Staged Precautions for Pulmonary Diagnostic Testing During and After
COVID-19 Pandemic in Ontario

The Respiratory Therapy Society of Ontario (RTSO) recognizes the need for guidance for pulmonary diagnostic testing (PDT) during and after the COVID-19 pandemic in Ontario. RTSO also acknowledges that there is limited and emerging evidence surrounding the potential for exposure to COVID-19 by patients and clinicians during PDT.

As the Province moves through the various phases/stages of pandemic control, considerations must be made to ensure that patient and clinician safety is balanced with clinical benefit during these procedures. When there is a lack of clear evidence, the RTSO recommends that precautionary principles govern the decision-making process to optimize a safe approach and minimize the risk of disease spread.

This document is intended to provide guidance for a staged approach for PDT in a variety of settings, taking local public health guidance and resources into consideration including:

  1. Organizational Risk Assessment for Services and Test Capacity

  2. COVID-19 Screening

  3. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  4. Reconfigure Test Space and Patient Flow

  5. Environmental Controls and Cleaning

  6. Reorganize Test Scheduling


We hope that this information will be helpful in providing a safe pulmonary diagnostic testing process for both patients and staff. Any feedback should be forwarded to the RTSO Office at

Thank you,
RTSO Board of Directors
RTSO Leadership Committee

The Summer Edition of Airwaves is now on-line!

In addition to our regular features, some introductions are included in this issue. We have some new content, with Tony Kajnar submitting a Pulmonary Diagnostics Update.  Not surprisingly, we also received several submissions relating to COVID-19…storying our experiences through this pandemic is so important, as we have learned so much as information has evolved and we have shared our successes and failures with one another! 


Save the Date

With our Inspire conference re-scheduled for 2021 we will be holding a virtual Annual General Meeting on October 22 at 7:00 pm. We are asking members to save the date and we will be sending a webinar invitation and agenda 30 days in advance.

Update on Pandemic Pay

June 1

Pandemic Pay Implementation Guidelines

An overview of how pandemic payments will be implemented across the health sector and confirm eligible workplaces and workers in the health sector.


May 27

Pandemic Pay Eligibility

As you know, on April 25, the government announced it is providing eligible frontline and support workers with temporary pandemic pay.

Since that time, we have received inquiries about whether the list of eligible workers or workplaces would be expanded. There is a limit to the amount of funding provided by the federal government through our agreement and after careful consideration, the government will not be expanding the pandemic pay beyond those already deemed eligible.

Pandemic pay will be in effect for eligible workers from April 24, 2020 until August 13, 2020, and consists of:

  1. A temporary top-up on hourly wages: Eligible workers will receive $4 per hour worked on top of existing hourly wages, regardless of how much they already make; and

  2. Monthly lump sum payments: Eligible workers who work at least 100 hours in a designated 4-week period will also be eligible to receive an additional lump sum payment of $250 for that period, up to a total of $1,000 in lump sum payments. The designated 4-week periods are:

         o April 24, 2020 to May 21, 2020

         o May 22, 2020 to June 18, 2020

         o June 19, 2020 to July 16, 2020

         o July 17, 2020 to August 13, 2020

In the first week of June 2020 ministries will start providing written funding commitments to employer partners that receive direct government funding, as well as to service delivery managers, followed quickly by the flow of money.

We expect some employers will begin receiving pandemic pay in early June, however exact timing will vary.

The Pandemic Pay website at will be updated in the coming days with more specific timelines.

Our ministry will continue to work with eligible employers to move the funding forward as quickly as possible, always recognizing the due diligence that is required for government funding.

If you have any questions about pandemic pay, please contact the Ministry at

Thank you,
Helen Angus
Deputy Minister

The RTSO board is pleased to announce that after a series of conversations with our provincial government the RTSO received a phone call from Hon. Christine Elliott. During the conversation with Hon. Christine Elliott, she informed the organization that the pandemic pay will now be expanded to more front line workers which will include Respiratory Therapists. She also stated that she wanted to send a thank you to all the respiratory therapists for all your hard work and putting yourselves at risk during these unprecedented times.

“Today, Ontario provided a clarification that this pandemic pay applies to respiratory therapists, mental health and addictions workers in hospitals and congregate care settings, public health nurses and paramedics,” Anna Miller, a spokesperson for Ontario’s Ministry of Health, told Global News in a statement Monday evening.”

The RTSO has received further confirmation that the pandemic pay has been extended to respiratory therapists in the home and community sectors.


Is seeking Cardiopulmonary Technicians


AAs Excluded from
Pandemic Pay

Doug Ford recognized many healthcare workers in his pandemic pay initiative. However, he forgot key players that were in hospitals every single day and in direct contact with COVID patients throughout the pandemic.

These forgotten healthcare workers have fought for recognition of their services during this pandemic and for entitlement to pandemic pay. They include Anesthesia Assistants, Perfusionists, Medical Radiation Technologists, Diagnostic Medical Sonographers,  Medical Lab Technicians, Registered Dieticians, and Physiotherapists. This list is not exhaustive.

Imagine you’re a very sick COVID patient entering a hospital. An Anesthesia Assistant helps anesthetize you and place your breathing tube. The progression of COVID’s effect on your lungs/body is tracked by images taken by radiation technologists/other medical imaging staff; they will take multiple images/scans during your hospitalization to help guide treatment. Blood work and labs are collected and analyzed by medical lab technicians. Your condition worsens and you require extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) – the most intense form of life support – a perfusionist will be managing that machine and keeping you alive until the machine is no longer necessary. Perfusionists see the sickest COVID patients every single day. Your body is continually growing weaker as it is fighting COVID, physiotherapists ensure your body stays strong while registered dieticians manage your diet to optimize your body for recovery. Diagnosis, treatment, recovery, and rehab are a team effort.

All these individuals were left off the list of being eligible for pandemic pay despite having direct contact with COVID patients. If painters, plasterers, locksmiths, carpenters, truck drivers, electricians, and other hospital staff who did not directly contact COVID patients qualified, WHY DIDN’T WE?

Please help us appeal to Doug Ford to remedy this situation.

If your profession was also excluded from Ford’s pandemic pay program in Ontario, please email me at

Please sign the Pandemic Pay for Ontario’s Forgotten Healthcare Workers Petition


Occupational Stress Injury (OSI) Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Respiratory Therapists (RTs)

It is imperative to have services and supports in place to keep RTs protected, mentally fit and healthy to ensure we can carry on our important and heavily replied upon expert services in this very intense and stressful role…for the good of each one of us and the patients we serve.

Respiratory therapists (RTs) work as essential members of rapid response, various code, disaster, radiation and other emergency response teams.


The Presentations from the
2019 RTSO Education Conference
are available on-line!