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COVID-19 RESPONSE

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Latest Update

Monday, March 21, 2022

The Ontario Government has announced the following changes to public health and workplace safety measures effective March 21, 2022:

General masking requirements will be lifted; however, masking will still be required in certain indoor settings, including:

  • public transit, including indoor areas and vehicles. This does not include businesses or organizations that provide sightseeing or touring services
  • health care settings including: hospitals, psychiatric facilities, doctors’ offices, immunization clinics, laboratories, and specimen collection centres
  • home and community care provider locations only if you are an employee or contractor
  • long-term care and retirement homes
  • shelters and other congregate care settings that provide care and services to medically and socially vulnerable individuals

Also as of March 21, 2022:

  • passive screening of individuals prior to entering a business will no longer be required
  • businesses and organizations that are open will no longer be required to prepare and make available a safety plan
  • capacity limits lifted in all indoor public settings
  • proof of vaccination requirements lifted, with businesses being allowed to implement them voluntarily
  • public health units can deploy local and regional responses based on local health indicators

 

While the province has lifted mandatory mask requirements in most settings, it does not mean that the Covid-19 pandemic is over or that the risk of infection has been eliminated. We urge congregations to continue practicing basic public health preventative measures to protect and reduce transmission of Covid-19. 

Singing in Church

Many congregations have questions about congregational singing. While recognizing that the local context of each congregation and each building are unique factors, we encourage you to continue to care for everyone participating in worship. Please keep safety a priority and follow the advice of your public health unit. We encourage all congregations to consider this advice for places of worship:

Indoor group singing, dancing and use of wind instruments has been linked to numerous outbreaks in multiple countries. Avoid risks by considering alternative options.

  • Limit the number of performers or vocalists. Avoid unmasked group or congregational singing.
  • Use pre-recorded music (audio/ video), or use alternative musical instruments.
  • Performers must maintain at least two metres distance from any spectators or be separated by plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier. Clean and disinfect barriers after each use.
  • All performers should stand at least two metres apart from other performers and conductor.
  • Length of instruments should be accounted for when determining physical distancing.

Please continue to follow the advice of your local public health unit.

Past Regional Updates can be found below.

Recently The United Church of Canada General Council Office provided updated legal advice for Communities of Faith in Ontario. On September 22, 2021 the Ontario Vaccine policy was implemented in Ontario. The passport policy does not apply to places of worship (places of worship are exempt), however, it may apply to your meeting and event spaces.

You can find more information here:

Update on Ontario Vaccine Passports and Mandatory Vaccination Policies – (PDF | 3 pages) September 22, 2021

Please direct specific regulation questions to your local public health unit for best advice.You can also reach out to your Regional Council Congregational Support Minister (Jody Maltby, jmaltby@united-church.ca) or Pastoral Relations Minister. ( Dale Hildebrand, dhildebrand@united-church.ca)

CHURCH EMPLOYEES AND COVID-19

There have been some new developments and updates regarding Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (IDEL) and mandatory vaccinations for church employees.

In summary, IDEL, the temporary provision in the Ontario Employment Standards Act that allows for longer lay-offs and protects an employee’s job status while they are on a lay-off, has been extended to December 31, 2021. It was set to expire on September 25. This means that if you have an employee who was earlier placed on IDEL, that employee does not need to be returned to their job until December 31.

You can find more information here:

Infectious Disease Emergency Leave   (IDEL) Update – (PDF | 3 pages) September 22, 2021

The legal advice around mandatory vaccinations for employees has also been updated. In early summer, the legal advice then was that unless otherwise regulated by the government (e.g., health care workers), employers could run the risk of constructive dismissal if making vaccinations mandatory for their employees. The prevailing direction in Canada is now towards mandatory vaccinations in many workplaces.

The new advice is “not implementing mandatory vaccination policies in a workplace is now the riskier choice, since the obligation of employers to provide a safe workplace outweighs the chance of a human rights code violation or other infringement on the individual.”

You can find more information here:

Mandatory Vaccination Policy – (PDF | 1 page) September 22, 2021

If you are a Community of Faith looking for assistance, please contact Jody Maltby at jmaltby@united-chuch.ca.

If you are an M&P Committee looking for support, please contact Dale Hildebrand at dhildebrand@united-church.ca

Beyond the letter of the law, as people of faith, we are called to uphold the whole community and contribute wherever we can to well-being and safety. We are mindful of all the ways communities of faith have continued to be the church and we continue to hold all of you in our prayers.

