Confusion mounts over Ontario Minor Hockey Association's vaccine policy
There's growing confusion surrounding Alliance Hockey the Ontario Minor Hockey Association's decision to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for players, parents, coaches and staff.
The policy states everyone eligible for the shot must show proof in order to play, but the province's guidelines exempt youth aged 12 to 18 playing organized sports from providing proof of vaccination.
The policy affects players with the Kitchener, Cambridge, Waterloo and Guelph minor hockey associations, as well as many others across Ontario.
Players 12 and older had to provide proof of their first dose Sept. 17 and must be fully immunized by Oct. 31.
With Ontario's vaccine certificate program coming into play on Wednesday, the Ford government said children 12 to 18 are allowed to enter sport and recreation facilities without showing proof of vaccination.
Exactly how the OMHA and Alliance Hockey rules will be implemented and who is responsible for checking vaccine certificates remains unclear.
Local municipalities said the onus isn't on them.
"Ultimately, the decision to amend any return to sport plan is in the local and provincial sports organizations’ hands, in continued consultation with higher levels of government," the City of Waterloo said in a statement. "The City of Waterloo establishes operating standards for its facilities, but it’s the sports organizations and their provincial governing bodies that establish the health and safety protocols that govern the competition and participation in the sport. The City does not have a role."
City staff will be checking vaccine certification at the door of facilities.
"Whether the youth can participate in the sport, based on their organization’s rules, is up to them to verify," the city continued.
Officials in Cambridge echoed that sentiment.
"The City is aware that some groups (such as the Ontario Minor Hockey Association) may have regulations that exceed our policy," the City of Cambridge said in an email. "When this is the case, it would be the responsibility of the organization to enforce this amongst their players. It would not be part of our entry process."
A spokesperson for the City of Kitchener said proof of vaccination will be checked at the point of entry for each facility and will be required for each visit, following guidelines set out by the province.
"At city-owned and operated facilities, patrons will be required to show proof of full vaccination and follow all guidelines set out by the Province, as well as any additional vaccine policies and guidelines set out by sports organizations," the City of Kitchener said in an emailed statement. "Any additional vaccine policy requirements will be handled by sports organizations."
On top of the confusion around how the OMHA and Alliance Hockey policies will be implemented, some parents are also frustrated the policy doesn't fall in line with the province's mandate.
While some parents who spoke to CTV News said they're happy the vaccine mandate is in place, others said the mixed-messaging isn't fair.
CTV News has reached out to the OMHA and Alliance Hockey multiple times asking for clarification on how its vaccine policy will be enforced but has not yet received a response.