April 23, 2021
Dr. Dirk Huyer
COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Secretariat
25 Morton Shulman Ave
Toronto, ON M3M 0B1
I want to thank you and your colleagues for meeting with our team at the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) to discuss the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Ontario. OREA’s 80,000 REALTOR® Members applaud the work the Ontario Government has done to protect the health and safety of Ontarians throughout the pandemic, and we recognize the challenges associated with the vaccination rollout.
As we discussed in our meeting, OREA believes our Members should be captured under the “financial services” designation as part of Phase 2 of the Ontario COVID-19 Vaccination Plan. We appreciate the Province designating real estate as an essential service at the onset of the pandemic. Throughout the pandemic, REALTORS® have continued to prioritize the health and safety of their clients and Ontario’s consumers. While our Members continue to conduct remote business wherever possible, there are situations where clients are unwilling to make such a significant investment without physically seeing a property. Under the provincial laws governing real estate professionals, a REALTOR® is required to accompany potential home buyers inside a home during an in-person showing. As a result, REALTORS® are often required to meet with clients in-person, where proper physical distancing measures are difficult to uphold. This is why the Government determined real estate to be an essential service in the first place, and why REALTORS® should be included under the “financial services” designation as part of Phase 2 of the Ontario COVID-19 Vaccination Plan.
Other jurisdictions have included real estate agents under the category of “essential workers” and prioritized them for vaccines. According to the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), “a real estate professional” is considered an “essential worker” that has a higher risk for infection than the general public. States like New Jersey are acting on this guidance and have allowed real estate professionals to register for vaccines, following healthcare workers and frontline workers (e.g., EMS, police, firefighters, teachers, daycare providers, etc.). Other states, including Maryland, North Carolina and Oregon, have prioritized real estate professionals in their vaccine rollout for similar reasons. In Missouri, real estate professionals became eligible to receive the vaccine as part of their Phase 2 rollout, in which real estate professionals were deemed to be part of the “financial services sector” of essential workers.
OREA strongly believes that vaccinations should be available first and foremost to healthcare workers, teachers, first responders, daycare workers, the elderly, people who are immunocompromised, and others deemed to be at risk. However, Phase 2 of the Ontario Vaccination Plan includes essential workers who cannot work from home, and as such, REALTORS® should be captured under the “financial services” designation and should be eligible to receive a vaccine with all other essential workers.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
CEO, Ontario Real Estate Association
Assistant Deputy Minister, Ontario COVID-19 Vaccine Secretariat
Executive Lead (Acting), Vaccine Response Distribution, Logistics and Administration