Shining Waters Regional Council Staff

 

Highlights

Annual Meeting Icon

Annual Meetings

Information and General Council updates about Annual Meetings

United in Learning Webinars

Previously recorded webinars on Covid Response

United Church of Canada

Emergency funding, reopening, and more…

Jody Maltby headshot

Lead Staff

Jody Maltby, Staff Lead: Support to the Region and Communities for Faith, is the first point of contact for communities of faith.
Phone: 416-231-7680 | 1-800-268-3781 Ext. 6226

Employment

Employment Resources

Employment Guidance for Communities of Faith during COVID-19​ PLEASE READ THIS DOCUMENT FIRST Updated March 9, 2021

GCE Extends Temporary Amendment of ByLaws re: Pastoral Relations for urgent decisions related to call or appointment. Updated August 27, 2020  GCE web page for original decision Temporarily Amends Pastoral Relations Policies

Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (IDEL) Update – September 22, 2021 (PDF | 3 pages)

Mandatory Vaccination Policy Update – September 22, 2021 (PDF | 2 pages) Updated UCC legal guidance on the mandatory vaccination policy.

Vaccinations and Church Employees June 28, 2021 (PDF | 1 page)  Guidance on vaccination concerns when returning to in-person gatherings.

ADP United in Learning Webinar, 04.14.20 Slides from webinar.  

Lay Leaders Zoom Meeting April 14, 2020 View the recording of the information session with lay leadership in the region and Shining Waters Staff and General Secretary Nora Sanders. View past sessions on our YouTube channel. 

Employee and Family Assistance Program

Regional Staff

Dale Hildebrand, Pastoral Relations Minister
Phone: 416-231-7680 | 1-800-268-3781 Extension: 6261
Email: dhildebrand@united-church.ca
(South of HWY 407)

Todd McDonald, Pastoral Relations Minister
Phone: 416-231-7680 | 1-800-268-3781 Extension: 6235
Email: tmcdonald@united-church.ca
(North of HWY 407)

 

Governance

Resources

CEBA The Canadian Emergency Business Account (CEBA) program has been extended and all applicants now have until March 31, 2021 to apply. Remember these applications require regional approval.  Regional Staff contacts: Jody Maltby or Kim Uyede-Kai.  For more information: https://ceba-cuec.ca/

Vaccine Passports and Mandatory Vaccination Policies Updated September 22, 2021 (PDF | 2 pages)

Considerations Before Making Financial Decisions Updated December 1, 2020. (PDF | 4 pages)

COVID-19 and Insurance: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers August 1, 2020 Information from Erik Mathiesen. (PDF | 3 pages)

CanadaHelps and The United Church United in Learning Webinar May 28, 2020

Regional Council Implementation of Temporary Change to Pastoral Relations Policies April 28, 2020 (PDF | 2 pages)

United Church of Canada Emergency Support  April 27, 2020 Information on denominational ways to bridge the financial strain on communities of faith and link to loan application form.

Governance in Congregations during COVID-19 April 16, 2020

Toronto United Church Council TUCC COVID-19 April Update includes the Investing in Ministry Fund, camping ministries, Innovative Ministry Centre, the Centre for Church Development and Leadership and property management information. April 13, 2020

Generosity in Unprecedented Times Practical, recommended, tools to invite an ongoing commitment from the Philantrhropy Unit, March 28, 2020. (PDF | 5 pages)

Governance during COVID-19 Pandemic, Shining Waters Regional Council, March 20, 2020. (PDF | 3 pages)

The United Church of Canada Emergency Plan Revised March 2020 – (PDF | 22 pages)

Regional Staff

Jody Maltby, Staff Lead: Support to the Region and Communities for Faith
Phone: 416-231-7680 | 1-800-268-3781 Ext. 6226
E-mail: jmaltby@united-church.ca

Pastoral Care

Resources

Ways Churches Can Offer Connection and Care During Social Distancing A resource to share from The Presbyterian Church in Canada, Summer 2020

Outline for a Zoom gathering at the time of death, shared by Karen Hilfman, April 28, 2020

Grieving and Remembering at Home, ideas from Susie Henderson, April 28, 2020

Moderator Asks to delay funerals March 24, 2020

6 Tips to Avoid “Zoom Fatigue” in the Age of COVID-19, by Leah D. Schade April 3, 2020

Talking with Children about COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Talking Points from Jeffrey Dale, Shining Waters Regional Council  March 20, 2020

How to Talk to Children About the Coronavirus Pandemic by Alan Wolfelt at the Center for Loss and Life Transition,  March 19, 2020

Things That Matter YouTube Channel by Diane Strickland

Pastoral Care for Grieving Families A Google Doc from our partner church in the U.S. The United Church of Christ

Responsive Prayer Model for On-Line Funeral Google Doc from the United Church of Christ

 

Reopening Buildings

Reopening: Shining Waters Regional Council

Reopening: Wider United Church Resources

Reopening: General Articles

Past Updates

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

The Ontario Government has announced that effective February 17th, 2022 at 12:01 a.m. the regulations include the following:

  • indoor religious services, rites and ceremonies, including weddings and funerals, capped at the number of people that can maintain two metres of physical distance, with no limit if proof of vaccination is required
  • no limit on attendees at outdoor religious services, rites or ceremonies, including weddings and funerals
  • the legal requirement to work from home (except where necessary) has been lifted; however, workplaces must continue to have safety plans in place

