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.

Ontario State of Emergency

The Province of Ontario continues to be under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act which is regularly re-evaluated. However, on May 19, the Government of Ontario officially entered the first stage of its Framework for reopening the province. As part of this initial stage, the government is permitting the reopening of some outdoor recreational amenities, including boat clubs for recreational use. This includes rowing clubs for recreational use only.

Additionally, some individual sports have been identified as being able to train, as long as the following are met (no exceptions):

  • Training conducted by a PSO or Member Club in good standing with Row Ontario
  • Facilities are only used by members & no spectators (other than parent/guardian for athletes under 18 years old)
  • Each person needs to keep 2m from every other person
  • No activity can happen that is likely to result in people coming within 2m of each other
  • Only Washroom & First Aid facilities can be accessed in the building
  • All activities conducted with normal rules/policies of Club & PSO
  • AND follow rules/policies specific to COVID-19, – this means that protocols within the RCA Risk Assessment and Mitigation Checklist Tool are followed and clubs score within the low to moderate risk categories (more information on RCA Risk Assessment Tool is found below)

Additionally, the Government announced that on Friday, June 12, some regions in the province will advancing to Stage 2 in the Ontario reopening plans. To view the latest news release from the Government of Ontario regarding the state of emergency, please visit the below link:

Ontario Permits More Businesses and Services to Open in Coming Days (June 8)

Ontario Extends Emergency Orders to Keep People Safe (May 19)

Government of Ontario Newsroom

List of Essential Workplaces

Reopening of Ontario 

Row Ontario’s COVID-19 Response to Premier Ford’s May 14 Announcement

Recently, the Ontario Government released their framework for the province to return to activities that all of Ontario want to get back to enjoying before COVID-19.

Numbers of new cases are being monitored closely to give more guidance on when activities can slowly resume. Resumption in most cases will be in the reverse order to what we saw with shut down. The list of essential services will expand again, and open park space will slowly start to permit more people to visit as the first phase.

Safety in workplaces (for employees and volunteers) is a priority and once we receive those guidelines Row Ontario will assist clubs in understanding the requirements. RCA has provided a Risk Assessment Tool with rowing specific guidelines and again we will continue to help clubs make those national guidelines fit the specifics as laid out in our province. Any efforts to get the shells back on the water will need to be done meeting all of the guidelines that are laid out for Ontario to reopen. Together we will work together to slowly and safely look at how rowing can take place in a post COVID-19 Ontario.

RCA COVID-19 Relief Funding Application

Rowing Canada Aviron is aware of the significant challenges our member organizations are faced with during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are providing relief funding for organizations with the most financial need to support the continuation of their current programming and to stabilize those clubs that are at risk of not being able to open in the future as a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

RCA Member Clubs or Special Associations that have completed the RCA Annual Declaration Process and have no outstanding finance receivables due to RCA are eligible for this funding.  Members that have applied for a deferral of 2020 RCA Annual Dues are eligible to apply.

Application Process 
Complete the online form by 5 pm PT July 13. The online form will not provide a copy of the finalized application to the submitter so please use this PDF of the form to prepare your application and to have a record of your submission.

Members will not be required to submit supporting evidence demonstrating financial need as part of their application however they will be required to provide copies at RCA’s request if necessary.

Funding amounts will be dependent on volume of applications and level of financial need. Opportunities to apply for additional funding may be offered in the fall of 2020.

Any questions about how to complete the application can be directed to Stephen McMurray.

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.
  • Presently only singles (1x) rowing is recommended.
  • 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.

