In general, the NTHSSA will not be issuing sick notes, return to work notes, work-from-home/school-from-home endorsements, or masking exemptions. These requests put an unnecessary burden on the health system and can often be resolved by individuals and organizations working together to make reasonable accommodations.
The NTHSSA does not issue sick notes in most situations. You can present this form letter to your employer if they request one. NTHSSA Letter Regarding Sick and Return to Work Notes.
Employers need to support public health efforts by allowing staff who are sick to stay home or staff returning from travel to isolate based on advice from the Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO) of the Northwest Territories. This is true both within and outside of the context of COVID-19.
Return to Work/School Notes
If you are assessed for COVID-19 you will be given a COVID-19 Assessment form from your provider. This form does three things:
- It confirms you had a medical assessment
- It confirms if you needed a COVID-19 test or not
- It provides isolation advice based on the outcome of your assessment
You can choose to present this form to your employer/school as proof of your assessment and your ability to return to work or school based on the advice provided by the medical professional who assessed you.
Endorsement for Work-from-Home or School-at-Home Notes
In general, the NTHSSA does not issue work-from-home or school-at-home notes for individuals who are seeking this arrangement. If you have a serious medical illness that puts you at high risk of severe outcomes for COVID-19 you should aim to work with your employer/ school to make reasonable accommodations based on your unique situation.
The NTHSSA also encourages all employers and schools to optimize general infection and prevention precautions as much as possible according to WSCC and CPHO guidance.
Occasionally an individual will need a confirmation of medical diagnosis for employment reasons. This is often a lengthy process, however if you believe you need this please speak with your employer and healthcare provider.
Masking Exemption Notes
The NTHSSA endorses the position that it is safe for almost everyone to wear a mask. We do acknowledge that in a limited number of situations it is appropriate to exempt individuals from mask usage, these include:
- Those under the age of 2 years;
- Those with severe dementia, developmental delay, or other cognitive impairment, for whom wearing a mask would cause significant distress and agitation;
- Those with severe facial skin conditions, for whom a mask would cause an increase in risk of complication;
- Those with previously diagnosed psychiatric conditions (e.g. face-covering-related PTSD or severe agoraphobia), not responsive to desensitization and other therapies;
- Those with a condition which prevents them from applying or removing their own mask.
In our own facilities we are mandating masking for our staff and requiring it for visitors and patients/clients.
We will not deny service to any patient who will not wear a mask, but emphasize that wearing a mask is a reasonable intervention that adds another layer of protection or everyone; this is especially important in health facilities where those who are vulnerable or immune-compromised may be present. If a visitor refuses to wear a mask, they can choose to self-identify as meeting one of the exemption criteria above. Otherwise, they may be denied entry.