HOW TO CALCULATE YOUR CANADA WAGE SUBSIDY

The Canada Revenue Agency’s has an online calculator for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (“CEWS”).

As a Canadian employer who has seen a drop in revenue due to COVID-19, you may be eligible for a subsidy to cover part of your employee wages, retroactive to March 15. This subsidy will enable you to re-hire workers, help prevent further job losses, and ease you back into normal operations.

The CEWS is extended to December 19, 2020, but is likely to be extended to the summer of 2021.

It now uses a new variable-rate subsidy, but the subsidy is arguably now more difficult to calculate, mostly because it is comprised of two, variable-rate, subsidies:

  • the “base subsidy,” which is available to employers with any monthly revenue drop; and
  • the “top-up subsidy,” which is only available to employers with a 3-month average revenue drop of over 50%.

The base subsidy is calculated as a multiple of the employer’s monthly revenue drop percentage, and the multiple varies depending on the Claim Period. 

Both the base subsidy and the top-up subsidy are subject to a maximum threshold.

Employers may also compare revenue based on the current month or the prior month, as well as a special “safe harbour rule” for Claim Periods 5 and 6 to ensure employers receive a subsidy at least equal to what they would have received under the previous flat-rate subsidy rules. These too are of course welcome measures, but also create additional complexity.

One advantage of the calculator is that, to account for the changes to the rules beginning in Claim Period 5, it will automatically apply the best available subsidy rate based on the information entered.

The calculator is designed to assist employers in navigating the new rules, as well as to enable them to:

  • calculate (based on their particular circumstances) their base and/or top-up subsidy amounts to enter into their CEWS online application form;
  • preview their total estimated subsidy; and
  • print their results and save them to validate their claim.

For employers with under 20 employees, who are entering employee pay on a weekly basis, there is an online calculator option available, into which each employee’s data is entered directly. Employers with 20 or more employees, or who wish to enter pay on a bi-weekly basis, will need to download and complete a spreadsheet to calculate the total eligible remuneration, the base subsidy, and the top-up subsidy.

The current calculator can be used only for Claim Periods 1 to 5, with more periods to be added going forward.

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SEPARATED PARENTS - WILL THE COURT ORDER ONLINE OR IN-PERSON SCHOOLING? IT DEPENDS.............

Mom and Dad are separated, with minor children.

They had a dispute about whether the kids should attend remote, online learning or attend school.

They escalated their dispute to the Family Court.

The Court held they would attend online learning for one semester.

The Court noted:

The policy of the provincial government is that in-person school attendance is optional for the 2020-2021 school year. If parents decide their children should not return to the physical classroom, remote learning is available. This flexibility allows parents to make the best decision for their family. However, this model breaks down where parents have separated and are not like-minded about their children’s best interests. That is the case for [these children]. The result for them over the past weeks has been ambiguity and confusion about their return to school plus increased conflict between their parents on the heels of what has already been many months riddled with change and uncertainty……..There can be no doubt that the school environment offers children social, psychological, and developmental advantages. The question here is whether those benefits outweigh the physical risks of returning to that environment in the context of this two-household family?" 

The Court considered many factors in its decision-making, weighing in favour of minimizing the dispute and declaring online learning would be appropriate, at least temporarily.

So said the Court:

… I take notice of the information widely repeated in the public domain that very young children are likely to be at higher risk due to their immature immune systems.  A return to in-class learning brings increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 and, in turn, increased risk of transmitting the virus to vulnerable family members. It is a risk that I find unnecessary, for this family, at this time. [The children] are good students and are surrounded by trained educators in both households to help them, if needed. Their mother will be in the home every day at least until late January 2021 to guide and supplement their online learning. I am also satisfied that both parents are attentive to the girls’ need for social interaction, social learning, and physical exercise.

…. For these reasons, I find it is in [the children’s] best interests to attend school virtually for the 2020 fall semester and to do so from their mother’s home.  The father is away from the home during the day and the other members of his household are working, either from home or away from the home.

Most important, the Court yet again cautioned separated parents to act flexibly, reasonably and in the best interests of children, which rarely involves a heated, protracted Family Court proceeding. 

I encourage the parties to make every effort to resolve this issue quickly and focus on reducing the conflict between them, especially as the children return to their studies and grapple with the many challenges and changes the world continues to present.  I also urge the parties to consider the most sensible schedule for the children in the context of all their needs and best interests. [The children] deserve nothing less.

The Case:

Joachim v. Joachim, 2020 ONSC 5355

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CERB IN THE CKL ENDS NEXT WEEK - NOW WHAT? EI - THAT'S WHAT. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW.

The Government of Canada has and continues to provide support to Canadians who face ongoing hardships from the COVID-19 pandemic. A few recent updates for those who have had their employment impacted by the pandemic, is a simplified Employment Insurance (EI) program, as well as new income support benefits to take effect as of September 27, 2020. To assist in the transition, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) has been extended by 4 weeks, allowing for a maximum of up to 28 weeks of benefits.

The purpose of this program was designed to assist those who remain unable to work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, provided they meet eligibility requirements, and to introduce new temporary and taxable recovery benefits to provide further support.

The eligibility requirements for the program consist of the individual having worked 120 hours in the last year to qualify for a minimum EI benefit rate of $400/week, for at least 26 weeks of regular benefits.

If eligibility requirements are not met for EI, there are three new income support benefits available as of September 27, 2020 for a period of one year:

1. Canada Recovery Benefit: For individuals (ie. self-employed) who require support as they remain unable to return to work due to COVID-19, or who have had their hours reduced since the pandemic and have not voluntarily quit their job. Employment and/or self-employment income needs to be at least $5,000 or more in either 2019 or in 2020. This benefit provides for $400/week for up to 26 weeks. Note, that if income is more than $38,000 (excluding the Canada Recovery Benefit), the claimant would need to repay some, or all, of the benefit through their income tax return.   

2. Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit: For individuals who are unable to work because they are sick and/or must self-isolate due to COVID-19. This benefit provides for $500/week for up to 2 weeks in a one-year timeframe. Claimants need to be employed or self-employed at the time of the application with income to be at least $5,000 or more in either 2019 or in 2020. Claimants must have missed a minimum of 60% of their scheduled work, in the week that they claim the benefit. Note, a medical certificate is not required to qualify, and the benefit is taxable.  

3. Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit: For individuals who are providing care to children who are under 12 years old, to support other dependents or providing care to a family member with a disability. The benefit provides for $500/week for up to 26 weeks per household. Individuals need to be employed or self-employed on the day immediately preceding the period for which the application is made, with income to be at least $5,000 or more in either 2019 or in 2020. Claimants must have been unable to work for at least 60% of their normal work week. Note, the claimant cannot be receiving paid leave from an employer in the same week, and cannot be receiving CERB, EI Emergency Response Benefit, Canada Recovery Benefit, Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, short-term disability benefits, workers compensation benefits or any EI Benefits in the same week. This benefit is taxable. 

The Canada Revenue Agency will provide further information as to how and when Canadians can apply at the following link:  www.canada.ca/coronavirus.

 
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SOCIAL GATHERINGS AND CIRCLES IN THE CKL FOR DUMMIES.

Social gatherings can be made up of any group of people from outside a household or social circle, but physical distancing of at least two metres must be maintained or a face covering must be worn when physical distancing is a challenge or required.

People having a social gathering can't hug or touch each other.

Social Circles

As the fight against COVID-19 continues, social circles remain the safest way for Ontarians to expand the number of people they can come in close contact with, without having to physical distance. To form a safe social circle, Ontarians should follow these five simple steps:

  1. Start with your current circle: the people you live with or who regularly come into your household.

  2. If your current circle is under 10 people, you can add members to your circle, including another household, family members or friends.

  3. Get agreement from everyone that they will join the circle.

  4. Keep your social circle safe. To protect it, maintain physical distancing with anyone outside of your circle.

  5. Be true to your social circle. No one should be part of more than one circle.

Everyone living in the same household is in a social circle. People in the same social circle do not have to physically distance and can hug and touch each other.

Public Health Advice

Whether in a social gathering or as part of a social 'circle' it remains critical for Ontarians to continue following public health advice to help stop the spread.

  • Staying home when ill, or keeping your child home from school when ill, even with mild symptoms.

  • Maintaining physical distancing with anyone outside of your (maximum 10 person) social circle.

  • Protecting your social circle.

  • Adhering to gathering limits and rules.

  • Regular and thorough handwashing.

  • Wearing a face covering indoors and outdoors where physical distancing is a challenge or required.

For additional protection, the Ontario government is encouraging everyone to download the new COVID Alert app on their smart phone from the Apple and Google Play app stores.

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TIPS FOR HOSTING A GATHERING AT YOUR HOME, INCLUDING THANKSGIVING. STAY SAFE; MINIMIZE TRANSMISSION.

With the spike in cases, more attention is being given to hosting gatherings, like holiday get togethers, Thanksgiving, etc. 

Here are tips for hosting a family or other gathering at your home, courtesy of our Health Unit: 

  • Remind guests to stay home if sick. Consider keeping a list of guests who attend for potential future COVID-19 contact tracing needs.

  • When entertaining, consider physical distancing in determining the number of people to invite to your home. Limit the number of guests to a manageable number that allows people to safely maintain a 2 metre (6 foot) distance, especially if they are outside your social circle/household. While Ontario currently puts a limit on 50 people for indoor gatherings and 100 guests for outdoor events, these numbers may be too high for a comfortable gathering at your home.

  • Be upfront with your guests about the COVID-19 prevention measures you’re taking so they know what to expect before they arrive.

  • When possible, host your gathering outdoors. In colder weather months, go indoors but try to ensure the room or space is well-ventilated (e.g. open a window).

  • Arrange tables and chairs in advance to allow for physical distancing (if already set up, guests may be reluctant to move them).

  • People from the same household or social circles can be grouped/seated together, but should be 2 metres (6 feet) apart from other families.

  • When guests arrive, minimize gestures that promote close contact between those outside households or social circles.

  • Encourage guests to wear masks when physical distancing is difficult. Consider providing masks for guests or ask them to bring their own.

  • Ensure there is enough soap and hand sanitizer for people to use during the gathering.

  • Use single-use hand towels or paper towels for drying hands so guests do not share a towel.

  • Remind guests to wash their hands before serving or eating food.

  • Limit the number of people handling or serving food (including limiting access to where food is being prepared, such as the kitchen).

  • Avoid buffet-style meals. If serving any food, consider identifying one person to serve all food so that multiple people are not handling the serving utensils

  • Limit contact with high-touch surfaces or shared items. If possible, clean and disinfect these surfaces and shared items between uses.

  • If you choose to use any shared items that are reusable (e.g. seating covers, tablecloths, linen napkins), wash, clean, and sanitize them after the event.

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PAY EQUITY FOR DUMMIES - WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW.

Employers with 10 or more employees in Ontario are required to preserve pay equity in accordance with the Ontario Pay Equity Act, RSO 1990, c P7 (“PEA”).

Under Ontario's laws, "pay equity" is different from "equal pay for equal work".

Under Ontario’s Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA), subject to certain exceptions, an employer cannot pay one employee at a rate of pay less than another employee on the basis of sex when they perform substantially the same kind of work in the same establishment, their work requires substantially the same skill, effort and responsibility and their work is performed under similar working conditions.

Under Ontario's Pay Equity Act, "pay equity" requires an assessment of all jobs in an organization and an unbiased comparison of the work done by women to the work done by men in order to determine whether the women are being compensated equitably. For example, the receptionist for a company may be as valuable to the organization as the warehouse shipper-receiver. The Pay Equity Act requires an employer to compensate work done by female job class(es) at least equally to work done by comparable male job class(es).

Pay equity is not about equal pay for equal work in the traditional sense of a woman and a man being paid the same wage for the same job. Instead, it focuses on whether traditionally female jobs are being paid the same as traditionally male jobs of equal value. Implementing pay equity is a four-step process. First, employers must identify the job classes within the establishment, including the gender and job rate of each class. Second, they must ascribe the value of each job class based on skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions. Third, they must compare all female job classes by using the prescribed methodology of compensation. Finally, if female job classes are underpaid, their wages must be adjusted to eliminate that gap.

Once pay equity is achieved, it is important that employers work actively to maintain it, especially as jobs are added or eliminated. There are penalties for failure to comply, including back payments to make up for past inequity and fines if there is wilful disregard of the rules. When there is a failure to abide with pay equity obligations, the rectification process can be onerous. Pay equity compliance is fairly straightforward to achieve at the onset, but can be difficult to remedy after non-compliance has already occurred.

If your business has 10 or more employees, but has not yet assessed or implemented pay equity, you should act quickly to ensure that you are complying with the PEA.

What’s the difference between “pay equity” and “equal pay for equal work”?

Definition

​Pay Equity

​Equal Pay for Equal Work

Pay Equity is equal pay for work of equal value.

Equal Pay for Equal Work addresses situations in which men and women do the same work.

​The Pay Equity Act requires employers to pay female jobs at least the same as male jobs if they are of comparable value.  Pay equity compares jobs usually done by women with different jobs usually done by men. Female jobs are mostly or traditionally done by women such as librarian, childcare worker or secretary. Male jobs are mostly or traditionally done by men, such as truck driver, firefighter, or shipping clerk.

​The Equal Pay provisions of the Employment Standards Act require that men and women receive equal pay when doing the same job or substantially the same job such as two cooks or two machine operators on the same line.

The value of jobs is based on the levels of skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions involved in doing the work.

​Substantially the same work means the same kind of work that involves about the same levels of skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions. The duties do not have to be exactly the same to be substantially the same.

Key Differences

​Pay Equity

​Equal Pay for Equal Work

Pay equity compares the value and pay of different jobs, such as nurse and electrician.

Equal pay compares the pay of similar jobs.

​Only people (both men and women) in jobs done traditionally by women can complain that their work is undervalued.

​Either men or women can complain. If a male incumbent is paid less than a female incumbent in the same job, he can file a complaint. As well, a woman can complain if she is paid less than a man in the same job.

Clarifying Questions

​​Pay Equity

​Equal Pay for Equal Work

If you answer "yes" to ​the following questions you may have a pay equity complaint.

  • Are you in a ​job that is typically or traditionally female such as secretary, nurse, payroll clerk?
  • Are you comparing your job to different jobs, jobs that are mostly or traditionally done by men, within the same employer?

Call the Pay Equity Commission Toll-Free
at 1-800-387-8813 or 416-314-1896
TTY: 416-212-3991 or TTY: 1-855-253-8333

If you answer "yes" to the following questions you may have an equal pay for equal work complaint.

  • Are you comparing your work and pay to someone doing your own or a very similar job?
  • Are you comparing your work and pay to a person of the opposite gender?

Call the Employment Standards Branch at
1-800-531-5551 or 416-326-7160 or visit their site.

 

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HOW SHOULD EMPLOYERS RESPOND TO EMPLOYEES WHO HAVE CHILDCARE OBLIGATIONS DURING COVID-19?

The workplace will soon be an even trickier place to navigate when considering the new challenges that employers are faced with in accommodating their employees’ family responsibilities.

When the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically changed the state of the world in March 2020 and made employees’ normal childcare arrangements generally unavailable, Canadian employees (other than some essential workers) began to work from home. As the rate of infection diminished, Canada gradually reopened; most jurisdictions are now in Stage 3 of their reopening processes, with public health and workplace safety restrictions in place. Many businesses and public spaces have reopened, and while many employers have asked their employees to return to work, some have asked their employees to continue to work from home.

In the meantime, the world has not returned to normal for employees’ children. Daycare centers that initially remained open provided childcare for only essential workers; in the spring, other daycares opened with strict health and safety guidelines in place. Camps did not operate in the summer. Although there are plans to get children back into the classroom in the fall, many schools intend to adopt a hybrid model due to social distancing requirements, with students in the classroom on some days only, and learning online the rest of the week. A hybrid back-to-school arrangement, together with the possibility that schools might close upon the occurrence of a second wave, or upon a COVID-19 outbreak within a specific school, will create childcare difficulties for employees. Furthermore, some parents who have childcare options available to them in the form of school, daycare, or babysitters may resist using them due to anxiety about the risk of exposing their children or another family member to COVID-19.

In responding to employees who have childcare issues, employers have several options to consider. They include providing employees with flexible accommodations; placing them on unpaid statutory leave under applicable employment standards legislation; or in the rare circumstances in which employees may be entitled to it, placing them on paid leave made available through a collective agreement in a unionized context, an employment contract, or a workplace policy. We consider all of these options below.

 

Family Status Accommodation

We wrote extensively about the unsettled legal approach to family status accommodation in Canada. As noted, although human right statutes in Canada prohibit discrimination based on family status, historically family status complaints, which most often relate to discrimination in employment, are generally made infrequently, especially as compared with discrimination complaints on other grounds. The frequency of family status complaints may rise in a COVID-19 environment and we recommend that employers become familiar with the unsettled approach to family status discrimination in Canada.

In normal circumstances, a family status complaint will generally fail if it is based on a preference to care for a child at home rather than a need to do so. However, in a pandemic scenario, even if schools and daycares are available, some employees may be concerned that their children or other family members will become ill with COVID-19 if their children attend. While employees are generally expected to explore other childcare options during business hours, such as babysitting by a grandparent or a paid babysitter, they may resist these options during the pandemic to protect the health of the grandparent and/or the child. For this reason, in the extraordinary context of the pandemic, employers should consider accommodating their employees by developing a flexible company-wide accommodation policy that takes a reasonable approach to their employees’ circumstances. This may include allowing employees to work from home or modify their work schedules or work duties, and tolerating disruptions from children during teleconference meetings.

 

Unpaid Leave

Despite an employer’s best efforts to provide a feasible accommodation to an employee, it may not be able to find one. If accommodation is not an option, employees may be entitled to unpaid leave under applicable employment standards legislation. For example, in Ontario, the following unpaid, job-protected leaves may be available to parents whose children are at home during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Family Responsibility Leave: After working for an employer for at least two consecutive weeks, most employees in Ontario have the right to take up to three days of unpaid job-protected leave each calendar year because of an illness, injury, medical emergency or urgent matter relating to, among others, the employee’s child, step-child, or foster child. As the circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic are unprecedented, it is unclear whether, when employees decide to keep their children at home even when schools and daycares are open, the courts will characterize the matter as “urgent.” However, in a hybrid school model, on days when children are not allowed to attend school and must learn online, courts may be more likely to characterize the matter as “urgent” and entitle the employee to this unpaid leave; on days when classes are on the school’s premises, courts may not be inclined to do so.

Infectious Disease Emergency Leave: In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the governments of a number of jurisdictions in Canada amended their employment standards legislation to entitle employees to emergency unpaid job-protected leave when they are unable to work for reasons related to the designation of COVID-19 as an infectious disease. In Ontario, for example, the new unpaid Infectious Disease Emergency Leave applies when an employee will not be performing work because the employee is providing care to a specified list of individuals for reasons related to COVID-19, including to children, because of closures of schools and daycares. Entitlement to Infectious Disease Emergency Leave continues as long as the circumstances apply and COVID-19 continues to be a designated infectious disease. Note that if the school or daycare is open, the employee will not be entitled to this leave. If employees have children attending a hybrid model school, they may be entitled to Infectious Disease Emergency Leave on days when their children may not attend school and must learn online.

Finally, in rare circumstances, some employers may have agreed that their employees will be entitled to paid leave if they have childcare obligations in a scenario like the one we are currently facing, for example, pursuant to a collective agreement in a unionized environment, or pursuant to an employment agreement or a workplace policy. Employers are encouraged to consider whether their employees are so entitled before placing them on unpaid leave under applicable employment standards legislation.

 

Bottom Line for Employers

The pandemic has made it impossible to predict exactly how courts will treat employees who fear sending their children to daycare or school and choose to keep them at home. Although these employees may not be strictly entitled to family status accommodation, in the unprecedented circumstances of a global pandemic, we recommend that employers adopt a flexible approach to accommodating employees who have children at home, whether due to preference or a lack of other options. If flexible accommodation is not a viable option, we recommend that employers consider placing these employees on unpaid leave, after first considering whether they have agreed to put them on paid leave in the circumstances, which will rarely be the case.

More information regarding child care services and refusals to work can be found at: http://wardlegal.ca/31596034289338

Thanks for reading.

Credit: 

Rhonda B. Levy and Barry Kretzky, Littler LLP (via Lexology.com on August 24, 2020)

 

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NEW INCOME SUPPORT BENEFITS & UPDATES RE: EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE (EI) AND CANADA EMERGENCY RESPONSE BENEFIT (CERB)

The Government of Canada has and continues to provide support to Canadians who face ongoing hardships from the COVID-19 pandemic. A few recent updates for those who have had their employment impacted by the pandemic, is a simplified Employment Insurance (EI) program, as well as new income support benefits to take effect as of September 27, 2020. To assist in the transition, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) has been extended by 4 weeks, allowing for a maximum of up to 28 weeks of benefits.

 

The purpose of this program was designed to assist those who remain unable to work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, provided they meet eligibility requirements, and to introduce new temporary and taxable recovery benefits to provide further support.

 

The eligibility requirements for the program consist of the individual having worked 120 hours in the last year to qualify for a minimum EI benefit rate of $400/week, for at least 26 weeks of regular benefits.

 

If eligibility requirements are not met for EI, there are three new income support benefits available as of September 27, 2020 for a period of one year:

 

1. Canada Recovery Benefit: For individuals (ie. self-employed) who require support as they remain unable to return to work due to COVID-19, or who have had their hours reduced since the pandemic and have not voluntarily quit their job. Employment and/or self-employment income needs to be at least $5,000 or more in either 2019 or in 2020. This benefit provides for $400/week for up to 26 weeks. Note, that if income is more than $38,000 (excluding the Canada Recovery Benefit), the claimant would need to repay some, or all, of the benefit through their income tax return.   

 

2. Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit: For individuals who are unable to work because they are sick and/or must self-isolate due to COVID-19. This benefit provides for $500/week for up to 2 weeks in a one-year timeframe. Claimants need to be employed or self-employed at the time of the application with income to be at least $5,000 or more in either 2019 or in 2020. Claimants must have missed a minimum of 60% of their scheduled work, in the week that they claim the benefit. Note, a medical certificate is not required to qualify, and the benefit is taxable.  

 

3. Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit: For individuals who are providing care to children who are under 12 years old, to support other dependents or providing care to a family member with a disability. The benefit provides for $500/week for up to 26 weeks per household. Individuals need to be employed or self-employed on the day immediately preceding the period for which the application is made, with income to be at least $5,000 or more in either 2019 or in 2020. Claimants must have been unable to work for at least 60% of their normal work week. Note, the claimant cannot be receiving paid leave from an employer in the same week, and cannot be receiving CERB, EI Emergency Response Benefit, Canada Recovery Benefit, Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, short-term disability benefits, workers compensation benefits or any EI Benefits in the same week. This benefit is taxable. 

 

The Canada Revenue Agency will provide further information as to how and when Canadians can apply at the following link:  www.canada.ca/coronavirus.

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CKL EMPLOYERS - SEP 4 IS YOUR UPCOMING DEADLINE IF YOU HAVE EMPLOYEES REMAINING AT REDUCED HOURS OR AT HOME - YOUR OPTIONS - WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY.

CKL employers may have an important deadline upcoming - September 4, 2020, to the extent they continue to have employees not actively working (i.e., temporarily laid off and deemed to be on Ontario's infectious disease leave of absence. 

On July 24, 2020, Ontario’s new Bill 195, Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020, became law. In accordance with Bill 195, Ontario’s Emergency Declaration has ended (subject to the provincial government’s ongoing authority to extend certain existing emergency orders). One of the implications of ending the Declared Emergency is to trigger the winding down of a recent exemption to the temporary layoff provisions under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the “ESA”).

Pursuant to Ontario Regulation 228 / 20 (“Regulation 228”), any non-union employee whose wages were temporarily reduced or whose hours of work were temporarily reduced or eliminated during the COVID-19 Period due to the pandemic was deemed to be on infectious disease emergency leave (“IDE Leave”), rather than on layoff. Regulation 228 effectively rendered the temporary layoff provisions in the ESA inapplicable during the COVID-19 Period, except where the layoff was due to a permanent cessation of all of the employer’s business, and provided protection from constructive dismissal claims under the ESA during the COVID-19 Period. In doing so, Regulation 228 provided considerable relief to employers and offered flexibility in navigating COVID-19 issues.

Regulation 228 defined the COVID-19 Period as commencing on March 1, 2020 and ending six weeks after the Emergency Declaration has ended: namely, September 4, 2020.  After September 4, such employees will no longer be deemed to be on IDE Leave. Because of this, an employer will now have to decide whether to:

  • recall employees and decide whether or not to access the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program (CEWS)

  • place employees on temporary layoff under the ESA (although the potential issue of constructive dismissal might remain at common law absent a contractual provision allowing for layoff)

  • recognize that an employee is eligible (if qualifying conditions are met) for ongoing IDE Leave (or any other applicable ESA leave or a leave under company policy or an employment contract).

Because IDE Leave is a statutorily protected leave under the ESA, an employee is entitled to reinstatement to the same position upon completion of the leave or to a comparable position (assuming that either position is available).

If an employer chooses temporary layoff under the ESA, then the clock will start ticking on deemed termination of employment. Under the ESA, the maximum length of a statutory temporary layoff is limited to a number of weeks (either 13 weeks in any period of 20 consecutive weeks, or up to 35 weeks in any period of 52 consecutive weeks if certain conditions are met (e.g., continuation of coverage under a benefit plan)). The employee’s employment will be deemed to be terminated if either limit is exceeded, triggering applicable notice and severance pay obligations. For any employee who was laid off prior to March 1, 2020, that period of layoff prior to March 1 will count in the calculation of time under the 35-week approach.

Once an employer decides how to manage its workforce in light of Bill 195, it needs to consider appropriate communications with employees.

What Does It Really Mean? 

In light of the pending September 4 deadline, employers will have to consider carefully their available options with respect to employees who are not currently working. Employers are encouraged to seek legal guidance with respect to their specific circumstances regarding this transition period, especially if unable to resume full and regular operations after September 4 via a recall of employees.

Credit

Sari Springer, Barry Kuretzky, George Vassos and Monty Verlint, via Lexology on August 21, 2020

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EMERGENCY ORDERS EXTENDED TO SEP. 22 - MOST REMAIN IN FULL EFFECT. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY ABOUT ONTARIO'S ONGOING EMERGENCY ORDERS.

The Ontario government is extending orders currently in force under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 (ROA).

The extensions provide the government with the necessary flexibility to address the ongoing risks and effects of the COVID-19 outbreak and ensure important measures remain in place to protect vulnerable populations, such as seniors, people with developmental disabilities and those with mental health and addiction issues.

All orders under the ROA have been extended to September 22, 2020, with the following exceptions:

On July 21, 2020, the Ontario Legislature passed the ROA to ensure important measures remained in place to address the sustained threat of COVID-19 once the provincial Declaration of Emergency came to an end. Orders, made under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) that were in effect when the ROA came into force, were continued under the new act for an initial 30 days. Under the ROA, orders can be extended for up to 30 days at a time.

The government will continue to review all orders and will report on order extensions to the newly created Select Committee on Emergency Management Oversight.

The following orders under the ROA have been extended until September 22, 2020:

Quick Facts

  • The provincial Declaration of Emergency was terminated on July 24, 2020 when the ROA came into force.

  • The ROA allows certain orders to be amended, subject to criteria, and does not allow new orders to be created.

  • The ROA requires the Premier to table a report on any amendments or extensions of any orders within 120 days after the first anniversary of the act coming into force.

  • The power to extend or amend continued orders is limited to one year; these powers can only be extended by the legislature. If powers are extended beyond one year, an additional report is required for the extension period.

  • The Select Committee on Emergency Management Oversight will meet for the first time on August 24, 2020 to hear the rationale for decisions to extend orders.

  • A full list of orders can be found on the e-Laws website under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 (ROA) and at Ontario.ca/alert.

  • As of August 10, 2020, all Public Health Units in the Province are in Stage 3 of reopening.

Additional Resources

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WORKING ON THAT COVID 15 (POUNDS)? THE NEW RULES FOR WORKING OUT IN A GYM OR SPORTS/RECREATIONAL FACILITY. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY FOR WORKING OUT AND GETTING BACK INTO SHAPE IN A GYM.

Need to start working on that COVID 15 (pounds)?

Here are the new rules for when you go to your gym or fitness centre, during this Phase 3 of re-opening. 

Some restrictions are eased, but others continue.

What you need to know today about working out at your gym or other fitness facility.

Precautions still required

The new changes still require:

  • two metres distance be maintained between those in the gym;

  • any equipment that is provided for the use by users of the facility must be cleaned and disinfected between each use;

  • Activities where fixed structures cannot be cleaned and disinfected between each users cannot take place;

  • All facilities must follow applicable worker health and safety requirements as outlined in the Occupational Health and Safety Act in addition to any applicable municipal bylaws.

Best practices

A new guide has been launched by the province for sports and recreational fitness facilities. It recommends, amongst other precautions:

  • Proper signage to remind the users of proper hand hygiene and health etiquette;

  • Providing alcohol-based hand rub;

  • Removing all equipment that cannot easily be cleaned or disinfected;

  • Encouraging patrons to bring their own equipment, and limiting the sharing of equipment;

  • Increasing cleaning frequency;

  • Cleaning equipment between each users;

  • Decreasing touch points (such as keys, lockers, etc…)

  • Ensuring physical distancing; Consider putting signs and cues up or on the floor, and consider increasing distance for high intensity exercise with rapid inhalation and deep exhalation (such as … AGM and board meetings?);

  • Implementing staggered schedules, considering online booking, blocking time to clean the facilities;

  • Improving ventilation systems and avoiding air recirculation.

Screen your users!

Screening your users is still key:

  • Implement active screening of your users;

  • Consider using Ontario’s Covid Self-assessment tool;

  • Consider online screening prior to the user’s arrival on site;

  • Those who present symptoms or risks should not be allowed to use the gym;

  • Keep record of all individuals (including names, contact information, dates and times) who enter your facility.

Consider implementing an online screening and booking process for your users ahead of their arrival and keep track of your users!

Corporations can continue to apply their own protocols

With these changes, the Ontario government also reminds everyone that:

businesses, not-for-profits, and municipalities may need or choose to take more time before implementing this change in capacity limits; and  

any facility may also adopt their own protocols that are more restrictive than the guidance.

 

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CKL EMPLOYERS - SEP. 4 IS NIGH - WILL YOU SUFFER THE SLINGS AND ARROWS OF OUTRAGEOUS FORTUNE? THE LOOMING CHOICE OF LAY-OFF OR RECALL. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW.

In Ontario, temporary lay offs generally may be up to thirteen weeks, under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (Ontario) (“ESA”). If the person is not recalled, the employer faces risk that the employee would be deemed terminated under the ESA, even if both the employer and the employee wish to continue the employment relationship.

During COVID’s special circumstances, the Government of Ontario issued Ontario Regulation 228/20 – Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (the “Regulation”), which provides that any non-unionized employee who:

  1. had their hours of work temporarily reduced or eliminated by their employer for reasons related to COVID-19, and

  2. is not performing the duties of his or her position as a result,

is deemed to be on Infectious Disease Emergency Leave during the “COVID-19 Period”, which is retroactive to March 1, 2020, and ends six weeks following the end of Ontario’s provincial declaration of emergency.

Ontario’s provincial declaration of emergency ended on July 24, 2020. This means that the “COVID-19 Period” is set to end on September 4, 2020.

So, as of September, absent further government intervention, many employees will return full circle - facing the risk of deemed terminations under the ESA. They need to decide whether to place employees on temporary layoff or to reduce hours of work or pay. This is especially so for those employers who are unable to bring back employees at the end of the COVID-19 Period..

What is a Temporary Layoff?

  • generally, a layoff is a period when an employer ceases to provide work and (in most cases) compensation to an employee temporarily

  • where permitted, the parties treat the employment relationship as ongoing, despite this interruption of work and/or compensation, with the understanding that work and compensation may resume in the future

  • in Ontario, a layoff week is a week where the employee earns less than one half of the amount that they would earn at their regular rate in a regular week or their average earnings for the period of 12 consecutive weeks prior to the layoff period

  • the Canada Labour Code, which applies to federally regulated employers, allows a temporary layoff of 3 months or less, subject to certain exceptions listed below

How Long can a Temporary Layoff Last?

  • temporary layoffs are just that – temporary - if they exceed the statutory limit, then an employer will generally be deemed to have terminated an employee’s employment unless an exception applies. Key statutory time limits are as follows:

    • temporary layoffs cannot exceed: (a) 13 weeks in any period of 20 consecutive weeks; or (b) more than 13 weeks in any period of 20 consecutive weeks but less than 35 weeks in any period of 52 weeks where:

      • the employee continues to receive substantial payments from the employer, or

      • the employer continues to make payments for benefits or a legitimate retirement or pension plan, or

      • the employee receives supplementary unemployment benefits, or

      • the employee would be entitled to supplementary unemployment benefits but isn’t receiving them because they are employed elsewhere, or

      • the employer recalls the employee within a time frame approved by the Director of Employment Standards or as set out in an agreement with an employee not represented by a trade union, or where the employee is represented, as set out in an agreement with the trade union.

    • federally under the Canada Labour Code, a temporary layoff is:

      • a layoff of 3 months or less, or

      • a period of more than 3 months and:

      • the employer notifies its employees before the layoff that they will be recalled on a fixed date, which is not longer than 6 months, and the employees are recalled on that date;

      • the employee continues to receive payments during the term of the layoff from their employer in an amount agreed on by the employee and their employer; 

      • the employer continues to make payments for the benefit of the employee to a pension plan that is registered under the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985, or under a group or employee insurance plan; 

      • the employee receives supplementary unemployment benefits; or 

      • the employee would be entitled to supplementary unemployment benefits but is disqualified from receiving them pursuant to the Employment Insurance Act.under the Canada Labour Code, any periods of re-employment that are less than two weeks in duration are not included in calculating the length of the layoff. Layoffs under a collective agreement where the employee retains a right of recall are also permissible layoff

Is Advance Notice Required? 

  • there are no advance statutory notice requirements before an employee can be placed on a temporary layoff in Ontario  

  • while notice of a temporary layoff is not required under the Canada Labour Code, a temporary layoff may be more than 3 months if the employer notifies its employees before the layoff that they will be recalled on a fixed date, which is not longer than 6 months, and the employees are recalled on that date 

Do Employers Pay Employees while on Temporary Layoff?

  • subject to an employment agreement, policy or collective agreement that says otherwise, layoff periods are generally unpaid. However, employees may qualify for Employment Insurance under new eligibility criteria implemented by the Federal Government for COVID-19 situations

  • employees may also, on a voluntary basis, use their vacation time during a period of a temporary layoff to continue to receive pay

Are Employers Required to Continue Benefit or Pension Contributions During a Layoff?

  • this depends on the terms of employment, including applicable employment contracts, collective agreements, employer policies and third-party plans. In most cases though, absent contractual terms to the contrary, employers are not required by statute to continue benefits or pension plan contributions during temporary layoffs

  • the allotted time for a temporary layoff may be extended if the employer makes benefits and pension contributions to the laid-off employees

  • the employee must agree to these payments in lieu of a firm limit on the length of the layoff

  • where an employment agreement, workplace policy or collective agreement provides for a greater right to benefit or pension continuance, those contractual terms will prevail.

Do Obligations Change Depending on How Many Employees are Temporarily Laid Off?

  • where an employer lays off multiple employees in a short period of time, the employer should be aware of applicable statutory group/mass termination obligations

  • whether these obligations are triggered will be a jurisdiction-specific inquiry. In Ontario there are no mass or group termination considerations for temporary layoffs, however, should the layoffs extend beyond the allotted time mass termination entitlements may apply.

  • these obligations may include providing written notice of the layoffs to an applicable government authority and to the employees in accordance with applicable employment standards legislation. Further obligations may ensue if the layoffs are considered terminations.

What Else Should Employers Know?

  • related layoffs should be temporary. If an employee is laid off for a period longer than the time permitted by statute for the temporary layoff, the employer may be considered to have terminated the employee’s employment and termination obligations, including full severance obligations, will apply

  • employers are encouraged to provide timely, transparent and ongoing communications to their employees in respect of any temporary layoffs, including with respect to any anticipated recall dates or extensions to the layoff period. To that end, employers will want to ensure that they have up to date contact information for each affected employee so that communications are effective

  • a Record of Employment must be issued for each of the employees that are on a temporary layoff

  • a layoff, even if intended to be temporary, may result in the risk of constructive dismissal claims or grievances where temporary layoffs are not otherwise expressly permitted by contract or collective agreement.

 

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ANSWERS TO YOUR TOP 20 QUESTIONS ABOUT POWERS OF ATTORNEY - POAs EXPLAINED FOR NON-LAWYERS.

1.What is a Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives someone else the right to make decisions on your behalf.

2. Are there different kinds of Power of Attorney?

Yes. In Ontario there are three kinds of Power of Attorney:

 A Continuing Power of Attorney for Property (CPOA) covers your financial affairs and allows the person you name to make decisions for you even if you become mentally incapable.

A non-continuing Power of Attorney for Property covers your financial affairs but can’t be used if you become mentally incapable. You might give this Power of Attorney, for example, if you need someone to look after your financial transactions while you’re away from home for an extended period of time.

A Power of Attorney for Personal Care (POAPC) covers your personal decisions, such as housing and health care.

3. Does the law require everyone to have a Power of Attorney?

No. Making a Power of Attorney is voluntary. No one can be forced to make one.

4. What does the term “attorney” mean?

The term “attorney” refers to the person or persons you have chosen to act on your behalf. The person does not have to be a lawyer. 3

5. What does the term “mentally incapable” mean?

It means different things for different types of decisions and actions. For example, the level of mental capacity a person needs in order to make a valid power of attorney is different from the capacity needed to make personal care or financial decisions. The definitions are provided below under the topic headings.

6. Can I express my wishes in advance?

Ontario laws recognize that your known wishes expressed while mentally capable about your future care choices, will be binding on your attorney or other substitute decision-makers, unless they are impossible to follow. Ontario law does not use the term “living will’. Sometimes people use the term “advance directive” to refer to a written statement of wishes about future care.

7. Is an “advance directive” the same thing as a “Power of Attorney”?

No. A Power of Attorney is a legal document in which you name a specific person to make decisions on your behalf. You can, however, write your treatment wishes (an “advance directive”) as part of your Power of Attorney for Personal Care so that you can be sure your attorney is aware of them. An “advance directive” just addresses your treatment and personal care wishes and does not need to name anyone or be written in any specific way.

8. Is a Power of Attorney the same thing as a “Last Will and Testament”?

No. Your Last Will and Testament covers the distribution of your property after you die and only takes effect upon your death. A Power of Attorney only applies while you are alive and ceases to be effective upon your death.

9. Do I have to register my Power of Attorney with the government?

No. There is no requirement that these documents be registered. The government does not keep a registry. It makes sense, however, to make sure that the people in your life who need to know about these documents – especially your attorney – have a copy or know where to get one if needed.

10. Is a Power of Attorney effective outside of Ontario?

It depends on the law of the particular place where you want to use the Power of Attorney. If you are going to move, or be out of the province for some time, you may want to check with a local lawyer to see if you need to make new documents. 4

11. If I don’t make a Power of Attorney, will the government automatically step in if I can’t manage my own affairs?

No. In these circumstances a family member has the right to make your health care decisions or apply to become your “guardian” of property. Alternatively, someone else – such as a close friend - could apply to make decisions for you in these matters. The government, through the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee (OPGT), acts only in situations where it is legally required and where no other suitable person is available, able and willing. For more information about applications for guardianship please see the brochure entitled “Becoming a Guardian of Property”.

12. Do I have to use a lawyer to make my Powers of Attorney?

The law does not require you to use a lawyer’s services. However, you may wish to consider hiring a lawyer, especially if your affairs are complicated.

13. Where can I get Power of Attorney forms?

Your lawyer can draft Powers of Attorney for you. Alternatively, some bookstores sell forms and there are also some forms on the Internet. The OPGT provides forms for both Power of Attorney for Property and Personal care. You may request these by calling Service Ontario at 416-326-1234 or toll free at 1-800-267-8097. Forms can also be requested from the OPGT by calling 416-314-2800 or toll-free at 1-800-366-0335 or TTY: 416-314-2687. Access them on-line at http://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/family/pgt/poa.pdf Obtaining legal advice in creating these documents is something you should seriously consider. Note: The Ontario Government’s 1994 Power of Attorney Kit is still valid for use today.

14. Does the government also provide a “Will Kit” or similar forms that I can use to make my Last Will and Testament?

No. It is difficult to make one form that would adequately cover the many diverse situations that people may want to reflect in their Wills and provide all the information that people need to plan properly. We recommend that you hire a lawyer to assist you in making your Will.

15. Is my Power of Attorney valid?

f the document is properly completed, signed and witnessed, and you had the legal capacity to give the POA there are no further steps that need to be taken in order for it to be legally binding. Please note the POA must be witnessed by two individuals who are eligible to serve as a witness. Some people, for example, your spouse and children, are not allowed to serve as a witness to you signing the POA. Please see the OPGT’s POA Kit for complete instructions. You may also wish to obtain legal advice. Neither the Attorney General’s office nor the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee keep a record of Power of Attorney documents, so there is no need to submit one in order for it to be legally binding. It is also not necessary to have a lawyer review the documents, although this may be helpful to ensure they are executed properly. While not required under the Substitute Decisions Act, 1992, a person being asked to recognize a Power of Attorney may require a notarized copy of, or the opportunity to see the original Power of Attorney, before dealing with an attorney in place of the grantor. This requirement provides additional assurance that the attorney has authority. Requiring the attorney to produce the original for inspection or provide a notarized copy helps establish that the original document is still in existence and is in the attorney’s possession. As well, if a notarized copy is produced, it reduces the risk of potential fraud as the notary is required to compare the original Power of Attorney to the copy prior to notarizing the copy.

16. If a witness to a Power of Attorney dies, does the Power of Attorney become invalid?

No. The subsequent death of a witness does not affect the validity of the Power of Attorney.

17. If there is more than one Power of Attorney, which one is valid?

Only the most recent Power of Attorney is valid unless you state, in that document, that you intend to have more than one Power of Attorney.

18. I am an attorney named in a Power of Attorney. What if someone refuses to accept the Power of Attorney?

It may have been that, despite the grantor’s best intentions, the document was not executed properly. For instance, although it is signed and witnessed, it may be that one of the witness signatures is not valid owing to the witness’s relationship to the grantor or because the witness is also the appointed attorney. It is also possible that the grantor lacked the required mental capacity to make a POA. 6 If the POA is executed properly, there may be some policy reason that an institution (e.g. bank) in Ontario has not accepted it. In order to protect from fraud, many institutions establish policies around the acceptance of POAs. You should discuss this with them. You may need to seek legal advice if the POA appears to be validly made and the institution still refuses to honour it. Please Note: Powers of Attorney are governed provincially, rather than federally, so each province has its own requirements. If you are trying to use a POA from Ontario, in another province, you may run into difficulty. However, it may be possible to have the POA validated by another province; you should seek legal advice with respect to this issue.

19. Can a Power of Attorney be challenged?

Yes, but only a court has the final say.

20. Will the OPGT agree to be appointed in a Power of Attorney?

The OPGT rarely consents to act under a Power of Attorney. The OPGT’s mandate is to make decisions as guardian for mentally incapable adults who have no one else available, willing and suitable to make decisions on their behalf.

Credit: attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca

 

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CKL FARMERS - MORE MONEY FOR LIVESTOCK WELL BEING STUDY AND NEW PROGRAMS. TODAY'S UPDATE.....

The Ontario Government is investing $2.35 million in advanced animal research related to livestock health and well-being while also focusing on increasing productivity and competitiveness in the livestock sector.

The findings will provide farmers with the latest knowledge and on-farm solutions for safely managing livestock so they can continue to be world leaders in the agriculture sector.

This research is funded through the Ontario Agri-Food Innovation Alliance, a collaboration between the Ontario government and the University of Guelph to support growth and innovation in the province's agri-food and rural sectors.

