COVID-19 Updates for the Postdoctoral Fellows Community

Last updated: October 1, 2020

We want to thank each of you for your continued commitment to the University, especially as we navigate our way through this difficult period. Please know that your efforts, dedication and hard work are appreciated.

Coping with Stress

We know this is a difficult time. Please know that supports continue to be available to you, including the University’s Employee & Family Assistance Program.

Monitoring COVID-19 Updates

We will update the SGS Postdoc page regularly with important updates for U of T’s graduate community. Check the University of Toronto’s coronavirus (COVID-19) updates and frequently asked questions pages for updates relevant to the whole U of T community, including links to travel advisories and public health guidance on self-isolation. It is also important to stay up to date with the advice provided by your department/Faculty.

UPDATE:  As of February 22, 2021, postdoctoral fellows arriving by air must proceed to a Government of Canada approved hotel near the airport to await the results of their COVID-19 test obtained upon arrival at the airport. You will be able to proceed to your planned quarantine location in Ontario after you have received a negative test result.  Checklists are available on the Government of Canada website for travellers by air and travellers driving to Canada.

COVID-19 Testing Requirements

  • Travelling by air:
    • The Government of Canada requires a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours prior to boarding your flight to Canada. Please refer to the Government of Canada’s website regarding travel restrictions for flying to and within Canada and pre-departure testing for details on specific situations.
    • International travellers arriving at Toronto Pearson International Airport will be required to take another COVID-19 test.
  • Travelling by land:  
    • As of February 15, a negative COVID-19 test taken within the previous 72 hours is required to be shown at all land border crossings.  Please refer to the Government of Canada’s website regarding travel restrictions for arriving by land. In addition, as of February 22, 2021, travellers entering Canada at the land border will be required to take a COVID-19 molecular test on arrival and toward the end of their 14-day quarantine. The Government of Canada will run testing sites at points of entry across Canada. See website for locations.
  • For all travellers, the COVID-19 test 72 hours prior to boarding and documentation must comply with the Government of Canada requirements. Proof of test results should be kept for the quarantine period.

A mandatory COVID-19 test during the quarantine period is still required.

School of Graduate Studies Updates

Check the SGS website for important updates for U of T’s graduate community. 


Postdoc holders of Tri-agency awards (SSHRC, NSERC, and CIHR) should review the FAQ page for information about COVID-related extensions. Employee postdocs can review information provided by the Vice-President, Research and Innovation to faculty holders of Tri-agency grants.

Please click here to visit the SGS Research Engagement/Re-Engagement Guidelines for Non-Employee Post-Doctoral Fellows.

Please click here to visit the SGS Research Engagement/Re-Engagement Guidelines for Employee Post-Doctoral Fellows.

Continuity of Pay

The University is committed to ensuring that all CUPE 3902 Unit 5 postdocs (employee postdocs) will be covered under pay continuity until April 30. Employee postdoctoral fellows will continue to be compensated in the event of any event cancellations, programming reductions, government required shutdowns, or any other operational closures during this time. More details on how this will be operationalized will be shared by the Division of Human Resources & Equity with managers and impacted employees in the coming days. Trainee postdoctoral fellows should consult the various awarding bodies regarding continuity of award payments.

If You Are Sick or in Self-Isolation

At this time, no employee is required to have a doctor’s note or medical certificate for cold or flu-related absences, or for self-isolation. Individuals who are not symptomatic for COVID-19 but meet the criteria for recommended self-isolation based on public health advice should work from home during this 14-day period. If symptoms of illness arise during self-isolation, please follow the sick leave procedures as outlined.

In order to track COVID-19 related absences as advised by public health, we request that all postdoctoral fellows who are absent due to flu-like symptoms or are self-isolating complete the Non-Appointed Employee Absence Self-Declaration form. Please continue to inform your Business Officer and supervisor through normal processes if you will be absent due to illness, including cold or flu-related absences.

If You are Teaching

All Postdoc Teaching Assistants currently under contract will continue to receive their full pay. Their roles may need to be modified in response to the cancellation of in-person classes, in accordance with collective agreement provisions

If Your Contract is Expiring

Recent travel restrictions imposed by the federal government may affect your travel plans. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has recommended that foreign nationals who are in Canada and whose temporary resident status may expire shortly may submit an application to change their status to Visitors. All foreign nationals must apply online and must meet all visa requirements, including paying the related fees. If you do not have an IRCC online account, you must create one in order to submit the visitor extension application. The cost of changing your status to Visitor’s status is $100 Canadian.

If you require further information on COVID-19 or you have questions on how the travel restrictions may affect you, please review the resources below.

Special measures to help temporary and permanent residents and applicants affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID‑19)
New measures for COVID-19 response
Health Canada

Can’t find the information you require? Please email the Immigration at U of T team with your immigration-related questions.

Postdocs in International Locations

The Government of Canada is creating a special emergency loan program for Canadians and Permanent Residents abroad to help secure their return to Canada. International postdocs working abroad should consult their Consulate General to see if there is a similar program available through their home governments.


We expect that most of our faculty and postdoctoral fellows will be working from home. However, some postdocs will be required to come to our campuses. We remain committed to protecting your health and safety.

We are asking that where possible supervisors implement flexible work arrangements (i.e. shifted hours of work), following the guidance provided by the Division of the Vice-President, Research and Innovation. A COVID-19 Temporary Special Telecommuting Work Arrangements Guideline is available on the HR & Equity website as a resource for any employees who need to work from home. We are recommending that postdocs who have been directed to self-isolate, are immunocompromised, or who must stay home due to childcare or caregiver needs should be prioritized by their supervisors when creating individual work from home arrangements.

We also recognize that many of our postdocs are parents and caregivers and may need to work from home while schools are closed to balance their childcare needs. We have asked supervisors to be as flexible as possible when considering telecommuting requests based on this need.

Postdocs should only be required to come to the University if it is not possible to perform the core duties of their work from home or it is not operationally feasible.

Contact Us

Don’t hesitate to contact us if you need anything: