News Updates

Mar 20, 2020

COVID-19: Summary of Directive for Health Care Providers

A state of emergency was declared in Ontario due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) has determined that the health of all Ontarians is at risk.

As a result, the CMOH has issued a directive to health care providers and health care organizations detailing additional precautions and procedures to be followed in order to protect the health of people across Ontario.

This directive extends to all regulated health professionals (including physiotherapists) and people who operate group practices of regulated health professionals (e.g. clinic owners). This directive was issued on March 19, 2020 and measures are to be implemented immediately. Health care organizations must provide a copy of the directive to their Health and Safety representative or committee.

Directive for Health Care Providers

The Directive requires that health care providers and organizations implement the following steps immediately:

  • Stop or seriously reduce all non-essential or elective services until further notice. Exceptions can be made for time-sensitive situations or to avoid adverse patient outcomes.
  • Clinicians are in the best position to determine what is considered essential in their practice.
  • In making decisions regarding the reduction or elimination of non-essential services, clinicians should take direction from their regulatory College and consider the following:
    • The decision should be proportionate to the real or anticipated limitations in capacity to provide those services.
    • Harm to patients should be limited as much has possible. Available alternatives for pain and suffering should be considered.
    • Patients in the same category (e.g. level of urgency) should be treated equally unless relevant differences exist. Decisions to reduce or eliminate non-essential care should be fair to all patients.
    • Some patients will be particularly burdened by the cancellation of non-essential services. Patients should have the ability to have their health monitored, receive appropriate care and be re-evaluated as needed.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is an acute respiratory illness stemming from a novel coronavirus first identified in China in December 2019. On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified COVID-19 as a pandemic. Symptoms of COVID-19 typically include fever, cough and difficulty breathing and range from mild to severe. It is possible for some patients to appear asymptomatic.

Complications from COVID-19 may include pneumonia, kidney failure and in some cases, death. There are no specific treatments or vaccinations for COVID-19 and most people will recover on their own.

As the outbreak evolves, measures to protect patients and health care providers will be updated by Public Health Ontario and other partners in the health care system. Questions can be directed to the Health Care Providers Hotline at 1-866-212-2272 or

Read the Full Directive from the CMOH