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New Provincial Orders: Change to Scope of Practice in Hospitals

April 22, 2021
On Thursday, April 22, 2021, the Government of Ontario released a memo from the Ministry of Health providing information on new orders in effect in Ontario. The new order is available to read here: Ontario Regulation 305/21 Regulated Health Professionals, made under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, 1990.
 
This order authorizes health care professionals including occupational therapists to provide patient care services outside their regular scope of practice in hospitals, and enables hospitals to employ, contract, appoint or otherwise engage regulated health professionals from out-of-province.
 
Under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, health professionals acting under the Act or the authority of an order issued under the Act will not be subject to any action or other proceedings for actions they take or perform under the Act, or an order made under the Act, or for neglect or default in performance of these acts, where they are done in good faith. (See the full memorandum)
 

What this means for occupational therapists

 
Under this new order, regulated health professionals, either from Ontario or out-of-province, are now authorized to engage outside of their regular scope of practice, provided that it is necessary in response to the pandemic and is consistent with the duties that are assigned or the privileges that are granted by the hospital, and the professional acts in a manner that is consistent with any measures taken by a hospital as part of its efforts to respond to, prevent and alleviate the outbreak of COVID-19.
 
Occupational therapists may be required to perform any activity that is requested by the hospital. These may be activities that are outside of normal duties or usual responsibilities. Hospitals are responsible to ensure that staff members are only assigned tasks or asked to deliver services that they are reasonably qualified to provide.
 
Occupational therapists who are authorized to practise in other Canadian jurisdictions may be employed by Ontario hospitals under this new order. These occupational therapists do not have to register with the College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario.
 
These are trying times and registrants may be asked to perform exceptional duties. Occupational therapists have a broad set of transferable skills that can support client care during a pandemic when staff resources are limited. We are grateful for the skill and adaptability of occupational therapists. 
 
If you have any questions, please contact our Practice team at practice@coto.org or 1-800-890-6570 ext 240.