Through the Ontario Agri-Food Innovation Alliance, the Province is funding livestock research projects to investigate innovative methods, practices and products that will help the sector better understand and support livestock health and welfare, including:

  • Identifying genetic markers to reduce disease and infections in sheep and cows

  • Improving access to veterinary services and support in rural and remote areas

  • Developing a surveillance program for milk tanks on dairy farms

  • Examining newborn milk in the development of neonatal dairy calves

  • Evaluating novel methods to prevent bovine respiratory disease

  • Identifying disease-causing pathogens in sheep and goats

  • Validating the use of probiotics to support the health of multiple livestock species

  • Investigating alternative control measures for E. coli diarrhea in pigs

All projects are designed to ensure Ontario's agri-food sector can quickly benefit from the new knowledge, technologies and solutions developed through provincially funded research.

Quick Facts

  • The $2.35 million earmarked for new livestock health, welfare and productivity projects is part of the province’s Ontario Agri-Food Innovation Alliance annual investment of $8.65 million, which supports research at the University of Guelph. The Alliance funds research in areas of environmental sustainability, animal and plant health and production, as well as agri-food and bio-product development.

  • Ontario’s livestock sector (beef, hog, sheep, dairy, poultry and egg) contributes approximately $16.4 billion to the GDP and supports more than 323,000 direct jobs.

Additional Resources

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TAKE THE 30 X 30 CHALLENGE IN AUGUST - 30 MIN A DAY OUTSIDE IN NATURE FOR 30 DAYS - SPONSORED BY ONTARIO PARKS

If you are looking for great reason to get outside, you can take up the annual Ontario Parks 30x30 Challenge.

It is part of our government's Healthy Parks Healthy People initiative and runs for the month of August.

To meet the 30x30 Challenge, participants must spend 30 minutes outside in nature each day for 30 days.

The 30x30 challenge can be a fun way to kickstart healthy new habits or renew old ones and take advantage of the life-long benefits. Spending time in nature can have a profound impact on our health and well-being, improve our overall mood, boost our immune system and reduce stress. There are countless ways to participate, from going on a bike ride, taking a long walk, or enjoying a provincial park or another greenspace near you.

Although we are encouraging people to be more active, it's important to remember we must continue to be responsible and follow public health advice, including practicing physical distancing whether inside or out, wearing a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge or where it is required, washing your hands frequently and avoiding large gatherings."

Additional Resources

  • Use the Ontario Parks locator tool to find a provincial park near you.

  • More ideas on what to do for the 30x30 Challenge can be found on the Ontario Parks Blog and YouTube channel.

  • As part of Ontario’s Healthy Parks Healthy People strategy, Ontario recently consulted people and organizations across the province to help us develop more effective programs, policies and partnerships to improve access to the health benefits of provincial parks and green spaces. Read a summary of what we heard.

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CKL BUSINESSES AND ORGS - COMMERCIAL RENT ASSISTANCE EXTENDED TO AUGUST, 2020 - MUST RE-APPLY BY SEP. 14. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY......

On July 31, the Ontario government, in partnership with the federal government, extended the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses by one month to help eligible small business pay rent for August.

To find out how much rent support you may be eligible for, visit Ontario.ca/rentassistance.

To learn more and apply for the CECRA for small businesses, visit the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's (CMHC) application portal.

More Facts About the CECRA

  • The province committed $241 million to the program, which would provide more than $900 million in support for small businesses across Ontario during this difficult time.

  • The CECRA for small businesses is administered by the CMHC. Support covers April, May, June, July and August 2020. Existing applicants need to reapply for the month of August and have until September 14, 2020 to do so. New applicants have the choice of applying for the three-month initial period, four months or five months, but need to do so by the original date of August 31, 2020.

  • The CECRA for small businesses has been developed to share the cost of rent between small business tenants, landlords and the governments of Ontario and Canada. Small business landlords would be asked to forgive at least 25 per cent of the tenant's total rent, tenants would be asked to pay up to 25 per cent of rent and the provincial and federal government would share the cost of the remaining 50 per cent.

  • Partnering with the federal government to deliver rent assistance builds on the government’s actions to support small businesses during COVID-19. As part of Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19, the first phase of the government’s response, the province has implemented $10 billion in cash flow supports to help support jobs and businesses through tax and other deferrals.

Additional Resources

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YOU CAN DOWNLOAD THE NEW COVID APP AS OF TODAY - HOW TO DO IT - TIPS ON USE - THE MORE WHO DOWNLOAD, THE BETTER IT WORKS. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY.........

The Ontario government is encouraging everyone to download the new COVID Alert app on their smart phone from the Apple and Google Play app stores.

This app, which is available beginning today, lets users know if they may have been exposed to the virus.

It is free, easy and safe to use.

The more people who download the app, the more effective it will be in stopping the spread of COVID-19.

The COVID Alert app uses Bluetooth technology to detect when users are near each other. If a user tests positive for COVID-19, they can choose to let other users know without sharing any personal information. Ontarians who receive an exposure alert can then get tested and take action to help keep themselves, their families, and their friends from spreading COVID-19 throughout the community.

The app does not collect personal information or health data, and does not know or track the location, name, address, or contacts of any user.

COVID Alert is a key tool to strengthen Ontario's comprehensive case and contact management strategy, Protecting Ontarians through Enhanced Case and Contact Management. The app supports the efforts of public health units, allowing the province to quickly test, trace and isolate cases of COVID-19 to stop the spread of the virus and prepare for any potential outbreaks ― without sharing any personal information.

If an app user receives a message from COVID Alert that they may have been exposed to the virus, they should follow the public health advice given on the app and get tested. To notify other people if an app user has tested positive for COVID-19, they can enter their one-time key from Ontario's test results website (Ontario.ca/covidresults) into the app. A message will then be sent to other app users who have been within two metres of them for at least 15 minutes within the past 14 days, without sending any information that identifies the user, or the time and place of exposure.

To stay safe as more of the province reopens, Ontarians should continue to follow public health guidelines including physical distancing with people not in their social circle, wearing a face covering if physical distancing is a challenge, washing hands thoroughly and frequently, and if anyone thinks they have COVID-19 or have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19, get tested.

Quick Facts

  • COVID Alert is available for free use and download from the Apple and Google Play app stores.

  • All aspects of COVID Alert are completely voluntary. Ontarians can choose whether to download the app, whether to use the app after downloading it, and whether to notify others if they test positive for COVID-19.

  • COVID Alert does not collect any personal information, health information, or location data. It uses Bluetooth technology to send out encrypted codes to other nearby app users and was built using the Apple/Google framework for exposure notification to ensure that it leverages global best practices to protect privacy.

  • COVID Alert is a Digital First Smart Initiative, one of many cross-government projects that focus on better outcomes and improving the customer experience.

  • The Government of Canada is also working with the other provinces and territories to get their jurisdictions on board with the app in the coming weeks and months.

  • In addition to his responsibilities as President of the Treasury Board, Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy is now overseeing Ontario’s efforts to lead digital and data transformation for the people of Ontario, including oversight of the Ontario Digital Service.

Additional Resources

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CKL COMMERCIAL LANDLORDS - DISTRAINT OR TERMINATE, BUT NOT BOTH - IT'S ILLEGAL

Many commercial landlords do not realize – if you are owned rent by your tenant, you must choose between locking the doors/distraining and termination of the lease. You cannot do both.

You must choose: either distraint or terminate and sue for unpaid rent.

In this case, the plaintiff tenant and defendant WM and Buckingham (landlord) entered into lease for commercial premises.

The tenant intended to completely renovate the unit and open a Mediterranean-style restaurant.

The tenant also paid landlord $16,950 for purchase of its restaurant business, equipment, and chattels left in leased premises. Upon taking possession, the tenant discovered numerous pieces of kitchen equipment had to be replaced.

The tenant did not pay rent as a result. The tenant was locked out for arrears of rent after several months. The landlord distrained the tenant's chattels, changed the locks, and terminated the lease.

The tenant’s action for damages for illegal distraint and improper termination of the commercial lease was allowed in part while landlord counterclaimed for arrears of rent.

The trial judge found the lease termination was proper but that the landlord had illegally distrained the tenant’s chattels.

The trial judge awarded the plaintiff $58,190.74 in damages for conversion and $10,000 in punitive damages, which were offset by damages of $1,294 for unpaid rent awarded to the defendant on its counterclaim.

In addition, trial judge found that WM was jointly and severally liable for these damages with Buckingham.

The landlord appealed. The appeal was allowed in part. The trial judge did not err in holding illegal distraint. The landlord had to choose between mutually exclusive remedies of termination and distress. Instead of making the choice, it attempted to do both and, therefore, distraint was illegal.

Pita Royale Inc. (Aroma Taste of the Middle East) v. Buckingham Properties Inc. (2019), 2019 CarswellOnt 8106, 2019 ONCA 439, C.W. Hourigan J.A., M.L. Benotto J.A., and Grant Huscroft J.A. (Ont. C.A.); varied (2017), 2017 CarswellOnt 20043, 2017 ONSC 5976, Carole J. Brown J. (Ont. S.C.J.).

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CKL TENANTS BEWARE! LANDLORDS CAN NOW GET EVICTION ORDERS WITHOUT PRIOR NOTICE TO YOU. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY.............

New Ontario legislation now allows ex parte (i.e., without any notice) eviction orders, allowing landlords to obtain an eviction order without appearing before the Landlord and Tenant Board (the “LTB”).

Firstly, with Bill 184, the Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act, when a tenant is behind on rent, they can now enter into an enforceable repayment agreement with their landlord without oversight from an LTB adjudicator.

If the tenant fails to meet the repayment agreement’s terms, they can be subject to an ex parte eviction, or eviction without a hearing.

This is entirely new, as previously no eviction could be ordered by the LTB without the tenant being properly notified in advance.  

How does a landlord now do this?

The landlord must initially serve the tenant a Form N4 Notice to End a Tenancy Early for Non-payment of Rent, file a Form L1 Application to Evict a Tenant for Non-payment of Rent with the LTB, fill out another LTB form, which becomes the repayment agreement, following which both parties wait to receive the consent order from the board on that agreement.

However, if the tenant breaches the agreement, the landlord can then file an L4 application for eviction and does not have to serve notice to the tenant, nor have a hearing with the LTB.

The tenant has 10 days to file a set aside motion, to appear before the LTB to address the breach.

The tenant can also file a request to review the eviction order until 30 days post-eviction order.

Effectively, the new legislation shifts the onus to the tenant to prove why they did not uphold the agreement, while at a typical non-payment of rent hearing, the landlord has the onus to prove rent was not paid, to which the LTB applies an “equity reasoning”, determining whether there are circumstances that may justify delaying or refusing the eviction.

Some say that this new legislation further tips the scales of the power imbalance in favour of the landlord, namely by removing an opportunity for tenants to access much-needed assistance and protection at the LTD.

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NEW COVID ALERT APP NOW AVAILABLE - CKL BEING USED AS A TRIAL BEFORE NATIONAL ROLL-OUT. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY ABOUT THE APP............

The new, federally-developed COVID Alert app is now available in the City of Kawartha Lakes and aims to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The voluntary app tells users if or when they have been in close contact with another user who has tested positivie for the COVID-19 virus.

It uses Bluetooth technology, and if someone does get a positive test, they have to enter a code for alerts to be sent to other users.

The app is not mandatory for Canadians, and can be downloaded voluntarily from Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store.

Officials have stressed that no personal data will be collected.

Ontario is being used as a trial bed before a nationwide roll-out

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NEW RULES FOR CKL BARS AND RESTAURANTS - WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY.......

The Ontario government, in consultation with the Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health, has amended orders O. Reg 364/20: Rules for Areas in Stage 3 and O. Reg. 263/20: Rules for Areas in Stage 2, under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020, implementing additional measures for restaurants, bars, and other food or drink establishments, as the province carefully and gradually reopens.

In order to keep patrons of restaurants, bars, and other food or drink establishments safe, the amended orders will implement the following measures:  

  • All patrons will be required to be seated at all times, in both indoor and outdoor areas, with limited exceptions; and

  • Bars and restaurants (and also tour boat operators) in Ontario will be required to keep client logs for a period of 30 days and to disclose the client logs to the medical officer of health or an inspector under the Health Protection and Promotion Act on request, which will support case and contact tracing.

  • Complementary changes are being made in respect of existing provisions relating to tour operators and tour boat operators.

The Chief Medical Officer of Health and other public health experts continue to closely monitor the evolving situation to advise when public health measures or restrictions can be further loosened or if they need to be tightened.

It remains critically important for everyone to continue following public health advice as more businesses and services reopen in Stage 3. This includes practising physical distancing with those outside your household or social circle, wearing a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge or where it is mandatory to do so, staying home when ill, and washing your hands frequently and thoroughly.

The amendments read:

SCHEDULE 2
SPECIFIC RULES

Food and drink

Restaurants, bars etc.

1. (1) Restaurants, bars, food trucks, concession stands and other food or drink establishments may open if they comply with the following conditions:

1.  No buffet-style service may be provided.

2.  Patrons must be seated when eating or drinking at the establishment.

Note: On July 31, 2020, paragraph 2 of subsection 1 (1) of Schedule 2 to the Regulation is revoked and the following substituted: (See: O. Reg. 428/20, s. 3 (1))

2.  Patrons must be seated at all times in any area of the establishment in which food or drink is permitted except,

i.  while entering the area and while moving to their table,

ii.  while placing or picking up an order,

iii.  while paying for an order,

iv.  while exiting the area,

v.  while going to or returning from a washroom,

vi.  while lining up to do anything described in subparagraphs i to v, or

vii.  where necessary for the purposes of health and safety.

3.  The establishment must be configured so that patrons seated at different tables are separated by,

i.  a distance of at least two metres, or

ii.  plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier.

4.  No person shall dance, sing or perform music at the establishment except in accordance with subsection (2) or (3).

Note: On August 7, 2020, subsection 1 (1) of Schedule 2 to the Regulation is amended by adding the following paragraph: (See: O. Reg. 428/20, s. 3 (2))

5.  The person responsible for the establishment must,

i.  record the name and contact information of every patron who enters an indoor or outdoor dining area in the establishment, other than patrons who temporarily enter the area to place, pick up or pay for a takeout order,

ii.  maintain the records for a period of at least one month, and

iii.  only disclose the records to a medical officer of health or an inspector under the Health Protection and Promotion Act on request for a purpose specified in section 2 of that Act or as otherwise required by law.

Quick Facts

  • Businesses and sectors unable to open or facing significant difficulties in operating under the current restrictions are invited to visit Ontario.ca/reopen to submit a reopening proposal. Businesses are also encouraged to use the government’s guide to develop a workplace safety plan. Government officials will work collaboratively with them on a plan to safely reopen, where feasible. The plan will be considered by public health officials and the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee as part of Ontario’s approach to Stage 3.

  • Some local municipalities may have enacted by-laws or local medical officers of health may have issued Section 22 orders under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, mandating the use of face coverings, and other restrictions, in some settings. Other medical officers of health may have mandated the use of face coverings, and other restrictions, through reference to emergency orders. Refer to local municipal or public health unit webpages for more information.

  • For questions on restrictions that will remain in place during Stage 3, review the Stage 3 Emergency Order on the emergency information portal or call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1 888 444-3659.

  • Over 180 guidance resources are available to businesses to help them safely reopen and keep customers and workers safe.

  • The province has set up a Workplace PPE Supplier Directory, where employers can find suppliers who sell personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies to support a safe reopening of their workplaces.

  • Testing is available at any of the province’s 144 assessment centres currently open. To find your closest assessment centre, please visit Ontario.ca/coronavirus.

  • The province has developed a practical step-by-step guide to help Ontarians as they safely develop and join a social circle.

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CAN YOU STILL REFUSE TO WORK DUE TO CHILD CARE AS OF SEPTEMBER 1, WHEN CHILD CARE SERVICES RE-OPEN. NO. THE END IS NIGH. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY.........

Child care services and centres will be fully operational again as of September 1. 

More information on this is available here: http://wardlegal.ca/31596034289334 

So, things will soon change for parents who do not attend work due to child care responsibilities - in fact, that ability will end as of September 1.  

As workplaces re-open, employers are getting all kinds of objections from employees about coming back to work. Common among these are childcare responsibilities. While some daycares and day camps are operating, things are far from normal. What obligation do employers have to accommodate refusals to come back to work due to childcare responsibilities?

Employee Protection Under the Infectious Disease Emergency Leave

In Ontario, employees who claim they cannot work due to childcare responsibilities may have job protection under the Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (IDEL). The IDEL provides job protection to employees who need to take a leave from work to care for their children whose school or daycare is closed because of COVID-19. The Ministry of Labour Guide on this leave also includes day camps being cancelled as a reason for the leave so we can be sure that the protection is meant to be expansive.

If an employee’s normal childcare arrangements are a no-go because of COVID-19 they will be entitled to this leave. The IDEL requires the employer to give the employee a leave of absence, to continue their benefits and to reinstate the employee when they return from the leave to their job or a comparable job if their job no longer exists. The employer does not have to pay the employee during the leave.

The IDEL can also be taken in different ways, including partial days. This essentially allows an employee to have flexible work. If an employee is able to have their child cared for by a relative for a partial day and can work for a partial day, they have the protection of the leave for this adjustment to their schedule.

If COVID-19 is no longer deemed to be a designated infectious disease under O. Reg 66/20 then the employee’s right to the leave will end. The employee’s right to the leave will also end if the triggering event ends – for example, the employee’s child’s daycare re-opens.

But Their Daycare IS Open!

If the employee’s regular childcare IS available then they will not have the ability to claim protection under the IDEL for this reason. Note that there are other reasons to claim IDEL protection – such as being sick with COVID-19, caring for someone sick with COVID-19 or quarantining after travel or possible exposure to COVID-19 – and that as an employer you cannot ask the employee for medical evidence to substantiate the reasons for the leave. A request for evidence reasonable in the circumstances is allowed. So, if the employee claims to have been travelling it would be reasonable to require them to prove this by producing a plane ticket, for example.

Back to childcare. If the employee’s regular childcare is available, and they continue to state that they cannot come to work due to childcare responsibilities, then the employer will need to consider whether human rights protection might legitimately be engaged such that the employer needs to accommodate the employee.

There are two lines of jurisprudence that consider the test for family status accommodation. In one, Canada (Attorney General) v. Johnstone, 2014 FCA 110, the employee must show that:

  1. that a child under his or her care and supervision;

  2. that the childcare obligation at issue engages the individual’s legal responsibility for that child, as opposed to a personal choice;

  3. that he or she has made reasonable efforts to meet those childcare obligations through reasonable alternative solutions, and that no such alternative solution is reasonably accessible, and

  4. that the impugned workplace rule interferes in a manner that is more than trivial or insubstantial with the fulfillment of the childcare obligation.

In the other, Misetich v. Value Village Stores Inc., 2016 HRTO 1229 the individual must show that the employer’s requirement (say, coming to work) results in a “real disadvantage to the parent/child relationship and the responsibilities that flow from that relationship,” and that while each case is contextual the employee may be required to “consideration of the other supports available.”

Regardless of which test is followed – the law is somewhat unsettled on this point – it is clear that the employee needs to consider the options available to him or her and that he or she cannot simply choose not to send the child to daycare out of personal preference. That being said, the situation may be different if there is a great health risk to a family member. This could engage another human right ground! Woohoo!

Takeaways

While we can’t say with certainty how the courts may treat all of the employment issues and scenarios COVID-19 has created, it’s likely that employees cannot simply refuse to work where childcare options are available to them and they wish to stay home – and have their job held for them to come back to – out of personal preference.

Credit: 

Hilary Page, Spring Law (via Lexology.com on July 31, 2020)

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SCHOOL RE-OPENING PLAN FOR SEPTEMBER - A SUMMARY.

In-class instructions at Ontario schools will resume this fall, with additional protective measures put in place to protect against the spread of COVID-19.

Among the plans announced by the Province:

  • Elementary schools (Kindergarten to Grade 8) will reopen provincewide, with in-class instruction five days a week.

  • Secondary schools with lower risk will reopen with a normal daily schedule (five days a week), while most secondary schools will start the school year in an adapted model of part-time attendance with class cohorts of up to 15 students alternating between attending in-person and online.

  • Students from Grade 4-12 and school staff must wear non-medical masks or face coverings. Masks will be optional for students in Kindergarten to Grade 3.

  • Parents will have the option of not sending their children to school, and instead have them enrolled in online learning at home

  • Hiring additional cleaning/custodial staff.

  • Enhanced cleaning/disinfecting of classrooms and schools.

  • Hiring of 500 Public Health Nurses to liaise/assist schools with adjusting to COVID protocols

  • Providing Personal Protective Equipment to teachers and school staff

  • Putting in place COVID-19 screening for students and school staff

For more specifics on school reopenings, click on the following:

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CHILD CARE WILL BE AT 100% AS OF SEP. 1. BUY MORE NON-MEDICAL MASKS.

Today, the Ontario government announced its plan to allow licensed child care centres across Ontario to open at full capacity starting September 1, 2020.

EarlyON Child and Family Centres will also be permitted to reopen with in-person programming along with before- and after-school programs for school aged children which will be permitted to operate with standard ratios and maximum group size requirements.

All of these programs will be subject to health and safety protocols in order to keep kids safe.

The Ministry of Education will continue to work closely with municipal service managers, First Nations, and childcare operators to maximize capacity and access for families over the coming weeks. This includes revised health and safety operational guidance, additional funding parameters, and direction on providing notice to parents for placements. Licensees will continue to be required to maintain ratios and group sizes as set out under the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014 (CCEYA).

The government will continue to follow the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the COVID-19 Command Table to ensure the health and safety of the children and staff is never compromised as childcare capacity expands to 100%. The enhanced health and safety procedures that were put in place as part of the re-opening plan, will remain in place, and in some instances strengthened, to protect children, staff and families, including:

  • Requiring all child care staff to wear masks at all times, effective September 1;

  • Ensuring frequent cleaning of child care centres;

  • Screening of children and staff before entering a childcare facility;

  • Maintaining attendance records for rigorous contact tracing and coordination with local public health authorities;

  • Ensuring frequent hand washing and proper hand hygiene for children and staff; and

  • Establishing clear and rigid case management protocols in the event a staff member or child becomes ill, or tests positive for COVID-19.

Ontario will also provide additional funding, with support from the federal government through the Safe Restart Agreement, to help child care operators and EarlyON Child and Family Centres purchase cleaning supplies, PPE and support staffing needs related to new procedures.

Quick Facts

  • Licensed child care centres will be permitted to operate at full capacity beginning September 1, 2020. More information about reopening protocols and guidelines will be shared in the coming days.

  • Families whose children attended a licensed child care centre immediately before the emergency was declared must be given at least 14 days notice to accept a placement available on or after September 1, 2020.

  • From March 22 – June 26, 2020, the government provided Emergency Child Care to health and front line workers free of charge. On April 10th, 2020, the government committed to protecting parents from financial hardship during COVID-19 by preventing operators from charging fees while child care centres were closed. On May 9th, 2020 the government announced supports to licensed child care providers to ensure they remain sustainable and ready to open when parents return to work. On June 9, 2020, the government announced its plan to reopen child care centres across the province. On June 12, 2020, child care centres were permitted to reopen once strict health and safety measures had been met.

  • Funding is being provided to support enhanced cleaning costs and health and safety requirements set out to support the reopening of child care centres, as well as the continued stabilization of the sector.

  • The government of Ontario will supply face coverings to licensed child care settings and EarlyON locations.

  • There are over 5,500 child care centres and 124 licensed home child care agencies across Ontario.

  • Parents and guardians have until August 31, 2020 to apply for Support for Families. Under this program, parents or guardians of children between 0-12 years old, or up to 21 years old for children and youth with special needs, are eligible for a one-time payment, per child, to purchase educational materials to support learning at home.

  • To date, over 1.6 million families have benefited from the Support for Families program.

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AN ISOLATED SEXUAL, INAPPROPRIATE COMMENT TO ME IN THE WORKPLACE. IS IT SEXUAL HARASSMENT? WHAT IS THE TEST? WHEN SHOULD I COMPLAIN?

You and a few co-workers are out to dinner after a lengthy work week.

During the event, your co-worker, who is also more senior than you and managerial, quietly says to you:

“You will have to tell me if this is a misstep, but I’m crazy about you”.

You tell your co-worker this comment is unwelcome and you discuss it briefly.

Your co-worker acknowledges it was inappropriate and expresses regret about making it to you.

Your co-worker makes no further advance and you and your co-worker continue to have a professional relationship, but you remain uncomfortable due to the initial comment.

Is it sexual harassment, contrary to Ontario’s Human Rights Code?

The legal test for sexual harassment is conduct that is of a sexual nature, unwelcome and resulting in adverse consequences for the complainant.

Clearly the comment to you was sexual in nature and unwelcome and, consequently, you were both distressed and uncomfortable.

The real issue is whether the subjective, negative feelings you experienced constitute an “adverse impact” on you or your employ within the meaning of human rights law.

In this case, which actually happened, the comment was not considered sexual harassment.

The Tribunal assessed the circumstances surrounding the comment and found the comment was an isolated incident, not accompanied by any other advances and was not vulgar or crude.

Although there was a power imbalance in the relationship and inherent vulnerability, the dynamics were balanced somewhat by the parties` collaborative professional relationship.

There was no abuse of power. The Tribunal accepted that the employee experienced emotional distress as a result of the comment, but held that all circumstances must be considered on an objective basis. The Tribunal found there had been no adverse effect on their professional working relationship.

The Tribunal noted the complainant’s interpretation of events was coloured in hindsight and emphasised the “large gap between a comment that is inappropriate, and deserving of an apology, and one that is inherently such an affront to the person’s dignity that it rises to the level of sexual harassment as defined by the Code”.

What does this mean?

The circumstances, objectively, will be considered. Not only will the subjective interpretation and interpretation of the recipient be properly reviewed, but all of the circumstances, viewed objectively, will also be considered, particularly where there is a single, isolated incident in the workplace.

In this case, those did not warrant a finding of sexual harassment.

The decision also indicates that appropriate efforts to address the inappropriate comment will be important.

The case:

The Employee v. The University and another (No.2), 2020 BCHRT 12

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WHAT'S HAPPENING WITH THE "STATE OF EMERGENCY" - ARE WE, OR NOT? WHAT'S OUR CURRENT STATUS?

So, what is happening with Ontario’s declaration of emergency for COVID-19?

It’s ended, but the containment rules and directives continue.

The declaration of emergency was made initially under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (“EMCPA”). Recently, the provincial declaration of emergency was extended to July 24, 2020, while existing emergency orders were extended to July 29, 2020. However, recognizing that there will likely be a continued need to manage the public health risks and effects of COVID-19 well beyond the declared emergency, on July 21, 2020, the Ontario government passed Bill 195, now known as the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 (the “Act”).

 End of Declared Emergency

The Act provides that the COVID-19 declared emergency is terminated once it comes into force unless the emergency has been terminated beforehand. The Act came into force on July 24, 2020, which coincides with the termination of the state of emergency.

Continuation and Amendment of Emergency Orders

The Act also provides that emergency orders made under section 7.0.2 or 7.1 of the EMCPA that are in force on the date the Act came into force will cease to be orders under the EMCPA but will be continued as valid and effective orders under the new legislation. The orders are continued for an initial period of 30 days, but the Act allows for the extension by the Lieutenant Governor in Council for further periods of no more than 30 days at a time.

Bill 195, as it was passed, does not allow for the creation of new emergency orders under the Act. However, the continued orders may be amended by the Lieutenant Governor in Council, but only if the amendment requires persons to act in compliance with the advice, recommendations or instruction of a public health official and the amendment relates to one of the following subject matters:

  • closing or regulating any place, whether public or private, including any business, office, school, hospital or other establishment or institution;

  • providing for rules or practices related to workplaces or the management of workplaces, or authorizing the person responsible for a workplace to identify staffing priorities or to develop, modify or implement redeployment plans or rules or practices that relate to the workplace or the management of the workplace, including credentialing processes in a health care facility; or

  • prohibiting or regulating gatherings and organized public events.

Bill 195, as it was passed, also provides that some orders cannot be amended, including, for example: Order 210/20 (Management of Long-Term Care Homes in Outbreak), Order 240/20 (Management of Retirement Homes in Outbreak) and Order 241/20 (Special Rules Re Temporary Pandemic Pay).

The Act limits the authority to extend or amend emergency orders continued under it to a period of one (1) year, subject to further extension by the legislature. It provides for oversight of that authority through regular, mandated reporting wherein any extension of an emergency order under the Act would have to be justified. Additionally, it addresses enforcement and compliance through the same type of provisions on offences and penalties as those already set out under the EMCPA.

It is important to note that despite the provincial declaration of emergency coming to an end, it will nonetheless remain possible for an individual head of the council of a municipality to declare that an emergency exists in any part of their municipality (or to continue such a declaration) and to therefore exercise the powers granted to municipalities in such circumstances by the EMCPA. It also continues to remain possible for Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health or for local medical officers of health to exercise the powers granted to them by the Health Protection and Promotion Act.

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I'M NOT HAPPY WITH THE JUDGMENT - SHOULD I APPEAL IT? WHAT GROUNDS DO I NEED TO APPEAL? WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR BEFORE I APPEAL?

So, you endured the litigation process and received a judgment.

But you’re not happy with it, as many experience.

Statistically, most cases are never appealed and those that are face a high hurdle.

However, some succeed, of course, clarifying the law or potentially overturning the decision of the lower, trial Court.

The obvious appeals involve a Judge misinterpreting or misapplying the law – those types of appeals are more straightforward, but also fairly rare.

What about other grounds available to you?

If you think you have been unfairly treated, judicially speaking, here is how you should examine whether you should consider an appeal:

1.Were the parties able to exercise all their procedural rights?

One of the myths of the law is to think that a good lawyer is a cunning person capable of planting annulments at their convenience, throughout the process, which end up defining the trial, in the last moments. Betting on such a strategy may prove unsuccessful. The decisive factor to point out a process as flawed is that one of the parties has really been unable to seize any of its stages.

Did the Judge listen to both parties before adopting a resolution? Did the judge timely notify the start and end of each stage? Was there access to evidence from the opposing party? The central issue is whether one of the parties suffered a defenseless situation. Something important to assess on this point is that the appeal will correct procedural defects. Thus, an appeal that thrives under this argument will guarantee a fair trial, but not win it directly.

2.Did you enter all the necessary evidence to the trial?

Da mihi factum, dabo tibi ius" (give me the facts, I will give you the right) is a phrase that perfectly sums up the work of all the judges around the world. Now, such facts are made available to the Judge based on the evidence that enters the trial as long as they meet certain requirements. It must be related to any of the facts discussed in court, must be sufficient and useful to prove them.

The general rule is that the entry of evidence is allowed and only failure to comply with any of these requirements leads to its rejection. In this sense, it is necessary to attend to two elements that could go unnoticed. First, the interested party must expressly record in the corresponding act the disagreement with the exclusion of evidence. Second, the rejected evidence will be produced at that stage, making it critical to argue how this new element should modify the award.

3.Did the judge do a correct analysis of the evidence?

A judicial process is a search for the truth, under a certain method guided by logic, experience and psychology. Thus, the judicial reasoning expressed in an award should follow objective and verifiable parameters. It is important to know the principles under which the evidence was analyzed and to be clear about what should be considered as accredited according to them, to access a true review of the evidentiary analysis.

The first step to effective persuasion is clarity. Thus, it is essential to identify what is the error in the evidentiary examination and identify which premise (logic, experience or psychology) is the one that was violated when the Judge declared that something was proven (or not). The foregoing provides clarity to the Court of Appeals on the point whose review is requested and, furthermore, demonstrate why the meaning of the award should be modified.

Credit:

Ruben Rivas, Torres Law (via Lexology on July 29, 2020).

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OUR NEW CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM - ON ITS WAY!

The Ontario government released its plan today to modernize the child welfare system. The strategy focuses on strengthening families and communities through prevention, early intervention and seeking more permanent homes for children and youth in care when they cannot stay in their own homes or communities.

The strategy to redesign the child welfare system has five pillars that focus on:

  • Strengthening family well-being through community-based prevention services that keep children safe in family-based settings;

  • Improving the quality of residential care provided to children and youth;

  • Promoting the development of stable and lifelong connections and supports for youth, with a focus on education and employment opportunities;

  • Improving the adoption experience and focusing on family-based options over group care where appropriate; and

  • Creating a more efficient and effective child welfare system that is financially sustainable.

The new child welfare strategy was developed with input from youth, families, caregivers, First Nations, Inuit and Métis partners, lawyers, community organizations, frontline workers and child welfare sector leaders. They participated in over 100 engagement sessions over the past year and provided over 3,000 responses to an online survey.

Quick Facts

  • More than 12,000 children and youth are in the care of children’s aid societies in Ontario. This includes children and youth in kinship care, foster care and group care placements.

  • In addition to children and youth in care, those in need of protection may be placed with a family member or community caregiver, without coming into the care of a society. This is known as kinship service.

  • The Ontario government invested $5 million this year to enhance access to prevention-focused customary care for Indigenous children and youth. Customary care is the culturally-specific care and supervision of a First Nations, Inuit or Métis child by a person who is not the child’s parent. Customary care allows children and youth to remain closely connected to their culture and community.

Background Information

Additional Resources

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CRA EXTENDING TAX DEADLINES TO SEP 30 - PAYMENTS AND FILING RETURNS.

Due to COVID, the CRA is further extending the deadlines for making tax payments, paying interest and for filing returns: 

Payment deadline extension

The CRA is extending the payment due date for current year individual, corporate, and trust income tax returns, including instalment payments, from September 1, 2020, to September 30, 2020.

Penalties and interest will not be charged if payments are made by the extended deadline of September 30, 2020. This includes the late-filing penalty as long as the return is filed by September 30, 2020.

Interest on Existing Tax Debt

The CRA is also waiving interest on existing tax debts related to individual, corporate, and trust income tax returns from April 1, 2020, to September 30, 2020 and from April 1, 2020, to June 30, 2020, for goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) returns. While this measure for existing tax debts does not cancel penalties and interest already assessed on a taxpayer’s account prior to this period, it ensures that a taxpayer’s existing tax debt does not continue to grow through interest charges during this difficult time. This measure provides immediate relief to impacted taxpayers.

Filing returns

The previously extended filing due dates for individual, corporate, and trust income tax returns remain unchanged. However, recognizing the difficult circumstances faced by Canadians, the CRA will not impose late-filing penalties where a current year individual, corporation, or trust return is filed late provided that it is filed by September 30, 2020.

The CRA encourages everyone to file their individual, corporate and trust returns as soon as possible, even though payment deadlines are being extended. This is particularly important for individuals receiving credits and benefits, such as the Canada Child Benefit.

To ensure Canadians continue to receive their benefits and credits during the COVID-19 pandemic, the CRA temporarily suspended interruptions for those who were unable to file their income tax and benefit return by the June 1 deadline. Currently, if a 2019 individual tax return has not been assessed, the CRA is calculating benefits and/or credits for the July to September 2020 payments based on information from 2018 tax returns. However, if 2019 individual tax returns are not received and assessed by early September 2020, estimated benefits and/or credits will stop in October 2020 and individuals may have to repay the amounts that were issued as of July 2020.

The CRA has helpful information and a step-by-step guide to help Canadians complete their taxes. The CRA tax processing system is fully operational and returns are being processed quickly to support Canadians in getting their refunds and ensuring continuity of their benefits.

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EMPLOYERS AND EMPLOYERS - BE AWARE OF THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE END OF THE DECLARATION OF EMERGENCY - DEEMED TERMINATIONS AND CONSTRUCTIVE DISMISSAL CLAIMS ARE NOW LIVE AGAIN. ANSWERS TO YOUR QUESTIONS......

Both employers and employees in the CKL need to be aware of their exposure to risk arising from the end of the province’s declaration of emergency.

While existing emergency orders will continue under the new, replacement legislation, the end of the emergency declaration will potentially have significant consequences for both employers and employees.

For example:

Risk of Deemed Terminations

In late May, the Ontario government filed Regulation 228/20 under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”), which provides that employees who did not perform their duties because their hours of work had been temporarily reduced or eliminated due to COVID-19 during what was referred to as the “COVID-19 period” were deemed to be on Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (or “IDEL”).

The COVID-19 period was specifically defined under the Regulation as beginning on March 1, 2020 and ending six (6) weeks after the declared state of emergency comes to an end.

Because the declared state of emergency ended on July 24, 2020, the “clock” starts to run.

Once that six-week period ends, the regular ESA rules regarding temporary lay-offs will apply once again and employers who cannot return employees to work within the time frame permitted for such temporary lay-offs may face claims of deemed termination.

 Risk of Constructive Dismissal Claims

Pursuant to Regulation 228/20, the Ontario government also provided employers with limited, statutory protection against claims of constructive dismissal where an employee’s hours were temporarily reduced or eliminated, or where an employee’s wages were temporarily reduced, due to COVID-19 during the COVID-19 period.

However, once the COVID-19 period ends, employers who remain unable to return employees to their regular hours or wages will therefore also need to be mindful of the risk of claims of constructive dismissal.

 Availability of Emergency Leave: Declared Emergencies and Infectious Disease Emergencies

Under the ESA, Emergency Leave – which is an unpaid, job-protected leave of absence available to eligible employees – can currently be accessed in two ways:

  1. in cases of declared emergency (also referred to as Declared Emergency Leave or “DEL”); i.e., when an emergency is declared under the EMCPA and the individual meets other legislated conditions; or

  2. in cases of infectious disease emergencies (also referred to as Infectious Disease Emergency Leave or “IDEL); i.e., for reasons related to COVID-19 specifically, including but not limited to that the individual is under medical investigation, supervision or treatment; the individual is under quarantine or isolation; or the individual is providing care or support to an a listed family member (e.g., school or daycare closures).

With the end of the declared state of emergency in Ontario, employees will generally no longer be able to qualify for DEL. However, IDEL will continue to remain available to those who qualify for reasons related to COVID-1 specifically and employers will need to be mindful of each individual employee’s circumstances when determining whether or not they will continue to remain eligible for IDEL from this date forward.

 Continuation of Emergency Orders

As all existing emergency orders will continue under the new legislation, employers must continue to monitor for any temporary orders that might apply to their workplace.

For example, there are currently a number of orders that deal with labour redeployment or workplace and management rules in certain sectors, as well as with the closure of certain places and spaces or the regulation of how businesses and establishments can safely operate.

Furthermore, although the Act does not permit the Lieutenant Governor to create new temporary orders, it does allow some of them to be amended. Employers must therefore be mindful that any applicable temporary orders are potentially subject to change.

SUMMARY

With the declared state of emergency ended, those on or deemed to be on declared emergency leaves or a deemed infectious diseases leave under the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the "ESA") and its regulations will see certain rules and entitlements expired or set to expire. 

Unless the government legislates or regulates otherwise:

• employees are no longer eligible for a declared emergency leave under the ESA; and

• effective on or about September 4, 2020:

  • temporary reductions of employees' hours of work or wages by an employer for reasons related to COVID-19 will no longer be deemed to be on an infectious disease leave in accordance with the O. Reg. 228/20: Infectious Disease Emergency Leave under the ESA, available here;
  • any temporary reductions to, or elimination of an employee's hours of work, or the reduction of any employee's wages by the employer for reasons related to COVID-19 will no longer expressly be deemed not to constitute constructive dismissal under the ESA;
  • temporary layoffs under the ESA will no longer be converted to, or deemed to be, an infectious disease leave in accordance with the O. Reg. 228/20; and
  • any employees who were deemed to be on an infectious disease leave in accordance with O. Reg. 228/20 will cease to be on the infectious disease leave.

The end of the declared state of emergency does not impact employees' entitlement to the infectious disease emergency leave provided for under the ESA, which applies for as long as the event triggering entitlement to the leave lasts.

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HOW DO I CHALLENGE A LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT? WHAT GROUNDS DO I NEED? HOW DOES THIS WORK? ANSWERS.......

So, you’re unhappy with the last will and testament of a family member, or someone from whom you reasonably expected to inherit……

Legally, any person can challenge the validity of a Will, but there are only certain grounds to do so.

If you do not qualify within one or more of these recognized grounds, the Court is unlikely to allow your claim to proceed to what is often very costly and protracted litigation proceedings.

Will disputes are on the rise in Ontario, unfortunately.

They are often characterized by emotional, bitter litigation, usually resulting in the respective lawyers financially gaining more so than the litigants themselves.

What are these grounds to challenge the validity of a Will in Ontario?

Lack of Testamentary Capacity

A testator (meaning the person making the Will) must have the necessary level of mental capacity in order to make a valid Will. Generally speaking, the testator must understand what a Will is and must understand, at least, the general extent of their property. They must also remember and have given consideration to their close relatives to whom they would usually be expected to leave their estate. They must also not be under any delusions that would affect their Will.

It is important to note that the threshold for testamentary capacity is not particularly high. A testator does not have to be fully capable with respect to the management of the property. Rather, so long as the testator has a general understanding of what they own, this will be sufficient.

Likewise, it is important to note that in Ontario, a testator is generally allowed to cut adult children out of a Will (so long as they are not financially dependent on the testator – see below). The test for capacity only requires that the testator remains aware of their children and makes a conscious decision as to whether or not to leave them anything.

Lack of Knowledge and Approval

In addition to having the proper level of capacity, a testator must also actually be aware of what is in their Will. This does not mean that the testator needs to fully understand and appreciate the nuance of each and every clause in the Will (which may be drafted in dense “legalese”); but if the testator signed their Will without being fully aware of the general scheme set out in it, then there is a basis on which to contest the Will.

Will Not Validly Executed

Another ground for challenging a Will is if the proper procedure has not been followed for making a valid Will. To be valid, a Will must be in writing and signed by the testator and two witnesses. The witnesses should not be beneficiaries, or else the gifts made to those beneficiaries acting as witnesses will be void.

If these requirements are not properly met, then the Will can be challenged.

However, it is important to point out that in Ontario, there is also a second, special way to make a valid Will, called a “holograph” Will. This is a Will written entirely in the testator’s handwriting, and signed by the testator.

Undue Influence

Undue influence occurs when someone exerts an inappropriate level of pressure on a testator, to the extent that the testator makes a Will that goes against their true wishes.

As an example, consider a situation in which a testator is very weak and frail and becomes entirely dependent on a friend to care for them. That caregiver may try to exploit the relationship of dependence in order to effectively force the testator to change their Will. If, as a result, the testator makes a Will that goes against their true wishes, then that Will is invalid. However, if the testator legitimately wants to change their Will to reward this caregiver, then this is not undue influence.

It is important to note that it is a very high bar to establish undue influence. In general, there is no prohibition against directly asking or pleading with someone to change their Will. This type of behaviour only crosses the line into undue influence when the testator feels forced to make a Will that they otherwise would not make.

Failure to Provide for Dependents

Finally, if a Will does not make sufficient provision for a dependent of the testator, then this dependent can bring a court application to receive ongoing or lump-sum support from the estate. In this context, a dependent includes someone whom the testator had a legal obligation to support (for example, a spouse or minor child), as well as someone whom the testator was actively supporting prior to their death, even if there was no strict obligation to do so.

This type of court application is not a direct challenge to the validity of the Will itself. Rather, it is an application seeking support to be paid “off the top” of the estate assets. The remaining estate assets would still be distributed as per the Will.

Credit: 

C. Crisman-Cox, Miller Thomson LLP 

 

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CKL BUSINESSES - EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE NEW CHANGES TO THE CANADIAN EMERGENCY WAGE SUBSIDY - YOUR CHEAT SHEET AND GUIDE, INCLUDING SAMPLE CALCULATIONS.

The Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) is being both extended and expanded, likely to co-ordinate with the trailing off of the CERB benefit for many. 

