Row Ontario is here to support our member clubs and rowers as we navigate our way through this unprecedented crisis. We have developed this page as a way for the Ontario rowing community to stay up-to-date on the latest developments in the COVID-19 virus and how they impact rowing throughout Ontario. We will be updating this page as necessary as the COVID-19 pandemic progresses.

COVID-19 in Ontario

The Province of Ontario continues to closely monitor and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Currently all of Ontario is under Stage 3 of the Reopening of Ontario Plan but regulations and limitations are fluid.

The current legislation for Ontario combined with the approved sanctioned activities from RCA (below) set the rules for rowing in our province. Each club is monitoring the changing situation and Row Ontario is committed to keeping our members up to date.

The current legislation can be found on the government website here:

Current Legislation in Ontario

Additional announcements from the provincial government are available here:

Government of Ontario Newsroom

New COVID-19 Restrictions Announced for Hotspots

New restrictions in COVID-19 hotspots, which currently include Toronto, Ottawa and Peel, have come into effect over Thanksgiving Weekend. In reviewing the revised and updated legislation that was published yesterday, we wanted to share our understanding of what this means for our member clubs and their rowers.

With the announcement, Toronto, Ottawa and Peel are now back under Stage 2 regulations. There is an updated version of the regulations for Stage 2 which is similar in the most part, from a rowing perspective, to the regulations that we experienced in June and early July.

Rules for Areas in Stage 2

The highlights of impact for our clubs in Toronto, Ottawa, and Peel, as we understand the legislation, include:

  • No training for sports where athletes may come within 2m of each other – this means for areas in these regions training is restricted to singles.
  • Locker rooms, change rooms and club houses must be closed except for washroom access, access to equipment and first aid.
  • Events, meetings or other types of gatherings are each limited to 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors with space for physical distancing (This does not include work activities but includes social and sporting events).

We will do our best to update you as COVID-19 announcements and changes continue with updates planned at the upcoming Town Hall. If you have any immediate questions, please contact Lisa Roddie ( or Andrew Backer (

Please continue to be vigilant and follow protocols to keep rowers and their families safe.

RCA Sanctioning

Under the guidance of Chief Medical Officer Dr. Mike Wilkinson, RCA is proceeding with a phased approach to lifting restrictions on sanctioned activity. RCA is responsible for determining which activities are currently sanctioned and therefore covered under RCA insurance.

RCA, in partnership with Row Ontario, has worked to lift restrictions on sanctioned activity through a provincially customized approach in line with changing provincial regulations and with our interpretation of how they apply to rowing.

RCA Risk Assessment and Mitigation Checklist Tool

To support clubs in their planning and ability to prepare to reopen, RCA has designed a RCA Risk Assessment and Mitigation Checklist Tool. This resource is based on the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations and was developed in collaboration with RCA’s Chief Medical Officer, national partners and Provincial Rowing Associations.

Clubs are expected to complete the tool to determine their Club Risk Assessment Score. RCA will not sanction activity, and thus not provide insurance coverage, for a club that has a HIGH RISK or VERY HIGH RISK score.

The Mitigation Checklist includes expectations that are considered mandatory, highly recommended, or enhanced. At a minimum, clubs must ensure that all mandatory expectations are met to ensure their activity is sanctioned and thus covered with RCA insurance. Clubs that require support to meet a mandatory expectation or want to request an exception to a mandatory expectation should complete this form.

Completion of the tool does not in itself grant permission for reopening. Clubs must abide by their local, provincial and federal guidelines when making decisions and assessments for reopening.

Key Considerations for Return to Rowing:

  • Clubs must complete a Risk Assessment Tool and Mitigation Checklist and maintain a copy for their records.
  • Activity will not be sanctioned by RCA at clubs that have a HIGH RISK or VERY HIGH RISK Assessment Score. Accordingly, RCA insurance coverage will not be provided.
  • All participants must be registered in the RCA Web Registration System before participating in any rowing program.
  • RCA guidelines and tools may change at any time to align with health authorities.
  • The Risk Assessment Tool and Mitigation Checklist is for Return to Rowing Club Program activity on water and does not apply to dry land training or associated facilities, or for delivery of regattas.
  • Any individual that chooses to row outside of sanctioned club activities does so at their own risk. They will not have coverage provided by RCA insurance.
  • Owners of private equipment should continue to respect facility access restrictions as issued by local government and/or the club.

