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Jordan Kirkness is a partner in our North America Employment & Compensation Law Practice Group. Advising and representing employers in all areas of labour, employment and compensation law, Jordan has a broad range of experience in both public and private sectors, including union and non-union workplaces. In every matter, Jordan works hard to understand each client’s individual needs, and provides tailored, strategic and pragmatic advice to assist clients in identifying the best legal solution.

On April 7, 2021, in response to a rise in COVID-19 infections, the Ontario government declared a third provincial emergency under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, and has issued a second Stay-at-Home-Order (“Order“), effective Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. The new Order is fundamentally the same as Ontario’s last Stay-at-Home Order, but comes on the heels of the province-wide “emergency brake” which came into effect on April 3, 2021.

Ontario’s new measures affect many Ontario employers. The Order does not amend the list of essential businesses which are permitted to continue operating, but the government will increase inspections and enforcement by health and safety inspectors and provincial offenses officers at essential businesses, particularly in regional hot zones.


Continue Reading New Measures for Ontario Employers: Ontario Declares Emergency and Implements Second Stay-at-Home Order

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.


Continue Reading COVID-19 Update: Ontario Screening Requirements & Toronto Workplace Outbreak Protocols

In November 2020, Ontario updated its regulations under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, requiring businesses in certain designated public health zones to develop a “safety plan” in response to COVID-19. Since then, the Ontario government’s guidance has been updated, and safety plan requirements have been extended to businesses in all public health zones, including those in “Green-Prevent Zones” and “Lockdown Zones”.
Continue Reading Ontario’s COVID-19 “Safety Plans” for Businesses

This is an update to our recent blog post summarizing Ontario’s required COVID-19 workplace screening tool for businesses.

To recap, the Ontario Government requires most Ontario businesses and organizations to implement particular workplace screening questions, requiring workers and essential visitors to complete a medical questionnaire before entering the workplace each day. These requirements have been established under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020.

Ontario recently updated the workplace screening questions for businesses. You can find the updated questions here. The new version of the screening tool can be completed either online or on-site before the worker enters the workplace.
Continue Reading Ontario Revises COVID-19 Workplace Screening Requirements for Businesses

The Supreme Court of Canada’s recent decision in Fraser v. Canada (Attorney General), 2020 SCC 28 (“Fraser“) raises fundamental questions about how allegations of discrimination under human rights legislation and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (“Charter“) will be adjudicated in the future. At a minimum, employers should carefully review distinctions drawn under workplace policies, practices, and benefits plans—particularly distinctions between full-time employees, part-time employees, and employees on a leave of absence—to ensure those distinctions do not disproportionally impact women with children.
Continue Reading Supreme Court Revisits Workplace Discrimination in the Context of Pension Service Buy-Back

Earlier this summer, several Ontario municipalities established bylaws requiring businesses to ensure masks or face coverings are worn by the public in enclosed public spaces (see our earlier article here). On October 3, 2020, the Ontario government amended the Rules for Areas in Stage 3, O Reg 364/20 (the “amended regulation”), establishing similar requirements for most Ontario businesses, summarized below.

Who Must Wear Masks or Face Coverings?

Generally speaking, businesses and organizations must ensure that anyone located in an indoor area within their premises, or within a vehicle that is operating as part of the business or organization, wears a mask that covers their mouth, nose, and chin.


Continue Reading Ontario Amends Mask and Face Covering Requirements for Businesses

The Ontario Government now requires most Ontario businesses and organizations to implement a workplace screening tool that requires staff members and essential visitors to complete a medical questionnaire before entering the workplace each day. This new requirement is established under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 and became effective on September 26, 2020.
Continue Reading New COVID-19 Workplace Screening Requirements for Ontario Businesses

On July 17, 2020, the federal government announced that it would extend the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program (“CEWS”) until December of 2020, and proposed several significant changes that will, among other things, allow more employers to access subsidies.

On July 20, 2020, the federal government introduced Bill C-20, An Act respecting further COVID-19 measures, to extend and adapt the CEWS program. On July 21, 2020, Bill C-20 received its third reading, and is expected to receive royal assent very soon. If passed, Bill C-20 will retroactively impact the CEWS program, generally commencing with the fifth qualifying period which commenced on July 5, 2020 (subject to a “safe harbour” discussed below).
Continue Reading Federal Government Extends & Amends Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Program