This summary explains the key changes to the CEWS, including providing sample calculations and period-by-period qualification conditions: 

____________________________________________

On July 17, 2020, the Canadian Government released draft legislative proposals (the "Amendments" or "Bill C-20") to amend section 125.7 and other provisions of the Income Tax Act (Canada) (the "ITA").The Amendments extend the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (the "CEWS") and significantly expand the scope of the program by making it available to any eligible employer that experiences a revenue decline for qualifying periods starting on July 5, 2020.

The original CEWS was implemented for 12 weeks from March 15, 2020 to June 6, 2020. On May 15, 2020, Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced that the Government of Canada would extend the CEWS by an additional 12 weeks to August 29, 2020. The Canadian Government is proposing a further extension of the CEWS to December 19, 2020.

The information below is based on the draft legislation published by the Department of Finance on July 17, 2020. The amendments passed by Parliament may differ considerably from these proposals. Given this uncertainty, in many cases, it would be prudent not to rely on these changes until the amendments are enacted.

The changes to the CEWS include the following:

  • The CEWS will now cover at least 9 4-week qualifying periods (each, a "Period") starting from March 15, 2020 and ending on November 21, 2020, with the 10th Period expected to be proposed by the government at a later date.

  • The CEWS continues to be available to taxable corporations and trusts, individuals, non-profit organizations, registered charities, and certain partnerships whose members include eligible employers, and certain other prescribed organizations but is not available to public institutions.

  • For the qualifying periods starting on or after July 5, 2020 (i.e. Periods 5 to 9), the CEWS consists of two subsidies: (i) a base subsidy available to all eligible employers that experience a decline in revenue, which will vary depending on the magnitude of the revenue decline; and (ii) a top-up subsidy of up to an additional 25 per cent (of the remuneration paid) for those eligible employers with at least a 50 per cent revenue decline based on a 3-month average.

  • The calculation of the base subsidy is intended to provide for a gradual reduction in the wage subsidy as revenues increase, with the base subsidy rate gradually reduced in later Periods to transition into a phase-out by December, 2020.

  • The top-up subsidy is intended to provide additional financial support to eligible employers that have been most affected by the pandemic.

  • For Periods 5 and 6, a "safe harbour" rule provides that eligible employers may calculate their wage subsidy under the rules currently applicable for Periods 1 to 4 if their revenue decline is at least 30% in June or July 2020 (Period 5) and at least 30% in July or August 2020 (Period 6).

  • The CEWS for Periods 1 to 4 remains the same as before with the Amendments enacting previously announced changes to the wage subsidy.

  • There continues to be no maximum number of employees for which an eligible entity can claim a subsidy and there is no cap on the total amount of the subsidy that an eligible entity may claim.

  • An online application to be filed with the Canada Revenue Agency (the "CRA") for each particular Period has been extended to no later than January 30, 2021.

The Amendments also implement measures previously announced on May 15, 2020. This bulletin summarizes these changes.

Eligible Entities

Entities that were eligible to claim the CEWS during Periods 1 to 4 (e.g., taxable corporations, partnerships consisting primarily of eligible entities, etc.) continue to be eligible for Periods 5 to 9.

Further to the government's announcement on May 15, 2020, the list of eligible entities has been expanded to include the following for the entire duration of the program:

  • Partnerships where more than 50 per cent of the fair market value of the interest in the partnerships is held by eligible entities (previously, eligible partnerships only included those whose members consisted entirely of eligible entities).

  • Private colleges and schools, including for-profit and not-for-profit institutions such as art schools, language schools, driving schools, flight schools and culinary schools.

  • Registered Canadian Amateur Athletic Associations.

  • Registered Journalism Organizations.

  • Indigenous government-owned corporations that are carrying on a business, as well as partnerships where the partners are Indigenous governments and eligible employers.

Qualifying for the Subsidy

For Periods 5 to 9, the "all-or-nothing" revenue drop thresholds of 15% or 30% will be eliminated. As discussed below, all eligible entities that experience a revenue decline will qualify for the CEWS, provided that other qualifying conditions continue to be met. These include: (i) the filing of an application before February 2021 (previously October 2020), (ii) the individual who has "principal responsibility" for the financial activities of the entity attests that the application is "complete and accurate in all material respects", and (iii) the eligible entity must either have had a CRA payroll account on March 15, 2020 or engaged a payroll service provider to administer the eligible entity's payroll using a CRA business number on March 15, 2020.

Calculating the Subsidy

For Periods 5 to 9, the subsidy amount per eligible employee will depend on whether the employee is active or on paid leave.

For active employees, all eligible employers that have a revenue decline will generally receive at least a base subsidy which will be directly proportional to the magnitude of the revenue decline, subject to a maximum base percentage (described below). The base subsidy will gradually be reduced in order to transition to a phase out in December. In addition, a top-up subsidy is available to those eligible employers that suffer at least a 50 per cent revenue decline based on a 3-month average, up to a maximum of 25 per cent.

For employees on paid leave, eligible employers with a revenue decline greater than 0% will generally be able to claim a subsidy during Periods 5 and 6 on the same basis as Periods 1 to 4. However, beginning in Period 7, an eligible employer with a revenue decline will generally be able to claim a subsidy equal to the lesser of (i) 100% of the eligible remuneration paid, and (ii) an amount to be prescribed by regulation, which has not yet been published.

Employer premiums and contributions paid on account of Employment Insurance ("EI"), the Canada Pension Plan ("CPP"), the Quebec Pension Plan ("QPP") and the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (the "QPIP") for employees on paid leave will continue to be refundable.

In both cases:

  • special rules apply for non-arm's length employees; and

  • an eligible employer may calculate its subsidy under the old rules for Periods 5 and 6 if it experiences a revenue decline of at least 30% in June or July 2020 (Period 5) and at least 30% in July or August 2020 (Period 6). This "safe harbour" is being provided for fairness to those who made business decisions based on current rules.

The CEWS for Periods 5 to 9 (July 5 to November 21)

The amount of the subsidy available for an eligible employer with a revenue decline in Periods 5 to 9, for each week in the relevant Period, is equal to:

1. The aggregate of, for each active eligible employee (subject to the safe harbour rule for Periods 5 and 6 described below):

    (a)  the applicable base subsidy rate plus the applicable top-up subsidy rate for the Period; multiplied by

    (b)  the least of: (i) total amount of eligible remuneration paid to the employee, (ii) $1,129, and (iii) the employee's "baseline remuneration" (in the case of an employee who does not deal at arm's length with the eligible employer); plus

2. The aggregate of, for each eligible employee on leave with pay:

    (a) For Periods 5 and 6: on the same basis as Periods 1 to 4; or

    (b) For Periods 7 to 9: the lesser of: (i) total amount of eligible remuneration paid to the employee, (ii) an amount to be determined by regulation, and (iii) $0 (in the case of a non-arm's length employee who has a "baseline remuneration" of $0); plus

3. The total amount of employer premiums and contributions paid on account of EI, CPP, QPP and QPIP in respect of eligible employees who are on leave with pay during the qualifying period; minus

4. The total amount received under the 10% temporary wage subsidy under subsection 153(1.02) (the "10% Temporary Subsidy") in the Period; minus

5. The total amount of work-sharing benefits received by eligible employees for the qualifying period.

For Periods 5 and 6, a "safe harbour rule" is provided that allows an eligible employer to claim a wage subsidy rate not lower than the rate applicable under the CEWS rules that were in place for Periods 1 to 4. The result is that, for Periods 5 and 6, an eligible employer with a revenue decline of 30 per cent or more in June or July 2020 (Period 5) or in July or August 2020 (Period 6) could receive the greater of: (i) a wage subsidy under the old rules equal to 75 per cent of eligible remuneration paid (up to a weekly maximum of $847 per employee), or (ii) a wage subsidy rate under the new rules (which could, with the top-up subsidy, attain 85 per cent or a weekly maximum of $960 per employee).

The following is a description of the new rules applicable to active employees and paid leave employees.

Active Employees

Base Subsidy

The base subsidy is generally equal to the entity's base subsidy rate multiplied by the amount of eligible remuneration paid to an eligible employee, subject to a weekly maximum that is gradually reduced from $677 in Periods 5 and 6 (July 5 to August 29) to $226 in Period 9 (October 25 to November 21).

The base subsidy rate varies depending on the level of the eligible entity's revenue decline. It is subject to a maximum percentage (achieved when the revenue drop is 50 per cent or more) that is gradually reduced from 60 per cent in Periods 5 and 6 (July 5 to August 29) to 20 per cent in Period 9 (October 25 to November 21).

The following table sets out the base subsidy calculation for Periods 5 to 9:

Period 

Qualifying Period 

Revenue Drop in Current Reference Period 

Base Subsidy Rate 

Maximum Weekly Base Subsidy per Employee[2]

5

July 5 – August 1

0% to 49%

1.2  x revenue drop

$677

50% and over

60%

6

August 2 – August 29

0% to 49%

1.2 x revenue drop

$677

50% and over

60%

7

August 30 – September 26

0% to 49%

1.0 x revenue drop

$565

50% and over

50%

8

September 27 – October 24

0% to 49%

0.8 x revenue drop

$452

50% and over

40%

9

October 25 – November 21

0% to 49%

0.4 x revenue drop

$226

50% and over

20%

Eligibility for the base subsidy would generally be determined by the change in an eligible employer's monthly revenues, year-over-year, for the applicable reference period (e.g. June 2020 vs June 2019). An eligible employer could instead elect to calculate its revenue decline under an alternative approach by comparing its revenue in the applicable reference period to the average revenue earned in January and February 2020 (e.g. June 2020 vs average revenue in January and February 2020).

Employers that have elected to use the alternative approach for the first 4 Periods would be able to either maintain that election for Period 5 and onward or revert to the general approach. Similarly, employers that have used the general approach for the first 4 Periods would be able to either continue with the general approach or elect to use the alternative approach for Period 5 and onward. However, this selection will apply for the remaining periods and for both the calculation of the base subsidy and the top-up subsidy.

For Periods 5 and following, an eligible employer can use the greater of its percentage revenue decline in the current period and that in the previous period to determine its base subsidy rate in the current period. This is similar to the deeming rule in Periods 1 to 4 that allowed an eligible employer that met the revenue test in one period to automatically qualify for the following period.

The conditions described above with respect to the base subsidy reference periods may be summarized as follows:

Period 

Qualifying Period 

Reference Period: General Approach 

Reference Period: Alternative Approach 

5

July 5 – August 1

July 2020 over July 2019

or 

June 2020 over June 2019

July 2020 or June 2020

over

average of January and February 2020

6

August 2 – August 29

August 2020 over August 2019

or 

July 2020 over July 2019

August 2020 or July 2020

over

average of January and February 2020

7

August 30 – September 26

September 2020 over September 2019

or 

August 2020 over August 2019

September 2020 or August 2020

over

average of January and February 2020

8

September 27 – October 24

October 2020 over October 2019

or 

September 2020 over September 2019

October 2020 or September 2020

over

average of January and February 2020

9

October 25 – November 21

November 2020 over November 2019

or 

October 2020 over October 2019

November 2020 or October 2020

over

average of January and February 2020

Top-up Subsidy

A top-up subsidy is available for eligible entities that experience a revenue decline of at least 50% over a specified 3-month period.

The top-up subsidy is generally equal to the entity's top-up subsidy rate multiplied by the amount of eligible remuneration paid to an eligible employee, subject to a weekly maximum of $283.

A top-up subsidy rate of up to 25 per cent would be available to employers based on the revenue drop experienced compared to either the same months in the prior year, or alternatively, by comparing the average monthly revenue in the preceding three months to the average monthly revenue in January 2020 and February 2020.

The top-up rate is generally equal to 1.25 times the amount by which the revenue drop percentage for a specified 3-month period exceeds 50 per cent, up to a maximum top-up rate of 25 per cent (which is available when an eligible entity experiences a 70 per cent revenue decline over the specified 3-month period). The following examples illustrate the calculation of the top-up rate:

3-month average revenue drop 

Top-up Subsidy Rate  

Top-up Calculation: 

1.25 x (3-month revenue drop – 50%) 

70% and greater

25.0%

1.25 x (70%-50%) = 25.0%

65

18.75%

1.25 x (65%-50%) = 18.75%

60

12.5%

1.25 x (60%-50%) = 12.5%

55

6.25%

1.25 x (55%-50%) = 6.25%

50% and lower

0.0%

1.25 x (50%-50%) = 0.0%

Two methods may be used to calculate the change in an eligible employer's revenues for a 3-month period. Under the general approach, the comparison is between the average monthly qualifying revenue for the 3-month period ending before the current reference period and the same 3 months in the previous year. Under the alternative approach, the comparison is between the average monthly qualifying revenue for the 3-month period ending before the current reference period and the average of the months of January and February 2020. The approach chosen for the base subsidy rate must also be used in determining the prior reference period for the top-up subsidy for Period 5 and onwards. In other words, if the average revenue in January and February 2020 is used as the benchmark revenue for the base subsidy, it must also be used for the top-up subsidy.

The reference periods for the 3-month revenue decline may be summarized as follows:

Period 

Qualifying Period 

Reference Period: General Approach 

Reference Period: Alternative Approach 

5

July 5 – August 1

April to June 2020 average

over

April to June 2019 average

April to June 2020 average

over

January and February 2020 average

6

August 2 – August 29

May to July 2020 average

over

May to July 2019 average

May to July 2020 average

over

January and February 2020 average

7

August 30 – September 26

June to August 2020 average

over

June to August 2019 average

June to August 2020 average

over

January and February 2020 average

8

September 27 – October 24

July to September 2020 average

over

July to September 2019 average

July to September 2020 average

over

January and February 2020 average

9

October 25 – November 21

August to October 2020 average

over

August to October 2019 average

August to October 2020 average

over

January and February 2020 average

Employees On Leave With Pay

Under the new rules, eligible employers must calculate their wage subsidy differently for employees who are on paid leave for an entire week during a particular Period.

The subsidy will generally be equal to the lesser of (i) the eligible employee's eligible remuneration for the week, and (ii) an amount to be determined by regulation (to be released at a later date). It is expected that the amount fixed by regulation will align with the benefits provided through the CERB and EI.

As previously mentioned, the subsidy calculation for an employee that is on leave with pay during Periods 5 and 6 would remain the same as for Periods 1 to 4 (if greater than the subsidy obtained under the new rules). In other words, an eligible entity may receive a 75% wage subsidy for paid leave employees (up to a weekly maximum of $847) in Periods 5 and 6, assuming its revenue decline for the base subsidy (i.e., its revenue decline over a calendar month) or top-up subsidy (i.e., its revenue decline over a 3-month period) is greater than 0%. The 0% threshold is noteworthy and stands in contrast to the 30% threshold an employer is required to meet to receive a 75% wage subsidy for active employees.

The employer portion of premiums and contributions in respect of CPP, EI, QPP and QPIP in respect of employees on leave with pay would continue to be refunded to the employer.

The CEWS for Periods 1 to 4 (March 15 to July 4)

The CEWS for Periods 1 to 4 remains the same as before with the Amendments enacting previously announced changes to the wage subsidy. In summary, for Periods 1 to 4, eligible entities who suffer a decline in "qualifying revenue" of at least 15% in Period 1 or 30% in Periods 2 to 4 may claim a wage subsidy as described below. If an eligible entity meets the revenue drop test for Period 1, Period 2, or Period 3, it automatically qualifies for the subsidy for the immediately following Period.

The amount of the subsidy applicable to Periods 1 to 4 is equal to:

1. The aggregate of, for each eligible employee, the greater of the following amounts:

    (a) 75 per cent of eligible remuneration paid to the employee, up to a maximum of $847 per week; and

    (b) the total amount of eligible remuneration paid to the employee, up to a maximum of $847 per week or 75 per cent of the employee's "baseline remuneration", whichever is less; plus

2. The total amount of employer premiums and contributions paid on account of EI, CPP, QPP and QPIP in respect of eligible employees who are on leave with pay during the qualifying period; minus

3. The total amount received under the 10% Temporary Subsidy for the qualifying period; minus

4. The total amount of work-sharing benefits received by eligible employees for the qualifying period.

The revenue reduction is determined by reference to either: (i) the revenue earned in the same month in 2019, or (ii) the average revenue earned in January and February 2020. The same approach must be used for the first four Periods. The conditions described above may be summarized as follows:

Period 

Qualifying Period 

Required Reduction 

Reference Period for Eligibility 

1

March 15 - April 11

15%

March 2020 over: (i) March 2019 or (ii) average of January and February 2020

2

April 12 - May 9

30%

Eligible for Period 1

OR

April 2020 over: (i) April 2019 or (ii) average of January and February 2020

3

May 10 - June 6

30%

Eligible for Period 2

OR

May 2020 over: (i) May 2019 or (ii) average of January and February 2020

4

June 7 – July 5

30%

Eligible for Period 3

OR

June 2020 over: (i) June 2019 or (ii) average of January and February 2020

Additional Rules for Calculating Qualifying Revenue

Amalgamated corporations may not be in a position to qualify for the CEWS since they may not have the required revenue decline or the revenue drop may not provide a full picture of their pre-crisis revenues. Further to the government's announcement on May 15, 2020, the Amendments will allow corporations formed by amalgamation to calculate the revenue for the applicable reference periods using the combined revenue of the predecessor corporations unless it is reasonable to consider that one of the main purposes for the amalgamation (or the winding up) was to qualify for the CEWS or to increase the amount of the CEWS otherwise available.

An eligible entity that acquires all or substantially all of the assets of a business carried on in Canada can elect (jointly with the seller) to include the qualifying revenue that is reasonably attributable to the acquired assets in the qualifying revenue of the eligible entity (and not the seller) for the purposes of determining the eligible entity's qualifying revenue under the CEWS.

Amendment to Eligible Employee Definition

A wage subsidy may only be claimed in respect of eligible remuneration paid to eligible employees.

For Periods 1 to 4, an eligible employee was defined as an individual who is employed in Canada and who has not been without remuneration for 14 or more consecutive days in the relevant qualifying period.

Effective July 5, 2020 (i.e., for Periods 5 and following), the eligibility criteria would no longer exclude employees that are without remuneration in respect of 14 or more consecutive days in an eligibility period, meaning that employees who are paid, for example, 1 week out of 4 will qualify as eligible employees. This amendment is being introduced to help transition workers from the CERB to the CEWS.

Amendment to Baseline Remuneration Definition

Baseline remuneration refers to the average weekly eligible remuneration paid to eligible employees from January 1, 2020 to March 15, 2020. To accommodate seasonal employees, in particular, an eligible employer may elect one of the following alternative periods on an employee-by-employee basis:

  • Periods 1 to 3: March 1, 2019 to May 31, 2019.

  • Period 4: March 1, 2019 to May 31, 2019 orMarch 1, 2019 to June 30, 2019.

  • Period 5 and following: July 1, 2019 to December 31, 2019.

In all cases, the calculation of average weekly remuneration would exclude any period of 7 or more consecutive days without remuneration.

Under the new rules for Periods 5 to 9, the concept of baseline remuneration is only relevant to non-arm's length employees (discussed below). For arm's-length employees, the subsidy would be based solely on actual remuneration paid for the qualifying period.

Non-Arm's Length Employees

A wage subsidy may only be claimed in respect of non-arm's length employees (such as owner-managers) provided that they have a baseline remuneration greater than $0 (see above for the baseline remuneration periods that may be used for calculation purposes).

The amount of the subsidy for active non-arm's length employees for Periods 5 to 9 will generally be equal to the sum of the base subsidy rate and the top-up rate multiplied by the lesser of (i) 100% of the eligible remuneration paid, (ii) $1,129, and (iii) the non-arm's length employee's baseline remuneration.

Amendment to Certain Anti-avoidance Rules

Certain anti-avoidance rules were enacted under the original CEWS legislation to deny a wage subsidy if an action was taken to effectively reduce the employer's qualifying revenue for the purpose of qualifying for the wage subsidy. These rules will be amended to apply in situations where not only actions were taken to qualify for the wage subsidy, but also to increase the amount of the wage subsidy.

This amendment adapts the anti-avoidance rules to the new wage subsidy rules, which provide a subsidy on a sliding scale depending on the amount of an eligible entity's revenue decline.

Objection and Appeal

After reviewing a CEWS application, the CRA will now issue a "notice of determination" accepting, varying or denying the subsidy claimed. If an eligible employer disagrees with the notice of determination, it may file a notice of objection under the usual dispute resolution process set out in the ITA.

Commentary

The estimated total fiscal cost for the expanded CEWS program is $83.6 billion. This amount will be offset by income taxes collected on salary and wages paid to employees under the program and an anticipated reduction of benefits paid under the CERB and EI programs. Although the CEWS will be considered taxable government assistance for taxable employers, the income inclusion should generally be offset by a deduction for employee remuneration.

The expansion of the CEWS to a greater number of eligible employers starting in Period 5 has significantly increased the complexity of the program. Furthermore, the fact that the new subsidy will generally be directly proportional to an eligible employer's revenue decline percentage means that the entity will have to carefully calculate its qualifying revenue to avoid excessive claims and keep supporting records documenting all calculations. Under the previous rules, certain eligible employers may have been comfortable claiming the CEWS based on estimated revenue because of the all-or-nothing 15% or 30% threshold. This approach is not possible or advisable here.

Overestimating a revenue drop may result in a tax assessment for the amount of the excess subsidy claimed and the related interest, including possible penalties. Eligible employers should also bear in mind that certain anti-avoidance rules will be expanded to apply to actions that may "increase" the amount of the subsidy (rather than just "qualify" under the prior version), which further underscores the importance of precisely calculating their revenue drop.

While we understand the Canadian government's concern for the potential abuse of this generous program, there will be many instances of confusion and/or honest mistakes. There will be genuine disagreements regarding, for example, the computation of the qualifying revenue drop, as well as eligible remuneration and baseline remuneration, the application of the anti-abuse provisions, among others.

While the changes to the CEWS are intended to broaden the availability of the program to a greater number of employers as they begin to recover from the pandemic, employers will need to consider the impact of the new rules on their staffing decisions. For example, the subsidy available for employees on paid leave for Periods 5 to 6 will remain the same as the prior Periods, but will be adjusted starting in Period 7 to take into account changes to the CERB and EI. What steps an employer will want to take as a result of these changes will vary from organization to organization and will require a detailed assessment of each organization's current financial position and its short and medium term business prospects.

As this is a CRA-administered program, we suggest that all best practices normally followed by taxpayers to comply with our self-assessment system be equally applied here, including seeking help interpreting the most up-to-date legislation and CRA guidance, completing the proper due diligence, and keeping contemporaneous records and documentation. We are committed to helping employers navigate the CEWS and available to provide further guidance and explanations as requested.

Credit

Kevin H. Yip and Taj Kudhail, Fasken, published July 23, 2020

 

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FEDERALLY REGULATED BUSINESSES IN THE CKL (BANKS, TRANSPORTATION, COMMUNICATIONS, etc.) - BETTER GET READY FOR THE NEW MAJOR CHANGES TO YOUR ANTI-HARASSMENT/VIOLENCE DUTIES AND POLICIES AS OF DEC. 31. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW AND DO.

At the end of this year (Jan. 1, 2021), employers that are federally regulated (banks, transportation, communication, etc.) must comply with the new “Work Place Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations (the “Regulations”).

They extensively overhaul employer’s harassment-related duties and obligations and impose many new policy-related requirements.

For example, the Regulations require employers to solicit feedback and work with a policy committee, workplace committee, or occupational health and safety representative (each an “Applicable Partner”), to take proactive steps to prevent the occurrence of workplace harassment and violence. Specifically, an employer and Applicable Partner must jointly:

  • conduct workplace assessments to identify risks related to workplace harassment and violence, and to implement preventative measures aimed at alleviating those risks;

  • develop and implement a workplace harassment and violence prevention policy that outlines how the employer will address harassment and violence in the workplace (all compulsory requirements for such policy are set out in section 10 of the Regulations);

  • develop emergency procedures that are to be implemented when the occurrence of harassment or violence pose an immediate danger or threat to the health and safety of an employee; and

  • develop or identify workplace violence and harassment training to be delivered to all employees within 1 year of the Regulations coming into force (and within 3 months of commencing employment for those employees who commence employment after the Regulations come into force).

The Regulations also require employers to:

  • provide employees with information on support services related to mental and psychological health;

  • designate a person or work unit that is responsible for receiving notice of an occurrence of workplace harassment or violence;

  • retain certain records relating to workplace harassment and violence (a list of records that must be retained is set out in section 35 of the Regulations); and

  • deliver an annual report to the Minister on or before March 1st of each year, reporting on the frequency of workplace harassment and violence occurrences.

New Complaint Resolution Process

The Regulations also include a new framework that employers must follow when responding to workplace harassment and violence complaints. Notably, the framework requires an employer, or a person designated by the employer to:

  • contact a complainant within 7 days of receiving a complaint and notify them: (i) that the complaint was received; (ii) that the workplace harassment and prevention policy has been engaged; (iii) of each of the steps in the resolution process that will be followed; and (iv) that the complainant is permitted to have representation during the resolution process;

  • contact the person who is alleged to have been responsible for the occurrence of workplace harassment or violence that was identified in the complaint, and notify the person: (i) they have been named or identified as the responding party to a complaint; (ii) that the workplace harassment and prevention policy has been engaged; (iii) of each step of the resolution process that will be followed; and (iv) that the responding party is permitted to have representation during the resolution process;

  • within 45 days of receiving notification of a complaint, make “every reasonable effort” to resolve the complaint, which may include a negotiated resolution or participation in conciliation (if agreed to by all parties to the complaint);

  • select a qualified investigator to investigate the complaint if requested by the complainant to do so. In order to be considered a qualified investigator, the individual must have specific qualifications and training, as well as knowledge of the Canada Labour Code, the Canadian Human Rights Act and any other legislation that is relevant to harassment and violence in the workplace (investigator qualifications are set out in section 28 of the Regulations);

  • following the issuance of an investigator’s report, the employer and the Applicable Partner must jointly determine which of the recommendations set out in the report will be implemented to eliminate or minimize the risk of a similar occurrence; and

  • conclude the resolution process within 1 year after the day on which notice of the occurrence was received.

What Should Federally Regulated Employers Now Do?

The Regulations are scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2021.

Because of the extensive new duties and policy requirements imposed, employers should start working with the Applicable Partner to review and amend existing policies and training material to ensure compliance with the Regulations.

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NEW LANDLORD/TENANT LAW NOW IN EFFECT IN THE CKL - MORE PROTECTION TO TENANTS. WHAT TENANTS/LANDLORDS NEED TO KNOW TODAY.

The Ontario government is increasing fines for unlawful evictions and reinforcing the necessity for landlords to explore repayment agreements before considering evictions.

These measures are included in the Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act, which was passed today. 

The legislation, which updates the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 and Housing Services Act, 2011, will make it easier to resolve disputes while protecting tenants from unlawful evictions by:

  • Requiring tenant compensation of one month's rent for "no fault" evictions;

  • Allowing the Landlord and Tenant Board to order up to 12 months' rent in compensation for eviction notices issued in bad faith or where the landlord does not allow the tenant to move back in after renovations or repairs;

  • Doubling the maximum fine amounts for offences under the Act to $50,000 for an individual and $250,000 for a corporation.

The changes will also modernize and streamline the dispute resolution processes at the Landlord and Tenant Board and encourage the use of alternatives to formal hearings to resolve certain issues and encourage negotiated settlements. The Landlord and Tenant Board must now consider whether a landlord tried to negotiate a repayment agreement with a tenant before it can issue an eviction order for non-payment of rent related to COVID-19. Certain disputes, such as those related to unpaid utility bills, will shift from Small Claims Court to the Board.

In addition, as part of the multi-year strategy to stabilize and grow Ontario's community housing sector, the government has made changes to the Housing Services Act, 2011.

These amendments will help maintain the existing community housing supply by giving housing providers with expiring operating agreements and mortgages ways to remain in the community housing system by sigining a new service agreement with service managers as well as encourage existing and new housing providers to offer community housing.

Changes would also require service managers to have an access system for housing assistance beyond just rent-geared-to-income housing, and enable an outcomes-based approach to accountability by modernizing outdated service level requirements.

Ontario will consult with service managers and stakeholders on regulations to protect, repair and grow community housing supply, new access system rules, and ways to encourage new, innovative approaches.

These changes build on the commitments in the government's Community Housing Renewal Strategy and the steps already taken to make life easier for tenants and housing providers - including simplifying rent-geared-to-income calculations, and removing rules that penalize people for working more hours or going back to school.

Quick Facts

Background Information

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CKL EMPLOYERS - YOUR FULL PLAYBOOK FOR RE-OPENING AND OPERATING DURING THE PANDEMIC - SAFETY DUTIES; MANAGING RISKS AND EMPLOYEES; DEALING WITH CUSTOMERS PROPERLY - EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW TO RUN A SAFE AND RISK-MINIMIZED WORKPLACE/BUSINESS.

What every employer in the CKL needs to know about not returning to work, but carrying on business during COVID, including managing employees, safety obligations and what to do in COVID-related circumstances:

Employers have a duty to provide a safe and healthy workplace

Employers have a duty to protect the health and safety of their workers. Employers are required to implement preventative measures to ensure workers are not exposed to conditions which could be harmful to their health and safety while working. Failure to ensure a safe workplace can lead to liability under occupational health and safety (OH&S) legislation, including fines and penalties, and, in serious cases, criminal prosecutions and/or civil liability for employers not covered under the applicable workers’ compensation regime.

To meet their obligations to provide a safe workplace, it is imperative that employers update and implement (and in some cases post in the workplace) new health and safety policies and practices in their workplaces to address the risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. These policies and practices will, of course, vary from workplace to workplace, and province to province, but this guide highlights many of the common issues employers will need to address.

Most provinces have specific requirements regarding worker health and safety representatives or a joint health and safety committee comprised of management and non-management employees. There are requirements under OH&S legislation regarding the composition of safety committees and requirements regarding the frequency of safety meetings and workplace inspections, as well as record-keeping related thereto. Employers should ensure that their return to the workplace safety plans are submitted through the appropriate workplace safety processes.

Deciding whether and when to reopen a workplace

First, an employer must determine whether they can legally reopen their physical workplaces, based on current government orders and restrictions, and each province’s plan for reopening the economy. Each province is loosening restrictions, and providing varying levels of guidance, which will continue to evolve. A summary of the steps taken towards reopening by each of the provinces in Canada can be found here.

Any breach of government orders could expose an employer to fines, and potentially increased OH&S compliance risk.

Once employers have determined that they can legally reopen their physical workplaces, employers will need to consider whether their workplaces can be opened safely. This exercise consists of (i) assessing the workplace and determining whether the employer is able to satisfy its duty to provide a safe and healthy workplace by implementing controls to address the hazard of COVID-19, and (ii) implementing those controls.

Workplace controls to address the hazard of COVID-19 should align with the guidelines, mandates and orders in the employer’s jurisdiction. This guide outlines the current guidance (as of the date noted at the top of this Guide) available from authorities across Canada regarding the practical steps employers should implement to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in the workplace. We expect all levels of governments and public health authorities will provide additional guidance over time as to additional measures employers should take to protect workers.

Assessing the COVID-19 hazard in the workplace

The first step for ensuring a safe workplace is to conduct a hazard assessment for COVID-19 transmission in the workplace, as required to comply with provincial OH&S legislation. Employers should keep in mind that they may have a duty to consult joint health and safety committees, health and safety representatives and/or unions, and seek input from employees (including joint committees and worker representatives) on where potential transmission may occur and how they think COVID-19 transmission can be controlled.

When identifying hazards and developing measures to control exposure, WorkSafeBC suggests employers conduct a walk-through of the workplace to identify specific conditions or tasks that may increase the risk of exposure of employees to COVID-19. Other workers compensation boards have issued similar guidance.

All decisions must be taken on a reasoned basis, taking into consideration governmental and public health guidance and the employer’s duty of care to its employees, and in a manner consistent with the employer’s workplace health and safety policies, including those related to safety committees discussed above. Ensuring that all decisions related to workplace health and safety are properly documented and reasonable is also important. Employers may also have a duty to post their COVID-19 return to work safety plan and/or policies on their website on in the workplace, as is the case in British Columbia and most workplaces in Ontario.

Specific considerations for ensuring a safe and healthy workplace

The safest way to keep employees from contracting or spreading COVID-19 is to eliminate or reduce physical contact between employees. This can obviously be accomplished by allowing employees to work from home or continue working from home, if possible. While we strongly suspect that effective work from home policies and procedures will be an invaluable tool for most workplaces going forward, work from home arrangements are not possible for everyone, and may not be a long-term solution that can be supported by most employers (or employees for that matter). Employers’ return to work plans should consider a staggered physical return to work, ongoing assessment of the employer’s hierarchy of controls, and evolving re-assessment of workplace hazards and policies.

As employers progress from allowing an increasing proportion of employees who are working from home to physically return to the workplace, employers should consider the following hierarchy of controls to address the identified hazards related to COVID-19 in the workplace:

  • Engineering controls (i.e., physical distancing and physical barriers)

  • Administrative controls (i.e., adjusting policies and procedures to reduce risk)

  • The use of personal protective equipment (“PPE”)

We consider these types of controls in detail below:

Physical Distancing Measures for Workplaces

Employers should implement engineering controls (i.e. measures for addressing a workplace hazard by either removing the hazard or introducing a barrier between the hazard and the worker) and administrative controls (changes in workplace policies or procedures to reduce or minimize exposure to a hazard) to ensure physical distancing requirements are maintained. Employers should keep in mind that physical distancing considerations do not only apply to interactions between employees; such considerations may also apply to interactions with customers, suppliers, patients, visitors and members of the public.

Employers could consider the following measures for reducing COVID-19-related risks in the workplace:

Category

Key Considerations

Limiting the number of employees and others in the workplace

  • Encouraging employees to continue working from home if they are able.
  • Allowing only a minimum amount of staff to return to the physical workplace.
  • Implementing staggered or rotating returns to the workplace to reduce the number of employees present at the workplace at any one time. For example, specifying which day(s) an employee or group of employees may come to the workplace.
  • Controlling the number of customers and other third parties entering and exiting the workplace.

Encouraging physical distancing at work

  • Limiting entrance and exit points. Consider whether emergency evacuation plans need to be updated to address changes to access points.
  • Rearranging workspaces and floor plans, including increasing separation between desks, workstations, and furniture or fixtures in common spaces such as lunchrooms, meeting rooms, waiting rooms, and washrooms. Examples include taping off every second urinal in a men’s washroom and removing chairs in common spaces to ensure adequate physical distance.
  • Controlling access to elevators and areas within the workplace, including updating key cards to limit access and limiting the number of people who may ride in an elevator at a time.
  • Adjusting scheduling, such as start/end times and breaks to reduce the number of people using common spaces (such as break rooms, kitchens, and bathrooms) and elevators at the same time.
  • Implementing signage to ensure distance is maintained, for example using taped arrows to indicate “one way” traffic in hallways, taping off waiting areas to prevent bottlenecks in small spaces such as washrooms, taping off areas around workstations, appliances, machines, photocopiers, etc. to indicate appropriate two-metre spacing.
  • Discouraging or cancelling all non-essential activities, social events and in-person meetings.
  • Staggering appointments and meetings with customers or other meeting attendees.

Limiting physical contact and minimizing interpersonal interactions

  • Installing physical barriers between workers or between workers and third parties. A common example of a physical barrier is the plexiglass partitions currently found in many grocery stores and pharmacies.
  • Removing all communal items that cannot be easily cleaned, such as newspapers, magazines, and candy bowls.
  • Reducing or eliminating the sharing of tools and equipment (such as keyboards, pens and other tools) between employees, or if sharing is required, providing solution for employees to disinfect tools and equipment between uses.
  • Avoiding the provision or sharing of food, beverages, and food related items in the workplace including coffee makers, cutlery, mugs, etc.
  • Using technology to minimize interactions, such as using technology to share documents and going “cashless”.

Worker and workplace hygiene

  • Promoting regular and thorough hand-washing and good hygiene by employees and other individuals present in the workplace. For example, by ensuring employees have access to soap and water or alcohol-based sanitizer, putting hand sanitizer dispensers in prominent places around the workplace, ensuring these dispensers are regularly refilled, and placing informational posters throughout the workplace.
  • Developing procedures for regularly scheduled enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of the workplace, particularly high-contact items such as doors, handles, faucet handles, keyboards, and shared equipment. Various provincial governments have provided guidance on cleaning practices and workplace hygiene, that can be found in the below list of Return to work Resources for Employers.
  • Evaluation of workplace environments as to whether ventilation and filtration provided by heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems can reduce the risk of transmission through the air.

Preventing potentially sick employees from being at work

  • Preventing symptomatic employees from attending the workplace by developing written policies and procedures employees must follow if they are sick or suspect they have come into contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • Requiring employees to complete a daily COVID-19 pre-screening, such as a COVID-19 self-assessment questionnaire prior to attending the workplace. Each province has published its own self-assessment tool that could be adapted by employers for this purpose.
  • Requiring employees to take a temperature test before entering the workplace, if appropriate. Note that this type of precaution is not without risk and care should be taken to ensure that employees’ rights are respected (as discussed in our Quick Reference Guide). It is also important to keep in mind the limitations of temperature checks; employees can be contagious prior to having a fever, so this measure will only be partially effective and should only be used as part of a more comprehensive screening program.

Implementing appropriate policies

  • Developing policies and practices to:
    • Limit nonessential travel to other locations or worksites.
    • Ensure that all employees are trained on all COVID-19 related policies and procedures, including up-to-date education and training on COVID-19 risk factors and protective behaviors (for example, transmission points, equipment cleaning processes, cough etiquette and handwashing).
    • Retain the names and contact details of stakeholders attending the worksite to assist public health authorities trace people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 at the worksite. Such action should only be taken after carefully considering and adequately addressing the privacy related concerns this may raise.
    • Ensure that policies are kept up to date and being followed, for example through regular audits to ensure employees are maintaining appropriate physical distance.
    • Respond appropriately to employee concerns or refusals to work due to workplace health and safety concerns, including developing policies in advance in consultation with employers’ joint workplace health and safety committees or other employee representatives and appropriately implementing additional policies and controls to address hazards identified by employees on an ongoing basis.
    • Check with vendors, suppliers and landlords on measures they have implemented to manage COVID-19 related risks.

Evaluate policies and procedures regularly

  • Review policies, practices and procedures regularly and assess whether they are achieving the desired outcome.
  • Update policies and procedures regularly as the situation and available guidance changes.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) for employees – face masks, gloves and eye protection

Where hazards related to COVID-19 cannot be eliminated through administrative and engineering controls, employers may consider the use of PPE in the workplace. PPE, which controls the hazard at the employee level, includes measures such as face masks, gloves and eye protection. Provincial governments have advised that PPE should only be used after all other controls have been considered and all feasible measures have been implemented (for example, refer to the following guidance from the Government of Alberta and the Government of Ontario).

It is imperative that employees be trained on how to use PPE correctly, including fit, use, putting it on and taking it off, maintenance, cleaning, and disposal, as well as training on the limitations of PPE.

If PPE is necessary to control risks related to COVID-19, employers should consider what, if any, PPE the employer can provide. Regardless of the measures that are taken, it is important to ensure that safety measures are informed by governmental and public health guidance.

Requiring the use of face masks, in particular, has been a common consideration for employers contemplating a return to the physical workplace. The current advice from Canada’s Chief Medical Officer is that individuals should wear a non-medical face mask when they are unable to maintain proper physical distance from others. A non-medical mask can reduce the chance of an individual’s respiratory droplets coming into contact with others or landing on surfaces. The use of a non-medical mask is primarily to protect an employee’s co-workers, as opposed to protecting the individual wearing the mask.

The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends wearing a non-medical mask or face covering in public places, especially crowded ones, when physical distancing isn’t possible. As of the date of this guide, the province of Quebec has introduced provincial legislation requiring masks mandatory in public. Several municipal jurisdictions in Canada have also passed by-laws making face masks mandatory in public. For example, as of the date noted at the top of this Guide, in Toronto, most employees working in retail stores, grocery stores, malls and shopping plazas, restaurants and bars, recreation facilities, personal services settings, common areas in hotels, and community centres, among others, are required to wear face masks or face coverings when in public enclosed spaces (see here for information on the Toronto Mandatory Mask or Face Covering Bylaw).

Health Care Professionals have made strong recommendations for mandatory face mask coverings, and because municipalities have for the most part lead the changes by introducing mandatory face mask by-laws, changes to the applicable laws on mandatory face mask coverings are rapidly evolving and may outpace the regular updates to this publication. Accordingly, employers should contact a member of the Osler Employment & Labour group for up to date advice on applicable municipal and provincial laws regarding mandatory face mask laws in jurisdictions in which they operate.

If employees are required or encouraged to wear masks in the workplace, the employer should supply those masks. Any provision of masks to employees should be accompanied by a policy on non-medical face masks and training for employees on how to properly use a non-medical mask, as well as their limitations (as described above). Further, in workplaces where employees are required to wear masks pursuant to the Toronto Mandatory Mask or Face Covering Bylaw, the employer must:

  • Create a mask policy.

  • Communicate the mask policy to staff and customers.

  • Train staff on the policy and who is exempt.

  • Require that all staff, customers or visitors wear a mask indoors, with some exceptions, including children under two years of age, people with certain health conditions, and employees in designated areas or protected by a physical barrier.

  • Post signs at all entrances reminding everyone to wear a mask.

Note also that face masks and coverings are distinct from plastic face shields, which are generally not accepted as substitutes for non-medical masks.

The Government of Canada does not recommend N95 masks for the general public and medical masks such as the N95 are only recommended for health-care workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings such as acute care, primary care and long-term care facilities.

Ontario’s Workers Health & Safety Centre (WHSC) notes that gloves are not always necessary but may be recommended for employees who will be in contact with someone who is ill or a surface that is contaminated. Employees should understand that gloves are not a substitute for hand hygiene (i.e. proper and frequent hand washing or using hand sanitizer) or for appropriate social distancing measures.

How to handle symptomatic employees

Employers should develop an infection prevention and control plan that includes procedures for responding when an employee, customer, or other individual present in the workplace becomes ill with symptoms of COVID-19. Such a plan could include (i) procedures for isolating and transporting the individual home if they begin showing symptoms at the workplace and (ii) steps to take if an employee or other individual tests positive for COVID-19 shortly after attending the workplace, including notifying other employees of potential exposure. Employers should also be aware that they may have an obligation to report COVID-19 transmission in the workplace to their provincial health authorities.

Employees who appear to have symptoms (for example, fever, cough, or shortness of breath) upon arrival at work or who become sick during the day should immediately be separated from other employees, customers, and visitors and sent home. If an individual does not have their own transportation, the employer should support them in arranging transportation home. Individuals should avoid taking public transit if at all possible. In fact, symptomatic or sick individuals are prohibited from taking public transit in certain provinces, including Alberta. If an employee will use a rideshare service to get home, it may be necessary to provide the employee with a mask and direct the employee to ensure that the vehicle’s windows are rolled down to improve ventilation.

If the employee is able to be tested, the employee should not be allowed to return to the workplace until the employee tests negative for COVID-19 and has completed any self-isolation period mandated by public health authorities. If the employee is unable to be tested, the employee should not return to the workplace until the employee has completed any mandated self-isolation period and is free of symptoms.

Accommodating employee requests not to return

There are a variety of unique challenges employees are facing and there are a number of reasons a worker may be unwilling or unable to return to work. Employers should consider and develop policies for the following situations:

  • Higher risk employees: Certain individuals may be at greater risk of having more severe complications if they become infected with COVID-19. According to the Government of Canada, individuals at higher risk include older adults, people with weakened immune systems, and people with medical conditions including heart disease, hypertension, lung disease, diabetes and cancer. Recommendations for higher risk employees may include implementing:

    • A self-disclosure policy whereby employees can disclose that they are at a higher risk (without disclosing any personal details or sensitive medical information).

    • Mitigation measures if the employer is or becomes aware that an employee is at higher risk (for example, working from home).

  • Employees with childcare issues or caring for a sick relative: In some provinces, employees are eligible for job protected leaves if they are required to provide care to a person for a reason related to COVID-19 (i.e. school closure or sickness). If an employee requests to take a certain unpaid statutory leave of absence and meets the qualifying requirements of that statutory leave, the employer must grant it and may be precluded from terminating the employee’s employment for the duration in the leave. For employees making such requests, employers may consider:

    • Permitting the employee to work from home, if possible.

