As progress continues in Ontario’s second phase of vaccinations, RCC has been pushing the Ministry of Health in Ontario to remove red tape to make it as easy as possible for employees to get vaccinations. For employers in multiple regions in the province, instead of having to negotiate with 34 different public health units, RCC has been trying to negotiate a harmonized method to enable employer-hosted vaccination events on site for distribution centres/stores with larger staff contingents.
With that in mind, a newly published Workplace Safety & Insurance Board (WSIB) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page released on Friday, March 26, 2021 around COVID-19 Claims has a question & answer that has placed some of that streamlined rollout in jeopardy.
Q: My employee says they had a reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine and can’t come to work. Do I have to report the illness to the WSIB?
Of major concern is the answer to this question which expresses that if a company pays staff and allows them to attend a clinic to receive a vaccination, or if an employer allows a staff member to receive a vaccination on site (e.g. a workplace event) and an adverse reaction occurs, it could be found to be work-related. If the reaction was more serious than the more frequent and expected reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine, this would need to be reported to a local public health unit. Additionally, the employee may be eligible for WSIB benefits.
RCC is encouraging government to revisit this distinction and indemnify employers against adverse vaccination reactions in an effort to remove barriers for employers seeking to support vaccination efforts though workplace events or paid staff time to vaccinate. RCC has already had several conversations with the Ministry of Labour and other relevant offices on this topic. RCC will keep members informed as more information is available.
For questions or more information contact
Director, Government Relations (Ontario)