Some Ontario health units tighten immunization rules for indoor youth sports
Ontario health units are starting to take a harder line than the province on COVID-19 vaccination rules for youth sports, but some operators say the sudden change has unfairly shut out young participants.
The province's proof-of-vaccination policy affecting gyms and other indoor facilities, which took effect last month, exempts people under age 18 who are entering fitness facilities to participate in organized sports.
But last week, health units covering Windsor-Essex County and York Region announced plans to revoke that exemption within a few days' time.
Statements from public health pointed to heavy breathing, close and prolonged contact, crowded spaces and lack of masks during indoor sports that increase the likelihood of COVID-19 transmission.
Windsor-Essex's top doctor pointed to the "significant" fourth wave of infections in the region and low vaccination rate among youth.
York Region highlighted virus outbreaks linked to basketball tournaments over the last year, projections that the region could see 430 daily cases by December and a rate of infection nearly 10 times higher for unvaccinated youth.
"Requiring more groups to be protected with COVID-19 vaccinations will help reduce this risk while maintaining opportunities for sport," the health unit wrote in a Sept. 29 statement, saying it plans to focus on education in the early days of the rules.
Other health units are following suit.
Huron Perth Public Health, the Middlesex-London Health Unit and Southwestern Public Health jointly announced on Wednesday that they would require COVID-19 vaccination for all youth sport participants aged 12 and up as of Oct. 31.
In Windsor and York Region, however, operators and parents were given less than a week to comply with the new rules, which are now in effect. That quick turnaround time has sparked concern that even those who want to get vaccinated to keep participating aren't able to do so.
Tom Carter and Lee Newman own and operate a dance school in Stouffville, Ont., and have organized an advocacy group for other dance studios during the pandemic.
The pair said the lack of grace period for people to start their vaccination cycle is unfair, and argued that it could mean the policy has the opposite of its intended effect.
"If the idea from public health is to incentivize parents and teenagers to get the vaccine, we support that, but by not providing them a grace period, they lose their opportunity to participate immediately," Carter said by phone.
"None of the incentive exists for them to go out and start the process."
Stouffville Academy of Music and Dance lost some business immediately, the couple said.
They are also concerned that a heavier burden is being placed on businesses to immediately implement the rules, after several municipalities in York Region announced they would comply with the policy but only by Nov. 1, a full month after the deadline set by the health unit.
Newman said businesses don't feel they have that same leeway and said she worries that not complying would set a poor example for the students.
"If we're telling them, 'You know what, we're not going to get punished right now, so we're not going to follow the rules,' I don't know that that's the message we want to be sending to the children that we're educating," she said.
A hockey league in Windsor, Ont., has started a petition asking the mayor and public health unit to change the rules because the Ontario Minor Hockey Association had already set a later Oct. 31 deadline for participants to get vaccinated.
The Windsor Minor Hockey Association said the regional vaccination rule is shutting out participants who were already planning to get their shots on a different timeline.
"We want this mandate rescinded and replaced with a mandate that wouldn't affect people who are complying," the online petition reads.
"Grant an extension to those who are complying but won't have their children, or themselves fully vaccinated until the October 31st deadline."
Medical officers covering seven northern Ontario health units are requiring vaccination for coaches, officials and volunteers aged 12 and older at indoor organized sports.
In a joint statement, the public health officials said they took a unified approach to the policy to keep a consistent approach and protect communities as teams travel across the northern region.
"The benefits of physical activity and socializing are critical to residents' well-being," their statement said. "Requiring proof of vaccination for those who support organized sport will help to keep sports running and protect all those participating."
The immunization rule doesn't apply to youth participants but the group of top doctors say that will change if deemed necessary.
Ottawa, Waterloo Region and the Eastern Ontario Health Unit have also announced similar policies affecting indoor sport volunteers and coaches.
Asked if Ontario would change the immunization exemption for youth sports participants, a spokeswoman for the health minister said that while the province's top doctor "continues to review the evidence and data on an ongoing basis," public health units have the ability to implement additional measures based on local knowledge and context.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 6, 2021.
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
A veteran and former Paralympian told a parliamentary committee that a caseworker from the Veterans Affairs Canada offered her medical assistance in dying, a week after the veterans affairs minister confirmed that at least four other veterans were offered the same thing.
As Canada enters the fifth week of the flu epidemic, influenza activity is rising, with mainly young children and older adults facing the brunt of the strain, according to the latest FluWatch report.
'Maybe the bully could do some good': Canadian actor on fundraiser, and sale of 'A Christmas Story' house
Located in Cleveland, Ohio, the house featured in the holiday film 'A Christmas Story' is up for sale. Leg lamp and all.
FBI Director Chris Wray is raising national security concerns about TikTok, warning Friday that control of the popular video sharing app is in the hands of a Chinese government "that doesn't share our values."
A U.S. woman was killed and four other passengers injured when a massive wave struck the Viking Polaris cruise ship while it was sailing toward the port of Ushuaia in southern Argentina on an Antarctic cruise, authorities said.
The Bank of Canada is expected to conclude a historic year marked by high inflation and aggressive monetary policy tightening with one more interest rate hike on Wednesday.
Myanmar's military-installed government has sentenced more critics to death, bringing the total to 139, and is using capital punishment as a tool to crush opposition, the UN high commissioner for human rights said Friday.
Prince William capped a three-day visit to Boston by meeting with President Joe Biden to share his vision for safeguarding the environment before attending a gala event Friday evening where he sounded an optimistic tone about solving the world's environmental problems through "hope, optimism and urgency."