Current RCA Sanctioned Activity for Ontario (From the RCA website)

Approved Sanctioned Activity Additional Information Effective Date
1X for experienced rowers May 19, 2020
2X/- for experienced rowers June 29, 2020
1X for those new to rowing July 20, 2020
2X for those new to rowing with an experienced rower from the same household July 20, 2020
Provincial Specific Sanctioned Activity
1X, 2X/-,4X/4+/4-, 8+ for experienced and those new to rowing who are contained within a cohort and where necessary, a rowing circle Rowing Circle* not to exceed 15 people. September 14, 2020
Cohort* size not to exceed 100 individuals. RCA recommends that cohort size be limited as much as possible to manage risk.
A maximum of 100 individuals who are physically distancing (maintaining 2m of distance) are allowed on site (50 is maximum inside at one time). The number may need to be smaller, dictated by site size to allow the required space for 2m physically distancing.
*Rowing Circle: A defined number of individuals who regularly are rowing together and come within 2m of each other while participating in rowing activities. Each rowing circle could contain crew with substitutes, coxie and coaches depending on your program design and set up.
*Cohort: A defined number of individuals who interact with each other within the rowing environment while maintaining physical distancing of 2m at minimum. The cohort should only include the same individuals. Cohorts may have multiple rowing circles operating within them as well as individual rowers.

Additional Information and Considerations

  • Clubs must have a completed RCA Risk Assessment and Mitigation Checklist tool on record, however they are NOT required to update it with provincial specific lifting of RCA restrictions on sanctioned activity. Clubs must update their own protocols to reflect any new changes.
  • Clubs should ensure that refund policies are clearly communicated in all advertisements for new programming. RCA fees will be refunded for programs that are cancelled prior to their start date due to COVID-19.
  • Clubs should continue to offer dedicated “safe” training time for High Risk individuals as outlined in the RCA Risk Assessment and Mitigation Checklist tool.
  • RCA is the authoritative body for what is considered RCA sanctioned activity however clubs must also abide by their local, provincial and federal public health guidelines when making decisions and assessments related to the programming they offer.
  • RCA encourages our clubs to continue applying diligence in your planning. Clubs are not obligated to offer additional programming beyond their current capacity and we expect participants to support the decisions of club leaders.

Row Ontario Best Practices for Reopening Tool

This tool is designed to support club work in preparing procedures for following COVID-19 protocols. This is a template and each club’s situation is unique and could require further procedures. All clubs are first required to complete the RCA Risk Assessment and Mitigation Tool.

All club approved procedures are subject to change due to Provincial or local Municipal Regulations and those will take precedence.

This tool has been built with input from Rowing Canada, the Ontario legislative requirements including Ministry of Labour and Public Health Advisories and some Ontario rowing clubs. A special acknowledgement to Doug Rourke from the Georgian Bay Rowing Club for his work leading to the development of this tool.

Row Ontario – Best Practices for Reopening Tool

Row Ontario Recommendations for Clubs

Please find below a list of recommendations to assist with club stability throughout the COVID-19 crisis:

  • Build multiple financial budgets and contingency plans. The unpredictable nature of this crisis should have you planning for multiple scenarios; best case, worst case, and somewhere in between.
  • Review current authority/ decisions making practices and put in place contingency plans in the event decision makers become incapacitated.
  • Look out for each other and communicate with your members to keep them up to date on the latest developments within your club.
  • Ensure your club is following the ongoing legislation requirements around operations, not only those related to COVID. These include ongoing health and safety, concussions, and employee training. Additionally, the organization will have to host their AGM within the regulations provided (Traditional Spring AGM’s have until October 22nd in most cases).
  • Contact COAST Manager Lisa Roddie for any questions about your AGM.