If public health and health care indicators continue to improve, the following public health and workplace safety measures will come into effect on March 1, 2022:

  • capacity limits lifted in all indoor public settings
  • proof of vaccination requirements lifted, with businesses being allowed to implement them voluntarily
  • other protective measures, such as mask/face covering requirements and active/passive screening of patrons, will be in place
  • public health units can deploy local and regional responses based on local health indicators

 

Singing in Church

Many congregations have questions about congregational singing. While recognizing that the local context of each congregation and each building are unique factors, we encourage you to continue to care for everyone participating in worship. Please keep safety a priority and follow the advice of your public health unit. We encourage all congregations to consider this advice for places of worship which continues to be offered by the city of Toronto as of February 16, 2022:

11. Vocalists, musicians and performers

Indoor group singing, dancing and use of wind instruments has been linked to numerous outbreaks in multiple countries. Avoid risks by considering alternative options.

  • Limit the number of performers or vocalists. Avoid group or congregational singing.
  • Use pre-recorded music (audio/ video), or use alternative musical instruments.
  • Performers must maintain at least two metres distance from any spectators or be separated by plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier. Clean and disinfect barriers after each use.
  • All performers should stand at least two metres apart from other performers and conductor.
  • Length of instruments should be accounted for when determining physical distancing.

Please continue to follow the advice of your local public health unit.

Past Regional Updates can be found below.

Monday, January 3, 2022

The Ontario Government has just announced that effective January 5th, 2022 at 12:01 a.m.:

  •  all indoor religious services, weddings, and funerals will be limited to 50% capacity;  
  •  all outdoor religious services, weddings, and funerals will be limited to the number of people that can maintain 2 metres/6 feet of physical distance in that space.

This is a time-limited change that will take effect for 21 days and will be reassessed on January 26th, 2022 (depending on the Covid numbers in the province and the hospital numbers).

Continue to check your local health unit for the most up-to-date specific information for your area.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Ontario is rolling out a suite of new restrictions for businesses and social gatherings as the province contends with a spike in COVID-19 cases linked to the Omicron variant. Effective 12:01 a.m. Sunday, December 19th,  indoor social gathering limits will be reduced from 25 people to 10, and outdoor gatherings are being reduced from 100 people to 25.

Capacity limits will be reduced to 50 per cent for a number of businesses, including:

Restaurants
Malls and retailers, including grocery stores and pharmacies
Personal care services
Gyms
Marinas and boating clubs
Pharmacies
Indoor recreational amenities
Tour and guide services
Personal physical fitness trainers
Strip clubs
As well, businesses will be required to post a sign indicating the capacity allowed inside.

Currently, the restrictions do not apply to areas being used for weddings, funerals or religious services.

Continue to check your local health unit for the most up to date specific information for your area. Beyond the letter of the law, as people of faith, we are called to uphold the whole community and contribute wherever we can to well-being and safety.

     “It is impossible to cancel Christmas. Christmas is celebrated each time a disciple of Jesus lives love.”
     – Moderator Richard Bott, The United Church of Canada

 

Monday, October 25, 2021

In response to continued improvements to key indicators, including ongoing stability in the province’s hospitals, effective October 25, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., Ontario will lift capacity limits in the vast majority of settings where proof of vaccination are required, such as restaurants, bars, indoor meeting and event spaces, etc. Limits will also be lifted in certain outdoor settings.

At this time, the government will also allow other settings to lift capacity limits and physical distancing requirements if they choose to require proof of vaccination, including:

Locations where a wedding, funeral or religious service, rite or ceremony takes place may also implement proof of vaccination requirements for services, rites, or ceremonies at the location (this does NOT include wedding receptions – that will be updated on Nov. 15th, 2021).

Please see the Ontario Government’s “Plan to Safely Reopen Ontario and Manage COVID-19 for the Long Term” [ PDF | 1 page ] document for more details.

For the latest information about re-opening, go to the Ontario Government News Release webpage at:

https://news.ontario.ca/en/release/1001027/ontario-releases-plan-to-safely-reopen-ontario-and-manage-covid-19-for-the-long-term

PLEASE NOTE: As of OCTOBER 25TH, 2021, the Ontario Government has given churches the option to lift capacity limits and physical distancing requirements IF THEY CHOOSE TO REQUIRE PROOF OF VACCINATION.  YOU MUST STILL WEAR YOUR MASKS.

Continue to check with your local health unit for specific advice.

Video Library

Regional Updates

SWRC Covid-19 Update – Vaccination Policies for Churches

As Ontario prepares to enter Phase 2 of reopening, ministry personnel and Communities of Faith naturally have questions about how to safely be together once again. One of the many concerns that has surfaced is whether Communities of Faith can require worshippers and staff to be vaccinated before returning to in-person gatherings.