FUREY: Ontario Minor Hockey COVID Rules Frustrate Parents

The most controversial rule is a mandatory vaccination policy for players 12 and older.

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This coming weekend, many Ontario kids will be buckling up their skates and hitting the ice for the first time since March 2020. It’s a cause for celebration among families.


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But it has also become a source of frustration, as parents object to the strict COVID-19 rules that have been put in place.

The most controversial of those rules is a mandatory vaccination policy for players 12 and older that goes beyond provincial rules. The Ontario government states that the vaccine passport is required for: “Facilities used for sports and fitness activities and personal fitness training, such as gyms, fitness and recreational facilities, with the exception of youth recreational sports.” .

But the Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL), and other leagues in Ontario, will not honor that exemption for minors. Proof of vaccination will expire on October 17, and the rule will take effect on November 1. “GTHL policy will override provincial policy at that time,” says the email my family received about the rules of our local hockey association. .

Parents have expressed their frustrations online and in emails to the provincial leagues, the government, and the Sun. TO petition urging the GTHL to remove its policy has received more than 9,000 signatures and was even promoted online by Stanley Cup champion Mike Commodore.


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But it seems that, for now, the league will not budge.

“The position established by the GTHL board of directors was based on creating the safest possible protocols based on expert advice received from Toronto Public Health and the Hospital for Sick Children,” wrote Scott Oakman, CEO of GTHL. , in an email to an upset parent that was shared with the sun.

While the league says the vaccination policy does not apply to spectators, specific facilities have already brought their own spectator mandates, as well as rules that allow only one spectator per family within the arena.

Businesses and organizations across the province are eager to get back on track and do whatever it takes to avoid another shutdown and limit the disruptions that come with testing and isolation policies.


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That said, leagues are more than callous bureaucracies producing edicts. They are community centers for civil society. Should your default position be to give in to the lowest common denominator demands of the scariest among us? Or should they be leaders in defending our youth and advocating for more balanced policies?

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If the GTHL ruled out the vaccine rule, there could be some nosy parents who would send outraged emails to the league, but would soon stop complaining and just enjoy the game.

When my kids’ soccer league started, the written COVID rules sent to parents were ridiculously strict. They said only one family member can attend as a spectator, players must use hand sanitizer during recess, and no high-fives were allowed.


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Nobody followed those rules and nobody enforced them. Families came out to cheer on their children, who had a great season enjoying doing something the same way they did before COVID.

Of course, there is a difference between an outdoor activity in the summer and an indoor activity in the fall and winter. But hopefully something similar will happen when it comes to striking a balance with the more exaggerated rules of hockey.

Like this one, from GTHL’s formal guidelines: “Spectators are strongly discouraged from yelling or cheering.”

No cheers in hockey? Good luck with that. Some rules are bound to be broken.

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