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Bill Watson was called to the Ontario Bar in 1981. Bill Watson’s practice focuses on large issue litigation and the conduct of complex negotiations, domestically and internationally, in the following fields: collective bargaining; government relations; health law; human rights; international labour standards; inquests; labour relations; occupational health and safety and privacy law. Bill served as the Canada-wide negotiator in the negotiation of the first compensation package for victims of HIV tainted blood in the 1990’s. Bill served for 5 years as a member of the Canadian Employer Delegation to the International Labour Organization including a term as the head of that Delegation and Vice-President of the Annual ILO Conference. Bill has served as a member of the Board of Governors of the University of Waterloo since 2011 and previously served as President of the University of Waterloo Alumni Association.

On May 13, 2021, the Ontario government announced that it will extend the province-wide Stay-at-Home Order (O. Reg. 265/21) by two weeks, until June 2, 2021. The government announced that all public health and workplace safety measures under the province-wide emergency brake will remain in effect during this time.
Continue Reading Ontario Extends Province-Wide Stay-at-Home Order Until June 2, 2021

The Toronto Order

The Toronto class order made pursuant to Section 22 (5.0.1) of the Health Protection and Promotion Act (“Toronto Order“), which can be found here, requires owners, operators or occupiers of a business to notify Toronto Public Health via the online COVID-19 Workplace Reporting Tool as soon as they become aware of 5 or more COVID infections in the workplace within a 14-calendar-day period. The Toronto Order grants discretion to the City to order a full or partial closure of the workplace, or shift/work area mass dismissal, when there has been 5 or more confirmed or probable COVID cases within a 14-calendar-day period. Once closed, the owners, operators and/or occupiers of a workplace cannot attend the workplace unless necessary to:

  • comply with any applicable laws;
  • allow for inspections, maintenance and repairs to be carried out;
  • allow for security services to be provided;
  • to deal with critical matters relating to the closure of the workplace if they cannot be done remotely; and
  • access materials, goods, or supplies that may be necessary for the business or organization to continue to operate remotely.


Continue Reading Toronto and Peel Region Public Health Release Orders Requiring Closure of Businesses with 5 or More COVID Infections

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

As COVID-related restrictions begin to be lifted, employers are properly focused on ensuring that their workplaces and workforces are prepared for reopening. However, there is some suggestion that full or partial reclosings, followed by subsequent reopenings, may need to occur until a vaccine is developed, mass immunity exists, or sufficient treatment methods are implemented. As

Our last installment focused on preparing physical workplaces for reopening, having regard to public health and occupational health and safety requirements. At this point, employers following along are alive to critical legal considerations that are unique to physical workplaces. In this installment of The Canadian Employers’ Reopening Playbook we discuss complex legal and practical considerations to return workforces to “COVID-prepared” workplaces.
Continue Reading The Canadian Employers’ Reopening Playbook (Part 3)

Planning the Return to Work Process

With the pandemic situation continuously evolving, it can be difficult to think about anything besides the immediate response. The early days of the pandemic required employers to act fast and make quick decisions to protect workers, safeguard client/customer relationships, and stabilize operations. But, as restrictions are gradually lifted, and we move beyond the immediate crisis phase, employers across Canada need to carefully plan how to reopen workplaces, resume operations, and get people back to work. A carefully planned and deliberate approach to reopening is required to protect workers in the short-term and remain resilient in the long-term.

This installment of The Canadian Employers’ Reopening Playbook will address key issues employers should consider when planning to reopen physical workspaces.
Continue Reading The Canadian Employers’ Reopening Playbook (Part 2)

Why Have a Playbook?

As provincial governments move towards reopening their economies and taking steps to return to normal, employers must balance a range of important – and, at times, conflicting – considerations.

Some of the key questions may seem obvious:

  • Are we allowed to reopen and if so, when, and with what restrictions?
  • What steps are required to keep employees and all other individuals who come into or onto our premises safe?
  • How do we get our employees back to work, and what if they don’t want to return at this time?
  • How will reopening impact the availability of government support programs for us and our employees?

Over the coming days, through a series of client alerts, we will explore these questions and more, providing detailed and practical guidance that employers can draw upon and adapt for their specific workplaces. The Canadian Employers’ Reopening Playbook will break down common employment-related issues employers should consider when:

  1. Planning the return to work process;
  2. Implementing the return to work process; and
  3. Operating in a changed environment.


Continue Reading The Canadian Employers’ Reopening Playbook (Part 1)

Join us on Wednesday, October 17, 2018 for an interactive seminar in our Whitespace Legal Collab in Toronto. Our talented team will share their perspectives and facilitate an exchange of ideas and best practices on hot button issues including:

  • Ensuring the workplace doesn’t go to pot
  • Bill 148: where are we now?
  • Responding to #MeToo

With the newly elected PC majority government, change is the one certainty that Ontario employers can expect. The specifics of what the change will look like have not been spelled out since the PC five-point platform did not touch on areas that directly impact employers. We can nonetheless anticipate that this government will consider initiatives to improve the competitiveness of Ontario businesses, such as the following:
Continue Reading The Big Blue Machine Returns: What’s Next for Employers

Recent polling suggests that the June 7th Ontario election is a hotly contested race with the NDP currently holding a lead in the polls and the PCs in second place. We are closely monitoring the election developments to keep you informed as to what a new government will mean for Ontario employers.

Below we outline the NDP’s proposed reforms to employment and labour laws. If pursued, the NDP’s proposed initiatives set out in their platform will significantly impact employers and go well beyond the changes recently introduced by the Ontario government under Bill 148.
Continue Reading Another Orange Crush? What to Expect from an NDP Government