Follow Row Ontario and COAST on social media to stay up to date on the latest announcements. For additional resources on club governance visit the COAST Library

Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Resources

To help aid financial burdens during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Government has implemented some economic support programs for businesses. Here are some programs and their links that may be of relevance to rowing clubs in Ontario:

Canadian Red Cross – Support for Community Organizations (Apply Oct. 5-30)

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy – Available with new guidelines until Dec. 19, 2020

Canada Emergency Business Account – available until Dec. 31, 2020
(Note organizations apply directly with their regular financial institution)

Ontario Trillium Foundation – Resilient Communities Fund – Apply before Dec. 2, 2020

Any questions regarding these programs can be directed to Coast Manager Lisa Roddie.

2020 Rowing Season Updates

At this point there are no sanctioned events available to rowers for 2020. We will continue to monitor both the status of COVID and associated legislation within Ontario and work with direction from RCA regarding sanctioning and best practices.

The health and safety of our rowers, coaches, umpires, volunteers, spectators, and the community at large is our top priority. We continue to be in constant contact with all relevant health authorities and will follow their recommendations.

Coaching and Umpire Clinics

Due to the many unknown factors related to COVID-19, currently all scheduled in-person coaching and umpiring clinics are suspended until further notice. Decisions will be made for each clinic as they approach. Registered participants for upcoming clinics will be notified a minimum of two weeks in advance of the date of their clinic if the clinic will be rescheduled for a later date.

Anyone who has registered and paid for a clinic will be given a credit toward the rescheduled clinic or can request a full refund by emailing

Canada Summer Games 

It was announced in September 2020 that the Canada Summer Games hosted by the Niagara region planned for 2021 has been postponed to 2022. Row Ontario will update the selection process and timing to reflect this postponement for the Spring of 2021.

Workplace Safety and Prevention During COVID-19

These resources have been prepared in partnership with the Government of Ontario:

Keeping Safe During the COVID-19 Pandemic

  • Business Resources
  • Helpful Tips and Tools
  • COVID-19 Information and Infection Control
  • Mental Health
  • Work Remotely

Workplace Safety and Prevention Services

  • This resource has specific guidelines about marina operations. There are similarities to club operations, however clubs will need to address other additional issues.

How to Handwash

E-Training for Workplace Safety and Prevention

Row Ontario COVID-19 Member Club Town Halls

Row Ontario will be periodically holding conference calls for Ontario member clubs in order to update them on the latest developments in the COVID-19 crisis and how it impacts the Ontario rowing community. The synopsis from each call can be found below:

COVID-19 Member Club Town Hall – March 27

COVID-19 Member Club Town Hall – April 8

COVID-19 Member Club Town Hall – April 22

COVID-19 Member Club Town Hall – May 6 

COVID-19 Member Club Town Hall – May 20

COVID-19 Member Club Town Hall – June 24

COVID-19 Member Club Town Hall – July 15

Row Ontario Office

With all Canadians being urged to limit social interactions and work from home where possible, all Row Ontario staff will be working from home for the foreseeable future. We will not be able to take phone calls to our office number but are still available via email during working hours. You can find the contact information for all Row Ontario staff below as well as our areas of responsibility so you know who to direct questions to. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have.

Executive Director: Andrew Backer
Strategic Planning, Grant Applications, Board and Committee Governance, Financial Operations, Human Resources, Risk Management and Revenue Generation

COAST Manager: Lisa Roddie

COAST Program – Club Operations & Governance Support

Manager, High Performance: Chris Marshall

Athlete Development (Flatwater, Para & Coastal); Provincial Development Teams – including Canada Summer Games team; High Performance Partnership Management; Quest for Gold—Ontario Athlete Assistance Program (OAAP)

Manager, Sport Development: Andrea Miller

Coach Development Pathway management, including Provincial Coach Development; Umpire Development

Manager, Communications & Community Engagement: Frank Christie

Website Management; Social Media; Row Ontario Communications – including monthly newsletter; Community Engagement; Media Relations; Branding; Annual Club Membership and Participant registration.

Manager, Competitions & Events: Stephen Ross

Planning, logistics, and delivery for all Row Ontario hosted regattas; Liaising with and supporting the Row Ontario Sanctions Officer and Sanctions Committee; Ensuring alignment between the athlete development pathway and Row Ontario’s competition strategy; Managing the planning and delivery of the Row Ontario conference.

Coordinator, High Performance: Greta Chase

Accounts payable and receivables; Member club tracking and invoicing; High performance program travel, logistics, entries & team uniforms; Regatta auditing support; Administrative support.