    • Whether the employee is eligible for paid leave in accordance with the employer’s existing contracts, policies and practices.

For more details regarding statutory leaves and options for employers, please see our Quick Reference Guide for Employers.

Employees concerned about workplace safety: Subject to applicable OH&S legislation, workers have a statutory right to refuse work if the worker believes on reasonable grounds that the work constitutes a danger to the worker’s health and safety. OH&S legislation varies by jurisdiction, but requirements related to work refusals generally include the following steps:

  • the employee must report the hazard to the employer;

  • the employer must take any necessary corrective action in a timely manner to address the reported hazard;

  • if an employee believes their workplace is still unsafe, the employee may make a complaint to the OH&S authorities in their jurisdiction; and

  • OH&S officers have authority to enforce OH&S legislation in a number of ways, including conducting inspections, issuing orders, writing violation tickets and issuing administrative penalties.

    Employers should consult legal counsel where an employee has exercised their right to refuse to work to inform themselves of the applicable procedure in their jurisdiction.

Other employees may have non-specific health concerns regarding the general risks associated with COVID-19, including with respect to taking public transit and other non-workplace matters. In these cases, no specific statutory duties may be triggered, but employers should strive to treat employees consistently in responding to these types of concerns.

Employers should ensure that their accommodation policies and practices address these issues fairly and in accordance with their legal obligations pursuant to applicable human rights legislation. As we noted in our Quick Reference Guide for Employers, human rights commissions across Canada have published policy statements and general principles regarding COVID-19 and an employer’s human rights obligations. Human rights commissions within Canada have provided very clear guidance that employers should be sensitive to a variety of factors affecting an employee’s ability to attend the workplace such as caregiving responsibilities or pre-existing health problems (for example, if the employee has a compromised immune system). See, for example, Alberta’s guidance here.

Employers should consider developing a decision matrix regarding employee objections to returning to the workplace so that legal risks are identified and the employer complies with its legal objections in responding to all such objections.

Looking ahead: Adjustments to policies and contracts as a result of COVID-19

In conjunction with addressing workplace safety issues as described above, it will be important to consider what workplace policies and practices need to be updated, supplemented or replaced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to adapting workplace health and safety polices to the “new normal” as described above, employers should consider if any of their policies need to be updated. For example:

  • Travel: Earlier in the year, we saw many employers scrambling to amend their travel policies to provide for travel restrictions and quarantine periods. These types of policies will continue to be important in the coming months, especially as countries start reopening their borders and business and personal travel resume.

  • Time off: Most employers' sick policies do not sufficiently address considerations related to COVID-19. For example, time off during quarantine periods should be expressly addressed. Time off policies should be clear on whether leaves of absence will be paid or unpaid. Various provinces have introduced amendments to job protected leaves as a result of COVID-19 and employers’ policies will have to be adjusted to comply with these amendments.

  • Work from home: As described above, working from home is likely to be a tool that employers use to maintain workplace safety going forward. Work from home policies should address mandatory and optional work from home arrangements (as applicable) and considerations related to security, privacy, and acceptable use of company equipment. Whether any current work from home arrangements will be time-limited to the current situation involving COVID-19 should be expressly set out in the employer’s policies.

Employment contracts should also be reviewed to ensure they appropriately address various issues which the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the forefront, such as temporary layoffs. Employers may also want to consider whether their employment contracts have effective termination clauses, especially in light of recent important court decisions (such as those discussed here), as well as provisions regarding changes to duties, compensation, and work location.

Credit:

Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, Brian Thiessen, Kelly O’Ferrall, Catherin Hammill and Lindsay Hofer (via Lexology.com on July 23, 2020)

 

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NEW FUNDING TO COMBAT HATE CRIME IN THE CKL NOW AVAILABLE - APPLY TODAY TO START A COMMUNITY PROGRAM.

The Ontario government is investing $1.7 million over the next two years in community-based programs to combat hate-motivated crimes.

The funding will flow through the Safer and Vital Communities (SVC) Grant  to not-for-profit organizations and First Nation Band Councils.

Applicants are required to partner with their local police service and are encouraged to partner with at least one other organization from a different sector to ensure a broad range of community engagement.

The Safer and Vital Communities Grant is open to community-based, not-for-profit organizations as well as Indigenous community-based, not-for-profit organizations and First Nation Band Councils to implement local projects that tackle hate-motivated crime and address the increase of police-reported hate crime in Ontario.

The theme of this year's grant program is Preventing Hate-Motivated Crime through Community Collaboration.

To be eligible, applicants must address hate-motivated crime in their community through programs and strategies.

Applications could include recreational programs that positively affect the development of children and youth, raising awareness of hate-motivated crimes, as well as the improvement of security infrastructure.

Successful applicants and projects will be announced in the winter of 2021.

Applications for the Safer and Vital Communities Grant are open from July 22 to September 16.

Quick Facts

  • According to Statistics Canada, in 2017, police-reported criminal incidents in Canada that were motivated by hate jumped by 47 per cent over the previous year. The largest provincial increase occurred in Ontario at 67 per cent.

  • The $1.7-million investment will be made over two years from 2020 to 2022.

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DECLARATION OF EMERGENCY ENDS TOMORROW!!!! BUT EMERGENCY ORDERS REMAIN IN EFFECT. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW FOR TOMORROW, JULY 24, 2020.

Per the Ontario government's new Bill 195, enacting the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020, which will come into force on July 24, 2020, the  the declared state of emergency in Ontario ends. 

However, this new legislation: 

●  continues emergency orders in effect under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (the "EMCPA") for an initial 30 days;

●   allows the Lieutenant Governor in Council (or a Minister to whom the power is delegated) to further extend these orders for up to 30 days at a time, as required;

●  allows the Lieutenant Governor in Council to amend certain emergency orders continued under the EMCPA if the amendment relates to:

 labour redeployment or workplace and management rules;

○ closure of places and spaces or regulation of how businesses and establishments can be open to provide goods or services in a safe manner;

○ compliance with public health advice; or

○ rules related to gatherings and organized public events;

●  does not allow new emergency orders to be created;

●  allows emergency orders to be rescinded when it is safe to do so; and

●  limits the ability to extend and amend orders to one year, unless extended by the legislature. 

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NEW BAIT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM ANNOUNCED - TO BETTER PROTECT THE RIVERS/LAKES IN THE CKL. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY.

The Ontario government has now released its final bait management strategy to protect the province's lakes and rivers from the threat of invasive species and fish diseases. As part of this new strategy, the government will be establishing four bait management zones to limit the movement of live bait across the province.

Live bait that is harvested in one area of the province is often shipped, sold, and later used in another region. If unused bait is not disposed of properly, invasive and other illegal bait species that may be mistakenly mixed in with the bait, or fish infected with disease, have the potential to establish new populations or infect other fish in the new waterbody.

To prevent the spread of invasive species and fish diseases through the movement of live bait, four bait management zones will be established across the province. This will limit the movement of most bait to the same bait management zone where it was harvested. Individual anglers who wish to use live bait outside of their own bait management zone will be required to purchase bait from a licensed commercial bait operator in the zone where they will be fishing.

The final Sustainable Bait Management Strategy, posted on the Environmental Registry of Ontario, is a result of extensive engagement with bait operators, stakeholder groups, the public, and Indigenous communities. They provided input on key elements related to the use and movement of bait, the type of bait allowed, and administrative improvements.

DID YOU ALSO KNOW

  • Ontario’s bait industry is estimated to be worth $23 million per year.

  • In 2020-2021, Ontario is investing over $2 million to support ongoing research, monitoring, and management of invasive species across the province.

  • Ontario is the only jurisdiction in Canada that has standalone invasive species legislation. The Invasive Species Act provides legislative tools to prohibit and restrict certain invasive species and carriers that facilitate the movement of invasive species.

  • Protecting our environment from invasive species by working with partners and other governments and using tools to prevent, detect and respond to invasions is a commitment under the Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan.

  • Anglers spend more than $1.6 billion annually in Ontario and support jobs in many rural and northern communities that depend on recreational fishing.

  • The use of bait is one route for the potential spread of fish-based diseases (e.g., viral hemorrhagic septicemia [VHS]) and invasive species (e.g., round goby) across Ontario.

Additional Resources:

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COURT DEALS ANOTHER BLOW TO EMPLOYERS - BEWARE - EVEN A REMOTE POSSIBILITY OF VIOLATING ONTARIO'S ESA WILL INVALIDATE YOUR EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT. NEED YOUR CONTRACTS AUDITED? CALL US.

In a recent wrongful dismissal case, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice held that a potential violation of the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the “ESA”), no matter how remote, will render a termination clause in an employment agreement void and unenforceable.

In this case, the employee was a construction employee employed by Canaan since 2012.

On November 10, 2015, he signed an employment agreement with Canaan, which contained a termination provision that limited his entitlement to the minimum notice upon termination as set out in the ESA. The termination provision did not comment on severance pay or benefits continuation. It further indicated that given that the employee was a construction employee, he was not entitled to any notice or pay in lieu of notice upon termination.

On October 10, 2017, the employee was placed on a temporary layoff. He was never recalled back to work and he was not provided with any pay in lieu of notice.

A few months later, in 2018, the employee commenced an action seeking damages for wrongful dismissal.

Canaan argued that the employee was not entitled to damages for wrongful dismissal as: 1) the employment agreement absolved Canaan from any requirement to give any notice of the lay-off, or pay in lieu of notice; and 2) given that the employee was a construction employee, Canaan had no obligation under the ESA to give notice or termination pay in lieu thereof.

Under the ESA, construction employees are not entitled to notice of termination or termination pay. Throughout his employment with Canaan, the employee was employed as a construction employee.

The Ontario Superior of Justice disagreed with Canaan and concluded that the employee was entitled to notice of termination or pay in lieu thereof, and that such notice was not limited by the ESA. In other words, the employee was entitled to reasonable notice of termination at common-law.

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice held that the termination provision in the employment agreement potentially violated the ESA in the following two ways:

  1. If the employee’s position changed to something other than a construction employee in the future, i.e. a position not exempt from termination pay, the termination provision would be unenforceable as pursuant to his employment agreement he was not entitled to benefits during the statutory notice upon termination.

  2. If Canaan grew in size, employed more than 50 employees and discontinued its business or had a payroll of more than 2.5 million, the employee would be entitled to severance pay (irrespective of his job description). The termination provision of his employment agreement disentitled him to this future benefit.

These two potential violations of the ESA rendered the termination provision unenforceable.

This decision is important as employers are now required to contemplate the future of its business and its employees in a way that addresses future compliance with the minimum standards prescribed by the ESA. Just because an employee does not have benefits, or, just because a business is small and therefore is not obliged to provide statutory severance pay, is no reason to not contemplate these statutory concepts in an employment agreement. This decision once again is a cautionary tale to have employment agreements reviewed periodically by legal counsel.

The Case

Rutledge v. Canaan Construction Inc., 2020 ONSC 4246 (CanLII)

Credit

Torkin Manes LLP - Shreya Patel [via Lexology.com on July 22, 2020] 

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NEW 10-DAY PAID LEAVE OF ABSENCE IF YOU HAVE COVID SYMPTOMS - THE FEDS' NEW SAFE RESTART PROGRAM EXPLAINED.

Under the federal government’s new $19 billion Safe Restart Agreement, employees who do not have paid sick leave to remain at home when they have COVID-19 or its symptoms will be given temporary income support that will provide each worker with a job-protected leave of absence of ten paid sick days related to COVID-19.

Each province and territory will have to establish the leave for its own jurisdiction by enacting its own regulation or legislation.

Other priorities of the Safe Restart Program investment include:

  • testing, contact tracing, and public health data management;

  • support for the health care system capacity to respond to a potential future wave of COVID-19, and address needs and gaps in support for people experiencing challenges related to mental health, substance abuse, or homelessness;

  • protections and supports to control and prevent infections in seniors and other vulnerable populations, e.g., addressing staffing issues in long-term care, home care, and palliative care facilities and services;

  • procurement of personal protective equipment;

  • funding to enable municipalities to deliver essential services, e.g., public transit; and

  • ensuring the availability of safe child care for parents returning to work.

Federal legislation has not yet been passed to authorize this investment.

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"PAYDAY LOANS" TARGETED BY ONT. GOV. DURING COVID RECOVERY - CAPPING OF INTEREST RATES AND NSF CHARGES.

The Ontario government is proposing changes that would provide additional protection for payday loan borrowers by capping interest rates and fees on defaulted loans, ensuring that workers and families who use payday loan services can keep more of their hard-earned money.

The changes were included in the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, 2020.

Proposed amendments to the Payday Loans Act, 2008, would cap the interest rate that lenders can charge on payday loans that are in default.

Lenders would not be permitted to charge interest in excess of 2.5 per cent per month (non-compounded), providing rate relief to borrowers unable to repay their loans on time.

The government would also establish a maximum fee of $25 that may be charged by lenders for dishonoured or bounced cheques or pre-authorized debits. This measure would protect borrowers from having to pay high fees while already facing financial hardship.

If passed, this would be the first time Ontario has taken action to protect borrowers in default from annual interest rates as high as 60 per cent and to establish a maximum fee that may be charged for dishonoured payments.      

Learn more about other supports provided by the Ontario government by visiting COVID-19: support for people.

Quick Facts: 

  • Ontario would join six Canadian jurisdictions that have similar maximum interest rates on payday loans in default, including British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

  • Payday loans are the most expensive form of consumer loans in Ontario.

  • Payday lenders typically have to be repaid two weeks after borrowing the money.

  • The government is also conducting a review of the Consumer Protection Act — the first comprehensive review in almost 15 years.

  • As part of the review of the Consumer Protection Act, the government will consider how to better protect vulnerable consumers who use alternative financial services that are regulated under that act.

Additional Resources

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OUR NEW MADE-IN-ONTARIO INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY PLAN - KEEPING INNOVATION IN THE CKL HOMEGROWN AND PROTECTED.

The Ontario government recently announced a made-in-Ontario Intellectual Property Action Plan to help ensure the tremendous social and economic benefits of taxpayer-funded research and innovation stays right here in the province.

In addition, the government unveiled the second round of research projects approved and supported through the $20 million Ontario COVID-19 Rapid Research Fund.

Through these efforts, researchers will be working to find ways to prevent, detect and treat COVID-19.

The government is hoping to strengthen Ontario's intellectual property (IP) position through the Intellectual Property Action Plan.

The plan is intended to drive the province's long-term economic competitiveness by prioritizing IP generation, protection, and commercialization.

The government is also creating the Special Implementation Team on Intellectual Property (SITIP), which will be comprised of the IP experts who previously served on Ontario's Expert Panel on Intellectual Property.

The team will provide advice on the implementation of the Intellectual Property Action Plan, including the commercialization of research and IP in the province's post-secondary institutions and innovation centres to ensure that Ontario is open for jobs and open for business.

Together, Ontario's SITIP and Intellectual Property Action Plan will respond to the report prepared by the Expert Panel on Intellectual Property and will:

  • Work with postsecondary institutions and research institutes to strengthen mandates related to commercialization entities within their organizations;

  • Strengthen Ontario's IP literacy by developing standardized, web-based basic and advanced IP education curriculums;

  • Create a centralized provincial resource entity that will increase access to sophisticated IP expertise; and

  • Develop a governance framework for organizations supporting entrepreneurial and innovation activities, which incorporates IP considerations.

The post-secondary, research and innovation sector will also take a leading role in Ontario's economic recovery and future prosperity. As part of its strategy to strengthen the research and innovation economy, the Ontario government is funding an additional 20 proposals that were submitted in response to the government's $20 million Ontario COVID-19 Rapid Research Fund. In May, 15 projects were announced as part of the first round and they are focusing on areas such as vaccine development, diagnostics, drug trials and development, and social sciences.

The government is also committing funding to help commercialize the Rapid Research Fund projects here in Ontario, ensuring that taxpayer-funded research benefits Ontarians first.

DID YOU ALSO KNOW

  • The postsecondary education sector is a key source of research, innovation and commercialization, making it one of the leading contributors to Ontario’s productivity and economic growth. Forty-three per cent of all research in Canada is undertaken in Ontario with an economic impact of $85.2 billion since 2011.

  • The government created an Expert Panel on Intellectual Property in May 2019 to provide advice on the commercialization of research and IP in Ontario’s postsecondary institutions and recommend strategies for improved generation and commercialization of research and IP. The panel submitted its report in February 2020.

  • The $20 million Rapid Research Fund was created as an immediate response to engaging the research community on ways to fight COVID-19. Where relevant, a portion of these funds will be used to cover costs associated with licensing and commercialization, including patenting of the valuable IP generated by successful projects to ensure any economic outcomes from these proposals benefit Ontario’s economy, workers and researchers.

  • As part of its summer consultations, the government will seek feedback from colleges, universities, research institutes and other key partners to explore how best to support researchers and ensure that discoveries made in Ontario benefit Ontarians and the Ontario economy.

  • According to a recent Canadian Intellectual Property Office report, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) aware of or holding registered IP rights are more likely to have expanded, or intend to expand, to domestic and international markets. The report also finds that just two per cent of Canadian SMEs hold at least one patent.

  • The Ontario government has an existing memorandum of understanding with Medical Innovation Xchange (MIX) to provide non-medical manufacturing companies with free support as they retool to provide essential supplies and equipment to health care facilities during COVID-19.

Background Information

Additional Resources

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TRAVEL INSURANCE DENIED - CKL SNOWBIRDS' NIGHTMARE - TIPS FOR AVOIDING DENIAL OF YOUR TRAVEL COVERAGE, IF AND WHEN YOU RETURN TO FLORIDA (OR OTHERWISE TRAVEL AGAIN).

It’s every snowbird’s nightmare.

Elderly Mr. X from Ontario bought travel insurance through Manulife before departing for Florida for a winter stay.

He answers questions via telephone with Manulife.

He answered “no” to questions about prior conditions and treatment, seemingly without giving it enough careful consideration.

Manulife emailed him a copy of the completed application for verification.

Mr. X verified it.

In Florida, he became ill. He incurred about $130,000 UDS in medical expenses.

Manulife denied the coverage, on the basis that he misrepresented his prior history in his application. 

Mr. X died.

His estate tried to sue Manulife for the coverage.

His estate lost.

The Court reviewed the Ontario Insurance Act and other applicable law.

The Court concluded that Manulife’s application process was lawful and upheld it – no insurance coverage.

The lesson here for anyone applying for new insurance, particularly travel insurance to go to the U.S. if when that opportunity arises again, including if you already have insurance and before you travel?

  • Listen to the questions carefully

  • Disclose every prior existing condition or treatment (to the extent you can recall it)

  • Double check the written application for verification after you receive it

  • Review your current insurance application to ensure it is accurate and complete

  • Double check you have COVID-19 testing and treatment coverage, if needed

While the Court is unlikely to require every application for insurance disclosure every medical issue in that person’s life historically, it will require that anything of material signifciant be disclosed, which could reasonably impact an insurance company’s decision to offer insurance to the applicant.

Therefore, treat the application process seriously, even if it seems overly informal online, or that the insurance company doesn’t seem overly concerned. They will deny coverage, if that opportunity is available to them.

The case:

Estate of Donald Farb v. Manulife, 2020 ONSC 3037

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NEW CHANGES TO THE WAGE SUBSIDY - 30% RULE GONE - NEW SLIDING SCALE APPLIES - TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE FOR OUR CKL BUSINESSES?

The requirements for the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy have been loosened for employers in the CKL. 

They no longer need to prove a 30% or greater revenue setback or reduction to qualify for the CEWS. We are now in period 5 of the CEWS.   

Rather, a new sliding scale approach will prevail.

What you need to know: 

  • the CEWS program is extended to December 19, 2020;

  • it is now available to any qualifying employer that experiences any level of reduction in revenue (not only a 30% reduction); ;

  • employers are eligible for a base subsidy amount proportional (or of equal value) to their revenue decline, up to the maximum subsidy rate;

  • the maximum base subsidy rate is reduced from 75% to 60% for periods 5 and 6 and will continue to decrease gradually to 20% by period 9 (note: this is period 5); 

  • however, employers that qualified for the 75% subsidy under the current/existing program rules will remain entitled to that higher rate for periods 5 and 6, respectively;

  • employers experiencing a reduction of more than 50% in their three-month, rolling average of revenue are entitled to an additional CEWS “top-up” rate of up to 25%;

  • employers may re‑elect between the year-over-year and alternative revenue drop methods. 

More details are promised.Regrettably they are scant at this time. 

These changes are expected to co-ordinate upcoming announcement to phase out the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, shifting the focus more on subsidizing employers to re-start or continue employ, rather than individuals, some of whom may prefer to remain on the CERB rather than return to work. 

 

 

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CKL FARMERS - MORE FINANCIAL SUPPORT - UPPING THE RISK MANAGEMENT PROGRAM. TODAY'S UPDATE.....

The Ontario government is expanding the Risk Management Program a year earlier than planned by $50 million for a total of $150 million annually.

This funding supports farmers with unforeseen challenges such as fluctuating market prices, extreme weather events like flooding or drought, and disease.

Approximately 80 per cent of eligible commercial production in the cattle, hog, sheep, veal, grains and oilseeds, and edible horticulture sectors in Ontario is covered by the provincial Risk Management Program.

The increased investment in the Risk Management Program is in addition to a $15 million Enhanced Agri-food Workplace Protection Program.

Farmers and other operations have access to cost-share funding to help enhance health and safety measures for employees, such as purchasing personal protective equipment, medical testing equipment, enhanced cleaning and disinfection, and temporary or permanent modifications to enhance physical distancing. Support is also available for farmers who experience unexpected costs for housing and transportation as a result of a COVID-19 outbreak on their farm.

DID YOU KNOW

  • Applications for the Risk Management Program will reopen today to allow eligible farmers the opportunity to apply to the program. The deadline to apply closes at midnight on July 30th, 2020.

  • Producers should contact the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ delivery agent, Agricorp, to enroll in the Risk Management Program and AgriStability or to discuss their individual files.

  • In response to COVID-19, the federal and Ontario governments have added labour as an insured risk to Production Insurance for the 2020 growing season.

  • Canada and Ontario have also announced up to $10 million of support for beef and pork sectors through AgriRecovery.

  • Ontario has an estimated 49,600 farms that contribute an estimated $7.6 billion annually to the province’s economy.

More Information

Additional Resources

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SAFE RESTART - $19B FED FUNDING TO WEATHER THE STORM. TODAY'S UPDATE.....

The federal government has announced a federal investment of more than $19 billion to help provinces and territories safely restart their economies and to make us hopefully more resilient to possible future waves of the virus.

This investment, through the Safe Restart Agreement, will help address the key priorities, agreed upon by Canada’s First Ministers, for the safe restart of Canada’s economy over the next six to eight months. It will support measures to increase testing and contact tracing of the virus to protect Canadians from a future outbreak, and support the capacity of our health care systems, including services for people facing mental health challenges. It will also assist with the procurement of personal protective equipment to help our essential workers, and in protecting the most vulnerable, like our seniors.

The agreement will also help get funding quickly to municipalities so they can deliver essential services that Canadians rely on every day, like public transit. In addition, it includes actions to help Canadian workers during this challenging time, such as ensuring the availability of safe child care to help parents returning to work, and providing income support for people who do not have paid sick leave so all Canadians can stay healthy.

During this time of uncertainty, the Government of Canada is putting Canadians first by working together with our provincial and territorial partners to lay the groundwork to keep our communities strong and healthy, and ensure our economy is resilient.

 

Quick Facts

  • New federal funding will address seven priority areas:

    • enhanced capacity for testing, contact tracing, and data management and information sharing to mitigate future outbreaks.

    • investments in health care to respond to the pandemic, including support for Canadians experiencing challenges with substance use, mental health, or homelessness.

    • support for vulnerable Canadians – including those in long-term care, home care, and palliative care – who are at risk of more severe cases of COVID-19.

    • funding to secure a reliable source of personal protective equipment, and to recover some of the costs from previous investments made by provincial and territorial governments.

    • support to ensure that safe and sufficient child care spaces are available to support parents’ gradual return to work.

    • joint funding with the provinces and territories to support municipalities on the front lines of restarting the economy, including by putting in place precautions for public spaces and essential services to reduce the spread of the virus, as well as a dedicated stream of funding for public transit.

    • a temporary income support program that will provide workers who do not have paid sick leave with access to 10 days of paid sick leave related to COVID-19.

  • To access the funding, each province and territory will need to outline how they will invest these funds.

  • New federal investments for the safe restart of our economy are in addition to previous funding provided to provinces and territories and Canadians, as we deal with the impacts of COVID-19. This includes:

Related Products

Associated Links

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CKL BUSINESSES - EMERGENCY WAGE SUBSIDY (CEWS) EXTENDED TO DECEMBER - YOUR UPDATE TODAY. New Page

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (the "CEWS") intended to assist and support businesses that had been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The aim of the wage subsidy is to enable businesses to rehire workers previously laid off as a result of COVID19, help prevent further job losses and better position companies to resume normal operations.

In May the program was extended to August 29th.

Now, the federal government announced that it will be extending the emergency wage subsidy program to December 2020.

The aim of the program is to provide greater certainty and support to businesses as the economy is restarted.

The program covers 75% of wages, up to a weekly maximum of $847 for workers at eligible companies and non-profits that have been affected by the economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

To be eligible for the subsidy, the employer must have experienced a reduction in revenue during the time period during which the subsidy is claimed of 30% and have a CRA payroll account as of March 15, 2020.

Eligibility requirements remain the same with the extension of the program.

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UPDATED (NEW) DIRECTIVES FOR MASKING FROM THE HEALTH UNIT - TODAY'S UPDATE.

Our Health Unit has updated its making directive for "commercial establishments" and indoor, public places: 

  • Indoor mask use now applies to any place of business or facility that is indoors and currently open to the public under Stage 3 . Public settings include: retail stores, churches/places of worship, public libraries, real estate open houses, personal care services (relating to the hair or body), restaurants/food courts, fitting rooms, driving instruction services, sports and recreation facilities, movie theatres, performing arts centres, casinos/bingo halls, and museums/cultural centres.

  • While face coverings must be worn in most indoor places and situations open to the public, the exception is when patrons are ‘in place’ and no longer ‘roaming’ inside the premises. In the case of eating inside a restaurant, patrons would not have to wear masks if sitting at their table (entering, exiting and walking around the food premise would require masks). In gyms and fitness clubs, masks would be worn in change rooms, washroom and waiting areas, but not when people take part in an activity or sport. At indoor weddings, funeral services, or religious services/rites/ceremonies, attendees would have to wear masks until seated with a secured distance of 2 metres (6 feet) from others. Movie patrons and theatregoers would also have to remain masked until they were seated with a secured distance of 2 metres (6 feet) from others.

  • People who remain exempt from wearing masks indoors include: children under 2; children under age 5 (developmentally or in actual years) who refuse to wear masks; individuals who cannot remove a mask without help; and people with medical conditions like respiratory disease or cognitive difficulties.

Businesses/facilities are expected to use “best effort” to ensure patrons and members of the public wear a mask by pointing out the Health Unit instructions.

No one should be denied service if they cannot wear a mask. However, everyone should try to be understanding of those individuals who have a legitimate reason not to wear a mask.

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WHAT IS MY "CREDIT SCORE"? WHY DO I CARE? HOW DO I FIX IT? HELP AVAILABLE HERE.

WHAT IS MY CREDIT SCORE AND WHY DO I CARE ABOUT IT?

Your “credit score” ranges from 300 to 900. It is used to evaluate your creditworthiness.

For example, credit card companies, banks, landlords and other lenders may use your score to determine the risk factor when loaning you money, renting you a property or deciding on the amount of credit to give you.

Your credit score is calculated using a formula based on your credit report.

These reports are created by credit bureaus— namely, Equifax and TransUnion.

They collect, store and share information about how you use credit.

Your credit score will change over time with your actions and assets.

Your credit history follows you everywhere, unfortunately.

Each time you pay a bill, take out a loan or open a card or account, it is likely to impact your credit report.

What’s more, if you miss a payment, or default on a loan, or max out an account, it will likely circle back to you and be traced to your credit score, negatively.

Most of us fail to realize our credit scores may have been negatively impacted.

It can be a pernicious, insipid process.

Usually each lender has its own minimum credit score that is required to lend, meaning that if your credit score is too low, you might not be approved.

However, if your credit history is adequate, you may be able to get a lower interest rate on loans, which can save you a lot of money over time.

Credit reports are also important when looking for signs of identity theft or fraud.

At least once a year, you should check to make sure someone has not tried to open credit cards or other loans in your name.

WHAT DO I AVOID TO KEEP GOOD CREDIT?

You get credit points for keeping up to date on your obligations. You get negative points for failing to do so. 

Avoid these things:

  • - regularly missing or getting behind on payments

  • - reaching or going over your credit limit

  • - bankruptcy and consumer proposals

  • - debts sent to a collection agency

  • - the amount of your outstanding debts – keep it reasonable

HOW DO I FIX MY CREDIT SCORE?

The best way is to contact a credit counselor, who could guide you on the best steps to take.

 

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WELCOME TO STAGE 3, CKL. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW.

The Ontario government has announced nearly all businesses and public spaces will reopen in Stage 3 of the province's reopening framework with public health and workplace safety measures and restrictions in place.

As part of the Stage 3 reopening, Ontario will be increasing gathering limits for those regions entering the next stage to the following:

  • Indoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 50 people;

  • Outdoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 100 people;

  • Gathering limits are subject to physical distancing requirements.

Public gathering limits apply to indoor and outdoor events, such as community events or gatherings, concerts, live shows, festivals, conferences, sports and recreational fitness activities, fundraisers, fairs, festivals or open houses. A two metre distance must still be maintained at such events.

Regions remaining in Stage 2 will maintain the existing gathering limit of 10. Social circles in all stages at this point will also be kept to a maximum of 10 people province-wide, regardless of stage.

The Chief Medical Officer of Health, public health experts and other officials have advised the following, high-risk places and activities are not yet safe to open, even if a region has entered Stage 3, due to the likelihood of large crowds congregating, difficulties with physical distancing, or challenges maintaining the proper cleaning and sanitation required to prevent the spread of COVID‑19:

  • Amusement parks and water parks;

  • Buffet-style food services;

  • Dancing at restaurants and bars, other than by performers hired by the establishment following specific requirements;

  • Overnight stays at camps for children;

  • Private karaoke rooms;

  • Prolonged or deliberate contact while playing sports;

  • Saunas, steam rooms, bath houses and oxygen bars;

  • Table games at casinos and gaming establishments.

For more information on the restrictions that will remain in place during Stage 3, as well as the public health guidance necessary to keep the people of Ontario safe, visit Ontario.ca/reopen.

The province is committed to working closely and collaboratively with businesses and sectors not yet able to reopen or who are experiencing significant challenges for reopening due to Stage 3 restrictions. These businesses can visit Ontario.ca/reopen to work with the government on a reopening proposal that will enable them to safely resume or increase operations. Government and public health officials will review proposals and contact businesses for feedback or clarifications.

The following public health unit regions will be allowed to move into Stage 3 first, on Friday, July 17, 2020:

  • Algoma Public Health

  • Brant County Health Unit

  • Chatham-Kent Public Health

  • Eastern Ontario Health Unit

  • Grey Bruce Health Unit

  • Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit

  • Hastings Prince Edward Public Health

  • Huron Perth Public Health

  • Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health

  • Leeds Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit

  • Middlesex-London Health Unit

  • North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit

  • Northwestern Health Unit

  • Ottawa Public Health

  • Peterborough Public Health

  • Porcupine Health Unit

  • Public Health Sudbury & Districts

  • Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services

  • Renfrew County and District Health Unit

  • Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit

  • Southwestern Public Health

  • Thunder Bay District Health Unit

  • Timiskaming Health Unit

  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health

Businesses and municipalities will be permitted to enter Stage 3 based on their region and, as in the previous stages, may choose to take more time before reopening. For a list of regions that will remain in Stage 2, visit Ontario.ca/reopen.

At the beginning of each week, the province will continue to reassess local trends in public health indicators, including rates of transmission, hospital capacity, progress on testing and contact tracing, to determine if additional public health unit regions can progress to Stage 3. The Chief Medical Officer of Health and other public health experts will continue to closely monitor the evolving situation to advise when public health restrictions can be further loosened or if they need to be tightened or reapplied.

As the province safely and gradually enters Stage 3, child care centres and home child care providers across Ontario will be able to continue to operate with strict safety and operational requirements in place.

Beginning on July 27, 2020, child care centres will be permitted to operate with cohorts of 15 children, which is an increase from the current cohort cap of 10. This change will allow parents to return to work, and bring the child care sector to approximately 90 per cent of its operating capacity before the COVID-19 outbreak.

The government, in partnership with health and safety associations, has released over 170 guidance resources at Ontario.ca/COVIDsafety to help employers in multiple sectors ― including fitness, restaurant and food services, and the performing arts ― keep spaces safe for workers and customers. Guidance will be available for all spaces permitted to open in Stage 3. As they prepare to reopen, employers are strongly advised to review and implement appropriate measures to help protect their communities.

Based on community needs, some municipalities and local medical officers of health have implemented more restrictions or requirements, such as mandatory face coverings in commercial establishments and all indoor public places. Check your local public health unit's or local municipality's website.

DID YOU ALSO KNOW

  • The government invites businesses not able to open or resume full activities due to Stage 3 restrictions to visit Ontario.ca/reopen to submit a reopening proposal.

  • For questions on restrictions that will remain in place during Stage 3, review the Stage 3 Emergency Order on the emergency information portal or call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.

  • The Ontario government has launched a website to provide businesses with information on personal protective equipment (PPE) suppliers. The Workplace PPE Supplier Directory has an up-to-date list of Ontario companies and business associations that are ready to supply PPE.

  • The government has also launched the $50 million Ontario Together Fund to support the development of proposals submitted by businesses and individuals through the Ontario Together web portal to help businesses retool their operations.

  • Free online workplace health and safety training is available through Employment Ontario for up to 100,000 job seekers, with topics such as infection control, conducting health and safety incident investigations, ladder safety, slips, trips and falls prevention. Contact an Employment Ontario service provider in your area to enroll.

  • Peter Bethlenfalvy, President of the Treasury Board, is leading a new committee focused on strengthening the work of the Ontario government following the COVID-19 pandemic. The committee will ensure public sector services are customer focused and digital- and data-driven, while increasing the speed of government operations and decisions.

  • Find sector-specific guidelines and return-to-sport resources to help facilities, trainers and athletes safely return to play and recreation activities in Ontario at Ontario.ca/returntoplay.

Additional Resources

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REAL ESTATE IS HEATING UP IN THE CKL, BUT REMEMBER THE RESTRICTIONS FOR OPEN HOUSES AND IF THERE IS A TENANT. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW.

As the buy/sell of residential and commercial real estate heats up again in the CKL, remember the restrictions that continue to apply during the provincial state of emergency: 

No “Open Houses”:

The Government of Ontario has prohibited the hosting of in-person open houses during the state of emergency.

In addition, RECO has strongly recommended that brokers and salespersons follow the direction of health officials by limiting showings to situations where they are necessary.

This means that you may only have physical access to a property at the final stages of consideration where historically, many buyers would walkthrough a property at the beginning of the consideration process.

Speak with your broker or salesperson regarding property showings, as access may be restricted and, in some cases, not permitted.

Can I Book Back-To-Back Private Showings?

This is an approach to discuss with your salesperson.

Hosting showings “back to back” may not be practical or convenient for everyone involved.

Speak with your representative to ensure that if multiple showings are scheduled for the same day that consideration has been given to establishing a process for sanitizing high-touch areas, like door handles and countertops, between visits. this will lessen the risk of transmission to you, your loved ones and visitors to your property.

Is There a Residential Tenant?

Showings should only occur with the tenant’s consent or in accordance with lawful notice provisions contained within the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) which is enforced by the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB). RECO has recommended that parties hold off on showings if they do not have the tenant’s consent.

Speak with your salesperson about what you can and may need to do to in the case that there are particular health concerns on the part of the tenant.

Many salespersons and brokerages have established protocols that respect the needs and concerns of tenants that will allow serious buyers to safely view the property.

If protocols are not already in place your salesperson may be able to negotiate a plan that will satisfy all parties. If they are unable to agree to terms that will allow a showing, you will need to make a decision on how comfortable you may be regarding finalizing a purchase without a showing.
 

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CHECK IN WITH YOUR EMPLOYEES DURING COVID-19 - WARDS LAWYERS' SAMPLE SURVEY TO USE FOR YOUR EMPLOYEES - MAKE SURE YOU KNOW HOW YOUR WORKPLACE IS DOING.

Businesses and orgs in the CKL – would it be a good time to collectively check in with your employees during the pandemic?

We do, regularly.

Here is a sample of how you might do so. These are questions we surveyed to our entire office, using surveymonkey.com.

You could modify your questions as necessary – this is general guidance only.

Every employee completes the survey online, through the app, and you get the results in a compact, easy-to-review format.

It’s mostly a multiple choice format. You can design your multiple chance answers depending on the information you want to obtain from your employees.  

Here you go………

Q1

The Firm has taken appropriate action in response to COVID-19

Strongly agree

Agree

Do not agree

Strongly disagree

Q2

The Firm has done a good job of sharing information regarding COVID-19

Q3

The Firm cares about my health and safety

Q4

I have confidence in the Firm's ability to overcome the challenges faced by COVID-19

Q5

I feel comfortable communicating concerns or making suggestions about COVID-19 to the Firm

Q6

Systems are in place to enable social distancing within the Firm

Q7

My co-workers are taking COVID-19 seriously

Q8

I am comfortable returning to work at this time

Q9

I understand the new health and safety protocols that have been put in place to address COVID-19

Q10

What were the TOP THREE biggest challenges you experienced while working remotely?

Childcare

Social isolation

General anxiety about the impact of coronavirus on my life

Q11

I would be more comfortable working from home if that option was presented to me

Q12

Is there anything more that the Firm could do to support your return to work? 

Q13

What is your single greatest work-related concern right now?

Q14

How worried are you about the impact of COVID-19 on you personally?

Q15

How worried are you about the impact of COVID-19 on the Firm?

Q16

What has the Firm done in response to COVID-19 that has positively impacted your work experience?

Q17

How confident are you that you have the right resources and benefits from the Firm to help support you through this period?

Q18

Do you have any questions about COVID-19 and its impact on the Firm that you would like answered?

Q19

How confident are you in the Firm's leadership team to make the right decisions to manage through this crisis?

Q20

Do you have any other feedback that you would like to share regarding the Firm's response to COVID-19?

 

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FIRING AN EMPLOYEE? JASON'S AND CALVIN'S TERMINATION CHECKLIST - CHECK THIS BEFORE YOU TERMINATE.

CHECKLIST – THE TERMINATION MEETING

In most cases, the termination should be communicated in a meeting with the employee at which they are advised of the termination and the reasons for it, and are provided with a termination letter.

Where the termination is for disciplinary reasons or for cause, ensure that the investigation is complete and that you have given the employee an opportunity to respond to the concerns or allegations before finalizing your decision.

BEFORE THE MEETING:

Make sure you have a private room set aside.

Make sure there is Kleenex in the room.

Ensure that all documentation is complete before the meeting.

The meeting should be held late in the day or first thing in the morning, if possible, early in the employee’s work week.

Be clear on what you will say and practice – keep it short and to the point.

AT THE MEETING:

If possible, try to have a second person (managerial) in the meeting to witness the termination.

Tell the employee clearly that her or his employment has been terminated and the date when the termination is effective.

Be clear and brief on the reason for the termination (e.g. poor performance, job elimination, disciplinary reasons, absenteeism, etc.).

Do not provide a long-winded explanation; clearly communicate that the decision has been made and that it is final. Do not get involved in a debate about the decision.

Hand the employee the signed letter of termination. This should spell out:

  • the reason for and the effective date of the termination (as communicated verbally);

  • any payments in lieu of notice and/or severance pay that are being offered;

  • the date on which benefits coverage will cease, if applicable; and

  • that any unpaid wages, vacation pay, etc. will be paid out.

  • Bring the meeting to a close in the appropriate manner depending on circumstances (e.g. thank the employee for service rendered and wish her or him luck; invite employee back to work area to pack-up belongings; request return of any property and/or ID, etc.).

  • If the staff member will be leaving immediately, ensure there are boxes available for packing personal items.

  • Under some circumstances it may be preferable to ask the employee to leave immediately and return after hours (later in the day/later that week) to clear out her or his desk without disrupting the company/business. This after-hours move should always be supervised.

  • Communicate termination to relevant co-workers. Craft communication to suit the circumstances and be professional.

ADMINISTRATIVE MATTERS:

There are certain administrative steps to take as part of the termination of an employee.  As much as possible, these steps should be undertaken or prepared prior to the termination. This may not be an exhaustive list, depending on your specific circumstances at the time:

Employer Property

  • Office keys/pass collected                                          Yes    No  N/A

  • Cell/Smart phone received                                         Yes    No  N/A

  • Employment manual/handbook                                  Yes    No  N/A

  • Client lists received                                                    Yes    No  N/A

  • Corporate credit card received                                   Yes    No  N/A

  • Company laptop/computer returned                            Yes    No  N/A

  • Parking pass/tags received                                         Yes    No  N/A

Access Cancellation:

  • Disconnect computer access (e-mail, networks, cell and data).

  • Employee’s voicemail removed.

  • Building alarm code changed, if necessary.

  • Change any computer access codes or passwords, if necessary.

  • Email address removed from staff list.

  • Name removed from time entry system (if applicable).

  • Make any needed banking information/authorization changes if needed.

Administrative Issues:

  • Desk cleared, available for replacement.

  • Name removed from staff phone listing.

  • Name removed from mail slot.

  • Update website/internal directories/phone directories.

  • Do any clients/third parties require notification?

  • Automatic email notification to alert senders and redirect emails (voice-mail as well).

  • Create back-up of computer files and e-mail.  

Benefits (if applicable):

  • Have insurance providers been notified?

  • Will insurance coverage continue? For how long?

  • When will retirement contributions (if any) be stopped?

Final Pay:

  • Final hours calculated.

  • Final paycheck prepared.

  • Ensure any outstanding vacation pay/lieu time is calculated and included in final pay.

  • Arrange for preparation and issuance of ROE.

This is a summary only, intended to be for your general information only.

We strongly recommend that you contact us, or other qualified employment law counsel, for specific advice that may apply to, or be helpful for, any:

  • termination of any employee, with or without cause;

  • suspension of any employee, with or without pay; 

  • workplace harassment/sexual harassment complaint; and 

  • workplace investigation of any kind,

before you initiate or take any steps, including to avoid a potentially costly misstep. 

© WARDS LAWYERSPC

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BEFORE ANYBODY IS TERMINATED, REVIEW JASON'S AND CALVIN'S PRE-TERMINATION CHECKLIST!

PRE-TERMINATION CHECKLIST

Terminating an employment relationship should not be decided upon without planning and consideration of potential obligations (and liability).

Liability for reasonable notice, or pay in lieu of notice, must be considered. 

Below is a checklist that will be helpful for you to review before a decision to terminate is made.

This checklist will also help to identify what potential obligations may be owing by you to the terminated employee.   

1.  Review the employee's letter of employment or employment agreement. Is there an enforceable clause for minimum notice under the Employment Standards Act, 2000? Is there a valid “for cause” termination clause?

2.    Review the circumstances of the employee's hire. Was the employee recruited?

3.    Review significant changes in relation to the employee's position, role, salary, location or other material terms of employment to determine if the substratum of the employment relationship has been amended or varied materially and, therefore, whether the employment agreement potentially no longer reflects current terms.

4.   Determine the termination date and calculate, if possible, what is owing to the employee for all accrued remuneration to that date, including salary, vacation pay, commissions, incentives and bonuses, if any.

