQs and Resources
COVID-19 a rapidly evolving situation and the risk assessment may change daily. It is important to try and keep the current situation in perspective. Social media and news outlets can amplify misinformation.
Sites that include accurate information include the World Health Organization, the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Ministry of Health Ontario .
*Update Oct 10, 2020: The Government of Ontario ordered the mandatory closure of all non-essential businesses as of 11:59pm on Tuesday, March 24th. We are now in Stage 3 of reopening in most regions of Ontario. Ottawa, Peel and Toronto public health unit regions are in a modified Stage 2, as of October 10th. For details about reopening click here.*
Follow prevention tips to stay healthy. Washing your hands often and properly is the most effective way to stop the spread of disease. Visit the CDC website for information on how to wash your hands effectively.
Throughout this ongoing and ever-changing pandemic, the OAVT has been in regular contact with the CVO, OVMA, RVTTC and other stakeholders such as government officials, heads of the veterinary technology college programs, and infection control professionals. The OAVT has been able to share our members’ concerns and experiences, and we are frequently collaborating with these partners to tackle our common challenges.
Below are some of the most common questions and concerns we have been receiving from OAVT members. OAVT staff have compiled as many resources as possible, and we will update these resources as newer links and information become available.
How can the OAVT's Member Assistance Program (MAP) help me right now?
Practicing stress and anxiety management is important. Seek help from your Member Assistance Program (MAP). You have access to free professional assistance and resources 24/7 – from connecting with a counsellor to learning how to meditate, find confidential help that can help you move forward. The MAP program is FREE to all Ontario RVTs, as well as Retired OAVT Members.
Your MAP Program can also help with financial planning. Visit their website, https://www.workhealthlife.com/, for resources about financial planning, budgeting and more. You can also call MAP to seek professional financial advice through confidential in-person or telephonic consultations. For more information on how to contact the MAP program, visit the OAVT member portal. Once you've logged in, go to "Member Resources" on the top menu and then click on the MAP workspace.
Morneau Shepell, the company that facilitates the MAP program, has also prepared a toolkit full of resources for coping with COVID-19. Access it here.
How could this impact veterinary medicine in Ontario?
As of March 24, 2020, veterinary medicine was deemed essential by the Government of Ontario. It was then updated to "urgent care only". On May 14th, the Government of Ontario announced the reopening of additional workplaces. Within this announcement, the province removed the "urgent care only" limitation on veterinary services as of Tuesday, May 19th.
To use the government's wording, Ontario's first phase of reopening included "Animal services, specifically pet care services, such as grooming and training, and regular veterinary appointments." Most regions in Ontario are now moving into the third phase of reopening, which will allow more businesses to open. For complete details visit the Ontario Government website here.
Here are several resources available to help teams during this transition:
COVID-19: A Guide to Reopening Veterinary Medicine in Ontario - produced by the OVMA and Dr. Scott Weese
Workplace Safety & Prevention Services Guidance on Health and Safety For Veterinary Services
The CVO's May 14th update, which reiterates their direction. "Our direction remains consistent – in determining services to be delivered, a veterinarian must use their judgment with consideration to the animal, the context, their competence, public safety and staff safety."
As the OVMA wrote in a recent NewsHound email, the OAVT, OVMA and CVO have been in communication throughout this pandemic. "All three organizations have shared member concerns, stories, struggles and triumphs. We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks and commendation to Ontario's veterinary teams over the last two months. You have continually been thrown new challenges and reintegrating non-urgent care into practice is yet another one. We hope that veterinarians, registered veterinary technicians and the whole veterinary team can continue to work cooperatively to adapt once again as the province reopens."
- Additional information can also be found on OVMA’s Coronavirus FAQ Page and the CVO's Coronavirus page.
- Dr. Scott Weese posts updates about the current situation regularly on his Worms and Germs blog.
- For general information about infection prevention and control best practices for small animal clinics, visit the Ontario Animal Health Network's guide here.
- RVT Senani Ratnayake of P3 Veterinary Partners discusses veterinary medicine being listed as an essential service in Ontario - and what that means for RVTs in a new video from the OAVT. RVTs must still take care of themselves during this difficult time. Watch her video here.
