The spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus — the virus responsible for COVID-19 — is now anticipated to reach pandemic levels. Officials from the Public Health Agency of Canada reiterate that the risk of a mass outbreak in Canada remains low, but have encouraged and enforced precautionary measures.

Employers should continue to be vigilant in ensuring a safe and healthy workplace. In addition to our previous client alert, employers should be mindful of the following checklist:

1. Appoint one or more coordinators who will be responsible for tracking and communicating the latest developments of COVID-19. The coordinator(s) should have the authority to make or advise on emergency decisions such as office closures and meeting cancellations.

  • According to the size of the employer’s organization, a cross-functional team may be necessary with designated individuals to handle issues such as employee health and safety, medical/personal leaves and accommodations, communications, and compliance.


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With the spread of the novel 2019 coronavirus, employers may face significant disruptions in the workplace.

As of January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. Officials from the Public Health Agency of Canada have stated that the risk of a major outbreak in Canada remains low, but has encouraged extra precautionary measures. Two cases in Ontario, and one in British Columbia have been confirmed.

Employers should be aware of the legal framework within which they can prepare, manage, and address developments caused by the spread of this virus.
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In its first decision of 2019, the Ontario Court of Appeal has overturned the lower court’s decision in Heller v. Uber Technologies Inc., 2019 ONCA 1. The Court of Appeal held that an arbitration clause requiring arbitration in the Netherlands of disputes between drivers and Uber to be invalid and unenforceable. Based on the presumption that Uber drivers are employees of Uber, the Court of Appeal found that the arbitration clause was a prohibited contracting out of Ontario’s Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA).
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The Ontario government introduced Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act  (“Bill 66”) on December 6, 2018. If passed, Bill 66 will make amendments to several pieces of legislation in Ontario. The government has stated that its objective in introducing these changes is to “lower business costs to make Ontario more competitive” and to “harmonize regulatory requirements with other jurisdictions, end duplication and reduce barriers to investment.” We outline below the proposed changes to the province’s labour and employment legislation below.
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We’re pleased to share Jordan Kirkness’s article, here, on the impact to employers of Bill 47, Making Ontario Open for Business Act. The article was published in today’s edition of the Globe and Mail.

If it comes into effect in its current form, Bill 47 will reverse most of Bill 148 (the previous

On October 23, 2018, the Ontario government introduced Bill 47, Making Ontario Open For Business Act, 2018, to repeal numerous provisions of the previous government’s Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017  (Bill 148). The government indicated that the proposed amendments are designed to “remove the worst burdens that prevent Ontario businesses from creating jobs while expanding opportunities for workers.” We outline the key provisions of Bill 47 below.
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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.
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The Ontario Government is abandoning its current method for calculating public holiday pay which came into effect under the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 (“Bill 148”). Employers will need to revert back to the previous calculation method, although this reversal is only temporary. Ontario plans to introduce yet another calculation method following a review of the public holiday system, which is proposed to occur later this year.
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Canada’s national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, recently hosted its Solving Workplace Challenges 2018 conference and followed up with a full page article featuring insights from Chris Burkett’s panel discussion on pressing topics in employment law. See the excerpt below or access the complete article here.
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