5.   Is the termination for “just cause,” due to misconduct? If so, are there adequate documentary records of past issues and warnings? Have the relevant individuals been interviewed, and is there a record of those interviews? Has the individual been given an opportunity to respond and answer to any issues and allegations? Has the higher standard of “wilful misconduct” under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 been triggered?

6.   Compile all relevant codes of conduct or policies applicable to the termination and ensure that you have complied with your own policies. In addition, where applicable, ensure that you have evidence that the employee was aware of the policies.

7.   If the termination is for performance reasons, is there enough documentation to establish: (a) lack of performance; (b) progressive warnings related to failure or refusal to maintain performance at reasonable and objective standards; and (c) the consequences of failing to do so?

8.   Are there related medical or disability issues that need to be considered and accommodated?

9.   Are there other human rights or statutorily protected employment rights that need to be addressed (for example, return to work following maternity, parental, WSIB or emergency leaves)?

10. If the termination is not for just cause, what is the period of notice of termination required by agreement or by statute, or implied by common law?

11. Will the notice period be worked by the employee in whole or in part? If payment is to be made in lieu of notice of termination, will remuneration be continued or paid out? Calculate the statutory termination and severance pay, if applicable. Calculate the offered common law notice pay in lieu (or salary continuance), if any. Verify whether the employee has any accrued, but unpaid, vacation pay up to the proposed date of termination, including pro-rated. 

12. Consider any statutory and contractual obligation(s) to continue benefits during notice periods and any conditions or exceptions to such obligations.

13. Will the termination offer be made subject to mitigation or not subject to mitigation by the departing employee?

14. Review the target employee’s specific compensation terms and entitlements in the twelve weeks prior to the proposed termination date, at least. Are there any specific requirements related to pensions, RRSPs, LTIPs, stock options, etc.?

15. Are there any outstanding loans or advances to the employee?

16.  Are there company supplies, documents, confidential information, computers, keys, fobs, credit cards, automobiles, equipment or other property to be returned by employee?

17.  Are there post-termination employee obligations, including with respect to solicitation of customers or non-competition?

18. Are there client or competitor lists that need to be identified with reference to non-competition provisions?

19. Determine the appropriate timing for the meeting to provide notice of termination. Consider who should attend at that meeting. Is any security necessary?

20.  Consider issues relating to employment references and/or providing a confirmation of employment letter. Who will be responsible for post-termination employment references?

21.  Did the employee sign a confidentiality agreement and, if so, should that be confirmed, including any specific duty or reference to any specific confidential information?

Careful review and planning must be undertaken before any employee is terminated. Alternatively, a costly mistake may be made. 

_________________________________

This is a summary only, intended to be for your general information only.

We strongly recommend that you contact us, or other qualified employment law counsel, for specific advice that may apply to, or be helpful for, any of the following:

  • termination of any employee, with or without cause;

  • suspension of any employee, with or without pay; 

  • workplace harassment/sexual harassment complaint; and 

  • workplace investigation of any kind,

before you initiate or take any steps, including to avoid a potentially costly misstep. 

© WARDS LAWYERSPC

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NEW ONT. LEGISLATION TO KEEP EMERGENCY ORDERS IN EFFECT AFTER DECLARATION OF EMERGENCY ENDS - WILL IT PASS?

The Ontario government has now announced proposed legislation that, if passed, would ensure certain emergency measures continue once the provincial declaration of emergency has ended. 

According to a government press release, Bill 195 Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020, would:

• continue emergency orders in effect under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act ("EMCPA") under the new legislation for an initial 30 days;

• allow the Lieutenant Governor in Council to further extend these orders for up to 30 days at a time, as required;

• allow the Lieutenant Governor in Council to amend certain emergency orders continued under the EMCPA if the amendment relates to:

    • labour redeployment or workplace and management rules;

    • closure of places and spaces or regulation of how businesses and establishments can be open to provide goods or services in a safe manner;

    • compliance with public health advice; or

    • rules related to gatherings and organized public events;

• not permit new emergency orders to be introduced through the legislation; and

• allow emergency orders to be rescinded when safe to do so.

The ability to extend and amend orders under the new proposed legislation would be limited to 1 year, unless extended by the legislature.  The current declaration of emergency is in place until July 15, 2020, subject to further extension by the government.

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A - Z. SIMPLE. EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT NEW MANDATORY NON-MEDICAL MASKS IN THE CKL FOR BUSINESSES, INCLUDING ENFORCEMENT, REPORTING, MANAGING CONFLICT AND PENALTIES FOR NON-COMPLIANCE.

When Must I Wear A Non-Medical Mask?

Under instructions issued by the local Medical Officer of Health (the “MOH”), area businesses will have to have a policy in place that requires people to wear a non-medical mask or face covering before entering their commercial establishment. 

This applies to all owners and operators of commercial establishments currently open during Stage 2 of the province’s reopening.

The instructions have been issued under the authority of Ontario Regulation 263/20 under the provincial Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA).

When?

The requirement for non-medical mask or face covering use within local businesses will come into effect at 12:01 am July 13, 2020.

The use of masks will be required while the provincial Emergency Order remains in force or until such time that the MOH lifts the requirement.

What Businesses Does This Apply To? What Is An Establishment?

Under the Health Unit’s instructions, commercial establishments are premises that are openly accessible to members of the public and used for the purposes of offering goods or services for sale.

An establishment would include a mall or other structure containing commercial premises, including: retail stores, convenience stores, restaurants, personal services settings, grocery stores and bakeries, gas stations, indoor farmers’ markets, areas of mechanics’ shops/garages/repair shops, which are open to the public.

Who Does This Apply To?

If you own or operate a commercial establishment currently operating under Stage 2 of the provincial reopening, you must have policies in place to stop people from entering your establishment if they are not wearing a non-medical mask or face covering.

What If I Refuse?

Every operator of an enclosed public space will have a policy to ensure that no member of the public is permitted to enter or remain in the public areas of the enclosed public space unless they are wearing a mask in a manner that covers their nose, mouth and chin.

People in an enclosed public space who remove their mask for extended periods of time, will receive a verbal reminder of the requirement to wear a mask under these instructions.

The policy of the commercial establishment should be enacted and enforced in ‘good faith’ and should be used as an opportunity to educate about the use of non-medical masks or face coverings in indoor commercial establishments. Additional education and enforcement will be conducted by Health Unit staff, as well as local municipal bylaw and police officers.

Who is Exempted?

There are exemptions to the policy and a person will be exempt from wearing a non-medical mask or face covering in the premises if:

  • the person is a child under the age of two years; or a child under the age of 5 years either chronologically or developmentally and he or she refuses to wear a face covering and cannot be persuaded to do so by their caregiver;

  • the person is incapacitated and unable to remove their mask without assistance;

  • for any other medical reason, the person cannot safely wear a non-medical mask or face covering such as, but not limited to, respiratory disease, cognitive difficulties or difficulties in hearing or processing information; and

  • for any religious reason, the person cannot wear a non-medical mask or face covering or cannot cover the face in a manner that would properly control the source.

How Do I Make or Choose the Best Mask For Me?

In choosing a non-medical mask, ensure it is:

  • made of 2+ layers of tightly woven fabric (such as cotton or linen);

  • well-fitted with ear loops or ties;

  • a comfortable fit against your face and allows you to breathe easily without having to adjust it;

  • large enough to completely cover the nose and mouth without gaping; and

  • durable to allow you to frequently wash and dry it without losing its shape.

Other options for non-medical masks include wearing a bandana or scarf, or making one out of a T-shirt or a bandana.

The Public Health Agency of Canada also offers instructions on how to make a homemade face coverings.

Can a Business Refuse to Serve Me If I Refuse to Wear as Mask?

The implementation of the policy should be enforced in “good faith” and any person not wearing a mask will receive a verbal reminder from the staff of the establishment.

However, any commercial establishment can also assert Ontario’s Trespass To Property Act, RSO c. T.21 to disallow entry of any person who refuses to wear a non-medical mask – notice should initially be given to the person. 

In addition, business owners have a right at common law to exclude entry to any person who fails to lawfully comply with a health directive or order. 

How Will This Be Enforced?

Every owner/operator of a commercial establishment will have a policy to ensure that no member of the public is permitted to enter or remain in the public areas of the enclosed public space unless they are wearing a mask in a manner that securely covers their nose, mouth and chin.

Employees and operators will provide a verbal reminder to any customer entering the premises without a mask that the customer should be wearing a mask as a result of this directive.

Implementation of the policy will be enacted and enforced in ‘good faith’ and will be primarily used as a means to educate people on mask use in public spaces.

Public Health Inspectors from the HKPR District Health Unit, as well as municipal bylaw and local police officers will be involved in providing additional education and enforcement to operators of commercial establishments.

However, any commercial establishment can also assert Ontario’s Trespass To Property Act, RSO c. T.21 to disallow entry of any person who refuses to wear a non-medical mask – notice should initially be given to the person. 

In addition, business owners have a right at common law to exclude entry to any person who fails to lawfully comply with a health directive or order. 

Will Fines Be Levied for Non-Compliance? What Is The Penalty?

As noted above, implementation of the policy will be enacted and enforced in ‘good faith’ and will be primarily used as a means to educate people on mask use in public spaces.

As per Ontario’s Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, those businesses that do not comply with the instructions may be liable for a fine of $750 to $1,000 for an individual, to a maximum of $100,000, or in the case of a corporation, not more than $10,000,000 for each day or part of each day on which the offence occurs or continues.

Can I Ever Remove My Mask In Public?

Members of the public are permitted to temporarily remove a mask for the following reasons:

  • receiving services (including eating or drinking when dine-in services are allowed), or

  • while actively engaging in an athletic or fitness activity including water-based activities.

Ensure you wash your hands using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer before and after removing your mask or face covering.

Do I Report Local Business Not Requiring Customers to Wear Masks?

Yes.

For more information on the Health Unit’s instructions to commercial establishments to require the use of masks by patrons, or to report a non-complying business, call the Health Unit toll-free at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020.

How Do I Properly Use a Non-Medical Mask?

In choosing a non-medical mask, ensure it is:

  • made of 2+ layers of tightly woven fabric (such as cotton or linen);

  • well-fitted with ear loops or ties;

  • a comfortable fit against your face and allows you to breathe easily without having to adjust it;

  • large enough to completely cover the nose and mouth without gaping; and

  • durable to allow you to frequently wash and dry it without losing its shape.

Other options for non-medical masks include wearing a bandana or scarf, or making one out of a T-shirt or a bandana. The Public Health Agency of Canada also offers instructions on how to make a homemade face coverings.

Do Even Workplace Staff Have to Wear Masks In the Business

Yes. Staff are to wear masks when they are in those portions of a fixed commercial premises that are openly accessible to members of the public and that are used for the purposes of offering goods or services for sale to members of the public.

They are not required in lunch rooms, storage areas, prep areas etc. The areas of a commercial establishment that are subject to the non-medical mask and face covering requirements of these instructions are:

- any areas in which customers interact with one another or with staff members; 
- any areas that are open or accessible to members of the public; and 
- except where: the area is outside, whether or not the area is covered (e.g. a restaurant patio). 

What Should All CKL Commercial Businesses Now Do?

To comply with this new law, and with employer obligations under Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act, employers should review these requirements and any other provincial or municipal directives to ensure they are following the latest safety requirements.

Businesses in the CKL should now:

  • create and post a written mask policy for the establishment;

  • communicate this new policy to staff and customers - post is prominently in your business/workplace;

  • train your staff on the policy, including when staff and customers must wear a mask or face covering, what to do if a customer refuses to wear one, and who is exempt from wearing one; 

  • verbally remind all attendees/customers who enter without a mask that they are legally required by order of the local Health Unit - avoid confrontation with customers by contacting the Health Unit for assistance; and 

  • post signs at all entrances reminding everyone to wear a mask.

The Health Unit will consider the above steps, if followed, as discharging your "good faith" and "best efforts" responsibility for his new legal obligation. If any conflict arises, attempt to distill and avoid, including by contacting the Health Unit for guidance and direction.  

Face masks and coverings do not replace the need to keep a distance of two metres or six feet from others, wash hands often, and stay home when sick.

Employees should continue to work from home if possible.

For more information about the instructions requiring non-medical mask use or face coverings, visit the Health Unit’s website at www.hkpr.on.ca or call toll-free at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020.

What About Professional Offices or 'By Appointment Only' Businesses

Establishments that do not fall under the definition of a commercial establishment are: schools, child care centres, business offices that are not open to members of the public, professional offices where clients receive purchased services (e.g., lawyers’ offices) that are not open to members of the public, hospitals, independent health facilities and offices of regulated health professionals.

Do I Have to Supply Customers With Masks

This is not legally required, but not having a mask is not a valid 'exemption' so it may be to the benefit of the business to have masks for these circumstances.

So, have masks available to those who do not have one.
 

Can I Use Only a Facial Shield Instead

Face shields are not equivalent for source protection to non-medical masks. Face shields should only be considered as an alternative for those staff that are not able to tolerate masks due to age or a condition of some kind.

Is It Okay To Simply Hide Behind a Hygiene Screen

No. Masks must be worn by staff when in areas used by the public.

Formal Directions to “Commercial Establishments”

The Health Unit’s letter to all “commercial establishments” is here: https://www.hkpr.on.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Commercial-Establishments-EMCPA-July-2020.pdf

MOH’s Fact Sheet

The Health Unit’s “Fact Sheet” for this new directive is here: https://www.hkpr.on.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/HKPR-COVID-factsheet-Mandatory-Non-Medical-Masks.pdf

Video – How To Use a Non-Medical Mask

A video about how to use a non-medical mask properly is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lc1mqyPCOpo&feature=youtu.be

Posters For Your Business

Posters to prominently post in your workplace/business are available here: https://www.hkpr.on.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/HKPR-COVID-poster-Protect-Yourself-Wear-A-Mask.pdf

Need a Written Mask Policy

Give us a call - we'll set you up in no time.  

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OUR NEW ECONOMIC RECOVERY PLAN - ONT. GOV. DUMPS THE "HEARING OF NECESSITY" RED TAPE - GET READY TO ACCELERATE NEW INFRASTRUCTURE SPENDING IN THE CKL

The Government of Ontario has developed a made-in-Ontario plan for growth, renewal and economic recovery.

This plan includes measures that would make it easier and faster to build provincial highways, major transit infrastructure projects and quality, affordable housing, while ensuring there are meaningful opportunities for community consultation and input.

As part of the government's plan, the province is proposing to accelerate key provincial highway construction and priority transit projects by establishing an exemption from the Hearing of Necessity process.

Provincial Hearings of Necessity occur approximately 5-10 times per year on average for provincial highway projects.

Each hearing adds months of red tape and construction delays for critical provincial infrastructure, costing up to five months for transit projects and up to 12 months for provincial highway projects.

As part of this plan, the government would also enter into new commercial agreements with partners to build transit-oriented communities. This would allow for the development of more housing around transit in an integrated manner and put more job opportunities within the reach of more people.

The measures would also save taxpayers money by having the development industry make direct, significant contributions to the cost of building transit for the benefit of communities, all transit riders, and Ontario taxpayers.

These measures would allow the province to more quickly undertake important technical investigations and prepare construction sites, while ensuring meaningful consultation with landowners.

DID YOU ALSO KNOW

  • The province is investing $2.6 billion to expand and repair Ontario’s highways and bridges.

  • Ontario will continue to collaborate with the City of Toronto and York Region under the historic joint transit partnership agreements and Transit-Oriented Communities Memorandums of Understanding.

Additional Resources

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SO, YOU'VE BEEN DEFAMED. HAVE YOU? DEFAMATION - THE BASICS.

Defamation has two forms: libel (written words) and slander (spoken words).

For a defamation case, a person must prove:

1.            the words at issue were defamatory (meaning they would negatively impact the person’s reputation in the eyes of a reasonable person);

2.            the words, in fact, referred to the person complaining about those words; and

3.            the words were published (meaning they were written or said to a person other than the person who is complaining about the words).

Generally, the legal way of understanding 1 above is:

“Expressions which tend to lower the reputation of a person in the estimation of right thinking members of society generally or which expose a person to hatred, contempt or ridicule are defamatory.”

If these three elements are proved, damages are generally presumed and the onus shifts to other person to prove a defence to avoid liability.

There are many defences raised by defendants in defamation cases. For example, if the defendant can prove the words were “true”, it usually means liability is avoided. There are also special occasions that offer protection to those who defame others, such as in Court documents (allegations, etc.). There are a number of other defences available, too, some of which are quite legally complicated.

Ontario also has the Libel and Slander Act, which imposes statutory law to defamation. For example, special notice requirements apply if the defamation is published in the media, for example. In addition, defamation in the context of a person’s profession can also be actionable even if specific (monetary) damages cannot be established.

Sometimes, defamation creates a balance between protection reputation and free speech. This often arises in the context of defamatory statements made in the media or sometimes online.

Generally, damages awards in Ontario for defamation cases are somewhat modest, particularly in cases not involving mass, publication through media.

More cases are emerging over defamatory statements made online, particularly through social media and discussion blogs and forums. Those cases tend to be challenging to deal with, including whether the host of the blog or discussion forum should also face liability.

In Ontario, a person may also defend a defamatory claim by proving successfully that the statement was made in the public interest and, if so, liability may be avoided.  

Ontario also has adopted legislation about apologizing to others. This legislation does not protect a person from liability, but is intended to try to prevent lawsuits from happening and encourage disputing parties to resolve before a lawsuit. If offers some protection to those who do apologize, too.    

Defamation is a fairly specialized legal field. If you feel that you have been defamed, or you are accused of doing so, you should speak to a lawyer qualified and experienced with this area of law. This is a very brief outline about this area of law only, which is quite extensive and often complicated. 

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RECOVERY IN THE CKL - JASON'S AND CALVIN'S "HIRING CHECKLIST" CHEAT SHEET!

HIRING CHECKLIST

1.     SIGNED EMPLOYMENT AGREEMENT/OFFER:

Before the employee starts any work:

  • ensure that you have the employee’s properly signed employment agreement or accepted offer of employment;

  • ensure that the employment agreement/offer addresses everything necessary, including for termination (with and without cause), leaves of absence, police record checks (if desired or mandatory), health and safety training, accessibility, job description (defining the position adequately), confidentiality, right to lay-off, rules for suspension, etc.;

  • consider whether the employment agreement/offer should contain any non-competition and/or non-solicitation provisions to protect your business and assets in future; and     

  • provide a copy of the agreement/offer to the employee before the employee starts in the position.

2.     POLICE RECORD CHECKS AND PROFESSIONAL REFERENCES:

  • obtain any required police record check (judicial record check, vulnerable sector check) and professional reference(s) prior to the employee starting any work for the position; and 

  • ensure that the employment agreement/offer is conditional on those requirements and being satisfied with the results. 

3.     HIRING AND RECRUITMENT:

  • ensure avoidance of discriminatory practices prohibited by the Ontario Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c. H. 19, as amended (the “Code”); and

  • review and adhere to your “The Hiring Process – Do’s and Don’ts”.

4.     BE CLEAR ABOUT WORK, ESPECIALLY REMOTE WORK:

  • before the employee is permitted to work remotely, such as from home, ensure you have a workplace policy specifying eligibility, rules, requirements to do so (responsiveness, productivity, conduct, etc.), digital security and access, confidentiality and approval for overtime work, among other things; and

  • consider your own confidentiality requirements and ensure the employee is required to meet those obligations, including via online communications, using digital devices, etc.

5.     BE SENSITIVE TO POTENTIAL DISABILITY ISSUES:

  • offer accessibility and accommodation during the recruitment and hiring process, if necessary;

  • request the employee to identify any potential accessibility or accommodation needs, if any, being very mindful of avoiding questions, or requesting information, prohibited by the Code; and

  • review and adhere to your “The Hiring Process – Do’s and Don’ts”.

6.     PROTECT CONFIDENTIALITY:

  • ensure that you have the employee’s properly signed confidentiality acknowledgement, depending on the nature of your business and the importance of confidentiality to you and your clients, customers, employees, service providers, etc.   

7.     PROTECT YOUR PROPRIETARY INTERESTS:

  • if you have proprietary intellectual property and/or information technology assets, ensure you have a proper acknowledgement signed by the employee to protect both your IP and IT assets in future, including digital assets.  

8.     DISCLOSURE OF PERSONAL INFORMATION:

  • ensure that the employee has properly signed a consent to the disclosure of the employee’s personal information (i.e. photographs, videos, etc.) for the purpose of marketing and/or promotion of your business, if desired; this also protects your third-party marketing and/or promotion partners and agents.   

9.     SET EXPECTATIONS:

  • provide the employee access to review your workplace policies before the employee signs the employment agreement/offer;

  • offer to review those with the employee and answer any questions; and

  • ensure that the employee signs an acknowledgement verifying the employee’s review of your workplace policies (and any other key expectation(s) for the employee in future) and agreement to adhere to those in future.

10.   COMPLY WITH STATUTORY AND CRA RULES:

  • add the new employee to your CRA account for payroll source deductions, etc.;

  • ensure that the employee completes a TD-1 and a TD1ON Form;

  • complete the year-end T4A and other CRA requirements for the employee;

  • add the employee to your Workplace Safety and Insurance Board account, if applicable;

  • inform the employee of where a copy of (Ontario’s) Occupational Health and Safety Act, R.S.O. 1993, c. O.1, as amended (the “OHSA”), is posted prominently in your workplace;

  • inform the employee of where copies of both your heath and safety policy and your violence, harassment and sexual harassment prevention policy are posted prominently in your workplace, as required by the OHSA;

  • give the employee a copy of the “Health & Safety at Work: Prevention Starts Here” poster, required by the OHSA, which must also be displayed prominently in your workplace at all times;

  • inform the employee of the names and locations of your workplace Joint Health and Safety Committee members, if applicable;

  • give the employee a copy of the “Employment Standards in Ontario” poster, published by the Ontario Ministry of Labour; and

  • arrange for the employee, including if he or she is a supervisor, to complete the mandatory health and safety awareness training required by the OHSA.

This is a summary only, intended to be for your general information only.

We strongly recommend that you contact us, or other qualified employment law counsel, for specific advice that may apply to, or be helpful for, any concerns you may have with hiring a new employee.

© WARDS LAWYERSPC

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JASON'S TOP 10 FAST AND FURIOUS FACTS ABOUT THE CITY OF KAWARTHA LAKES

  1. “Kawartha” is an anglicization of the word Ka-wa-tha (from Ka-wa-tae-gum-maug or Gaa-waategamaag, a word coined in 1895 by aboriginal Martha Whetung of the Curve Lake First Nations - the word meant "land of reflections" in the Anishinaabe language, according to Whetung. The word was later changed by tourism promoters to Kawartha, meaning "bright waters and happy lands"

  2. the population is approximately 76,000

  3. there are approximately 40,000 private dwellings

  4. it is about 3,000 square kilometres in size

  5. currently the demographics are believed to be:

  • English: 45.2%

  • Canadian: 35.0%

  • Irish: 27.6%

  • Scottish: 20.3%

  • French: 10.4%

  • German: 9.4%

  • Dutch: 6.3%

  • First Nations: 2.9%

  • Welsh: 2.6%

  • Polish: 2.2%

  • Italian: 2.2%

  • Ukrainian: 2.2%

  • British Isles (other): 2.0%

  • Hungarian: 1.0%

  • White 95.5%

  • Native: 2.9%

  • Visible minority: 1.6%

  • 6.downtown Lindsay is known for having one of the widest downtown streets in Ontario, designed to be wide enough to accommodate the turning radius of a four-horse hitch

  • 7. the last Canadian National Railway (CN) train to run through City of Kawartha Lakes was on the Lindsay - Uxbridge line which ceased operation in 1991.

  • 8. the last passenger train to run through the City of Kawartha Lakes was No. 189 with Budd Car VIA 6104 from Havelock to Toronto Union Station over Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) lines on January 14, 1990

  • 9. it hosts the largest, outdoor kids’ road hockey tournament in Canada

  • 10.notable (famous) residents include:

  • Ruth Abernethy, sculptor, was born here in 1960

  • Carl CoulterCFL player, won the Grey Cup with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1999.

  • Ron Ellis played for the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1960s and 1970s, and was a member of Team Canada 1972 in the Summit Series.

  • Evangeline Lydia Emsley (b. 1885), nurse in World War I

  • Leslie M. Frost (September 20, 1895 – May 4, 1973), Premier of Ontario from 1949 to 1961. First elected in 1937 to the Ontario legislature representing Victoria-Haliburton, he was known as "The Laird of Lindsay." He combined small town values with progressive policies to lead the province through the economic boom of the 1950s.

  • Pearl Hart, outlaw

  • Simon Ward and Darryl James of The Strumbellas band, an internally-recognized band originating in Lindsay, ON

  • Sir Sam Hughes, Minister of Militia for Canada during World War I was born and raised in Lindsay.

  • Tyler Kyte, actor and musician, known for appearances in Instant Star and Popular Mechanics for Kids.

  • Joey Lawrence, commercial photographer behind the Twilight movie posters.

  • Fergus Patrick McEvay, former Catholic archbishop of Toronto.

  • Megan Park, actress best known for her role as Grace on Secret Life of the American Teenager

  • Joe Primeau played for the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1930s.

  • Matthew Rose, swimmer, competed at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens

  • Ernest Thompson Seton (1860–1946), artist, naturalist and writer of realistic wild animal stories. The Thompson family arrived in Lindsay in 1866 from South Shields, England. They resided in the home they built on Stony Creek until 1870, when Seton's father, Joseph Thompson, secured employment in Toronto as an accountant.

  • Jack Tunney, best known as an on-air authority figure for World Wrestling Entertainment in the 1990s made his second home in Lindsay, and died there in 2004.

  • Three out of the four members of The Kents, an alternative rock band, are from Lindsay

  • Nancy Sweetnam, Olympic medalist 

  • Other NHLers from the town include: Jeff BeukeboomDon MaloneyDave MaloneyJamie AllisonJoe JunkinDave Roche, and Tom Thornbury.

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NEW FREE ONLINE SAFETY TRAINING AVAILABLE FOR RE-OPENING - ENROLL ONLINE - ALL EMPLOYEES AND JOB SEEKERS. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY.......

FREE ONLINE SAFETY JOB TRAINING AVAILABLE 

As the CKL safely and gradually reopens, the Ontario government has announced an investment of $3 million to provide free online health and safety training for the first time.

These virtual courses will make it easier for job seekers and workers to get essential qualifications, while practising physical distancing and preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Up to 100,000 job seekers can now take free online workplace health and safety training through Employment Ontario.

There are 10 courses on offer, which include topics such as infection control, conducting health and safety incident investigations, ladder safety, slips, trips and falls prevention, and preventing workplace violence and harassment.

Job seekers should contact an Employment Ontario service provider in their area to enroll.

In addition, worker and employer members of Joint Health and Safety Committees can now use video conferencing to take training in real-time with qualified instructors from training providers approved by Ontario's Chief Prevention Officer.

The training includes sessions on how to establish a Health and Safety Committee, resolving health and safety issues, workplace inspections, and accident investigations.

Ontario's Chief Prevention Officer is extending the time for completion of refresher training for more than 8,000 certified committee members whose certification would have expired between February 28 and August 31, 2020. They have until November 30, 2020 to renew their training, which will be easier thanks to new online options.

DID YOU ALSO KNOW

  • Employment Ontario serves more than one million clients per year and has more than 700 service locations across Ontario.

  • A Joint Health and Safety Committee’s primary role is to identify workplace health and safety issues and bring them to the attention of the employers.

  • Over the last three years, an average of 37,000 people per year took Joint Health and Safety Committee certification training.

Additional Resources

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JASON'S TOP 10 CRAZIEST LAWS IN THE CITY OF KAWARTHA LAKES - THAT YOU DIDN'T EVEN KNOW YOU WERE BREAKING!

1.You could go to jail if you in any way melt, deface, alter or change any coin [Canadian Currency Act].   

2.Practicing witchcraft, sorcery and the dark arts is strictly illegal [Criminal Code, s. 365].

3.You cannot challenge anyone to a duel (swords or pistols) – period [Criminal Code, s. 71].

4.Possessing any comic book depicting any criminal act is highly illegal [Criminal Code, s. 164.1].

5.You cannot use too many coins to pay for your dinner or other purchase; specifically, a maximum of $25 (if using loonies) or a maximum of $5, if using nickels, etc. [Canadian Currency Act, 1985].

6.You could be jailed if you trick or mislead anyone to thinking something is Canadian maple syrup, when it is not [Maple Product Regulations, s. 3.1].

7.In fact, you can turn left at a red light if you're on a one-way street and you're about to turn onto another one-way street [Highway Traffic Act].

8.You can apologize to someone for something you said, without admitting any liability whatsoever for your statement or initial defamation of that person [Apology Act].

9. You cannot "enter or leave [an] aircraft during flight unless. . . (a) the person leaves for the purpose of making a parachute descent”. If the passenger is in possession of a parachute, however, making a mid-air jump from the plane can only be done with the permission of the pilot. So, if you jump out of a plane without a parachute and survive, you could go straight to jail, do not collect $200.

10.It’s totally illegal to scare or alarm the Queen [Criminal Code].

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JASON'S AND CALVIN'S DO'S AND DONT'S FOR JOB INTERVIEWS - ASK THIS, BUT NOT THIS. BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER THE INTERVIEW. TIPS AND TRAPS.

THE HIRING PROCESS – DO’S AND DON’TS

BEFORE THE INTERVIEW:

DO:

Create a uniform hiring process for all applicants:

Draft interview questions in advance based on the essential duties and requirements of the position. Develop the “answers” and assess applicants based on these objective criteria. Ask all applicants the same questions. These measures guard against informal, subjective assessments entering human-resource decision-making.

Use an application form to screen applicants:

Application forms are simple tools to supplement an application with relevant information.  These forms should include a basic job description and a Statement of Qualification for the applicant to affirm their qualifications for that job; this will assist in screening applicants who overstate their qualifications.  

Prepare a panel of interviewers, if possible, to assess applicants according to the hiring process:

A panel assessing an applicant’s answers allows for a more diverse and objective perspective. A panel will also provide multiple witnesses to the interview, one of whom should record thorough notes.

Offer to accommodate an applicant, if he or she requires accommodation, before the interview:

Applicants are generally responsible to inform potential employers of their needs and to provide adequate detail for the employer to respond accordingly. Once aware of the need to accommodate, employers should co-operate with the applicant in creating an interview or hiring mechanism that addresses the duty to accommodate arising under both human rights legislation and Ontario’s Accessibility for Ontarians with Disability Act, 2005, S.O. 2005, c. 11, as amended.

Exercise caution when actively recruiting an applicant from a long-term employment position:

Employers should be cautious when engaging in active recruitment of applicants who are employed in a stable, long-term position. Applicants who are induced to terminate their stable, long-term employment for a new opportunity may have a lengthened term of service with their new employer.

DONT:

Make hiring decisions using informal, ad hoc. processes or decision-making:

While an informal conversation with an applicant may be appealing, an uncontrolled, subjective process can lead to subconscious bias and, in some cases, discrimination allegations. Having a plan and a written procedure before an interview will give structure and objectivity to the interview process.

Be unprepared:

An interviewer who is unprepared for an interviewee will tend to focus on a person’s superficial characteristics rather than the interviewee’s merit.

Use social media screening without the consent of the applicant and without considering whether you need such personal information:

An employer must obtain an applicant’s consent to collect their personal information. Personal information on social media is no different. An employer should not attempt to skirt privacy rules by using their personal account to screen an applicant or rely on a third party to conduct the screening.

Rely on the information on social media to the exclusion of traditional sources of personal information:

In general, employers should be wary that the information obtained on social media may be unreliable or inaccurate, and is usually unnecessary.

Ask for reference contacts without intention to contact them:

Asking for references is an indication that those references will be contacted. An employer who makes a hiring decision without making use of information that would have been available through a reference check may become open to legal liability for information they ought to have known.

DURING THE INTERVIEW:

DO:

Ask an applicant about his or her qualifications, relevant experience, training and previous positions:

Human rights and privacy laws do not limit the right of employers to obtain legitimate information about the people they may hire. All interview questions and topics must be designed to elicit job-related information concerning the applicant’s relevant knowledge, skills and ability to perform the key duties of the position.

Describe the job requirements, such as overtime, weekend work or travel:

Framing questions in terms of job requirements is an effective way of removing discriminatory elements in questions.

Ask the applicant to affirm their qualifications:

An applicant should be asked to review the Statement of Qualification included in the application form and to sign that statement if they have not done so already. 

Take notes, take notes, take notes:    

Taking and retaining notes and other written records of the interview will provide contemporaneous evidence in any potential discrimination claim before a human rights tribunal or the Courts. While taking notes cannot immunize employers to claims, once started, such evidence can be a powerful tool to defend against a claim

DONT:

Ask questions that provide information regarding a prohibited ground of discrimination:

The following is a non-exhaustive list of general topics to avoid in an interview:

  • Race, colour, ancestry or place of origin:

If you need information about an applicant’s immigration status, simply ask whether the applicant is legally entitled to work in Canada. Avoid asking other questions related to a person’s educational institution, last name or any clubs or affiliations that are designed to indicate their race, ancestry or place of origin.

  • Citizenship:

Employers may not ask about a person’s citizenship unless Canadian citizenship or permanent residency is a legitimate job requirement.  In all other cases, employers should restrict their inquiry to whether the applicant is legally entitled to work in Canada.

  • Religious beliefs or customs:

Employers may not ask about a person’s religious beliefs or customs. If you need information about when an applicant can work, ask whether he or she can work overtime or weekends if that is a legitimate job requirement.

  • Gender identity and sexual orientation:

There is rarely (if ever) a reason you need to know an applicant’s sexual orientation. Questions about a person’s personal relationships should be completely avoided in almost all cases. Gender identity-related questions should never be asked.

  • Marital or family status:

Instead of asking about a person’s family or marital status, simply ask if the applicant can work the hours required of the position or if they are able to travel or relocate.

  • Physical or mental disability:

Avoid asking about an applicant’s general state of physical or mental health or any history of sick leaves, absences and workers’ compensation claims. Employers may, however, ask the applicant whether they are able to perform the essential duties of the position and describe the physical and mental requirements of the position.

  • Gender:

Avoid questions about gender, including questions about pregnancy, breastfeeding, childcare arrangements and plans to have children.

  • Age:

While employers may ask an applicant for their birthdate upon hiring, the age of the applicant is rarely relevant unless there is a question as to whether the applicant has reached the legal working age, which varies from province to province.

  • Criminal or summary convictions:

In general, employers may ask the applicant about their criminal record where there is a legitimate reason to know, such as when the job involves a position of trust or working with vulnerable persons. If this is need-to-know information, require a police and judicial matters check as a condition to hiring the interviewee. 

  • Former names:

Avoid asking a person about their former names unless needed to verify previous employment and education records. Avoid asking about names to determine someone’s origin, maiden name or whether the person is related to another person.

  • Language:

What languages an applicant speaks may cross the line if they are really disguising questions about race, place of origin or ancestry. The exception is, obviously, where the ability to communicate in certain languages is specifically required for the position.

  • Source of income:

It is recommended that employers avoid asking about an applicant’s source of income, as this is irrelevant, and some sources have a social stigma attached to them, such as social assistance, disability pension and child maintenance.

  • Genetic characteristics:

Employers should avoid asking an applicant about the results of a genetic test (23andme, Ancestry, etc.) and should avoid making decisions based on that applicant’s genetic traits, including traits that may cause or increase the risk to develop a disorder or disease.  

Ask questions designed to elicit irrelevant information or information unrelated to the legitimate job requirements:

Privacy laws require that employers only collect personal information that a reasonable person would consider appropriate in the circumstances. Again, the employer must only do so with the consent of the applicant. The best practice is to only collect information that is reasonably necessary to make a hiring decision.

AFTER THE INTERVIEW:

DO:

Keep the interview notes and documentation for as long as possible:

Employers should keep all materials from the hiring process for as long as necessary to comply with applicable legislation and protect themselves from any possible litigation. At a minimum, it should be two years from the date of the initial interview. 

Ask the selected individual(s) for further information:

Once hired, it is permissible to ask a person for further documentation necessary to maintain and establish the employment relationship if there is a legitimate need for that information. When an offer of employment is accepted (or conditional on certain checks being completed with the consent of the individual), it will generally be necessary to collect an employee’s birth date, social insurance number, personal contact information and all other personal information needed to establish the relationship, including information needed to enroll the employee in benefits plans and payroll.

_________________________________

This is a summary only, intended to be for your general information only. We recommend that you contact us, or other qualified employment law counsel, for specific advice that may apply to, or be helpful for, any specific interview you conduct, or employment offer you may wish to make, in future, including with respect to your hiring and recruiting practices generally. 

© WARDS LAWYERSPC

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DO NON-BIOLOGICAL/NON-ADOPTED CHILDREN GET CHILD SUPPORT FROM A NON-PARENT? YES, IF THEY ACTED LIKE A PARENT. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW.......

Generally, for a non-biological child, the Court will examine whether a person, for the purposes of having to pay support to that child, treated the person as his “child”, had a “settled intention” to do so and, in fact, had provided that person with financial support during the relationship.

Even after death, for example, under Ontario’s Succession Law Reform Act, the definition of “child” includes someone who the deceased individual had a “settled intention” to treat as their child.

Generally, the Court will consider, possibly among other things:

  • did the “parents” pool their income into a joint account?

  • did the “parents” pay the expenses for all children out of this same account?

  • did the child in question refer to the man as “daddy” or the woman as “mommy”?

  • did the “parents” refer to themselves as “mommy” and “daddy”?

  • did the “parents” share the task of disciplining the child?

  • did the child participate in the extended family in the same was as a biological child?

  • was there a change in surname?

  • did the “parent” express to the child, the family and the world, either implicitly or explicitly, that he or she is responsible as a parent to the child?

In a recent case, in which an alleged parent had died and a former girlfriend applied for “dependent’s relief” on behalf of the non-biological child, the Court remarked:

In my view, [the Deceased’s] support of [the Applicant] in these ways rises above affection and generosity. Despite the atypical family relationships between [the Deceased, the Applicant’s mother, the Deceased’s biological child, and the Applicant], [the Deceased’s] support of [the Applicant] demonstrates his settled intention to treat her as a member of his unconventional family. I find that [the Applicant] is therefore a dependant for the purposes of the SLRA.”

While this was a case involving a death of a “parent” who had demonstrated a “settled intention”, the same, or a similar result, would likely have been achieved if the case involving the payment of Ontario child support, rather than “dependent’s relief”. 

The Case:

Deleon v. Estate of Raymon DeRanney, 2020 ONSC 19 (CanLII)

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TODAY FEDS EXTENDED THE 14-DAY RULE FOR THOSE RETURNING TO CANADA (UNTIL AUG. 31)

Today the federal government extended the mandatory quarantine order until August 31 for the majority of people entering Canada. 

The federal Quarantine Act order was originally set to expire on Tuesday at midnight.

Travellers entering Canada will have to complete 14 days of self-isolation, whether they have COVID-19 symptoms or not.

The updated order also requires travellers to wear non-medical masks as they enter Canada or are making their way to the location where they will be isolating, by transit. The non-medical mask is not required in private vehicles.

Penalties for breaking the order include a fine of as much as $750,000 or six months in prison. If the person who disobeyed the order caused bodily harm or death by wilfully breaking the order—the fine could reach $1 million.

Those who are exempt from the order include people crossing the border often to ensure the flow of goods and services as well as people entering in order to provide essential services.

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WHAT IS COLLABORATIVE FAMILY LAW? AND WHY AM I SUPPOSED TO DO THAT INSTEAD OF FAMILY COURT?

Collaborative family law has grown in popularity over the last 25 years and has been embraced by family law practitioners to varying degrees. The collaborative family law movement began in the Western American states and was later adopted in British Columbia as one of the first provinces in Canada to embrace a shift in family law towards alternative forms of dispute resolution. Since that time, many lawyers across the country have embraced a transition to the collaborative process, perhaps in light of the fact that most family law cases settle before they reach the adjudication phase of litigation.

Collaborative family law took hold in Lindsay in 2012 when a group of local family law lawyers completed the necessary training and established the Kawartha Collaborative Practice group. Many family law lawyers are shifting towards seeking a method of resolving family matters in a more supportive way. This phenomenon, together with the growing barriers to accessing the judicial system, has led to a drastic increase in families choosing to embrace the collaborative process. The current legal system has been criticized for being ineffective and inflexible for adjudicating the many issues associated with family law matters. However, the recent Bill C-78, which introduces amendments to the Divorce Act, shows direct movement towards recognizing the collaborative process as a viable alternative dispute resolution process.

Indeed, settlement may be the most attractive option for litigants, as adjudication in the family court removes a great deal of control with respect to a family’s financial and structural future. Parties engaged in family law issues are typically dealing with a host of other emotional and financial uncertainties, which the traditional legal model is not able to address holistically. Additionally, many individuals involved in the family law system become frustrated with the expense, investment of time, and the lack of control they experience while litigating such personal matters.

In contrast, the collaborative process is focused on individual and family goals and interests and offers a method of achieving flexible yet legally binding solutions without pursuing costly and unpredictable litigation. Process goals include respectful communications, forthright exchange of documentation, confidentiality, and involvement of various collaborative professionals who strive for problem solving. The collaborative process is truly all encompassing and often includes various professionals trained in the collaborative approach, such as financial advisors, mental health professionals, social workers, and negotiation coaches/facilitators.

In the collaborative process, lawyers are specially trained to remain focused on settlement. The parties sign a Participation Agreement which governs their behavior throughout the process. The parties and their lawyers arrange “team” meetings which are structured to allow individuals to actively participate in creating solutions that are realistic for their family and which emphasize their main goals and interests. The main caveat of this approach is that it is essential that the parties are committed to resolution and are able to consider or appreciate the issues (to some extent) from each other's perspectives.

A primary critique of the collaborative process is the inevitability of an impasse between the parties resulting in either coercive bargaining or a failure of the process. However, there are several options available in the collaborative process to overcome such an impasse. The addition of neutral professionals to the collaborative process may decrease the chances of the parties reaching an impasse. Parties who are able to hear one concise position regarding their family’s financial matters directly from trained professionals may be less likely to fixate on one single financial position, and more likely to agree on a financial solution. Likewise, parties who have received the benefit of a social worker’s skillset may be less likely to escalate emotionally and dig in their heels when attempting to reach a settlement. In the case of a severe impasse that cannot be overcome by the collaborative team, one or two deadlocked issues may be referred to an outside mediator or arbitrator for recommendations or a final decision.

The rebuilding of a basic foundation of trust between parties is a central component to the collaborative process, even if this trust is limited in scope. Parties must learn how to work together, even if only with respect to limited situations, such as those relating to their children’s best interests. Once this trust building process begins – even if only in certain areas – impasses on other issues may be less likely to occur. Given the unique requirements of the collaborative process and the challenges associated with unique family dynamics, it may not be right for every family. However, unlike litigation, the collaborative process is flexible and ensures that both parties are able to be involved in the process of designing creative solutions that meet the unique needs and goals of their family. A meeting with a trained collaborative family lawyer will assist in determining whether the collaborative process is right for you and your family.

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NEW EMERGENCY ORDER - CKL RESTAURANTS CAN HAVE COVERED OUTDOOR SERVICE, IF MUNICIPALITY AGREES.

Ontario has issued a new emergency order and amending another under s.7.0.2 (4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, which will allow municipalities to quickly pass temporary bylaws for the creation and extension of patios and allow covered outdoor dining areas to serve customers.

Under the Planning Act, the process to pass temporary use bylaws to create or extend a patio could take several weeks or more.

As restaurants are currently only permitted to host dine-in guests on outdoor patios under Stage 2.  

Municipalities would still be responsible for compliance activities and ensuring proper health and safety practices, like proper physical distancing.

The government also amended an emergency order to clarify that outdoor dining areas can open if they have a roof, canopy, tent, awning or other covering.

At least two full sides of the outdoor dining area must be open to the outdoors and must not be substantially blocked in any way. If the outdoor dining area has a retractable roof, the roof must be fully open and at least one full side must be open to the outdoors and must not be substantially blocked in any way.

