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To ensure Ontario employers are up-to-date, we outline two new developments affecting businesses operating during the COVID-19 pandemic below, including:

  • the implementation of enhanced COVID-19 outbreak protocols for workplaces in the City of Toronto; and
  • revisions to the COVID-19 screening tool required for Ontario employees.

Minor Revisions to the Ontario-Wide COVID-19 Screening Tool

In our recent blog post, we announced changes that were made to the Ontario screening questions that businesses must use everyday to screen their workers for COVID-19. On February 26, 2021, further revisions were made to the screening tool. Screening questions were updated to include two new questions:

  • “In the last 14 days, have you or anyone you live with travelled outside of Canada?”
  • “Is anyone you live with currently experiencing any new COVID-19 symptoms and/or waiting for test results after experiencing symptoms?”

Ontario employers should review their workplace screening questions and ensure these new questions are included.

Additional Requirements for Toronto Workplaces with a COVID-19 Outbreak

Toronto Public Health defines a workplace outbreak as two or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 with an epidemiological link in a workplace. On March 3, 2021, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health implemented a Section 22 Class Order (the “Order“) under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, impacting certain workplaces with an active COVID-19 outbreak.

With limited exceptions, the Order imposes enhanced public health requirements on workplaces that are experiencing an active COVID-19 outbreak. Persons who own or operate a business must ensure enhanced protocols are implemented during an outbreak in their workplace, including protocols concerning COVID-19 screening, testing, hygiene, mask-wearing, physical distancing, capacity limits, signage, and attendance records. The Order also requires businesses to designate a contact person to manage everyday communications with Toronto Public Health, and confirms Toronto Public Health’s authority to inspect, instruct and close workplaces in the context of an outbreak.

Employers should review the text of the Order for details and ensure they are prepared to comply in case they experience an outbreak in their workplace. Individuals that fail to comply with the Order may receive a fine of up to $5,000, while corporations may be subject to a fine of up to $25,000. Fines can be issued every day or for part of each day that a workplace does not comply. Alternatively, $750 tickets can be issued.

The Order is meant to complement additional public health requirements for workplaces that are in place under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act and other legislation. The Order is not meant to substitute or replace other workplace measures.

Many thanks to Alissa Scarcello for her assistance in preparing this update.