COVID-19: Return to Work Information for Employers

On May 26, 2020, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health released changes to Directive 2, allowing physiotherapists and other regulated health professionals to gradually and carefully begin providing all services, including non-urgent care.

Physiotherapists should only begin providing in-person care if all necessary precautions and protocols are in place to protect patients and themselves. 

PTs must follow the Ministry's COVID-19 Operational Requirements: Health Sector Restart.

The College has developed guidance for re-opening physiotherapy clinics. This guidance has been prepared based on Ministry of Health (MOH) and Public Health Ontario (PHO) information and resources, in collaboration with other healthcare regulators.

Employers and PTs should begin implementing these measures immediately. Clinics will have to adjust how they deliver care, conduct business, and attend to physical environments to ensure best infection and prevention control practices. Note that MOH and PHO requirements may change.

Learn more about the role and responsibilites of Public Health during the COVID-19 pandemic

Guidelines for Employers

Employers have a legal duty under Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act to take every reasonable action to protect the health and safety of workers. This duty is particularly important in the context of COVID-19, where there is a need to protect workers and the public from contracting the virus.

Employers should carefully review the sector specific guidelines highlighted below and make reasonable efforts to implement the recommended actions. Otherwise, they could face charges and prosecution under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and employees have the right to refuse work if they feel their safety is at risk.

The guidance documents currently available are listed below, by sector or practice setting. Keep in mind that guidance is likely to change as the pandemic evolves. It is important to refer back to the links below regularly:

Information About Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Note that some sectors, like long-term care and retirement homes, have been issued specific guidance regarding the use of masks and other PPE by staff and patients.

For all other sectors, Ontario Health has issued Recommendations on the Use and Conservation of PPE. The use of PPE should be based on the assessment of risk. Specific PPE recommendations have been issued for interacting with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients, and for performing aerosol-generating medical procedures (AGMP).

Based on guidance from a Ministry of Health update on June 8, 2020, health care organizations and providers should use this approach to obtain PPE supplies once a need has been determined:

  • Work with their regular supplier to determine when they will receive their shipment of PPE
  • Work with other local health care providers to determine if any in the local area have supplies they can provide
  • Submit a request via the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment Intake Form. A Regional Table Lead will work to see if they can address the request within the region.  If the need cannot be addressed regionally, the Regional Table Lead will escalate the request to the Ministry Emergency Operations Centre.

The Ontario government now has a Workplace PPE Supplier Directory to help businesses secure PPE and other supplies.

Important: Physiotherapists Return to Work Guidance from their Regulator

The College has created a set of guidelines that should be implemented by all physiotherapists and their employers immediately. The College recognizes that some of these measures apply only to certain settings. Keep in mind that sector-specific direction from the Ministry of Health and Chief Medical Officer of Health overrules anything that may be in this document 

Please review the guidelines carefully and ensure they are in place prior to re-opening your clinic or practice setting. 

The guidance covers the following areas: 

  • In-person essential care
  • Hand hygiene
  • Cleaning and disinfecting
  • Booking appointments (including patient screening)
  • Preparing your place of employment
  • The appointment
  • After the appointments
  • Additional resources 

COVID-19 Return to Work — General Guidance for Physiotherapists

COVID-19 Return to Practice FAQs

Virtual Practice (Tele-rehabilitation)

Physiotherapists may use virtual practice (tele-rehabilitation) to deliver patient care as long as the rules and standards are followed. Even when clinics re-open, physiotherapists may choose to continue with virtual care when appropriate to help control the number of patients visiting the clinic, or continue to provide treatment to patients who are feeling ill. 

Guidelines for Virtual Care

Questions? Contact our Helpline or 647-484-8800 or 1-800-583-5885 ext. 241

Infection Prevention and Control

Take a couple minutes to review the College's Infection Control and Equipment Maintenance Standard to ensure that your clinic has the appropriate measures in place. 

Read the Standard See a List of Infection Control Resources

The Government also maintains a list of hard service disinfectants and hand sanitizers with evidence for use against COVID-19. The list is updated regularly so be sure to check often. 

List of COVID-19 Disinfectants

Personal Protective Equipment

The Ontario Government has created a list of companies that sell personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies so that employers can keep staff and patients safe during COVID-19. 

Find more information about PPE and access the government's suppliers list.