On June 24, Ontario announced the extension of the Declaration of Emergency to July 15, allowing the province to continue to make or amend emergency orders under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. The government continues to review all these emergency orders to determine when and if it is safe to amend or lift them as restrictions are eased and more places in the province reopen in a safe and measured way.

A full list of emergency orders can be found on the e-Laws website under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act and at Ontario.ca/alert.

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THE CKL ECONOMY IS RE-OPENING - BACK TO WORK - JASON'S AND CALVIN'S TOP 10 LEGAL TIPS FOR HIRING A NEW EMPLOYEE

As our local economy in the CKL gradually re-opens (hopefully), here are Jason's and Calvin's top 10 tips for hiring a new employee: 

[1]      SIGNED EMPLOYMENT AGREEMENT/OFFER:

Before the employee starts any work:

  • ensure you have the employee’s properly signed employment agreement or accepted offer of employment;

  • ensure the employment agreement/offer addresses everything necessary, including for termination (with and without cause), leaves of absence, police record check (if desired or mandatory), health and safety training, accessibility, job description (defining the position adequately), confidentiality, right to lay-off, rules for suspension, etc.;

  • consider if the employment agreement/offer should contain any non-competition and/or non-solicitation provisions to protect your business and assets in future; and     

  • provide a copy to the employee, before the employee starts in the position.

[2]    POLICE RECORD CHECK AND PROFESSIONAL REFERENCES:

  • obtain any required police record check (judicial record check, vulnerable sector check) and professional reference(s) prior to the employee starting any work for the position; and  

  • ensure the employment agreement/offer is conditional on those requirements and being satisfied with the results.  

[3]    HIRING AND RECRUITMENT:

  • ensure avoidance of discriminatory practices prohibited by the Ontario Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c. H. 19, as amended (the “Code”). 

[4]    BE CLEAR ABOUT WORK, ESPECIALLY REMOTELY (FROM HOME):

  • before the employee is permitted to work remotely, such as from home, ensure you have a workplace policy specifying eligibility, rules, requirements to do so (responsiveness, productivity, conduct, etc.), digital security and access, confidentiality and approval for overtime work, among other things; and

  • consider your own confidentiality requirements and ensure the employee is required to meet those obligations, including via online communications, using digital devices, etc.

[5]    BE SENSITIVE TO POTENTIAL DISABILITY ISSUES:

  • offer accessibility and accommodation during the recruitment and hiring process, if necessary; and 

  • request the employee to identify any potential accessibility or accommodation needs, if any, being very mindful of avoiding questions, or requesting information, prohibited by the Code. 

[6]    PROTECT CONFIDENTIALITY:

  • ensure you have the employee’s properly signed confidentiality acknowledgement, depending on the nature of your business and the importance of confidentiality to you and your clients, customers, employees, service providers, etc.   

[7]    PROTECT YOUR PROPRIETARY INTERESTS:

  • if you have proprietary intellectual property and/or information technology assets, ensure you have a proper acknowledgement signed by the employee to protect both your IT and IP assets in future, including digital assets.  

[8]    DISCLOSURE OF PERSONAL INFORMATION:

  • ensure the employee has properly signed a consent to the disclosure of the employee’s personal information (i.e., photographs, videos, etc.) for the purpose of marketing and/or promotion of your business, if desired, which also protects your third party marketing/promotion partners and agents.   

[9]    SET EXPECTATIONS:

  • provide the employee access to review your workplace policies before the employee signs the employment agreement/offer;

  • offer to review those with the employee and answer any questions; and

  • ensure the employee signs an acknowledgement verifying the employee’s review of your workplace policies (and any other key expectation for the employee in future) and agreement to adhere to those in future.

[10]  COMPLY WITH STATUTORY AND CRA RULES:

  • add the new employee to your CRA account for payroll source deductions, etc.

  • ensure the employee completes a TD-1 and a TD1ON Form;

  • complete the year-end T4A and other CRA requirements for the employee;

  • add the employee to your Workplace Safety and Insurance Board account, if applicable;

  • inform the employee where a copy of (Ontario’s) Occupational Health and Safety Act, R.S.O. 1993, c. O.1, as amended (the “OHSA”), is posted prominently in your workplace;

  • inform the employee where copies of both your heath and safety policy and your violence, harassment and sexual harassment prevention policy are posted prominently in your workplace, as required by the OHSA;  

  • give the employee a copy of the “Health & Safety at Work: Prevention Starts Here” poster, required by the OHSA, which must also be displayed prominently in your workplace at all times;

  • inform the employee of the names and locations of your workplace Joint Health and Safety Committee members, if applicable;

  • give the employee a copy of the “Employment Standards in Ontario” poster, published by the Ontario Ministry of Labour; and

  • arrange for the employee, including if he or she is a supervisor, to complete the mandatory health and safety awareness training required by the OHSA.

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EMPLOYEES ARE ENTITLED TO MAKE A COMPLAINT ABOUT SAFETY (COVID-19) CONDITIONS IN THE WORKPLACE, EVEN IF UNJUSTIFIED. ANTI-REPRISAL LAWS PROTECT THEM FROM TERMINATION FOR MAKING A SAFETY-RELATED COMPLAINT.

As we gradually re-open our CKL economy, employees may complain to the Ministry of Labour of Ontario about safety conditions in the workplace, justified or not. 

If so, they are entitled to do so and cannot be terminated if they do. 

Ontario's anti-reprisal laws protect employees for making safety-related complaints in the workplace, even if they are not justified.  

The Case: Le Safecross First Aid Limited, a recent decision of the Ontario Labour Relations Board

The Issue:

The employee made a complaint to his company about safety conditions in the workplace. He complained the conditions caused him to suffer ongoing knee pain and discomfort. 

Shortly after, he was terminated by the company.

The company argued there were other reasons for his termination, but ultimately the Board concluded that those reasons were unjustified and, therefore, the true reason must have been that the employee made a complaint about the safety conditions in the workplace.

The company alleged that it has made a final, written warning to the employee about his poor performance before he made the complaint. However, the employee disputed this and, because the company did not call sufficient evidence about this, the Board concluded that the final warning actually meant that the company, shortly before the termination, must have believed that a further warning, rather than termination, was justified. Therefore, the company, in trying to establish other reason(s) for termination other than the complaint, actually prejudiced its own case. An interesting feature about the case. 

Pursuant to the reprisal provisions of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Board ordered the reinstatement of the employee and that the company had to pay him his lost wages for the period between his termination and the reinstatement date.

The Lesson:

Employers should be careful when terminating an employee and consider all of the information on hand. If termination for cause is alleged, particularly, due consideration must be given to the justification for doing so. In this case, the employer's own strategy backfired. Employees are protected to make legitimate safety-related related complaints about the workplace.

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DOES MY BOSS NEED A GOOD REASON TO FIRE ME? WHAT ARE MY RIGHTS IF I AM FIRED?

Ultimately, employers do not need a reason to terminate an employee governed by Ontario law. They can do so “without cause” at any time, subject to the employee’s right to receive reasonable notice of termination, or pay in lieu of such notice. However, if an employer terminates an employee for cause, the employer may have no obligation to provide the employee with notice of termination or any pay in lieu thereof. Proving “cause” for termination is a high threshold in Ontario. The Courts routinely scrutinize an employer’s allegation of cause, often finding otherwise. Usually every case is unique and determined based on its own facts.  

Generally, an employee in Ontario is entitled to reasonable notice when his or her employer decides to terminate his or her employ without cause. Reasonable notice can be given either by ‘working’ notice (during which the employee remains employed) or by pay in lieu of reasonable notice. The amount of reasonable notice to which any employee may be entitled is case specific and depends on multiple factors, including age and level of responsibility.

Ontario employees terminated without cause are entitled minimum, statutory entitlements, including termination pay, under Ontario’s Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the “ESA”). Generally, most employees are entitled under the ESA to one week’s working notice or pay in lieu of working notice for each full year of service, up to a maximum of 8 weeks working notice or pay in lieu of working notice. This entitlement may vary depending on how many employees are terminated by an employer at any given time. In addition, employees employed for five years or more continuously may also be entitled to “severance pay” under the ESA – usually one week for each year of active service, up to a maximum number of weeks. 

These are the minimum, statutory rights only for Ontario employees. If there is no employment contract limiting an employee’s entitlement on termination without cause to the minimum standards under the ESA, or otherwise determining the entitlement, the terminated employee will be entitled to reasonable notice of termination of employment pursuant to the “common law”. Many lawyers refer to the ‘one month per year of service’ rule of thumb, but this is not the law. Rather, common law entitlement to reasonable notice is determined by several of factors, including: the nature of the employment, the level of responsibility, the length of the employment, the age of the employee, the availability of alternative employment and the circumstances surrounding the employer’s decision to terminate the relationship. Usually this is a very subjective assessment.

Perversely, in order to be awarded the full amount of any entitlement to pay in lieu of notice, an employee who is terminated is obliged by law to attempt to limit and/or “mitigate” his or her damages/losses from the termination by actively seeking alternative, comparable employment. Failure to do so may adversely impact the amount of common law reasonable notice to which the employee may be entitled. Only actual damages incurred are granted by the Court. Mitigated earnings during the notice period are usually deducted from the Court’s overall award. 

The situation for federally-regulated employees is different. Under the Canada Labour Code, most employees are entitled to two weeks’ notice of termination and, after twelve consecutive months of continuous employment, employees may also be entitled to severance pay equal to two days’ pay for each year of completed service, with a minimum benefit of five days wages.

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WHO'S IN YOUR CANADA DAY SOCIAL CIRCLE? DID YOU CHOOSE WISELY? YOUR CHEAT SHEET FOR CREATING YOUR SOCIAL CIRCLE - EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW. SIMPLE. FAST.

It's Canada Day 2020!

Welcome to the new normal of “social circles” in Ontario. 

Now we're told we should establish a family or social circle of no more than 10 people who can interact with one another without physical distancing. 

You can only be in 1 social circle.

Choose wisely.

You can hug non-household members, but only those in your social circle.

Everyone living in the same household is in a social circle.

People in the same social circle:

Why social circles are important

Close contact with people beyond your household is important to:

  • connect and be close with family and friends outside of your immediate household to reduce social isolation

  • support the mental health and wellbeing of Ontarians during the COVID-19 outbreak

  • allow some families to get additional support with child care, elder care and other personal needs

  • allow for more rapid contact tracing in the event of a case of COVID-19 in a social circle

We can trace and isolate COVID-19 quickly and effectively when you limit the number of people you come into close contact with.

Create a safe social circle

Follow these steps to create a safe circle.

Step 1: Start with your current circle: anyone you live with or who regularly comes into your household

Be sure to include anyone that would come into regular close contact with you and the people you live with.

This may be:

  • family members, including children

  • your roommates

  • another parent to your child(ren) that lives outside the home

  • a babysitter or caregiver

Considerations

If you add people outside of your household to your social circle, be sure to include anyone in their households as well. You may not see them often, but they would still be considered part of your current circle.

Remember that everyone in a household must be part of the same social circle.

Step 2: If under 10 people, you can add members to your social circle, including another household, family members or friends

As you add additional members, ask yourself:

  • Do they live with or come into regular close contact with anyone else? You may never see them, but they would still be considered part of your social circle.

  • What makes most sense for you or your household? That could include another household with similarly-aged children or family members that you want to spend more time with.

Considerations

If you live alone, you may want to start with family members or other close friends. People may, or may not, chose to participate in a social circle depending on their unique circumstance, and risk of developing complications from COVID-19, for example people:

  • over 70

  • with compromised immune systems

  • with underlying medical conditions

Remember that your social circle can include fewer than 10 people. It’s always best to start slow and safely add more members later.

Step 3: Get agreement from everyone that they will join the social circle

That means they agree to join only one circle, and physically distance with anyone outside the circle.

Essential workers can be part of a social circle, so long as the other members are aware of the risks and agree to them.

Step 4: Keep your social circle safe

To keep the people in your social circle safe:

  • continue to follow public health advice, including frequent hand washing and sneezing and coughing into a sleeve

  • continue to physically distance with anyone outside your circle by keeping two metres or six feet apart from them

If someone in your circle feels sick

They should immediately inform other members of the circle, self-isolate at home and not come into close contact with anyone, including other members of the circle.

They should also get tested.

Find an assessment centre to get tested for COVID-19.

Everyone else in the circle should closely monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19. If you believe you have been exposed to COVID-19 you should also be tested.

Step 5: Be true to your social circle

No one should be part of more than one circle.

 

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ONTARIO'S NEW "SHOP LOCALLY" CAMPAIGN ANNOUNCED TODAY. MORE SUPPORT TO CKL SMALL BUSINESSES. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW.

This is International Small Business. 

The Ontario government has now launched the "Shop Local! Shop Safe! Shop with Confidence!" campaign, encouraging Ontarians to support their local small businesses and to shop safely while doing so.

The province's campaign asks for mayors, local leaders and groups to support our small businesses by committing on social media to "Shop Local, Shop Safe, Shop with Confidence," while highlighting the best practices put in place by businesses to help keep shoppers safe while ensuring that the reopening of Ontario continues to be a success.

For example, the principles of the People Outside Safely Together (POST) Promise encourage small businesses to strictly follow health guidelines and reopen with appropriate measures in place, so consumers can shop safely and with confidence, including:

  • Washing and sanitizing hands

  • Maintaining physical distancing

  • Staying home if unwell

  • Practicing respiratory etiquette

  • Cleaning and disinfecting regularly

The province, in partnership with various health and safety organizations, has also released sector-specific guidelines in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. These documents help workplaces better understand their responsibilities and includes best practices they can use to help them comply with their legal obligation to protect the health and safety of workers.

DID YOU ALSO KNOW

  • Ontario is also providing significant support to small businesses, including an investment of $150 million in rural broadband which will help businesses access a greater pool of customers as well as significantly expanding the Digital Main Street platform to help small businesses create and enhance their online presence, helping them to adapt and meet the challenges of today. The province has also implemented a ban on commercial evictions to help small businesses that have been significantly impacted by restrictions due to COVID-19.

  • The Board of Directors of the POST Promise Corporation is comprised of senior level business leaders and public health experts from organizations such as: The Business Council of Canada, Retail Council of Canada, Canadian Global Cities Council, Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Building Owners and Managers Association of Canada, Restaurants Canada, McCarthy Tetrault LLP, The University of Toronto, Salt XC, and Medcan.

  • The Ontario Government reduced the small business Corporate Income Tax rate by 8.7 percent starting January 1, 2020. This will deliver up to $1,500 in annual savings to more than 275,000 businesses.

  • Ontario’s Small Business Success Strategy, launched prior to COVID-19, identified the need for small businesses across the province to build or enhance their online presence to remain competitive and expand their markets. COVID-19 has further reinforced the need for Ontario small businesses to embrace digital tools, including having online storefronts and expanding them. The Strategy also seeks to promote entrepreneurship in all of Ontario’s diverse communities.

  • To further support small businesses with physical storefronts impacted by COVID-19 restrictions, Ontario has implemented a Temporary Ban on Commercial Evictions

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NON-MEDICAL MASKS. SERIOUSLY, WHAT'S THE DEAL HERE? DO I HAVE TO BY LAW? WHEN? WHERE? YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED.

Do not use a medical (surgical) mask, such as an N95 – rather, make those available to frontline healthcare workers. If you have any, consider donating them to your local hospital, or other healthcare service.

At a minimum, use a non-medical (cloth) mask when you attend any public or private indoor place, like a grocery store, office, pharmacy or retail store, if there is any risk that you may be unable to maintain a minimum distance of six feet from any other person, including through no fault of your own and despite your best efforts.

Many health officials in Ontario and federally are now recommending we wear a non-medical mask anytime we visit an indoor space, like a business or public facility, even if there is no risk to maintaining physical distancing.

Wearing a non-medical mask is not legally required in Ontario, but that is likely to change very soon, at least for when we attend indoor private and public places.  

Remember that non-medical masks do you protect you from contracting the virus from another; rather, they minimize the opportunity for you to transmit it to another person, particularly if you are asymptomatic.

Do not share your non-medical mask with anyone else, like family members.

Contact your local health unit to obtain advice and instructions on how to prepare your own non-medical mask – there are video tutorials available, including on YouTube and other sources, but check with your health unit for the best source.

If you live in the CKL, here is a link about using your non-medical mask by our health unit: https://www.hkpr.on.ca/2020/04/20/covid-19-and-mask-use/

Follow the best practices published by your local health unit for using a non-medical mask, including cleaning methods. 

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KEY TIPS/STRATEGIES TO BUSINESS OWNERS AND MANAGERS TO RECOVER AND EMERGE MORE SUCCESSFUL THAN EVER IN PHASE 2 AND BEYOND

During our Phase 2 recovery in the CKL, business owners and managers face new and unprecedented challenges.  

Here are some tips to business operators for re-emerging to be more successful than ever: 

1. Shift focus from inputs to outcomes.

Before the pandemic, we focused on inputs: the conditions we thought would generate the desired results. Now, with most work conditions turned upside-down, leaders need to focus on outcomes.

Be clear about the outcomes, precise about the timeline, and specific about who is accountable for what – but be flexible about how things get done within that basic framework.

2. Trust your team.

We used to think people wouldn’t get their work done if they didn’t come into the office, weren’t supervised, and couldn’t meet face-to-face. We now know those assumptions aren’t necessary or helpful – people can work independently. They get work done because they choose to.

Remote leadership means respecting, and relying on, the autonomy and judgment of your team. Trust them – if you let your people decide to succeed, they will.

3. Stay motivated.

This period has been characterized by change and upheaval, it may have also seemed monotonous. To prevent fatigue inspire your team to shake things up.

Encourage experimentation with new ways of thinking and working. Adjust your daily routine. Try new set-ups that suit your lifestyle. Take a call on the treadmill or knit during a meeting. Take your laptop on the balcony or in the backyard. Even a small change can keep you and your team motivated.

4. Let your guard down.

The pandemic has brought the workplace into our homes and personal lives. While it may seem like your “worlds” are colliding, take this as an opportunity to learn about your colleagues and to embrace the diversity of your team. This can mean asking colleagues about their daily routine, their family, their home office, their hobbies and interests, or simply what they are watching on Netflix.

At the same time, the pandemic has affected everyone differently, and some people may be finding the adjustment harder than others. Keep that in mind when communicating with your team. Be open to personal connection, but mindful about privacy.

5. Be curious.

Working remotely can present unique challenges to your team members based on their personalities and communication styles. Some will assert themselves naturally while others may find it more difficult to do so. Introverts may find it easier to adjust while extroverts may struggle. Take care to engage your team directly in their preferred styles.

When leading a video meeting, welcome each person by name. Do this even with larger groups so that people will turn their cameras on. They will feel included and appreciated, which will enhance their contributions.

Cut the agenda in half and ask more questions. Leave room for “virtual white space”. Even if pauses can be uncomfortable, they enable ideas to emerge and create space for different views.

6. Raise the bar.

People change more easily than expected. The pandemic has shown us that we are adaptable and can be productive despite challenging circumstances. Drive momentum by leaning into change. Develop an innovation task force or identify change initiatives that may be accelerated. Organizational capacity for change has increased. Now is the time to raise the bar on what’s possible for you and your team.

Credit: 

McCarthy Tetrault LLP, Daniel Siracusa, published on Lexology.com on June 29, 2020

 

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COVID CRACKDOWN ON TOWING INDUSTRY - ONTARIO GOV. TASK FORCE ANNOUNCED TODAY

The Ontario government is establishing a task force to improve provincial oversight of the towing industry. The task force will help develop a regulatory model that will increase safety and enforcement, clarify protections for consumers, improve industry standards and consider tougher penalties for violators.

The government is taking this action in response to concerns raised about incidents of criminal activity and violence in the towing industry.

The task force will review a number of topics related to the towing industry, which could include provincial oversight of safety, consumer protection, improved industry standards, training and background checks.

As part of the review, the task force may consider opportunities for increased protections for consumers against the first-to-scene unethical business practices, insurance savings through a crackdown on insurance fraud rings or improved consumer choice for payments and repairs. The province is also reviewing ways to improve our transportation system by clearing accidents more quickly which would minimize lane reductions and reduce congestion on our highways.

Membership of the task force will include representatives from the Ministry of Transportation, the Ministry of the Solicitor General, the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, the Ministry of Finance and the Ontario Provincial Police. Once the task force has developed proposals for discussion and comment, it will be consulting with industry, municipalities, and public safety experts.

DID YOU KNOW

  • There are approximately 1,600 tow truck companies registered in the Ministry of Transportation’s Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration (CVOR) program. A valid CVOR certificate is required to operate a tow truck.

  • The Consumer Protection Act contains specific tow and storage services rules to help protect consumers who need a tow or roadside assistance in Ontario. The Ontario government is currently reviewing the Act and consumers can provide input through a survey until July 17, 2020, on a number of issues, including towing.

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RECALLED HAND SANITIZERS - TOXIC - AVOID THESE PRODUCTS.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control is advising people not to use hand sanitizer products manufactured by Eskbiochem SA de CV in Mexico, due to the potential presence of methanol (wood alcohol), a substance that is toxic if ingested. 

Methanol, when absorbed through the skin or ingested can cause nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, and is potentially life threatening, according to the BCCDC.

People most at risk of ingesting hand sanitizer include children, people with dementia, and people using it as a substitute for alcohol.

The warning follows a similar advisory from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week about the possible presence of methanol in products from the same company. 

The list of recalled products by the FDA are:

  • All-Clean Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-002-01)

  • Esk Biochem Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-007-01)

  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-008-04)

  • Lavar 70 Gel Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-006-01)

  • The Good Gel Antibacterial Gel Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-010-10)

  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-005-03)

  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-009-01)

  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-003-01)

  • Saniderm Advanced Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-001-01)

Consumers are advised to dispose of the product immediately in hazardous waste containers, rather than flushing or pouring the product down the drain.

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WHAT DO I DO IF THERE IS A COVID-19 POSITIVE CASE IN MY WORKPLACE? TAKE THESE STEPS........

Several U.S. States are introducing renewed lock-down measures. Kingston recently had an 18-case issue at a nail salon, resulting in 700 contact traces. 

What do you do if you have a COVID-19 in your workplace? 

Answers: 

Isolate the worker promptly

If the worker is in the workplace, isolate the worker (hopefully at a prearranged medical room or location). If available a mask should be provided to the worker immediately for them to wear, and for any other workers providing direct care (e.g. first aid). Other workers who may have been in close contact with the ill worker should also be immediately isolated.

Get public health and healthcare advice

In most Canadian jurisdictions, local public health authorities recommend /require that they be contacted when a worker reports being ill with symptoms and indicators of COVID-19. The worker’s own physician should be contacted by the worker, or if the situation appears to be an emergency, medical assistance should be sought promptly. Public health guidance may assist the employer in determining whether it is appropriate to send other workers home, which persons to notify, or even whether to close the workplace temporarily, especially if it appears multiple workers/members of the public/visitors have been impacted.

Public health may also require or recommend contact tracing in relation to those who have had ‘close contact’ or other contact with the worker. Before any potential COVID-19 outbreak in the workplace, employers should be maintaining a log of all workers and visitors in the workplace on a given day. This will allow for immediate and accurate contact tracing.

Testing and test results

Testing for COVID-19 should be requested to confirm any suspected case of the virus. Symptoms similar to COVID-19 can sometimes be the result of a bad allergic reaction or a serious case of other flu viruses, which do not have the same potential significant consequences. Transport of the worker to obtain medical assistance or to a testing facility should be provided, if possible. It should be emphasised to the worker/testing facility, that testing results are required promptly. The earlier testing results are provided to employers, the faster they can act with certainty to help control/minimise the spread of the virus. Communications, discussed below, should refer to testing being done, timing of expected results, and communications being updated as required, if it turns out a test result for COVID-19 is negative.

Communication

Whether a case of infection is suspected, or if it has been confirmed, a general principle of good workplace and crisis management is communication. Management or human resources/ health and safety should communicate known details promptly. The purpose and scope of communication will depend on the circumstances: to alert customers or clients that a suspected case has been identified and they are being informed at the earliest possible stage; to alert affected workers or visitors/others that they may have been in the workplace or in close contact with the positive case and they may wish to be tested, for example.

Any communication need not, and should not, provide the name of the worker being tested/ who is confirmed positive, or names of others being sent home from the workplace. General principles of privacy law and specific Canadian privacy statutes prevent disclosure of specific health information. It is best to communicate privately to those individuals who may have had close contact with the affected worker, and refer generally to the areas in which the worker may have worked or have been present. Reasonable information, to prevent harm, can be disclosed. The extent of disclosure should be sufficient to inform those who may have been exposed, but also protect the privacy of the worker who has or potentially has an illness. These obligations must be carefully balanced.

Employers should be aware that it is the policy of many provincial health officers to publicly identify the location of any COVID-19 outbreak, which includes identifying the name and physical location of the workplace. Even if an employer has taken all appropriate measures to limit the transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace, they should be prepared for negative media, customer and public attention due to the stigma associated with a COVID-19 outbreak. Those employers with internal or external public relations experts should plan to utilize them.

Prompt communication to workers and affected parties, provision of honest and direct information, and communication respecting immediate measures being taken, can significantly lessen the negative publicity and damage to reputation associated with a publicized case or outbreak.

Reporting to OHS/workers compensation

Generally, across Canada, no requirement exists to report a ‘positive COVID-19 test’ to OHS or workers compensation authorities, unless it is clear that the infection arose from an exposure at the workplace.

If the infection clearly or arguably arose from an exposure at the workplace, it may be reportable. For example, if there have been other positive cases, or if a significant COVID-19 outbreak has occurred at the workplace, it will be difficult for the employer to suggest the case did not arise out of the workplace. In many jurisdictions health care or illness arising from an exposure at the workplace must be reported to Workers Compensation, and once that has been done, it must also be reported to OHS authorities, joint health and safety committee, trade union.

OHS and Workers’ Compensation reporting obligations in the applicable jurisdiction should be consulted carefully for reporting obligations. Proposed amendments to Workers’ Compensation legislation to create a presumption of workplace infection in certain industries and circumstances have been made, in BC and Ontario, but are not yet law.

In addition, in some jurisdictions, such as British Columbia, an employer is required to have developed and implemented a COVID-19 Safety Plan before reopening. In the event of a COVID-19 outbreak in the workplace, regulators will likely be asking for copies of that plan and evidence its requirements were actually implemented.

Should we shut down all or part of the workplace?

Shutting down all or part of the workplace ought to be considered carefully, depending on all of the circumstances. A decision to shut down a workplace pending confirmation of a positive test, may be premature, but in our view should be the subject of advice from local public health authorities. Upon confirmation of a positive case, an assessment of the number and frequency of contacts, and other circumstances should occur promptly. Amongst questions to be asked:

  • When did the worker last attend at the workplace? (If there has been some significant passage of time since the last shift or the worker regularly works at home, the timing of contact with workers or objects in the workplace may be determinative);

  • Does the worker work in a crew? (If so, all crew members may have been exposed and may need to be sent home to self-isolate along with the ill worker);

  • Does the worker and other workers in close proximity to him or her work in specific area separate from others in the workplace? (It may be possible to identify that group and send them home along with the ill worker to self isolate);

  • Is it possible an entire worksite, such as an office, has had exposure due to working closely together and contact with the ill worker with physical work product or objects?

  • What engineering, administrative and cleaning controls are in place at the workplace that may have reduced the risk of transmission to other workers?

  • Was the worker wearing protective equipment as recommended or required? (This bears on the assessment of potential for exposure);

  • Can any area identified as having been accessed by the worker be cleaned promptly and thoroughly to permit continued operations?

OHS regulators may attend at the workplace (physically or by phone), and make the decision on shut down for you. OHS may attend after any report of a workplace-related exposure, work refusal, or due to a worker complaint.

Communication with OHS regulators respecting the employer’s assessment of all the above factors, as well as providing relevant written pandemic processes, and protective measures being taken, is important in determining whether a stop work order may be issued, and a shutdown is necessary, pending additional measures.

While it is hoped that most employers and managers will not receive a call reporting a positive case of COVID-19, the above steps can guide a successful employer response, to minimise business, reputational and health impacts, to the extent possible.

Credit: 

By Cheryl A. Edwards, Natasha Jategaonkar, Deanah I. Shelly and Paul D. McLean. Firm: Mathews, Dinsdale & Clark LLP, published on Lexology.com on June 29, 2020 

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RETURNING TO CANADA? 14-DAY STRICT QUARANTINE WILL BE EXTENDED TOMORROW - POLICE ENFORCEMENT INCREASED. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW.......

The federal government will soon extend the Quarantine Act restrictions requiring out-of-Canada travellers to isolate for 14 days upon their arrival in Canada. 

This requirement would otherwise expire tomorrow.  

Up to this time, all returning Canadians were told they had to self-isolate for 14 days and that they were prohibited from stopping anywhere along the way home.

Once isolated, the traveller was required to report the development of any COVID-19 symptoms to public health officials.

A person who normally lives with an elderly person or someone with a compromised immune system, for example, would have to quarantine elsewhere.

More recently, Canadians returning home from abroad who didn't have credible plans to self-isolate were required to stay at a quarantine facility.  

In addition, travellers returning from abroad  were required to wear non-medical masks or face coverings before they could proceed to their final destinations.

If a traveller develops symptoms during a quarantine period, or is exposed to someone who does, the 14 days of isolation begins again.

If the Canada Border Services Agency suspects that a returning traveller is not going to comply with the rules, it can alert the Public Health Agency of Canada, which can then flag the RCMP's national operations centre. The RCMP has been playing a coordinating role with local police during the pandemic.

Maximum penalties for failing to comply with the Quarantine Act include a fine of up to $750,000 and/or imprisonment for six months. If someone jeopardizes another's life while wilfully or recklessly contravening the act, the penalties are even greater: $1 million or three years in prison, or both.

The Canada/U.S. border has also been closed, at least until July 21, except for essential (commercial) travel.

 

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EMERGENCY ORDERS EXTENDED TODAY TO JULY 10 - RULES FOR INDOOR SPORTS FACILITIES RELAXED.

The Ontario government has extended all emergency orders currently in force that were made under s.7.0.2 (4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act until July 10, 2020, while removing restrictions that were limiting access to certain sport training facilities.

The extension of the emergency orders will allow key measures needed in the fight against COVID-19 to continue, including allowing frontline health care providers and public health units to redeploy staff where they are needed most, while providing the government with the tools it needs to successfully steer the province through the next stage of reopening and beyond.

In addition, the government has removed certain restrictions for Stage 2 indoor sports and recreational fitness activities facilities.

This will enable the facilities to be used by more businesses and organizations to train amateur or professional athletes, or to run certain non-contact amateur or professional athletic competitions.

In all cases, facility owners would only be able to permit activities to occur in a way that meets public health requirements.

These changes will also enable many sports and recreational organizations around the province to again offer  sport training programming, helping more people return to sport in Ontario.

On June 24, Ontario announced the extension of the Declaration of Emergency to July 15, allowing the province to continue to make or amend emergency orders under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. The government continues to review all these emergency orders to determine when and if it is safe to amend or lift them as restrictions are eased and more places in the province reopen in a safe and measured way.

A full list of emergency orders can be found on the e-Laws website under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act and at Ontario.ca/alert.

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CLK SENIORS - ANOTHER $14 M FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR PROGRAMS SUPPORTING YOUR WELL-BEING. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY.......

The Ontario government is providing up to $4 million for the Seniors Community Grant Program, a significant increase over last year.

This funding will help non-profit organizations, local services boards, or Indigenous groups develop programs for seniors that focus on combatting social isolation, promoting seniors' safety and well-being, improving financial security and making communities age-friendly.

This year's grants will range from $1,000 to $100,000 and will fund projects that will:

  • Help older individuals and couples receive the support they need in their community;

  • Ensure seniors are less at risk for neglect, abuse and fraud, and that their rights and dignity are protected​;

  • Ensure more older adults are connected and engaged, reducing social isolation;​​ and,

  • Provide more opportunities for older adults in employment and volunteering, achieving greater financial security and engagement within the community.

In the past, the Seniors Community Grant Program has supported community-based activities like seniors' fitness classes, lawn bowling, brain fitness activities, multicultural dance, along with a public education and awareness campaign that challenges the myths and stereotypes that portray older adults as frail, out-of-touch, technologically illiterate, and no longer employable.

The application period for the Seniors Community Grant Program is now open and will close on August 7, 2020. Unincorporated and incorporated not-for-profit organizations, local services boards, or Indigenous groups must submit applications to Transfer Payment Ontario (formerly Grants Ontario) online at Ontario.ca/GetFunding.

DID YOU ALSO KNOW

  • Since the Seniors Community Grant Program was established in 2014, nearly 1,900 grants have been provided, which have positively impacted the lives of more than half a million seniors.

  • By 2023, there will be three million Ontarians over the age of 65. Older adults are the province’s fastest growing demographic.

  • Questions about the program can be answered by contacting the Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility: email: seniorscommunitygrant@ontario.ca; toll free: 1-833-SCG-INFO (1-833-724-4636); TTY (for the hearing impaired): 1-800-387-5559; fax: 416-326-7078.

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CKL POST-SEC STUDENTS - SUPPORT YOUR COMMUNITY NOW AND GET PAID BY THE GOVERNMENT - TAKE ADVANTAGE OF PAID WORK EXPERIENCE TO HELP YOUR FUTURE.

The federal government has announced the launch of the Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG), which will support post-secondary students and recent graduates as they volunteer to serve in their communities’ COVID-19 response and gain valuable experience at the same time.

The CSSG will provide these volunteers with a one-time payment of between $1,000 and $5,000 based on the number of hours they serve.

To find not-for-profit organizations looking for help during the pandemic, post-secondary students and recent graduates can use the new I Want to Help platform, which also launched today.

The Government of Canada is also helping young Canadians find paid work placements and get the skills they need to start their careers. These activities include:

  • Supporting an additional 20,000 job placements for post-secondary students in high demand sectors. A new investment of $186 million in the Student Work Placement Program will help more post-secondary students across Canada get paid work experience related to their field of study. This funding is in addition to the $80 million that was announced on April 22, 2020.

  • Creating 10,000 new job placements for young people between the ages of 15 and 30 through the Canada Summer Jobs program. New funding of over $60 million will help expand the current work placement target from 70,000 to 80,000, creating 10,000 more placements for young people aged 15 to 30. The program provides wage subsidies to employers so they can give quality work experience to young Canadians and help them develop the skills they need to transition into the labour market.

  • Creating 5,000 new internships through Mitacs for college and university students across Canada with small and medium-sized businesses. Funding of $40 million will also help develop partnerships with new industries, and offer internships to students in more areas of study.

  • Increasing funding to the Digital Skills for Youth (DS4Y) program by $40 million to help post-secondary graduates gain professional work experience. DS4Y provides wage subsidy opportunities to help connect young people with small and medium-sized businesses and not-for-profits.

  • Creating over 3,500 new job placements and internships through the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy. New funding of $34 million, in addition to the over $153 million announced on April 22, will support programs serving high-demand sectors such as health, community services, and information technology, and help other sectors to recover.

  • Providing $6.7 million for the Computers for Schools Plus (CFS+) program. The partnership-based program refurbishes donated surplus computers and electronic devices, and provides them to schools, libraries, not-for-profit organizations, Indigenous communities, and low-income Canadians. It also offers paid, practical work internships for young people, through which they can develop advanced digital skills as well as experience in project management, teamwork, and communications.

  • Creating 5,000 to 10,000 more work-integrated learning opportunities through the Business + Higher Education Roundtable (BHER). The BHER will launch a national challenge for students to develop creative solutions in response to current and future sector needs as defined by Canadian industry. The national student challenge will help connect Canada’s small and medium-sized businesses with the next generation of talent in Canada.

The Canada Student Service Grant and I Want to Help platform are part of the nearly $9 billion in support for post-secondary students and recent graduates announced by the Government of Canada on April 22, 2020. The funding for Mitacs, DS4Y, CFS+, and the Business + Higher Education Roundtable also fall under this funding.

As part of its COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, the Government of Canada is providing support for students who want to make a difference in their communities, while gaining the skills and supports needed for future success whether that be in their studies or in the job market. This support also includes the Canada Emergency Student Benefit, and temporary changes to the Canada Summer Jobs and Canada Student Grants and Loans programs.

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DESIGNATING A BENEFICIARY FOR YOUR RRSPs - AVOID UNINTENDED TAX CONSEQUENCES AND A LEGACY OF LITIGATION FOR YOUR FAMILY.

Generally, you can designate a beneficiary for your RRSPs.

If you do, generally the RRSP will be paid to your designated beneficiary on your passing. The RRSP will not form part of your Estate and, therefore, not be subject to Ontario’s estate administration tax.

However, the problem: the federal Income Tax Act provides that, even though the RRSP will pass to your designated beneficiary (outside of your Estate), tax will be payable by your Estate on those funds as of your death (as if you had withdrawn those funds). This can create a burden on your Estate and its beneficiaries, which they may perceive as unfair. In other words, your designated beneficiary gets the RRSP funds, but not the corresponding tax burden created by the Income Tax Act on your death.

This often causes litigation, which you were likely trying to avoid in your Estate plan.

Careful estate planning is important, including considering potential tax issues that can arise on your death.

There are some ways to potentially avoid this, such as:

1.            Having an insurance policy, payable to your estate, for example, that will pay the tax burden on the RRSPs that you designate to someone on your death;

2.            Rolling over your RRSPs to your spouse or a dependent child, if you meet the specific requirements of the Income Tax Act to do so (consultation with an accountant or tax-experienced lawyer would be helpful); and/or

3.            Designate your Estate as the beneficiary of your RRSPs – although this will mean estate administration tax is likely payable on those funds, that is likely less of a financial burden to your beneficiaries than the alternative. The Estate can receive and pay the tax on the RRSP on your death using this approach. You can even specify in your estate plan that the net amount is payable to a specific person, such as the person you could have designated as your beneficiary on the RRSP.

Estate planning is important. To avoid unintended results and possibly creating conflict among your family member beneficiaries, creating your plan with a good, qualified estate planning lawyer is well worth the modest investment.

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WHAT IF I AM FIRED? WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT FOR SEVERANCE? "PAY IN LIEU" EXPLAINED.

If you are terminated by your employer and:

[1] firstly, there is no “just cause” for your termination; and

[2] secondly, you do not have a written employment agreement or, if you do, there is no clause restricting you to only the statutory notice of termination required by the Employment Standards Act, 2000 of Ontario (the “ESA”) (or, if there is a such a clause, it is not enforceable against you – refer to the checklist in our earlier blog about this),
then, in addition to your statutory entitlements on termination under the ESA, you are likely entitled to “common law” reasonable notice of termination.

An employee’s termination entitlements at “common law” generally are significantly more than those required by the ESA.

COMMON LAW” REASONABLE NOTICE - EXPLAINED:

Employment in Ontario is purely contractual between the employer and the employee. Employers can terminate employees at any time – they do not need a reason.

However, if they do terminate, the obligation of giving “reasonable notice” is imposed by the law of Ontario, both by the ESA and ‘judge-made’ law, subject to any written employment entered by the employer and the employee that varies or changes the general law of Ontario applicable to employment terminations.

Unless the employer and employee agree otherwise in their written employment agreement, the law in Ontario imposes an obligation on employers to give reasonable notice before terminating an employee generally. Either an employer must give this reasonable notice before terminating or, if they do not, they will have to pay to the employee an equivalent amount for that reasonable notice that was not given. Employees must give reasonable notice before resigning, too, but that notice is generally much shorter.  

Generally, “common law” reasonable notice by employers is: (a) determined by the Court, often in wrongful termination lawsuits commenced by employees; and (b) determined based on multiple factors in each case, such as the employee’s age, position, responsibility, years of service, compensation received and ability to find alternative employment.   

Effectively, an obligation to give reasonable notice is designed to lessen the impact of a termination, particularly for the employee. The employer has the opportunity to take the necessary steps to replace the employee and the employee can seek and obtain comparable, alternate employment.

If an employer terminates without providing reasonable notice, but had an obligation to do so, the employer has breached the parties’ employment relationship and will likely have to pay damages equivalent to the amount of reasonable notice that should have been provided to the employee.

These damages are commonly called “pay in lieu of notice” and are calculated based on all, or the global, compensation and benefits the employee would otherwise have earned had he or she actually continued to be employed during the reasonable notice period. Generally, this calculation will include salary, pension contributions, bonuses, commissions, equity grants, if any (such as stock options, etc.), corporate vehicle use and other taxable and non-taxable benefits, if they formed part of the employee’s regular and recurring compensation during employment.

These damages also incorporate and include the statutory notice required by the ESA. However, an employer must actually pay to the employee any statutory severance pay required by the ESA, by lump sum, based on a specific formula set out by the ESA, unless the employee agrees otherwise. In other words, the employer cannot satisfy its statutory severance pay obligation by giving notice of termination to the employee – rather, it must actually be paid.

There is no ‘golden rule’ to accurately predict the amount of reasonable notice for each case of termination. It is difficult to predict, often. Some lawyers use the ‘month-per-year’ rule of thumb, but that is not the law. Every case is different, generally, and must be analyzed based on the specific circumstances of the case. Generally, however, it is reasonably safe to assume that the longer the years of service, older the employee and more responsibility the employee had, the longer will be the reasonable notice period in the case.

Reasonable notice rarely exceeds two (2) years, but there are a few cases in which the Court exceeded this commonly accepted maximum for reasonable notice in Ontario.

Generally, an employee’s entitlement to reasonable notice will be dependent on that employee’s specific factors, all of which must be considered together in that particular case.

WHAT IS ‘WORKING NOTICE’?  

If an employer decides to give reasonable notice of termination before terminating (i.e., during the relationship), it is commonly referred to as ‘working notice’. Employers often use ‘working notice’ to avoid paying an amount to the employee for reasonable notice after termination – it can significantly reduce the liability of the employer. This way, they derive more value, too, because the employee will continue to work for the employer during the reasonable notice period (as opposed to being terminated abruptly, in which case the employer will likely have to pay the equivalent amount for the reasonable notice that was not given to the employee).  

During the working notice period, the employee continues to work ordinarily and the employer continues to pay the usual compensation and benefits – effectively, a status quo arrangement. The employer may progressively discipline the employee during the working notice period and, if proper “just cause” arises, may terminate the employee without compensation. Generally, the employee will be entitled to some time away from work, reasonably, for the purpose of searching for and obtaining alternative employment, such as attending job interviews, etc.

If the ‘working notice’ period is equal to or more than what the Court would determine to be reasonable notice of termination, the employer will not have to pay the employee terminated-related compensation when the working notice period ends. If the working notice is too short, the employer may still have to pay common law reasonable notice at the end of the working notice period. Every case has to be analyzed based on the specific circumstances.

CONCLUSION – HAVE A WRITTEN EMPLOYMENT AGREEMENT:

Most employers wish to avoid having to deal with “common law” reasonable notice – it is both unpredictable and very expense, especially if the employee sues the employer for wrongful termination alleging insufficient notice was given or paid to the employee.

In order to avoid the “common law” being applied to the employment relationship, there must be a written employment agreement properly entered by the parties before the relationship starts. If so, the employer can avoid the uncertain and potentially expensive outcome the common law may impose.

Therefore, from an employer’s perspective, at least, there should always be a written employment agreement entered, which clearly and simply outlines the employee’s entitlements in the event of a termination without cause, particularly if they may be less that what the “common law” may award to the employee. In addition to minimizing costs, enforceable termination provisions also offer more certainty to both parties if the relationship ends.

 

 

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ONT GOV SPENDING $13 MILLION ON NEW YOUTH AND FAMILY INNOVATIVE PROJECTS. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY........

The Ontario government is investing more than $13 million to support community- driven and youth-led projects to improve the well-being of children, youth, and families facing economic and social barriers.

The funding will flow through the 2020 Youth Opportunities Fund, a province-wide initiative that creates opportunities for young people and empowers and supports parents, guardians and caregivers. 