- We polled our members for some of their most common questions regarding employment law. Read the FAQ document here. OVMA also hosted an employment law webinar. The recording and additional questions can be found on their website here.
- Should veterinary staff routinely wear (cloth) masks in the clinic? Read what Dr. Scott Weese has to say about routine mask use in vet clinics, in this blog post from April 5th.
What if I run into financial issues?
If an RVT needs time away from work due to the virus, you can apply for support through the Canadian government. While the CERB benefit has now ended, the federal government has announced new benefits for those needing time away from work due to COVID-19. Applications for the Canadian Recovery Sickness Benefit and Canadian Recovery Caregiver benefit are now open.
If you experienced a shortage of work and were on CERB, and need financial assistance after it's end, you will be transferred to Employment Insurance (EI) benefits. For more about the transition, click here. If you are not eligible for EI, you may be eligible for the Canada Recovery Benefit.
Canada's major banks are promising help to their customers who are directly impacted by COVID-19 and as a result are facing financial challenges. The banks are saying that they are prepared to help you find a solution to meet your needs. Be sure to contact your bank directly to see what help is available.
On March 18, 2020, the Prime Minister announced a new set of economic measures to help stabilize the economy during this challenging period. Click here to view the federal government's plans for both individuals and small businesses.
As mentioned previously, your MAP Program can also help with financial planning. Visit their website, https://www.workhealthlife.com/, for resources about financial planning, budgeting and more. You can also call MAP to seek professional financial advice through confidential in-person or telephonic consultations. As a reminder, these services are FREE to Ontario RVTs and Retired members of the OAVT.
On March 19, 2020, the Ontario government passed legislation to people who need to take time off work due to COVID-19. Here is the latest information from the provincial government on this new legislation: https://news.ontario.ca/opo/en/2020/03/employment-standards-amendment-act-infectious-disease-emergencies-2020.html
situation evolves, we will do our best to keep members informed of any
government financial programs that become available.
Do you have any resources on how I can keep my kids busy?
Schools are now open across the province in both online and in-class delivery. See below for some resources and activities for kids.
Activities and Resources for Kids:
Do we know if coronavirus effects pets?
Dr. Scott Weese is providing information and updates about this topic on his Worms and Germs blog. His most recent FAQ for veterinarians update was on April 30th. Read the updated document here.
One thing that many sources have cited is the importance of having a plan for your animals if you get sick. Read more at Veterinary Practice News.
The Ontario Equine Network has also put together a fact sheet on the importance of have an emergency preparedness plan in place for your horse in case you become sick. View the information here.
How can I complete my CE requirements while practicing social distancing?
The OAVT encourages members to take advantage of the many online CE opportunities available for RVTs, while COVID-19 necessitates social distancing. Our online directory contains many distance learning options, and all members have access to the RVT Journal quizzes as long as they are members in good standing and are within an active collection period. If you are unsure whether an online offering is appropriate and meets OAVT CE requirements, you are very welcome to contact CE & One Health Manager Laurie Williams with questions and concerns.
Download LifeLearn’s complimentary COVID-19 Response KitSARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19): Fomites, Pets, & Transmission (Clinician's Brief)
Triaging care during a COVID-19 pandemic: A Guide for Equine Veterinarians. (OAEP)
"Why we must suspend spay-neuter surgery during the pandemic", an open letter from Dr. Julie Levy. (Shelter Medicine)
Creating a Culture of Well-being During a Crisis (Clinician's Brief)
atDove.org recently put together a series of videos on properly putting on and removing PPE. Watch them here.
Guidance for the Isolation of People with Pets (Centers for Disease Control)
The New Coronavirus and Companion Animals, Advice for WSAVA members (WSAVA)
List of Local Public Health Units in Ontario:
Flattening the Curve: Why Staying Home Now Can Save Lives
Social Distancing Information(American Psychological Association)
Tips to protect yourself and others (Morneau Shepell)
Managing Stress and Anxiety (Centers for Disease Control)
Parent and Caregiver Guide: Helping Families Cope with Coronavirus