America's newest nuclear stealth bomber made its debut Friday after years of secret development and as part of the Pentagon's answer to rising concerns over a future conflict with China.
Run, Hide, Fight: Quebec college aims to prepare students for active shooter as police investigate lockdown
Laval police parked a command post outside College Montmorency Friday with hopes to shed light on the shooting that sent four to hospital and pushed the school into lockdown. Meanwhile, Dawson College sent out a memo to students and staff on shooter preparedness, and Quebec's education minister pondered bumping up training in schools.
A student-led study group was formed to learn Anishinaabe on a weekly basis with hopes that the Indigenous language will appear on the McGill University course catalogue in the near future.
A pedestrian was killed after being hit by a car on Friday evening in Montreal. The collision occurred around 8:50 p.m. on Angrignon Boulevard, near Newman Boulevard, in the LaSalle borough.
The City of London began its annual “Lighting of the Lights” event at Victoria Park on Friday evening.
With community consultations now complete, the design and construction of the Community Addictions Hub for Sarnia-Lambton is ready to move forward. It's viewed as a significant advancement in the effort to help people cope with addictions and find a road to recovery.
City hall finally provided a rationale why specific city parks were selected to be on a list where homeless encampments are proactively removed.
Kitchener firefighters were called to put out flames at a construction trailer early Friday morning, and inside, they found a body.
Woodstock police say new child porn charges have been laid against a former doctor.
Environment Canada has issued a wind warning for much of southwestern Ontario saying strong gusts are expected Saturday morning and continuing into the afternoon.
On Friday afternoon at the Sudbury Courthouse, two men pled guilty in an arson case that killed three people in a townhouse on Bruce Avenue in April 2021.
A Timmins doctor charged with sexual assault in July is facing several more charges after five more people came forward, police said Friday.
The Timmins and District Hospital's assessment clinic has been busy seeing people with respiratory illnesses.
SPECIAL WEATHER STATEMENT
SPECIAL WEATHER STATEMENT | Windy, rainy Saturday with above-average temperatures
It’s going to be a windy, rainy Saturday in Ottawa with warmer than average temperatures.
NEW THIS MORNING
NEW THIS MORNING | City of Ottawa should draft 2023 budget with a 2 to 2.5 per cent tax hike, report recommends
Ottawa city council is being asked to direct staff to develop the 2023 city of Ottawa budget with a 2 to 2.5 per cent increase in property taxes next year.
'Thieves are getting brazen': Ottawa police warn of spike in daytime vehicle thefts at malls, grocery stores
Ottawa police are urging motorists to be vigilant while parking at shopping malls, grocery stores, and recreation and sporting venues this holiday season, following an increase in daylight vehicle thefts.
Nearly a day after witnessing a mysterious stream of light beaming through the evening skies while driving through Windsor, Ont., Bassem Mazloum still wasn’t sure what he had witnessed.
'Tis the season to be jolly and the return of Bright Lights Windsor is about to shine during the holidays.
City works to find housing solutions for displaced 1616 Ouellette residents before shelter closes Monday
A deadline is looming for residents of 1616 Ouellette Avenue who were evacuated from their homes two weeks ago over safety concerns at the apartment.
A woman faces impaired driving charges following a collision that seriously injured multiple people at Bayview Drive and Mapleview Drive East in Barrie Thursday evening.
More than two dozen firefighters battled flames and heavy smoke after a fire erupted at an industrial site in Bracebridge.
It's the season of giving, and the South Simcoe Police Service is truly getting in the spirit of the season.
Two people are in custody after a shooting in the Fredericton area left two people injured and prompted police to issue an emergency alert in New Brunswick.
Four organizations representing Greater Moncton’s business community held a press conference Friday calling for urgent action in regards to downtown safety and the homelessness situation.
Nova Scotia’s latest Respiratory Watch data shows that in the last three weeks of November, lab-confirmed cases more than doubled each week.
Respite admissions at Rotary Flames House in Calgary will be paused and staff redeployed to help with the ongoing struggle at Alberta Children's Hospital.
Alberta’s premier is doubling down on claims her sovereignty act will boost the province’s fortunes – and she already knows how she might use the bill.
A Red Deer man has been charged in a deadly head-on crash on Deerfoot Trail on Friday.
The lawyer representing a Winnipeg man accused of killing four Indigenous women says his client 'absolutely' maintains his innocence and intends to plead not guilty.
School divisions in and around Winnipeg are dealing with a lack of bus drivers, which is leading to some routes being cancelled.
Dozens of people gathered Friday morning in Steinbach to search for a man missing more than a week.
Bus drivers are speaking out about the terrible road conditions that put them in danger during this week's snowstorm.
The minister responsible for child care in B.C. reaffirmed that the province is looking at ways to increase wages for early childhood educators, as child-care subsidies kick in.
A Chilliwack senior came up with a sweet idea to spread some cheer in her community this Christmas season.
The cause of a suspicious death at an Edmonton encampment this week is being withheld for 'investigative reasons,' the city's police service said on Friday.
It was grannies' night behind the Edmonton Oilers bench at Rogers Place last Monday night. A group of friends from Whitecourt, Alta., attended the game against the Florida Panthers in grannies costumes and stayed in character all night.
Ponoka RCMP are searching for two people who witnesses saw flee from a vehicle that hit two people the afternoon of Nov. 30.