The 2020 Youth Opportunities Fund will provide financial support to 43 community organizations that will benefit youth aged 12 to 25, and their families. Projects receiving funding this year include:

  • Black Moms Connection ― focusing on economic empowerment for Black mothers across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

  • Immigrants francophones d'Afrique pour l'intégration et le développement (IFAPID) to support newcomers from Francophone African nations to navigate financial systems in Canada.

  • Earthling Art Collective ― to provide development and mentorship opportunities for youth leaving care and the justice system in Thunder Bay.

  • Miziwe Biik Aboriginal Employment & Training ― to help Indigenous youth in the GTA access employment and training opportunities in the skilled trades.     

The Youth Opportunities Fund provides funding through the following three granting streams:

  • Youth Innovations ― Provides youth facing multiple barriers with the resources they need to design and deliver new and inspiring solutions to issues that matter to them and their communities.

  • Family Innovations ― Invests in local, community-driven groups delivering culturally relevant projects that empower and support parents, guardians and caregivers who face barriers and challenges to child and family wellbeing.

  • System Innovations  Supports organizations that are strengthening the quality and responsiveness of systems so that they may work better for young people facing multiple barriers.

DID YOU ALSO KNOW

  • Youth Opportunities Fund grants are administered by the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

  • Applications for the 2021 Youth Opportunities Fund grants will open in fall 2020.

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IMPORTANT NEW CASE FAVOURABLE TO EMPLOYEES WITH WRITTEN EMPLOYMENT AGREEMENTS - ANOTHER JUDICIAL ATTACK ON EMPLOYERS TRYING TO LIMIT REASONABLE NOTICE.

Ontario’s Court of Appeal, our highest provincial Court, recently released a very important decision affecting the enforceability of written employment agreements and employers’ efforts to limit reasonable notice to only the statutory minimums in Ontario, rather than the judge-made, common law extended entitlements.

This case is favourable to employees who already have existing, written employment agreements. 

The employee sued his employer for wrongful dismissal. He moved for “summary judgment” (i.e., a decision without a trial, as a trial would allegedly be unnecessary in the case). The employee claimed entitlement to damages because the employer did not provide him with common law reasonable notice of dismissal. The employee took the position that the termination provisions in his employment contract were void because they contracted out of the minimum standards of the ESA. The employer acknowledged the cause termination provision in the employment agreement was void because it violated the ESA.

However, based on earlier cases in Ontario, the employer argued that the without cause termination provision was valid, and because the employer was not alleging cause, it could rely on the without cause provision as a stand alone, insulated provision of the contract.

The employee acknowledged that the without cause provision alone was valid and enforceable.

The issue was if the illegality of the cause provision rendered the without cause provision unenforceable.

The Court of Appeal addressed the key issue - whether the two clauses (“just cause” and “without cause”) should be considered separately or whether the illegality of the just cause provision impacted the enforceability of the without cause provision.

The Court said an employment agreement must be interpreted as a whole and not on a piecemeal basis. The correct analytical approach is to determine whether the termination provisions in an employment agreement read as a whole violate the ESA. While courts will permit an employer to enforce a rights-restricting contract, they will not enforce termination provisions that are in whole or in part illegal. In conducting this analysis, the Court of Appeal held it is irrelevant whether the termination provisions are found in one place in the agreement or separated, or whether the provisions are by their terms otherwise linked. The Court found that the motion judge erred because he failed to read the termination provisions as a whole and instead applied a piecemeal approach without regard to their combined effect.

The Court also concluded that it was irrelevant that the employer ultimately did not rely on the just cause termination provision. Rather, the enforceability of a termination provision must be determined at the time the employment agreement was executed.

The Court also disregarded the severability clause in the employment agreement, holding that a severability provision cannot have any effect on contract provisions that have been made void by legislation. Having concluded that the just cause and without cause provisions were to be understood together, the severability clause could not apply to sever the offending portion of the termination provisions.

This is an important decision for employment law in Ontario, favourable to employees, given that many employment agreements purporting to limit notice entitlement to only the Ontario statutory minimums remain in circulation.   

The Case:

Waksdale v. Swegon North America Inc., 2020 ONCA 391

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$100,000 DAMAGES FOR POSTING INTIMATE ONLINE PICS - THERE IS A CONSEQUENCE TO WHAT IS DONE ONLINE.

Publishing online very personal or intimate information or images of another may be a very costly mistake.

The Ontario Court is increasingly awarding significant damages against those who do so. For example, in a case called Jane Doe 464533 (the Plaintiff’s name cannot be disclosed), the Court ordered damages and costs totaling $141,000, plus an order for the offending Defendant to destroy any video or images he retains of the Plaintiff and prohibiting him from sharing any intimate images of her. He was also ordered not to communicate with the Plaintiff or any of her family.

The Plaintiff was a young woman in her late teens. Due to pressure from her ex-boyfriend, she agreed to share with him a sexually explicit video of herself. He promised he would not share it with anyone else. However, he subsequently posted the intimate video of her on a pornography Web site without her knowledge or consent. The police refused to criminally pursue the matter.

The Plaintiff eventually sued him for breach of her privacy and, specifically, for his public disclosure of embarrassing private information about her, after attempting to settle the matter with lawyers involved. The Defendant boyfriend did not ultimately defend the lawsuit, so the Court decided the case and awarded damages to the Plaintiff without a challenge to the Plaintiff’s claim. However, the Court reviewed the law and provided a well-reasoned, thorough decision, even though the Defendant did not defend the claim. The case is subject to a publication ban of the name of the Plaintiff.

The Plaintiff relied on fairly recent, emerging cases in Ontario recognizing an expanding ability for a person to sue another directly for breach of privacy, or for “intrusion upon seclusion”.

The Court awarded the Plaintiff $100,000 in damages (noting that she had limited her claim to this maximum amount in the lawsuit). These damages are much higher than the $20,000 “cap” that had previously been established by Ontario’s Court of Appeal in the earlier cases for intrusion upon seclusion.

Therefore, this case expands on privacy protection in Ontario and allows a person to civilly claim and be awarded significant damages when that person’s personal/private information is published online, provided this test is met.

To succeed, it must be proved that “the matter publicized or the act of the publication” is “highly offensive to a reasonable person” and is not “of legitimate concern to the public”.

Undoubtedly the law of privacy in Ontario continues to grow and expand. More cases will be needed to clarify and further develop this law, but this case clearly indicates the Court’s willingness to do so, including for “public disclosure of embarrassing private facts”.

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ONLY IN ONTARIO - SAYING "SORRY" CAN LIMIT OR ELIMINATE THE DAMAGES YOU PAY FOR DEFAMING ANOTHER.

In Ontario, unlike any other jurisdiction to my knowledge, we’ve made the act of saying “sorry” part of our legal system, for which there are legal ramifications, both for saying it and for not saying it.

In fact, we’ve made it legislation; namely, Ontario’s “Apology Act” (the “Act”).

This is uniquely an Ontario-only legal initiative.

Before the Act, if an apology were made, such as in a defamation case, that apology could be used against the alleged defamer in Court, including to prove the defamation itself and the harm it must have caused.

Not anymore.

Now, an “apology” is legally defined as “an expression of sympathy or regret” and not “an admission of fault or liability in connection with the matter to which the words or actions relate.”

Before the Act was passed, an “apology” statement could technically be construed as an admission of your guilt or wrongdoing.

The Act is great Ontario law, because now we can say “sorry” without fear, legally speaking.

In fact, in a defamation case, for example, making an apology often impacts the legal case, or least may reduce the damages awarded by the Court.

Making an apology impacts other types of cases, too, legally, so there is always advantage in considering making an apology and, if so, the maker need not be worried that it would legally be held against he or she – it can only help. 

The Act is fairly short and straightforward – the key parts are highlighted below. 

Apology Act, 2009

S.O. 2009, CHAPTER 3

Consolidation Period: From April 23, 2009 to the e-Laws currency date.

No Amendments.

Definition

1. In this Act,

“apology” means an expression of sympathy or regret, a statement that a person is sorry or any other words or actions indicating contrition or commiseration, whether or not the words or actions admit fault or liability or imply an admission of fault or liability in connection with the matter to which the words or actions relate. 2009, c. 3, s. 1.

Effect of apology on liability

2. (1) An apology made by or on behalf of a person in connection with any matter,

(a) does not, in law, constitute an express or implied admission of fault or liability by the person in connection with that matter;

(b) does not, despite any wording to the contrary in any contract of insurance or indemnity and despite any other Act or law, void, impair or otherwise affect any insurance or indemnity coverage for any person in connection with that matter; and

(c) shall not be taken into account in any determination of fault or liability in connection with that matter. 2009, c. 3, s. 2 (1).

Exception

(2) Clauses (1) (a) and (c) do not apply for the purposes of proceedings under the Provincial Offences Act. 2009, c. 3, s. 2 (2).

Evidence of apology not admissible

(3) Despite any other Act or law, evidence of an apology made by or on behalf of a person in connection with any matter is not admissible in any civil proceeding, administrative proceeding or arbitration as evidence of the fault or liability of any person in connection with that matter. 2009, c. 3, s. 2 (3).

Exception

(4) However, if a person makes an apology while testifying at a civil proceeding, including while testifying at an out of court examination in the context of the civil proceeding, at an administrative proceeding or at an arbitration, this section does not apply to the apology for the purposes of that proceeding or arbitration. 2009, c. 3, s. 2 (4).

Criminal or provincial offence proceeding or conviction

3. Nothing in this Act affects,

(a) the admissibility of any evidence in,

(i) a criminal proceeding, including a prosecution for perjury, or

(ii) a proceeding under the Provincial Offences Act; or

(b) the use that may be made in the proceedings referred to in subsection 2 (3) of a conviction for a criminal or provincial offence. 2009, c. 3, s. 3.

Acknowledgment, Limitations Act, 2002

4. For the purposes of section 13 of the Limitations Act, 2002, nothing in this Act,

(a) affects whether an apology constitutes an acknowledgment of liability; or

(b) prevents an apology from being admitted in evidence. 2009, c. 3, s. 4.

5. Omitted (provides for coming into force of provisions of this Act). 2009, c. 3, s. 5.

6. Omitted (enacts short title of this Act). 2009, c. 3, s. 6.

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ONTARIO STATE OF EMERGENCY EXTENDED TO JULY 15. ALL ORDERS REMAIN IN EFFECT.

In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Ontario government has extended the provincial Declaration of Emergency under s.7.0.7 of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act to July 15, 2020. 

The provincial Declaration of Emergency enables the government to make, and as needed amend, emergency orders that protect the health and safety of all Ontarians. Emergency orders in force under the Declaration of Emergency include those allowing frontline care providers to redeploy staff to areas most in need, limiting long-term care and retirement home employees to working at one home, and enabling public health units to redeploy or hire staff to support the province's enhanced case management and contact tracing strategy. These measures continue to be needed to protect seniors and other vulnerable populations from the threat of COVID-19. The extension of the Declaration of Emergency will allow the province to make or amend emergency orders as needed as it continues to ease restrictions in support of its phased reopening.  

In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the government will continue to monitor public health trends related to COVID-19 and assess on an ongoing basis whether the provincial Declaration of Emergency needs to be extended further. The government will also continue to review emergency orders currently in place to determine when and if it is safe to amend or lift them as more places in the province are allowed to reopen in a safe and measured way.

As of June 24, 33 public health unit regions have entered Stage 2 of the Framework for Reopening our Province, allowing more businesses and services to open and getting more people back to work. The Windsor-Essex County public health unit region remains in Stage 1 and the situation in the region will continue to be assessed on an ongoing basis.

A full list of emergency orders can be found on the e-Laws website under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act and at Ontario.ca/alert.

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FEDS EXTEND TEMPORARY LAY OFF PERIOD FOR FEDERALLY-REGULATED EMPLOYEES (BANKS, TRANSPORTATION, TELECOMMUNICATIONS, ETC.). WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY ABOUT LAYOFFS DURING THE PANDEMIC.

The federal government has announced important changes to the Canada Labour Standards Regulations, which temporarily extend the permitted temporary layoff period for federally regulated employees laid off due to the pandemic.

According to a government press release, the amendments temporarily extend these time periods by up to 6 months as follows:

  • for employees laid off prior to March 31, 2020, the permissible time period is extended by 6 months or to December 30, 2020, whichever occurs first; and

  • for employees laid off between March 31, 2020, and September 30, 2020, the time period is extended until December 30, 2020, unless a later recall date was provided in a written notice at the time of the layoff.

These changes, which came into effect on June 22, 2020, do not apply to employees who are covered by a collective agreement that contains recall rights.

These changes also do not apply to employees whose employment had already been terminated prior to the coming into force of the amendments.

More information is available here:  

https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/news/2020/06/backgrounder.html

The amended regulations were not yet available as of 5:00 p.m. E.D.T. on June 23, 2020.

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HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE TO REPAY THE CERB? WILL I GET IN TROUBLE? HOW DO I REPAY? CAN I REPAY OVER TIME? EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW IF YOU WERE NOT ELIGIBLE FOR THE CERB, BUT RECEIVED IT.

Find out if you are entitled to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit here:

https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/benefits/apply-for-cerb-with-cra/who-apply.html

The CERB is now available for a total of 24 weeks. 

When do you have to repay the CERB?

You must repay the CERB if you no longer meet the eligibility requirements for the 4-week period in question.

Choose the situation that applies to you

Earned employment or self-employment income earlier than expected

Applied for and got the CERB from both EI/Service Canada and from the CRA for the same eligibility period

Applied for the CERB but later realized you’re not eligible

None of the above

This could happen if:

  • you earned employment or self-employment income earlier than expected

  • you applied for the CERB but later realize you’re not eligible

  • you receive a CERB payment from both Service Canada and the CRA for the same period

If you applied for the CERB twice in one period

If you applied for the CERB or EI with Service Canada, and then later applied for the CERB with the CRA for the same eligibility period, you applied twice. If this happens, you will have to return or repay the overpayment.

Do I have to repay my CERB if I get rehired or find a new job?

You are required to repay the CERB if you no longer meet the eligibility requirements for the 4-week period in question. For example, you applied for the 4-week period of April 12 to May 9. At the time you applied, you expected to have little or no work or income for that 4-week period. But you have just found out your employer has rehired you and will give you back-pay for that same 4-week period. In this situation, you will need to repay the CERB for that 4-week period of April 12 to May 9.

Repayment conditions

The conditions around paying back the CERB are different if you’re paying back your first eligibility period, or a subsequent period.

For your first eligibility period

If your employment or self-employment income was $1,000 or less (before deductions) for at least 14 days in a row during this 4-week period, you do not need to repay the CERB.

For subsequent eligibility periods

You will need to repay the $2,000 for an eligibility period if you earned or will earn more than $1,000 (before deductions) from employment or self-employment income during that period.

Recognize CERB repayment scams

Beware of fraudulent emails, texts or calls claiming to be from the CRA about repaying the CERB or requesting personal information.

For more on what to expect when we contact you, and what information we ask for, go to Protect yourself against fraud.

How to return or repay the CERB

If you received the CERB from the CRA, you must send your payment back to the CRA. If you received the CERB from Service Canada, you must send it back to Service Canada.

Send your payment back to the CRA

If you were paid by direct deposit or don't have the original CERB chequeIf you still have the original CERB cheque

Send your payment back to Service Canada

If you received your CERB from Service Canada (EI), you must send it back to Service Canada.

Impact on tax slips

The CERB is taxable. You will receive a T4A tax slip on the amount of CERB you receive.

If you repay the CERB, the CRA won’t issue a T4A for that payment. To ensure that we don’t issue slips improperly, you need to repay your CERB before December 31, 2020.

If you need more time to pay

If you want to repay your CERB but need more time, contact the CRA to ensure you have an agreed upon payback schedule by December 31, 2020.

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CKL BARS AND RESTAURANTS - THE RULES FOR EXPANDING OR BUILDING A NEW OUTDOOR PATIO DURING PHASE 2. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW.

Bars, restaurants and other approved liquor sales licensees in the CKL may be permitted to temporarily extend the size of their existing licensed patio, or temporarily add a new licensed patio.

Ontario has authorized these extensions and additions within the approved period, without a separate licence or approval, provided all of the following conditions are met:

  • the physical extension of the premises is adjacent to the premises to which the existing licence to sell liquor applies;

  • the municipality in which the premises is situated does not object to an extension;

  • the licensee is able to demonstrate sufficient control over the physical extension of the premises; and

  • there is no condition on the liquor sales licence prohibiting a patio.

Accordingly, every liquor sales licensee in the CKL should review their licences for any relevant restrictions and ensure that any extension or addition is designed to be adjacent to the licensed area and within the licensees' control.

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WHAT OUR RESTAURANTS AND BARS MUST LEGALLY DO TO PROTECT OUR SAFETY AS WE RESUME OUR DINING OUT ENJOYMENT DURING PHASE 2. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW.

Restaurants and bars in the CKL are required legally to take appropriate measures to ensure physical distancing of at least two metres between patrons from different households, including by:

  • using reservations;

  • limiting the number of patrons allowed in the outdoor space at one time;

  • ensuring enough space between tables (including to allow for movement); and

  • limiting access to any indoor facilities, including accessing the patio/outdoor dining area, picking up or paying for food, using washrooms or other health and safety purposes.

Ontario has also published resources, best practices and information for all restaurant and food-services workers to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 at work.

Under those requirements, servers, bartenders, cashiers, hosts, chefs, dishwashers, administrators, drive-thru operators, and maintenance staff should, among other recommendations:

  • wash their hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer, including after making or receiving deliveries, touching high-touch areas, and after removing gloves;

  • sanitize surfaces and equipment often, between each transaction if possible;

  • wear gloves when interacting with high-touch areas, if possible;

  • wash clothes when they return home; and

  • immediately notify their supervisor if they are ill, complete a self-assessment and follow the instructions contained there.

In addition to facilitating clean worksites by providing access to materials and time for proper sanitization, employers can help minimize contact with customers (including by minimizing or eliminating cash and at-the-door transactions), assign staff to ensure physical distancing is maintained in congested areas, use floor markings and barriers to manage traffic flow, refuse to accept customers' re-usable bags and containers, install barriers (such as plexiglass or markings on the floor) to ensure distance between customers and cashiers, stagger shifts and lunch breaks, and hold meetings outside.

Employers will be asked to track where their employees have worked. If an employee tests positive for COVID-19, the local public health unit will ask employers to provide information on where the employee worked as well as the contact information of any other employee who may have been exposed.

All employers must post and communicate COVID-19 policies to workers. These policies should cover how the workplace will operate, including, but not limited to:

  • the sanitization of the workplace;

  • how workers report illnesses to their employer;

  • how to ensure physical distancing;

  • how work will be scheduled; and

  • screening measures.

Ontario has also announced and published a workplace safety plan guide with a template to help each employer develop their own safety plan that is right for the risks and appropriate controls specific to the employer's workplace.

Here is a link to the guide: https://www.ontario.ca/page/develop-your-covid-19-workplace-safety-plan?_ga=2.59471464.411901752.1592266532-490993204.1575911632

Bars and other approved liquor sales licensees should also temporarily extend the size of their existing licensed patio, or temporarily add a new licensed patio. Ontario has authorized these extensions and additions within the approved period, without a separate licence or approval, provided all of the following conditions are met:

  • the physical extension of the premises is adjacent to the premises to which the existing licence to sell liquor applies;

  • the municipality in which the premises is situated does not object to an extension;

  • the licensee is able to demonstrate sufficient control over the physical extension of the premises; and

  • there is no condition on the liquor sales licence prohibiting a patio.

Accordingly, every liquor sales licensee in the CKL should review their licences for any relevant restrictions and ensure that any extension or addition is designed to be adjacent to the licensed area and within the licensees' control.

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DOING BUSINESS IN THE CKL - TIMES HAVE CHANGED - YOU NEED PROTECTIVE, USEFUL WORKPLACE POLICIES - WE'VE GOT YOU COVERED - 25 POLICIES; FULL COMPLIANCE WITH THE LAW - A FIXED PRICE. LET'S GET STARTED.

The "new normal" in the CKL means transforming how we conduct business, both in our stores and online. 

Conducting business has changed....and will continue to change. 

It is vital for businesses and organizations to update their business practices, particularly in terms of human resource management.  

Employers must create and establish workplace policies in your workplace. Effective workplace policies are designed not only to ensure compliance with all applicable legislation governing your workplace, but to achieve better overall employment management practices.

A few workplace policies are legally mandatory, including with respect to workplace violence, harassment and sexual harassment; the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities legislation; and protocol related to breaches of privacy. It is not enough to ensure you are complying with the legislation; you are also legally required to have written policies effective in your workplace, and these policies must include certain statements.

In addition to ensuring compliance with legislation, the functional benefits of having properly structured and customized workplace policies include:

  • more effective and better management your employees;

  • setting and establishing the employees’ expectations, including to minimize wasted managerial time dealing with matters that are addressed by your Workplace Policies; 

  • better protecting your business from manipulation or being taken advantage of by employees;

  • better protecting your business from litigation, including because the Court now expects workplace policies to be established in the workplace and, if they are not, it often affects the outcome of a litigation dispute (negatively for the employer party);

  • ensuring that you avoid regulatory sanction for not having proper workplace policies in effect (e.g. a spot audit or investigation by the Ontario Ministry of Labour); and 

  • peace of mind that you are not only legally compliant with your employment obligations, but pro-actively organized and maximizing your effective management for the benefit of everyone in your workplace.

These workplace policies should be implemented: 

  • Workplace Violence, Harassment and Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy

  • Joint Health and Safety Committee Policy

  • Health and Safety Policy

  • Accommodation on the Basis of Disability Policy

  • AODA – Customer Service and Standards Policy

  • AODA – Employment Standards Policy

  • AODA – Integrated Accessibility and Information and Communications   Standards Policy

  • Privacy Breach Protocol and Policy

  • Overtime Policy

  • Personal information Protection Policy

  • Computer, Email and Internet Use Policy

  • Personal Communications and Social Media Policy

  • Conduct and Behaviour Policy

  • Discrimination and Diversity Policy

  • Smoking, Vaping and Cannabis Policy

  • Absenteeism Policy

  • Vacation and Vacation Pay Policy

  • Holiday Policy

  • Employment Expense Reimbursement Policy

  • Conflict of Interest Policy

  • Police Record Checks Policy

  • Workplace Investigations - Administrative Leaves and Suspensions

  • Deemed Legal Compliance Policy

  • Mental Health First Aid Officer Policy

Those that are not required by law are discretionary, elective policies, which we recommend you choose to establish in order to better manage your workplace.

Should you choose to proceed with purchasing the full suite, we would prepare them for you, addressing your specific needs and objectives. We may require further information from you, and will be in touch when we need any information or clarification.

Upon completion, we would provide to you a digital version of your Workplace Policy Manual. Once COVID-19 restrictions lift, we would also provide you with a hard-copy Workplace Policy Manual, which you would make available in your workplace, including for employees to review initially and refer to in future.

In addition to your Workplace Policy Manual, we would also provide to you a complementary Employment Management Assistance binder (your “EMA binder”), which would contain employment management resources specifically designed to enhance and complement your Workplace Policy Manual. Like your Workplace Policies Manual, the EMA binder would be provided to you in both hard-copy and digital formats for your convenience.

Purchasing a suite of workplace policies is a smart investment in the future of your organization, including because it potentially avoids costly legal services in future if a dispute arises, or worse, if an MOL investigation or litigation claim is commenced. The expense of this exercise is reasonable when you consider the benefit to you and your workplace and the potential avoidance of much higher legal expense in future. Furthermore, we would prepare your full Workplace Policies Manual and EMA binder for a fixed fee that we would quote to you in advance.

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CKL BUSINESSES - FREE, COMPUTER MODULE TRAINING FOR YOUR EMPLOYEES TO TARGET SYSTEMIC DISCRIMINATION AND PROMOTE DIVERSITY IN YOUR WORKPLACE. FREE. EASY. CERTIFICATE REWARDED. CHECK IT OUT.

CKL businesses and organizations - discrimination and diversity in your workplaces is paramount. 

To promote inclusiveness and target systemic discrimination, did you know that you can arrange for all of your employees, including management, to complete training to promote understanding and compliance with the (Ontario) Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, S.O. 2005, c 11 (the “AODA”) and the (Ontario) Human Rights Code (the “Code”). The training is designed to help every employee learn about his or her rights and responsibilities under both the AODA and the Code, including how they affect each employee in the workplace.

An excellent (online) training program is offered by the Ontario Human Rights Commission. The program is called “Working Together: The Code and the AODA”. The program is free. The Web site to use the training program is:

http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/learning/working-together-code-and-aoda

This five--part e-learning series (approximately 20 minutes) is for public, private and not-for-profit sectors and also completes the training requirements for section 7 of the Integrated Accessibility Standards of the AODA, which you must comply with, by law.  Each video is approximately four minutes in duration, as follows:

There is a quiz at the end of each video for each employee to complete, in order to obtain the certificate.

After each employee completes the training program, being a five-part e-learning series, a certificate is issued to that employee. You would obtain and retain these certificates for every employee.

Having certificates for each employee will not only minimize the risk of potential non-compliance and improve the workplace environment generally, but having the training/certificates available will likely assist you in the event of any potential claim or issue in future – that is good risk management practice.

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CLK BUSINESSES - DYK THERE IS FREE, ONLINE TRAINING FOR YOU AND YOUR EMPLOYEES FOR COVID-19 SAFETY AND OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY GENERALLY? FREE. EASY. CHECK IT OUT. MAXIMIZE SAFETY; MINIMIZE LIABILITY.

CKL businesses and organizations, did you know that you can arrange for your employees , including management, to complete training to promote understanding and compliance with the (Ontario) Occupational Health and Safety Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. O.1 (“OHSA”) .

The training is designed to help every employer and employee learn about his or her rights and responsibilities under the OHSA, including how they affect each employer and employee in the workplace.

An excellent (online) training program is offered by the (Ontario) Ministry of Labour. The program is called “Worker Health and Safety Awareness in 4 Steps”. The program is free.

The Web site to use the training program is:

https://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/elearn/worker/foursteps.php

This four-part e-learning series (approximately 16 minutes) is for public, private and not-for-profit sectors. Each video is approximately four minutes in duration, as follows:

  • Get on Board
  • Get In the Know
  • Get Involved
  • Get More Help

There is a quiz at the end of each video for each employee to complete, in order to obtain the certificate.

After each employee completes the training program, being a four-part e-learning series, a certificate is issued to that employee. You would obtain and retain these certificates for every employee.

Having certificates for each employee will not only minimize the risk of potential workplace injury, safety violation or non-compliance with the OHSA, but also improve the workplace environment generally.

Having the training/certificates available will also likely assist you in the event of any potential claim or issue in future related to workplace injury or safety contravention – that is good risk management practice.

As you know, workplace injury can create significant liability issues for an employer – every step you can take to minimize that risk and potential exposure is wise. 

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THE NEW WAGE SUBSIDY EXTENSION - KEY INFORMATION NOW AVAILABLE FROM THE CRA - WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE CEWS

When first introduced, the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (the “CEWS”) was to be available for 12 weeks ending June 6, 2020, with the possible extension by regulation to no later than September 30, 2020. The initial 12 week period was comprised of three separate qualifying periods (i.e., Period 1 – March 15, 2020 to April 11, 2020; Period 2 – April 12, 2020 to May 9, 2020; and Period 3 – May 10, 2020 to June 6, 2020).

On May 15, 2020, the Government of Canada announced Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (the CEWS) would be extended to August 29, 2020.

However, details were not provided at that time.

Fortunately, the Canada Revenue Agency (“CRA”) has now confirmed that:

  1. the extension will be broken down into three separate four week qualifying periods (i.e., Period 4 – June 7, 2020 to July 4, 2020; Period 5 – July 5, 2020 to August 1, 2020; and Period 6 – August 2, 2020 to August 29, 2020);

  2. “the eligibility criteria will apply for the current period”, meaning, presumably, that the criteria (including the 30% revenue decline threshold) for Period 4 will be the same as for Period 3, subject to the “prior reference period” for Period 4 being June 2019 rather than May 2019;

  3. any potential changes to the eligibility criteria would commence as of Period 5 and/or Period 6.

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WHAT IF THERE IS A COVID CASE IN MY WORKPLACE? WHAT YOU NEED TO DO.

Despite the wonderful weather, COVID-19 still pervades our community, including through asymptomatic carriers. 

What you should do if there is a case of COVID-19 in your workplace: 

Employees/Co-workers

  • Anyone with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 must NOT go to work and should self-isolate at home. If contact with a positive case is confirmed, further directions will be provided by the Health Unit

  • Physical distancing rules at work mean employees should not be in close contact with each other. If, however, an employee is identified as being a close contact of a co-worker who is confirmed or suspected of having COVID-19, the person should immediately take Ontario’s online COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool to see what further care is needed or call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 The employee may also be contacted by the Health Unit with further directions on what to do, including self-isolating or self-monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19.

  • Employers are strongly urged to support the COVID-19 instructions your employees have received from any health care provider. This protects the health of your workers and customers

  • Encourage everyone at work to continue following physical distancing rules (staying 2 metres or 6 feet apart from others) and regularly wash hands with soap and water

  • Continue to frequently clean and disinfect commonly touched or shared surfaces at work, including tools, equipment and workstations.

Customers/Clients

  • Follow direction from the Health Unit about any extra precautions that are needed to reduce the risk of illness. These directives can include: getting employees/staff who were in close contact with the customer/client to self-isolate or self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms, increasing cleaning and disinfecting at your workplace, and other measures

  • Continue to keep employees and customers safe:

    • Follow provincial rules that specify how your business/workplace can operate (for example, only offer curbside pickup, limit number of people in store, etc.).

    • Ensure a 2-metre (6-foot) distance is kept between people.

    • Reduce overcrowding.

    • Increase your online or phone services

    • Offer curb-side delivery

    • Make hand sanitizer available for customers at entry and exit points.

Credit

Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge Health Unit

https://www.hkpr.on.ca/2020/06/09/reopening-your-business-during-covid-19-2/

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THE NEW SCHOOL PLAN - HUH??????? YOUR GUESS IS AS GOOD AS MINE.

The Ontario government announced  the release of a safety plan for the 2020-21 school year. 

According to the government press release, school boards will be asked to plan for the following three scenarios:

1. “Normal school day routine with enhanced public health protocols - Students going to school every day, in classes that reflect standard class size regulations.

2. Modified school day routine - Based on public health advice, an adapted delivery model has been designed to allow for physical distancing and cohorts of students. Under this model, school boards are asked to maintain a limit of 15 students in a typical classroom at one time and adopt timetabling that would allow for students to remain in contact only with their classmates and a single teacher for as much of the school day as possible. This model would require alternate day or alternate week delivery to a segment of the class at one time.

3. At home learning - Should the school closure be extended, or some parents choose not to send their child back to school, school boards need to be prepared to offer remote education. Remote education should be delivered online to the greatest extent possible, including the establishment of minimum expectations for students to have direct contact with their teacher at the same time on a regular basis, also known as synchronous learning. Synchronous learning can be used as part of whole class instruction, in smaller groups of students, and/or in a one-on-one context.”

The government also:

  • announced $4 million in funding for school cleaning, cleaning protocols and the hiring of additional custodial staff in September 2020; and

  • announced $736 million of additional funding in public education for the 2020-21 school year. 

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STILL WORKING AT HOME? COULD IT BE THE "NEW NORMAL" - LEGAL TIPS TO MAXIMIZE THE EXPERIENCE, BUT MINIMIZE THE LIABILITY EXPOSURE. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW, LEGALLY, ABOUT REMOTELY WORKING IN FUTURE.

As we gradually re-open in the CKL, many of us remain working at home remotely.

In fact, for some of us, this may be the “new normal”, even as our workplaces fully re-open to traditional operations.

Working at home has its own issues, legally speaking.

Here is a tip sheet for best practices for working at home, specifically about:

  • managing time and working overtime;  

  • ensuring productivity and accountability;  

  • accommodation to the home work environment; and

  • security, confidentiality and privacy issues.  

“Hours of Work and Overtime

The Employment Standards Act, 2000 (Ontario) (the “ESA”) sets out limitations for hours of work for many positions and industries. These ESA limitations continue to apply to remote workers. Employers should be mindful that remote workers may end up working longer hours, either by choice, mistake or simply in a good faith effort to be more productive. It can be easier for remote workers to allege, maliciously or innocently, that they are owed additional compensation or overtime of which the employer was unaware and had not expected. In a remote setting, the employer will often be without the usual level of control, paper records or tracking to refute what has been alleged.

In order to avoid contravening the ESA and minimize liabilities from claims for overtime pay, we recommend that employers draft a work-from-home (“WFH”) policy, which will help establish clear expectations for your employees. Such a policy should do the following:

  • Set out expectations and limitations regarding hours of work per day or week, and also set out specific working hours during the day;

  • Require employees working flexible hours to track the hours they work each day to limit the amount of work performed and to ensure they are generally not exceeding the daily or weekly maximums;

  • Require that any overtime be preapproved in writing, with an explanation as to the nature of the work that is being performed (and even an explanation as to why such work could not be completed within “regular” hours); and

  • Require that employees submit a written report regarding the overtime that has been performed (and description of the work that was performed).

Employers could also consider setting “dark hours,” depending on the nature of their business, when no employees should be logging on or responding to emails or calls.

Employee Productivity and Accountability

Another concern with remote working is maintaining and tracking employee productivity and accountability that would normally be expected and demanded in a regular working environment. It is understandable that employee productivity may drop when working from home because of technical reasons, distractions, lack of office resources, communication difficulties and the inability to complete certain tasks remotely.

To ameliorate these concerns, we recommend that employers institute or consider the following:

  • Team meetings and check-ins held no less than bi-weekly;

  • Using time tracking software, login software or requiring employees to self-monitor and self-report (a journal) their time during the workday;

  • Using an instant messaging service such as Microsoft Teams or Google Hangouts, etc.

  • Setting out working hours per day or week, noting, however, that flexible hours may also lead to higher productivity if the employee has other commitments during the day;

  • Offering support to employees and making sure they have the right tools;

  • Finding ways to encourage and recognize your employees, even if virtually or remotely;

  • Implementing a clear process for dealing with unproductive employees, which can include setting out clear short-term and long-term goals with the employee, and establishing regular check-ins with an unproductive employee to see if they are meeting their goals.

If you are considering disciplining an employee working from home, the usual best practices should apply. These include documentation, progressive discipline (e.g. verbal warning, written warning, suspension, termination) and performance improvement plans as appropriate.

Always remember that flexibility in respect of remote work will place greater strain on supervision. Supervising managers can be assisted by delegating some of their work to others so that they can focus on supervising and confirming outputs.

Accommodation

Employers also have to consider the struggles and hardships that some employees may face as a result of the pandemic and the shutting down of various services, such as schools and daycares. For employees who are parents, guardians or have any dependents, including seniors, quarantine presents additional burdens and responsibilities. The employer has a duty to accommodate such employees to the point of undue hardship.

In the present circumstances, accommodating based on family status may include allowing employees to work flexible or alternate hours or even reduced hours on an unpaid basis.

We recommend that the employer’s WFH policy establish employer expectations for working flexible hours, and set out the duration of the option to work flexible hours. If the ability for employees to work flexible hours is intended to be limited for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis, this should be made clear. As with any policy, it’s important to make clear that the company reserves the right to alter or terminate the policy at any time as circumstances warrant.

It is key that the WFH policy be consistently applied to reduce risk of claims that the employer is providing WFH arrangements on a discriminatory basis. It is also important to note that regardless of the specific WFH policy in place, an employee’s request for accommodation should be considered and responded to on a case-by-case basis.

Security and Confidentiality

In recent weeks, there have been reports of increased cyberattacks as a result of the growing pains associated with adopting remote working technologies. As a result, the threat posed by cyber attackers and resulting losses for businesses is high. In addition, remote working creates new challenges for maintaining a company’s confidential information, as conference calls may be overheard or emails may be read by unintended persons.

In order to maintain the security and confidentiality of business operations, we recommend that employers take the following actions:

  • Implement training sessions for employees who are new to remote working for cyber security and confidentiality best practices;

  • Educate employees on best practices when dealing with communications from unknown third parties;

  • Refresh employees on the company’s security and confidentiality policies;

  • Restrict the use of public or unsecure networks;

  • Use VPN or two-authentication software;

  • Ensure that the WFH policy addresses the importance of maintaining the confidentiality of the company’s information and that it is not inadvertently disclosed to individuals as a result of the home environment.

    • Consider having employees submit their proposed methods for ensuring the confidentiality of company information.”

Credit:

Aird & Berlis LLP/Aird & McBurney LP – Fiona Brown, Michael F. Horvat and Daria (Dahsha) Peregoudova, published on Lexology.com on June 19, 2020

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CKL FARMERS - MORE PROTECTION AGAINST TRESPASS ON YOUR LANDS AND THEFT OR ABUSE OF YOUR LIVESTOCK - NEW RULES FOR ANIMAL WELFARE AND PEACEFUL PROTESTS. NEW HOTLINE FOR ANIMAL ABUSE.

The Ontario government is focusing more on balancing  the safety and security of farmers, their families and the provincial food supply by protecting the right for people to participate in lawful protests on public property.

Today, Bill 156, the Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2020received Royal Assent.

Once proclaimed into force, the Act will further protect against the health and safety risks of on-farm trespassing.

In recent years, farmers have faced increased levels of trespass and theft of livestock from their farms as well as mental heath stress due to these threats.

Bill 156 will increase protections for those farmers while simultaneously protecting the right for people to participate in lawful protests on public property.

The Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2020 helps deter trespassers by:

  • Escalating fines of up to $15,000 for a first offence and $25,000 for subsequent offences, compared to a maximum of $10,000 under the Trespass to Property Act;

  • Prescribing aggravating factors that would allow the court to consider factors that might justify an increased fine;

  • Allowing the court to order restitution for damage in prescribed circumstances which could include damage to a farmer's livestock or from theft;

  • Increasing protection for farmers against civil liability from people who were hurt while trespassing or contravening the act, provided the farmer did not directly cause the harm;

  • Removing consent to enter a farm property when it was given under duress or false pretenses.

Last year, the government passed the Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act, 2019, giving Ontario the strongest penalties in Canada for people who are convicted of animal abuse. The province now has the first fully provincial government-based animal welfare enforcement system in Canada.

If anybody in Ontario believes that an animal is being mistreated, they should call 1-833-9ANIMAL or 1-833-926-4625 and have a trained inspector investigate the allegation.

 

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BIG BOOST TO FUNDING CKL PUBLIC SCHOOLING ANNOUNCED - WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY.....

Today the Ontario government announced it is investing $736 million more in public education for the 2020-21 school year, increasing the total to more than $25.5 billion.

This funding, through the Grants for Student Needs (GSN) program, represents the largest investment in public education in Ontario's history.

As a result, Ontario's average per-pupil funding amount has reached $12,525, which is an increase of $250 over the previous year.

All 72 district school boards in the province are projected to have increases to their GSN allocations for the upcoming school year, which includes record-high investments in special education, mental health and well-being, among many other key areas.

Under the GSN, the new $213 million student-centric Supports for Students Fund (SSF) will support:

  • special education,

  • mental health and well-being,

  • language instruction,

  • Indigenous education, and

  • STEM programming.

The Supports for Students Fund can also be used for additional critical staffing needs during the return to school in September, including hiring custodians and education assistants for students who need support.

In addition to the GSN, Ontario is providing funding for the Priorities and Partnerships Fund (PPF), which enables school boards and third-parties to undertake important initiatives and provide critical resources for curricular, extra-curricular, and wrap-around supports. In the upcoming school year, the PPF is projected to be over $300 million, funding approximately 150 initiatives to support students.

DID YOU ALSO KNOW: 

  • The Government is providing funding to support the mental health and well-being of students upon the return to school in Fall 2020, as a result of emerging needs related to the COVID-19 school closures.

  • Ontario is also continuing to invest $1.4 billion in school facility repair and renewal to support healthy and safe learning environments, which directly aligns with a recommendation from the Auditor General of Ontario.

  • The Ministry of Education provides operating funding to Ontario’s 72 district school boards through the annual GSN education funding model. Funding to school boards is provided on a combination of per student, per school, and per board basis.

  • Ontario launched Learn at Home and Apprendre à la maison, a new online portal that provides resources for families so students can continue their education while schools are closed due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation.

  • Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19.

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HOW TO PROMOTE AND ACHIEVE DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION IN YOUR WORKPLACE - EASY STEPS TO TACKLING SYSTEMIC DISCRIMINATION IN YOUR BUSINESS.

Workplaces in the CKL must promote and achieve diversity, equity and inclusion.

This change must be initiated from the top down.

Measurable objectives must be set.

Education and training in the workplace about bias and inequity is critical. 

Accountability to achieve those objectives is paramount. 

Mere denunciation of racism is woefully insufficient; rather, a workplace must adhere to a specific call of action.

To do so, everyone in the workplace must:

  • speak up when you experience or witness intolerance, mistreatment or bias in action – saying nothing condones discrimination: if you see something, say something;

  • generate an inclusive environment for everyone – seek different perspectives and respect points of view and communication styles that are different from your own;

  • realize and process your feelings; and

  • as an organization, collectively agree to do better.

Minimizing, if not eliminating, systemic discrimination and bigotry in a workplace is a challenging, but realizable, ideal. 

It will require education, training and raising awareness proactively, including about unconscious bias and at a minimum requires the creation and implementation of a policy on diversity and inclusivity.

Every workplace diversity and inclusion policy, even if not legally required, should include:

  1. a statement of commitment to creating and maintaining a diverse and inclusive workplace;

  2. a statement that the policy applies to all aspects of employment as well as to interactions with customers/clients;

  3. a process that provides the opportunity for dialogue within the workplace with respect to barriers to diversity and inclusion;

  4. a commitment to education and training of management and staff to ensure that an understanding of the individualized needs in the workplace are understood by all;

  5. a statement of commitment to human rights, equity and privacy laws;

  6. a complaints process; and

  7. a statement that collection of personal information will be kept confidential.

Need help with your new diversity and inclusion policy in your workplace? Give us a call. 

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THE NEW COVID-19 ALERT APP IS ON THE WAY FROM BOTH GOVERNMENTS - YOUR PRIVACY? WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE NEW APP.

As CKL reopens gradually, the Ontario government plans to improve case and contact management to more quickly test, trace and isolate cases of COVID-19 to stop the spread of the virus and prepare for any potential future waves.

These additional measures include a comprehensive case and contact management strategy, Protecting Ontarians through Enhanced Case and Contact Management, and, in partnership with the federal government, a new made-in-Ontario national app called COVID Alert.

The government's enhanced strategy focuses on strengthening and standardizing case and contact management by:

  • Ensuring that all new cases and their close contacts are identified early, contacted quickly, investigated thoroughly and are followed up with daily for up to 14 days;

  • Supporting public health units with up to 1,700 additional staff from Statistics Canada;

  • Improving technology tools by modernizing the integrated Public Health Information System (iPHIS) through the implementation of a new custom-built COVID-19 case and contact management system; and

  • Launching a privacy-first exposure notification app to alert Ontarians when they may have been exposed to COVID-19.

Ontario is providing updated case and contact management guidance for all public health units to ensure consistency across the province. To continue to ensure cases and their contacts are reached in a timely and effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19, public health units will:

  • Connect with cases, and with all individuals who have had close contact with a positive case, within 24 hours of being identified;

  • Direct all close contacts to self-isolate for up to 14 days;

  • Follow up with close contacts every day for the duration of their self-isolation; and

  • Advise testing of all appropriate close contacts.

To augment the current provincial capacity of approximately 2,000 case managers and contact tracers, Ontario is providing additional contact tracing staff. New and expanded capacity will be provided through Statistics Canada with access to up to 1,700 additional staff, available to all provinces, for contact tracing. Public Health Ontario will continue overseeing the training and coordination of these additional resources.

Over the summer and into the fall, Ontario will continue to build a supplementary pool of contact tracers from the Ontario Public Service and the broader public sector for additional surge capacity, as required. This will allow public health units to perform their other critical functions, including inspections of food premises and water in recreational facilities, and vaccinations.

