On March 16, 2021, the Recovery Secretariat with the Ministry of the Attorney General provided its justice sector partners and stakeholders with an email communication regarding vaccine distribution, based on information available at that time.
In that message, they communicated that MAG could not advise individual organizations about how to interpret provincial guidance for their own staff. However, they suggested that if your organizations had staff attending a workplace – whether that was a courthouse or other location – to support the administration of justice in any capacity, they may qualify to receive a Phase 2 vaccine. They also encouraged monitoring of the Getting a COVID-19 vaccine in Ontario webpage and connection with local public health units for details about when and how you, or your staff, could get a vaccine.
While this guidance has not changed, the Ministry of Health (MOH) recently issued a document called COVID-19: Guidance for Prioritization of Phase 2 Populations for COVID-19 Vaccination which provides additional clarity that we wanted to share, to help you communicate with your staff/members, and make determinations for your own organizations. The document provides helpful information about roles and responsibilities, approach to sequencing of vaccine distribution, and the province’s ethical framework.
You are encouraged to read and share the above linked document with your teams. Particular information to note includes the following:
- All Public Health Units (PHUs) should publish their vaccine distribution plans – this means, your staff should be able to access more information, specific to your region, online.
o Essential workers who cannot work from home and are not included in the primary priority category are in the secondary priority category, for vaccine distribution – the Ministry of Health’s projected timing for secondary priority groups to receive their vaccines (which includes courts and justice system workers) is June 2021.
o Individuals may fall into more than one Phase 2 group. Where overlap occurs, you should consider pursuing the earliest vaccination opportunity that is presented to you.
- Hierarchy, rank, position and/or seniority are not factors in the distribution of vaccines – all courts and justice system workers will be treated the same.
- Essential workers may be asked to provide a personal attestation about their occupation to their local PHU when seeking a vaccine and/or to provide an additional form of identification. Requirements may vary across the province and will be defined and communicated by your local PHU.
- To reiterate, local PHUs are coordinating their vaccine rollouts based on local need and other factors – as a result, vaccine rollout will vary across the province. This means, the way that an eligible individual may access a vaccine in one part of the province may differ completely from how and when an eligible individual might receive a vaccine in another. Not all solutions will be viable in all locations, and public health units will be taking the lead and making determinations about the best approach for their regions.
To support local PHUs, the ministry has provided them with clarifying guidance about the types of justice sector occupations that could be captured in the “courts and justice system workers” category. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list – and is not intended to name specific organizations – rather, it is a high level set of examples to help encourage consistency in implementing vaccination decisions across the province.