RCA Return to Rowing Planning Webinar

Row Ontario Best Practices for Reopening Tool

This tool is designed to support club work in preparing procedures for reopening. 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.
  • Develop a decision making plan for each regatta and event your club is planning to host. Highlight key dates decisions that need to be made, reducing as much financial risk as possible.
  • 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.
  • If your club is scheduled to hold an AGM, new changes to the Government of Ontario Emergency Order offers an extension for organizations who must hold AGM’s over the coming months. Regulations around being able to hold them electronically have also changed. 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 Response Plan

To help aid financial burdens during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Government has implemented some economic support programs for businesses. We have provided an overview at the below link from information found on the Federal Government website. Please note this information is current as of April 16, 2020. We will be updating this document with any changes as more information is released.

Federal Economic Support Programs That May Benefit Clubs

Included in the document is information on the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, Temporary Wage Subsidy Program, Canada Emergency Business Account, Deferral of GST/HST Payments, and How to Register for CRA My Business Account.

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

Training Guidelines During COVID-19

We know that all rowers want to keep training during the COVID-19 crisis. We encourage you to stay active to maintain your health, but it’s imperative that you train smart and safe. The following information was developed by Dr. Mike Wilkinson, Rowing Canada Aviron’s (RCA) Chief Medical Officer and Jordan Clarke, RCA’s NextGen Sport Science Lead.

Guidelines on Appropriate Exercise

  • Self-isolation is recommended for everyone. For those who are in self-quarantine for reasons of recent travel, symptoms, or contact with cases of COVID-19 MUST remain indoors; no outside exercise allowed.
  • Athletes should exercise at home but may exercise in wide-open outdoor spaces if available and if it does not violate the state of emergency. You should not exercise in large groups, and maintain distance from others (>2m at all times), and you should not come into contact with frequently touched surfaces of any kind.
  • The focus of athletes’ exercise programs at this time should be to maintain general health, not to achieve world-best performance capacity. Any annual training plans will all have to be re-written once things settle and when the 2020 rowing schedule is determined.
  • The optimal dose of exercise from an immune system point-of-view is moderate-to-vigorous aerobic activity (60-120 minutes per day of moderate intensity activity). Maximal or very-high-intensity training is not contributory.
  • Resistance training to maintain lean mass is good; work with whatever equipment you have available, perhaps just body mass, inertia and gravity!
  • Now is also a good time to work on things like stability, balance, and flexibility.

2020 Rowing Season Updates

We, like all of you, are hoping to resume the 2020 rowing season but we recognize that the situation is fluid and the possibility of either postponing or cancelling events throughout the Spring and Summer has now become a reality.

Row Ontario has announced that the Row Ontario Small Boat Trials (May 23), the Row Ontario Masters Championship (July 12) and the Row Ontario Championships (July 25-26) have been postponed. In addition, the Tony Biernacki Sr. Memorial Regatta (June 20) has been cancelled. The possible rescheduling of the postponed events to later this season will be done in concert with key stakeholders throughout the rowing community. Row Ontario hopes to host the Tony B. in 2021.

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

On Friday, March 13 Row Ontario announced that all currently scheduled in-person coaching and umpiring clinics are suspended until further notice. 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

RADAR for Canada Summer Games Athletes

We recognize that in light of the circumstances some programs have suspended training. As such, athletes may not be able to complete their full battery of tests for RADAR by the March 31, 2020 deadline. We encourage athletes to submit any and all scores that they currently have and if there are absences or an athlete is unable to complete RADAR for the March 31 deadline, this will not be counted against them for selection for the 2021 Canada Summer Games or any other Row Ontario initiatives.

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

Upcoming RCA Initiatives

Zoom Webinar – Sweep and Sculling Technique: A Review – Thursday, June 18 – 1pm EST

Information from RCA on Virtual Regattas

Many of our member organizations are considering hosting virtual events in lieu of their regattas that have been cancelled or postponed. Virtual events do not meet RCA’s definition of a regatta and thus typical regatta protocols, such as application for sanction, posting to RegattaCentral, and collection of seat fees do not apply.

RegattaCentral has added a “virtual” race category and has chosen to waive registration fees. More information is found here.


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.

Administrative Coordinator: Greta Chase

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