CEO Message to members on the lifting of the mask mandate

The Ontario government has announced that the mask mandate will be lifted as of Monday, March 21. As a result, the RA has been tasked with the difficult prospect of determining whether or not to extend the mandate within our facility. I can assure you that the issue has been rigorously discussed and debated internally. For the record, the RA would have preferred the lifting of mask mandates be delayed by the province, but that said, we will NOT be extending the requirement for members and guests to wear a mask while at the RA Centre.

As of Monday, March 21, 2022:

  • RA members and guests will have the choice to mask-up or not. The wearing of masks is strongly encouraged, but is no longer mandatory. Please be kind and respectful of others’ choices and the fact that everyone has different needs and comfort levels.
  • RA staff and contractors will be required to continue to wear a mask in all public areas of the RA Centre until further notice. In addition, the policy requiring all RA staff to be fully vaccinated, a requirement of which we are proud to say we have 100% compliance, will remain in force.

It's important to remember that choosing to wear a mask is something we can all do to help protect others. It is my hope that our RA community recognizes that wearing a mask reduces the transmission of a virus that for many may be life-altering or worse, and that this small inconvenience could help to keep ourselves, our families and those around us a bit safer.

First let me say, you are correct. I am not an epidemiologist or infectious disease expert. I am a leader of a not-for-profit organization that has been hard hit by COVID looking to do everything within my power to avoid any other potholes on our road to recovery. As more public health measures are lifted, it would be unfortunate to see our collective hard-fought gains negated by relaxing our guard too quickly. “Learning to live with COVID" doesn't mean moving on as if the pandemic is over, it means being mindful of the virus' presence in our day-to-day lives. Many of you who use our facility today have heightened health vulnerabilities. In fact, just this week, we provided a sold-out March Break Camp experience to a large number of young children who are not yet eligible for vaccination. It is for this reason that I appeal to you our members to help keep our RA community safe by staying home when you are sick, keeping your vaccinations up to date, maintaining physical distance where possible and choosing to wear a mask while at the RA Centre.

Having read the previous paragraph, you may be wondering why we did not extend the mask mandate internally. I would say that without exception, the senior staff preferred extending the mandate. The sole reason for our decision not to, was out of concern for our frontline staff. For the past two (2) years, these fabulous people have taken the brunt of emotionally charged confrontations due in large part to enforcing legislated COVID restrictions and mandates.

I encourage everyone to be mindful and take responsibility for the energy you bring with you into the RA. You matter. Your words matter. Your behaviours matter and so do our staff, volunteers and members. Throughout the pandemic, the RA has followed public health guidelines and we continue to do so. To support you in assessing risk and making the best decision for yourself and your family, Ottawa Public Health has launched a new webpage about evaluating risk.

There is a great deal of optimism that we are nearing a time where COVID will be in the rear-view mirror.  Let’s keep our guard up for a bit longer and reassure ourselves that we are in this together.

Tosha Rhodenizer, 
Chief Executive Officer, RA