To help Ontarians stay safe as the province reopens and social interactions increase, Ontario will be partnering with the federal government to launch COVID Alert, a new privacy-first exposure notification app, within the next two weeks. The made-in-Ontario app was developed by the Ontario Digital Service (ODS) and a group of volunteers from Shopify. One of the overarching principles is ensuring the privacy and security for all users, which is why the government will leverage BlackBerry volunteer expertise to audit the security and privacy of the application, in addition to the province's internal security reviews.

Users will be able to voluntarily download the app and be notified anonymously if they have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days. In Ontario, the app will also provide users with quick access to Ontario's public health advice and resources, and recommend any necessary actions, such as monitoring for symptoms, self-isolation or appropriate next steps on getting tested. Using a national application will help ensure that Ontarians are notified, regardless of which province they are in, helping us towards the goal of ensuring we can all move more freely and safely.

Ontario is also implementing a new user-friendly case and contact management system that will integrate with COVID-19 laboratory results from the Ontario Laboratory Information System (OLIS) data, making current processes significantly more efficient and reducing the administrative burden for public health unit staff. A single central system will enable the province to identify provincewide regional trends and hotspots, while protecting personal health information. Custom-built on the Salesforce platform, the new system will also allow for a remote workforce, enabling contact tracing to be quickly ramped up when required.

Everyone should continue to follow public health guidelines to stay safe, including physical distancing with people not in your social circle, wearing a face covering if physical distancing is a challenge, washing your hands thoroughly and frequently, and, if you think you have COVID-19 or have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19, getting tested.

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LINDSAY'S DRIVETEST REOPENING ON MON - NO REQUIREMENT TO USE ONLY THE FACILITY IN YOUR OWN MUNICIPALITY

Lindsay's DriveTest re-opens on Monday.  

Ontario's driver testing services provider, DriveTest, will begin offering limited services across the province beginning Monday, June 22, 2020, with the expectation of restoring full services by September.

This gradual, staggered approach, based on customer date of birth, will ensure that strict protocols are in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  

DriveTest centres will begin serving customers based on when they were born to reduce crowding, support new requirements for physical distancing, health checks and enhanced sanitation. People with birthdays between January to June will be allowed to visit a centre the first week of reopening, and people with birthdays between July to December will have access to DriveTest services the following week. Access to DriveTest services will continue to alternate weekly until full services are restored.

In the first phase, all 56 full-time DriveTest centres will reopen on Monday for G1 and M1 knowledge tests, driver's licence exchanges and commercial driver's licence applications and upgrades. Commercial road tests will also be available by appointment at 28 locations across Ontario.

To protect the safety of Ontarians, DriveTest will also require customers to wear face coverings inside centres and during road tests, sanitize their hands when they enter the building and undergo temperature checks before road tests. All DriveTest staff will wear personal protective equipment when serving customers. Driver examiners will also be equipped with face shields, sanitizer packages and seat covers when conducting road tests.

Details of the DriveTest reopening plan, which outline the driver testing services available, how to access DriveTest centres, and which customers are being served each week, will be updated every Monday on DriveTest.ca.

Notably there is no restriction imposed whereby you can only attend the DriveTest in the municipality in which you currently reside on a primary basis.   

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EVICTIONS OFFICIALLY BANNED IN ONTARIO IF YOU QUALIFY FOR PANDEMIC RENTAL ASSISTANCE - NO LOCKOUTS OR SEIZURES, EITHER. DEADLINE TO APPLY IS AUG. 31. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY ABOUT COMMERCIAL TENANCIES IN THE CKL.

As expected, yesterday the Ontario government passed the Protecting Small Business Act, temporarily halting or reversing evictions of commercial tenants and protecting them from being locked out or having their assets seized during COVID-19.

The legislation applies to businesses that are eligible for federal/provincial rent assistance for evictions from May 1, 2020 until August 31, 2020.

Landlords and tenants are encouraged to participate in the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses.

The pause on evictions does not apply to those participating in CECRA for small businesses, as the program requires landlords to enter into a rent reduction agreement with their impacted small business tenants and commits them to a moratorium on evictions for three months.

Did you also know: 

  • In partnership with the federal government, Ontario is committing $241 million to CECRA for small businesses, which will provide more than $900 million in support for small businesses and their landlords.

  • CECRA for small businesses provides forgivable loans to eligible commercial landlords for the months of April, May, and June 2020. Small business landlords would be asked to forgive at least 25 per cent of the tenant's total rent, tenants would be asked to pay up to 25 per cent of rent and the provincial and federal governments would share the cost of the remaining 50 per cent.

  • Tenants and landlords can learn who is eligible and how to apply at Ontario.ca/rentassistance. The application deadline is August 31, 2020.

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CERB HAS BEEN EXTENDED BY THE FEDS - NOW AVAILABLE FOR A TOTAL OF 24 WEEKS. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW.

Today the federal government announced that the government is extending the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) by eight weeks. 

This extension will make the benefit available to eligible workers for up to a total of 24 weeks.

The government has also made changes to the CERB attestation, which will encourage Canadians receiving the benefit to find employment and consult Job Bank, Canada’s national employment service that offers tools to help with job searches. 

Over the next few weeks, the government will monitor international best practices, the economy, and the progression of the virus and, if needed, make necessary changes to the program so more people can have the support they need.

They also announced they intend to continue to review other financial supports, including the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and Employment Insurance (EI). 

The CERB is a taxable benefit of $2,000 over a four-week period for eligible workers who have stopped working or whose work hours have been reduced, due to COVID-19.

The CERB is available to workers who:

  • live in Canada and are at least 15 years old

  • have stopped working because of reasons related to COVID-19, or are eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits, or have exhausted their EI regular or fishing benefits between December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020

  • had employment and/or self-employment income of at least $5,000 in 2019, or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application

  • have not earned more than $1,000 in employment and/or self-employment income per benefit period while collecting the CERB

  • have not quit their job voluntarily

Notably, the CEWS was also extended, as announced on May 15. The CEWS is being extended to August 29, 2020.

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CKL HOG AND BEEF FARMERS - $10 MILLION NEW FUNDING AS OF TODAY. PER HEAD AMOUNT TO KEEP MARKET READY.

The governments of Canada and Ontario are investing up to $10 million in emergency assistance for beef and hog farmers.

The funding will help cover the increased costs of feeding market ready cattle and hogs due to COVID-19 related processing delays, while redirecting surplus pork products to help those in need.

This program is intended to help ensure the country's food supply chain will remain strong and ready to recover as the economy gradually and safely reopens.

The beef cattle set-aside program will provide beef farmers with up to $5 million in support.

Farmers can claim $2 per head of cattle per day to help pay for additional maintenance costs should they have to keep their market-ready animals on their farms for extended periods of time.

The hog sector support program will also provide hog farmers with up to $5 million to help cover additional maintenance costs. Ontario is also providing up to $1.5 million to process and package surplus pork for food banks, to provide those in need with fresh, locally produced pork products. This will assist the pork processing industry with managing capacity while helping those in need.

Both the beef cattle set-aside and hog sector support programs are being offered through AgriRecovery initiatives, under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership. The provincial contributions are part of Ontario's Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19.

 

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ONTARIO BANS COMMERCIAL EVICTIONS TODAY - EXPECTED TO PASS BY TONIGHT. A BACKFIRE ON "GREEDY" LANDLORDS. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW.

Today the Ontario government introduced legislation to temporarily ban commercial evictions.

Many commercial landlords have refused to participate in the CECRA program, administered by both the federal and provincial governments, leaving many small businesses with no ability to carry on business.  

The legislation will protect commercial tenants from being locked out or having their assets seized due to the negative impacts of COVID-19.

It would be retroactive to May 1. 

The government is seeking unanimous consent from all parties in the legislature today to expedite the passage of the bill and have it become law by the evening.

 

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RECOVERY IN THE CKL - NEW LAWS/RULES ANNOUNCED FOR CKL BUSINESSES AND ORGANIZATIONS TO OPERATE DURING PHASE 2 AND BEYOND - WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW.

The Ontario government has published a new order requiring businesses and organizations in the CKL that are reopening to:

  • operate in accordance with all applicable laws, including the Occupational Health and Safety Act and related regulations;

  • operate in compliance with the advice, recommendations and instructions of public health officials, including with respect to physical distancing, cleaning or disinfecting;

  • where open to the public, ensure that members of the public maintain a physical distance of at least 2-metres from other persons (except persons who have arrived at the business/facility together); and

  • ensure that any washrooms available to the public are cleaned and disinfected as frequently as is necessary to maintain a sanitary environment.

The Order also includes sector specific compliance requirements and conditions for reopening. 

Check it out here:

https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/r20263 

 

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TESTING POSITIVE MEANS GOVERNMENT QUESTIONS - YOUR PRIVACY DURING (AND AFTER) THE PANDEMIC.

The Ontario government has announced a proposed, regulatory change to mandate the reporting of data on race, income, language and household size for individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19.

Reportedly this will help to ensure the province has a more complete picture of the outbreak.

This change will allow for the collection of data in a consistent way across the province, while ensuring the privacy of Ontarians is protected.

Under these proposed changes, individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 infection will be asked additional questions about their race, income, languages spoken, and household size.

Individuals can choose not to answer any or all of these questions.

Individuals' privacy is protected as it is for all information currently collected on other diseases.

Collecting data province-wide, and in a standardized way, will ensure a more complete picture of the outbreak is captured, says the government.

 

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CKL FARMERS - $15 MILLION NEW FUNDING TODAY FROM ONTARIO - RETAIN EMPLOYEES, PPE, RETROFITTING - WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT TODAY'S ANNOUNCEMENT.

The Ontario government has announced $15-million in supplemental Agri-food Workplace Protection Program funding for health and safety measures on farms and in food processing facilities. According to a government press release, this funding will help farmers purchase personal protective equipment and implement workplace modifications and other measures to improve health and safety for their workers.

Specifically, the Enhanced Agri-food Workplace Protection Program provides cost-share funding for farmers to purchase Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and implement workplace modifications and other measures. By significantly expanding the program, farmers can take additional steps to improve health and safety for their workers and ensure the continued supply of locally grown food during the COVID-19 outbreak.

This announcement more than triples the earlier investment in this program by the governments of Canada and Ontario.

Both levels of government had committed a total of up to $4.5 million for farmers and provincially licensed meat processors to enhance worker safety under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership program.

Some of the measures already approved through this program include purchases of PPE, temporary housing for ill workers, building physical barriers for worker separation, enhanced hand washing facilities and a tent rental to expand lunch room space.

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NEW RULES FOR BOTH INDOOR AND OUTDOOR WEDDINGS, FUNERALS AND RECEPTIONS.

The Ontario government has relaxed restrictions on the number of attendees permitted at indoor and outdoor wedding and funeral ceremonies. .

The government is extending the number of people allowed to attend an indoor wedding or funeral ceremony to a maximum of 30 per cent capacity of the ceremony venue.   

Wedding and funeral ceremonies taking place outdoors will be limited to 50 attendees.

For both indoor and outdoor ceremonies, those attending must follow proper health and safety advice, including practising physical distancing from people who are not from the same household or their established 10-person social circle.

The changes came into effect on Friday, June 12 at 12:01 a.m.

The maximum number of people allowed to attend indoor or outdoor wedding and funeral receptions remains at 10 people.

 

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CKL FARMERS AND FOOD PROCESSORS/MANUFACTURERS - NEW FEDERAL FUNDING FOR RETROFITTING AND OPERATING

The federal government has announced a $77.5-million Emergency Processing Fund for food producers, processors, and manufacturers, with two stated objectives:

  1. "Emergency COVID Response” to assist companies to implement changes required by COVID-19 to ensure the health and safety of workers. This funding will assist with:

    • plant retrofits or adjustments to existing operations to accommodate changes to processes and production; and

    • increasing capacity for herd management.

  2. “Strategic Investments” to assist companies to improve, automate, and modernize facilities needed to increase Canada’s food supply capacity.

Eligible applicants include for-profit organizations, cooperatives, and indigenous groups. Information on the application process is available here: 

http://www.agr.gc.ca/eng/agricultural-programs-and-services/emergency-processing-fund/?id=1591291974693

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CYBER-BULLYING AND SOCIAL MEDIA ATTACKS CAN MEAN BIG DAMAGES PAYABLE TO THE VICTIM. THINK TWICE BEFORE THAT FACE BOOK POST........

Cyber-bullying by engaging in social media attacks can mean paying significant damages to the target of the vitriol. 

In a recent Canadian case, a former husband engaged in a lengthy campaign of cyber-bullying against his former spouse, primarily to intimidate her in their custody proceeding in Family Court. 

The Court said, “This campaign took the form of a long series of venomous Facebook postings”. 

The father posted very nasty comments about his former spouse and flouted the law, in the sense that he openly declared online that he was beyond the reach of the law - a very serious mistake by him.  

The Court prohibited the husband and his new partner from any further cyber-bullying, ordered them to take down the posts or disable access to them and prohibited them from communicating with the targeted mother. 

The Court also noted the husband's conduct “harmed Ms. Candelora’s well-being, both mental and physical,” given her evidence that they caused her psychological stress that affected her ability to work and exacerbated a pre-existing medical condition.

The Court concluded that the impact on the mother, while serious, was not as dire as some other cases presented to the Court during the proceeding. Rather, the mother was mature, was not “unusually vulnerable” to cyber-bullying and does not reside near the father (they actually resided in separate provinces). .

The Court hammered the father with general damages of  $50,000, $20,000 in aggravated damages and, for good measure, added on another $15,000 in punitive damages.

“Punitive damages are warranted in order to occasion respect for the justice system,” the Court ruled. 

“One repeated aspect of the respondents’ postings was their assertion that they were beyond the reach of the courts and their disregard for court orders. This is a denunciatory, non-compensatory purpose and calls for a distinct punitive award.”

While this case was decided in Nova Scotia, it is likely a similar result could have been reached in Ontario, based on Ontario's current law regarding defamation and intrusion upon seclusion (i.e., breach of privacy).  

The Case: 

Candelora v. Feser, 2019 NSSC 370 (CanLII)

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CKL BUSINESSES - NEED MORE ONLINE PRESENCE? E-PAY HELP? BROADER MARKETING? RECOVERY MEANS CHECKING OUT THE NEW FUNDING TO JOIN THE "DIGITAL MAIN STREET" - $5.7 MILLION AND MORE. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW.

The Ontario has announced a new $5.7-million in funding to help small businesses reach more customers, create and enhance their online presence, and generate jobs through an online platform called the "Digital Main Street". 

It is intended to help up to 22,900 Ontario businesses create and enhance their online presence and generate jobs for more than 1,400 students.

Through the $57-million contribution to the Digital Main Street platform, businesses will be able to take advantage of three new programs to support their digital transformation:

  • shopHERE powered by Google, intended to leverage Ontario's strengths by hiring highly skilled and trained students to build and support the launch of online stores for businesses that previously did not have the capacity to do so themselves. The core goal will be to help small businesses compete and grow, in a world that is increasingly online, and help them recover as quickly as possible following COVID-19.
  • Digital Main Street Grant will help main street small businesses be digitally more effective. Through a $2,500 grant administered by the Ontario BIA Association, small businesses will be able to adopt new technologies and embrace digital marketing. Municipalities, Chambers of Commerce, and Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) can apply for a Digital Service Squad grant, which will allow them to establish teams to provide personalized, one-on-one support.
  • Future-Proofing Main Street will provide specialized and in-depth digital transformation services and support that helps existing main-street firms adapt to changes in their sector and thrive in the new economy. By leveraging teams of digital marketing professionals and talented students, these firms will be able to create new online business models, develop and implement digital and e-commerce marketing strategies, and maximize digital tools, platforms and content.

In addition, the Recovery Activation Program, operated through the Toronto Region Board of Trade, will help businesses grow and digitize their operations with custom consulting sessions, online resource sharing, learning webcasts and business planning. As a result of the investment announced today, the program will be offered province-wide and at no cost to businesses.  

About 60 percent of Ontario's small enterprises have a website, and only seven percent have an online payment solution. Digitally, Canadian businesses are estimated to be two years behind their U.S. counterparts.

Along with the Digital Main Street platform, the province is investing an additional $150 million in rural broadband which will help open the digital road for many Ontario small businesses.

In addition, the province has proposed a ban on commercial evictions to help businesses that have been impacted by restrictions due to COVID-19.

Here is a link: 

https://digitalmainstreet.ca/ontario/

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YOU CAN NOW HAVE A "SOCIAL CIRCLE". YOU CAN HUG IN YOUR CIRCLE. EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MAKING YOUR OWN SOCIAL CIRCLE, INCLUDING A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE. YOU'VE ONLY GOT ONE SHOT AT THIS - CHOOSE WISELY!

As of today, welcome to the new normal of “social circles” in Ontario. 

You can now establish a family or social circle of no more than 10 people who can interact with one another without physical distancing. 

You can only be in 1 social circle.

Choose wisely.

You can hug non-household members, but only those in your social circle.

Everyone living in the same household is in a social circle.

People in the same social circle:

Why social circles are important

Close contact with people beyond your household is important to:

  • connect and be close with family and friends outside of your immediate household to reduce social isolation
  • support the mental health and wellbeing of Ontarians during the COVID-19 outbreak
  • allow some families to get additional support with child care, elder care and other personal needs
  • allow for more rapid contact tracing in the event of a case of COVID-19 in a social circle

We can trace and isolate COVID-19 quickly and effectively when you limit the number of people you come into close contact with.

Create a safe social circle

Follow these steps to create a safe circle.

Step 1: Start with your current circle: anyone you live with or who regularly comes into your household

Be sure to include anyone that would come into regular close contact with you and the people you live with.

This may be:

  • family members, including children
  • your roommates
  • another parent to your child(ren) that lives outside the home
  • a babysitter or caregiver

Considerations

If you add people outside of your household to your social circle, be sure to include anyone in their households as well. You may not see them often, but they would still be considered part of your current circle.

Remember that everyone in a household must be part of the same social circle.

Step 2: If under 10 people, you can add members to your social circle, including another household, family members or friends

As you add additional members, ask yourself:

  • Do they live with or come into regular close contact with anyone else? You may never see them, but they would still be considered part of your social circle.
  • What makes most sense for you or your household? That could include another household with similarly-aged children or family members that you want to spend more time with.

Considerations

If you live alone, you may want to start with family members or other close friends. People may, or may not, chose to participate in a social circle depending on their unique circumstance, and risk of developing complications from COVID-19, for example people:

  • over 70
  • with compromised immune systems
  • with underlying medical conditions

Remember that your social circle can include fewer than 10 people. It’s always best to start slow and safely add more members later.

Step 3: Get agreement from everyone that they will join the social circle

That means they agree to join only one circle, and physically distance with anyone outside the circle.

Essential workers can be part of a social circle, so long as the other members are aware of the risks and agree to them.

Step 4: Keep your social circle safe

To keep the people in your social circle safe:

  • continue to follow public health advice, including frequent hand washing and sneezing and coughing into a sleeve
  • continue to physically distance with anyone outside your circle by keeping two metres or six feet apart from them

If someone in your circle feels sick

They should immediately inform other members of the circle, self-isolate at home and not come into close contact with anyone, including other members of the circle.

They should also get tested.

Find an assessment centre to get tested for COVID-19.

Everyone else in the circle should closely monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19. If you believe you have been exposed to COVID-19 you should also be tested.

Step 5: Be true to your social circle

No one should be part of more than one circle.

Here is a link to a step-by-step guide to building your own social circle:

 

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VISITING OUR SENIORS - TODAY'S UPDATE BY THE GOVERNMENT FOR THE PROCEDURE TO VISIT OUR SENIORS IN CKL LONG-TERM CARE AND RETIREMENT FACILITIES. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW.

The Ontario government has provided more guidance and updated information about the gradual resumption of visits by family and friends of residents in long-term care homes, retirement homes and other residential care settings, beginning June 18, 2020. 

Specifically: 

• Long-term care homes will allow outdoor visits of one person per resident each week at a minimum. Retirement homes will resume indoor and outdoor visits in designated areas or resident suites when physical distancing can be maintained. Other residential care settings will be able to allow outdoor visits of two people at time.

• Visits will be subject to strict health and safety protocols, including requiring visitors to pass active screening every time they visit, confirming with staff that they have tested negative for COVID-19 within the previous two weeks, and complying with the infection prevention and control protocols. This includes bringing and wearing a face covering during visits."

The following conditions must be met before visitors can enter:

  • homes must not have a COVID-19 outbreak;
  • homes must have an established process for communicating visitor protocol and the associated safety procedures; and
  • homes must maintain the highest infection prevention and control standards.

Additional guidance released by the government is available here (long term care homes):

http://health.gov.on.ca/en/pro/programs/ltc/docs/covid-19/mltc_resuming_ltc_home_visits_20200611.pdf

and also here (retirement homes):

https://files.ontario.ca/msaa-reopening-retirement-homes-en-2020-06-11.pdf?_ga=2.226733725.1421261429.1591898249-1841326014.1586898239

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CKL RESTAURANTS AND EATERIES - OUR CHEAT SHEET FOR YOUR PHASE 2 RE-OPENING TOMORROW TO MAXIMIZE SAFETY AND MINIMIZE LIABILITY. BON APPETIT!

Many CKL restaurants are re-opening for Phase 2 as of tomorrow, in an outdoor capacity for now.

To assist with the transition, here is a tip sheet of recommendations for ensuring a safe re-opening, while promoting the health and safety of everyone:

- patio must be open to the air; no tents, structures or canopies. Umbrellas are allowed for sun shade.

- the required distance between adjacent edges of tables is two metres.

- temporary table dividers may be installed to make physical distancing easier for restaurants with communal seating or larger tables.

- groups must be seated two metres from another group.

- ensure that a distance of two metres is maintained between customers or groups that are together. Co-mingling should be avoided.

- limit the time servers spend within two metres of customers.

- allow space for the safe circulation of customers and staff.

- consider a reservation system to avoid lines of waiting customers.

- ensure that lines of waiting customers do not come close to patio customers.

- demarcate floors with markers for any areas where a line-up may occur.

- mark the direction of travel to designate entrances and exits, pick up areas and washrooms.

- post signage promoting physical distancing upon entry.

For a complete list of the health and safety guidelines recommended by the Ontario government:

Restaurants (food premises):

http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/pro/programs/publichealth/coronavirus/docs/2019_food_premise_guidance.pdf

Restaurant servers, cooks and dishwashers:

https://www.wsps.ca/WSPS/media/Site/Resources/Downloads/covid-19-restaurant-workers-health-and-safety-guidance.pdf?ext=.pdf

Bon appetit!

 

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THE NEW 10-PERSON RULE - WHAT DOES THAT MEAN, EXACTLY? SAME OR DIFFERENT PEOPLE? INSIDE OR OUTSIDE? CAN I "DOUBLE-BUBBLE"? ANSWERS TO YOUR QUESTIONS FOR SAFELY GATHERING IN THE CKL.

The social gathering limit in the CKL has recently been increased from no more than five people, to no more than ten people. 

What does that mean, exactly? 

Only the same people all of the time? Can it be different people at any given time? Does this apply to my our house, or just outside? 

Few specifics were given by the Ontario government when it made this announcement recently.  

When you are with the 10 people do you need to be physically distancing?

Yes. when gathering with people who are from outside your household, you should still stay the recommended two metres apart. 

Is this applicable to indoors or outdoors?

Both. As long as a physical distance of two metres can be maintained with people who are not in your household, it does not matter where the gathering takes place. 

Does it always need to be the same people, or can the 10 people change all the time?

No, it doesn't need to be the same people. You can gather with a different group of 10 people, but you still need to physically distance.

How is this different than double bubbling?

The term 'double-bubble' or 'cohorting' refers to when two households make a pact to gather only with each other, and agree to stay distanced from everyone else.

This allows them to no longer have to physically distance from each other, theoretically, at least. 

However, double bubbling is not currently allowed in Ontario. 

Note, though, this new 10-person social gathering limit isn't restricted to two households and physical distancing measures are still required.   

It is important to remember that all other pandemic precautions must continue to be strictly followed, including proper hand-washing, following our local Health Unit's order about when to self-isolate, self-assessing on Ontario's updated COVID-19 Self Assessment Tool and wearing a proper, non-medical mask when physical distancing may be compromised.    

 

 

 

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CKL COMMERCIAL TENTANTS - YOU CANNOT BE EVICTED UNTIL THE END OF THE SUMMER. NEW RULES - WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW.

The Ontario government has imposed a temporary ban on commercial evictions to help small business owners who are struggling to pay their rent amid the COVID-19 fallout.

Premier Doug Ford announced the moratorium on Monday, which applies to small businesses who qualify for the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program (CECRA), where their revenues have dropped at least 70 per cent due to the pandemic.

The ban will take effect for evictions as of June 3 and last until Aug. 31.

The province's emergency commercial rent program launched in April to help small businesses pay their landlords, but it relied on the landlords themselves to apply, leaving the tenants hanging in the balance if they didn't.

Ontario now joins British Columbia, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia as provinces that have implemented some form of a commercial eviction ban.

 

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CKL STUDENTS - THE NEW PLAN FOR POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION, STARTING THIS SUMMER. GET READY TO BE BACK IN CLASS. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW.......

The Ontario government today announced a plan for the gradual and safe resumption of in-person instruction at post-secondary institutions across the province for the summer term.

Starting in July 2020, limited in-person education and training may restart for students who were not able to graduate due to COVID-19 closures.

This first phase will allow institutions to reopen to provide in-person instruction to students in essential, frontline, and high labour market demand areas, such as nursing, personal support workers, engineering, and other critical professions.

Thousands of students across the province could benefit from this summer's reopening.

In September, all students will have the opportunity to attend postsecondary education through virtual learning, in-class instruction, or hybrid formats.

The limited summer reopening will help individual institutions prepare for the fall term by ensuring proper health and safety protocols are in place.

The province is developing a framework to be released to the sector in the coming days, which will provide guidance on the summer reopening and on health and safety measures.

Publicly assisted colleges and universities, Indigenous Institutes, private career colleges and other postsecondary education institutions may participate in this voluntary reopening. Institutions that choose to participate will be responsible for establishing their own plans for this limited reopening in accordance with public health advice and any ministry guidance.

The government will also begin working on a digital and academic modernization framework this summer.

Through this exercise, it will look at unlocking the potential of virtual learning, adapting postsecondary education and training to meet the needs of a rapidly changing job market and economy, increasing the accountability of postsecondary education, developing the necessary physical and digital infrastructure, and fully realizing the value of research, innovation, and intellectual property licensing in the domestic and global marketplace.

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NEED TO SEE YOUR DENTIST? Q & A - WHAT THAT MEANS FOR YOU, INCLUDING WHAT YOUR DENTIST MUST DO TO PROTECT YOUR SAFETY. PHONE IN SERVICES, ETC. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TO GET THAT TOOTH ACHE FIXED UP FINALLY IN THE CKL.

Can someone please finally fix my tooth ache? Yes. 

Our dentists are required by their regulatory body and the Ontario government regulations to open in a staged approach.  

Dentists are now permitted to resume providing non-essential and elective care along with essential services, emergency and urgent care. 

If you visit your dentist, the Ontario Dental Association has indicated that you may have to take, or be subject to, certain measures, which may include patient screening, mask use and waiting outside the dental office to be called in for your appointment.

I think I have a dental emergency: what do I do?

Call your dentist. They will ask you for information about your situation, including whether you have any symptoms of COVID-19, and give you advice about next steps.  If you need to visit the office, they will let you know if they can help or will direct you to another dentist.

Do not go to a hospital emergency room for a dental problem at this time. 

Visiting my dentist: Is it safe?

Dentists must consider the best interests of their patients and communities at all times. The Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario, our dentists' regulatory body, has developed a guidance document for dentists: COVID-19: Managing Infection Risks During In-Person Dental Care.

Dentists have to follow this guidance document along with information from the Chief Medical Officer of Health when re-opening their office and providing care. 

Here are the key areas of the guidance document provided to your dentist to help ensure your safety and manage infection risks during in-person dental care.

Infection Prevention and Control

  • Infection prevention and control in dentistry is vital for safe patient care.

  • All dentists providing dental treatment are required to ensure the College’s Standard on Infection Prevention and Control are met in their dental practice.

  • If you are concerned about your dental condition, your dentist will ask you questions over the telephone and determine if you need to be seen. If you need to be seen in the office, there are strict Infection Prevention and Control Standards that they must follow. 

Sterilization

  • Your dentist must ensure that the office and operatories are clean and disinfected between each patient appointment.

  • Your dentist must ensure magazines, toys, and any other non-essential items are removed from office, reception area, and operatories.

  • Dentists must tell their staff to clean their hands frequently, especially before and after contact with patients, after contact with high-touch surfaces or equipment, and after removing PPE.

Dentists’ Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • Your dentist or oral health care worker should wear personal protective equipment such as gloves, protective eyewear, masks and protective clothing (if an aerosol-generating procedure is performed. PPE should always be used during your treatment.

  • Your dentist must ensure that they can meet the PPE and operatory requirements before they schedule an in-person appointment for assessment or treatment.

  • If your dentist can’t meet the PPE and operatory requirements, and you require emergency treatment, your dentist must refer you to another dentist.

Patient Screening and PPE

  • Before you go into the office, your dentist or their staff will ask you screening questions about to see if you have any COVID-19 symptoms.

  • Dentists must require all patients and visitors to wear a mask at all times while in the office except when they are being treated.

  • Patients who arrive without a mask given one by staff before entering the office. If they can’t provide a mask, they will schedule a new appointment.

Hand Hygiene

  • Patients will be required to perform hand hygiene (washing) using a 70-90% alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water, as soon as they enter the dental office.

  • Your dentist may ask you to disinfect with 70-90% alcohol-based hand rub before leaving the dental office.

  • Your dentist or oral health care worker must wash their hands with soap and running water.

Patient experiencing symptoms of COVID-19

  • Contact your doctor if you might have COVID-19.

  • Call Telehealth Ontario. The Telehealth number is 1-866-797-0000. Stay in self-isolation until you receive instructions otherwise from one of the above sources. 

  • Click here for the Ministry self-assessment link.

  • Patients should tell office dental staff if they experience any symptoms of COVID-19 within 14 days after their dental appointment.

I don’t want to go to my dentist’s office. Can my dentist just prescribe medications for me over the phone?

Your dentist will decide if over-the-counter medications (e.g. Advil, Tylenol) are recommended, if prescription medications are necessary, or if you need to be seen at the office. 

If you need a prescription, your dentist may send a prescription to the pharmacy directly, if appropriate.

During this pandemic, all dentists must continue to practice within the College's Guidelines on prescriptions for narcotics and/or opioids.

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CHILD CARE AND SUMMER DAY CAMPS NOW RE-OPENING IN THE CKL. PARENTS NEED TO GET BACK TO WORK. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ON TODAY'S BIG ANNOUNCEMENT.

Today the Ontario government announced its plan to reopen child care centres across the province to support the next stage of the province's reopening framework.

The plan will require child care operators to follow strict health protocols to ensure the safety of child care staff and children.

As Ontario continues to implement its Framework for Reopening the Province, child care centres and home care providers across Ontario will be able to reopen with strict safety and operational requirements in place, similar to the safety guidelines required for emergency child care centres.

Centres will be required to adopt specific rules, including:

  • Cohorting ― putting children and staff in groups of 10 or less day over day;

  • COVID-19 response plan ― all child care settings will be required to have a plan in place if a child, parent or staff member/provider is exposed to COVID-19;

  • Screening ― all staff and children must be screened prior to entry to the child care setting.  Anyone feeling unwell must stay home;

  • Daily attendance records ― child care settings must keep daily records of all attendees in order to support contact tracing;

  • Cleaning ― child care settings must be thoroughly cleaned before opening and frequently thereafter;

  • No visitors ― only essential visitors are permitted entry into the child care setting;

  • Implementing drop-off and pick-up protocols in a way that facilitates physical distancing.

Effectively immediately, staff can re-enter child care facilities and begin preparation for reopening.

When these operators have met all the strict and stringent guidelines for reopening, they will be permitted to reopen.

The Ministry of Education has been working with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development to develop these health and safety protocols.

They will enable the safe reopening of child care centres across the province and enhance safety through effective contact tracing.

This plan imposes strict requirements on operators, including mandatory training and reporting and support from the local medical officer of health before reopening.

Based on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and with strict health and safety protocols in place, the government is now enabling summer day camp programs across the province to reopen this summer. 

Strict health and safety guidelines were developed by the Ministry of Health in partnership with public health, the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, and municipalities, and distributed to local public health teams earlier this month.

At this time, overnight camps are not permitted to operate in the summer of 2020.

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CKL BUSINESSES - PHASE 2 IS UPON US - FIND YOUR SPECIFIC HEALTH AND SAFETY GUIDELINES HERE TO RE-OPEN. GRAB YOUR POSTERS AND OTHER RESOURCES HERE. FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES TO MAXIMIZE SAFETY AND MINIMIZE RISK.

The CKL is re-opening in Phase 2. 

However, Ontario has clearly indicated that openings may only take place if the proper health and safety measures are implemented.

To assist, the government has published specific health and safety re-opening guidelines for approximately 100 sectors, including restaurants and retail. 

All CKL businesses to find their specific health and safety guidelines and incorporate them strictly into the Phase 2 re-opening (and continue to abide by them for businesses that were permitted to open during Phase 1).  

The Ontario government has also indicated that it will provide an update on the re-openings of childcare services and summer camps in the near future. 

These health and safety resources will help CLK employers and workers better understand how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Sector guidelines contain recommendations and tips for employers on how to keep workers safe on the job.

Posters for both employers and workers also offer advice on preventative actions, including physical distancing and workplace sanitation.

Employers are encouraged to download the posters to print and post in the workplace.

As new sectors of the economy begin to reopen, additional COVID-19 workplace safety resources will be added.

Ontario also has general information on COVID-19 and workplace health and safety.

Here is the link to the information both employers and employees in the CKL should know and be familiar with for all re-opening in the CKL: 

https://www.ontario.ca/page/resources-prevent-covid-19-workplace

 

 

 

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LET THE GAMES BEGIN IN THE CKL! OUTDOOR SPORTS AND RECREATION RESUME - WHAT OUR PRIVATE CLUBS AND ASSOCIATIONS NEED TO KNOW TO RESUME THE FUN AND ENJOYMENT.

Phase 2 re-opening in the CKL includes outdoor-only sports and recreational facilities and training for outdoor team sports, with limits to enable physical distancing. 

We have both City-run and many private sporting associations and clubs throughout the CKL, including soccer, lacrosse, tennis and others. 

So, let the games begin, but only subject to the recommended health and safety guidelines and in accordance with COVID-19 common sense. 

Below is a great article that should be consider by any outdoor sporting association or private club, as well as any activity or sporting event presented by the municipality - a must read as we let the games resume in the CKL. 

___________________________________________

Game On: Reopening sports and recreation during COVID-19

Getting back to sports amidst an ongoing global pandemic is not an easy task. As the economy moves through the re-opening phase, there a number of best practices that sports and recreation organizations, clubs, leagues and facilities should consider to limit their exposure to lawsuits, whether they are for-profit or not for-profit. Below are top risk management considerations for sports organizations.

1. Know the current state of the law and follow it: There is guidance from all levels of government for individuals and businesses alike. Be aware there may be different (and sometimes conflicting) orders from the federal, provincial, regional and municipal levels of government. It is important to know current public health orders and occupancy limits. Make sure you consult any governing or oversight bodies for your particular sport or industry for guidance on how to run your activity safely. Following all guidance, regulations and public health recommendations with due diligence may be your best defence to a potential lawsuit.

2. Implement workplace policies and training: All organizations and employers should consider establishing clear policies or “best practices” to limit the spread of COVID-19, protect the safety of the public and their members, as well as to minimize occupiers’ liability as applicable. Training (and if necessary, pre-screening) for employees, coaches, administrators, volunteers, athletes, customers, guests, etc. must occur before reopening can take place. Below are some examples of actions to protect employees and customers:

  • Appropriately trained and equipped employees, volunteers and/or contracting parties;
  • Proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) as necessary;
  • Strategic use of flyers and posters to advise employees, staff and others entering the workplace of any risks of within company premises; and
  • Proper handwashing and physical distancing techniques.

3. Document your efforts: Documentation of cleaning and hygiene protocols will be critical to ensure compliance with public health orders and will help to mitigate potential future claims. If your organization, club or business is going to use or revise waivers or indemnity agreements in the face of COVID-19 make sure to document who signed, how and when.

4. Enforcement of COVID-19 policies and best practices: Consider how you are going to enforce COVID-19 policies or best practices within your organization or business. Prepare and implement an enforcement protocol, providing of PPE, testing, etc. Are you going to require all employees, athletes and guests to wear PPE? If so, how will you provide it and pay for it? Will you conduct pre-screening of employees and/or customers? Are you going to hire security officers? Will you hand out trespass notices to individuals who are not complying with your policies and protocols? Have employees been made aware of the risks they face before they return to work? Are employees aware of their options and the protocols in place if they become ill or exposed to someone who is ill?

5. Funding and programming: Be aware of all forms of funding and subsidies available to your club or organization. These can be critical financial considerations for reopening in the 2020 season. Also consider whether your 2020 season needs to look a little different to comply with public health orders (i.e. is it safe to play your sport? Can training facilities be altered to make physical distancing possible? Should you consider alternate forms of programming or activities during this season? How will a shortened season affect your athletes? Will you offer online/digital programming?)

6. Be aware of privacy issues: Your business or organization should consider (and implement) guidance issued by government agencies, regulators and self-regulatory bodies to help manage COVID-19-related cybersecurity risks. Be aware of privacy concerns for employees, athletes and guests, particularly regarding COVID-19 testing and screening measures (e.g. health questionnaires, temperature testing, etc.).

7. Waiver/notices: Consider whether your organization, club or business is going to use or revise waivers or indemnity agreements in the face of COVID-19. Consider the use of additional warning signage as well as cleaning and hygiene protocols and information. Since transmission and contraction of COVID-19 is a novel area for liability, there is uncertainty as to how a court will treat a waiver in relation to liability for transmission of COVID-19. Keep in mind that waivers will apply differently to employees, contractors, customers and volunteers.

8. Rentals/indemnities: Review all rental agreements and permits for your club, organization or business and consider who will bear responsibility for defending any COVID-19 related claims. If you are renting space to other individuals or organizations, consider whether your future rental agreements require revisions to account for COVID-19 related transmission risks.

9. Insurance: Be aware of what kinds of claims and activities your liability insurance will and will not cover. Speak to your broker.

10. Hire a professional and use available resources: Don’t try to do everything yourself—consider hiring an occupational medicine or occupational health and safety specialist to assist you with the reopening process. Ensure your COVID-19 employment policies are drafted appropriately and in accordance with the applicable provincial legislation and public health guidance. Make sure to reach out to other online and local resources to ensure that you are reopening in compliance with the current state of affairs and to promote the safest possible environment for your athletes, volunteers, employees, guests and customers.

Most of all, be flexible and be aware that there will always be some level of risk. We are living in a dynamic environment with infection rates and testing abilities changing daily. Your club, organization or business needs to be ready to adapt to a rapidly changing world in the hopes that we can all get safely back to sports and play.

Credit: 

Borden Ladner Gervais LLP - Justine Blanchet, Erin Durant, Douglas Smith, Jake Cabott and Noah Bustein, published on Lexology.com on June 9, 2020  

 

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ALL LIMITATION PERIODS AND COURT STEPS IN ONTARIO SUSPENDED TO SEP. 11 - "DECOUPLED" FROM THE STATE OF EMERGENCY.

On Saturday, June 6, the Ontario government, after consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health,  extended all emergency orders currently in force under sub-section 7.0.2 (4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act until June 19, 2020.

"It is critical that we keep these emergency orders in place so we can continue to reopen the province gradually and safely," said Premier Doug Ford. "We are not out of the woods yet, and this deadly virus still poses a serious risk. We encourage businesses to begin preparing to reopen, so when the time comes, they will be able to protect employees, consumers and the general public."

In particular, due to COVID-19's unprecedented impact on the justice system, the province is extending the suspension of limitation periods and time periods in proceedings until September 11, 2020 under sub-section 7.1 of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

This is intended to ensure people will not experience legal consequences if the original time requirements of their case are not met while this order is in effect.

The province is reportedly working closely with the Courts to ensure operations can resume as soon as it is safely possible.

In this regard, Ontario's Attorney General’s notice to the legal community on June 5, 2020 reads: 

“First, one of the amendments is intended to enhance certainty as to the duration of the order by ‘decoupling’ the order from the state of emergency. Considering the uncertainty as to the nature and duration of the emergency, it is no longer appropriate for the duration of the order to be so closely tied to the duration of the emergency declaration. Going forward, the duration of the order will be based on all relevant factors and not just the state of emergency.

Second, in light of the concerns raised during my consultations, the suspension of limitation and procedural time periods will now continue up to and including September 11, 2020 (the maximum renewal period allowed for under the EMCPA)." 

Here is a link to the amended Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. E.9:

https://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/90e09

Anyone who suspects they may have COVID-19, or may have been exposed to the virus, is encouraged to visit an assessment centre to be tested.

To help stop the spread, people should practice physical distancing by staying at least two metres apart from anyone outside their immediate household, wash hands thoroughly and frequently, and, if physical distancing is a challenge, wear a face covering.

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ONTARIO COVID SELF-ASSESSMENT TOOL NOW UPDATED - EXPANDED LIST OF SYMPTOMS - Q & A ON YOUR RESULTS. CHECK IT OUT.

Recently the Ontario government updated its COVID-19 SELF-ASSESSMENT TOOL.

The Tool delivers multiple questions designed to recommend what, if any, actions the self-assessing person should take or consider, including whether to attend work.

A link to the Tool is here:

https://covid-19.ontario.ca/self-assessment/

Determining “At-risk group” and “close physical contact”:

The Tool identifies which individuals belong to an “at-risk group,” and defines “close physical contact.”

At-risk group:

Individuals who meet one of the criteria listed below are in an “at-risk group” for purposes of the Tool:

  • age 70 or older;
  • getting treatment that compromises their immune system (e.g., chemotherapy, medication for transplants, corticosteroids, TNF inhibitors);
  • having a condition that compromises their immune system (e.g., lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, other autoimmune disorder);
  • having a chronic health condition (e.g., diabetes, emphysema, asthma, heart condition); and
  • regularly going to a hospital or health care setting for a treatment (e.g., dialysis, surgery, cancer treatment).

Close physical contact:

The Tool defines “close physical contact” as:

  • being less than 2 metres away in the same room, workspace, or area for over 15 minutes; and
  • living in the same home

Four severe symptoms:

The Tool lists four potential severe symptoms of COVID-19:

  • severe difficulty breathing;
  • severe chest pain;
  • feeling confused or unsure of where you are; or
  • losing consciousness.

Seventeen additional symptoms:

The Tool also lists seventeen additional potential symptoms of COVID-19:

  • fever (feeling hot to the touch, a temperature of 37.8 degrees Celsius / 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher);
  • chills;
  • cough that is new or worsening;
  • barking cough, making a whistling noise when breathing (croup);
  • shortness of breath;
  • sore throat;
  • difficulty swallowing;
  • runny nose (not related to other known causes or conditions);
  • stuffy or congested nose (not related to seasonal allergies or other known causes or conditions);
  • lost sense of taste or smell;
  • pink eye (conjunctivitis);
  • headache that is unusual or long-lasting;
  • digestive issues (nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain);
  • muscle aches;
  • extreme tiredness that is unusual;
  • falling down often; and/or
  • for young children and infants: sluggishness or lack of appetite.

The Tool also addresses individuals who were in “close physical contact” with a person (High-Risk Individual) who:

  • tested positive for COVID-19;
  • is currently sick with a new cough, fever, having difficulty breathing; or
  • returned from outside of Canada in the last two weeks.

Finally, the Tool asks individuals if they have travelled outside of Canada in the last 14 days.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FROM THE TOOL:

The Tool provides recommendations for the actions that those in each categories should consider and take.

For example:

Q. What actions does the Tool recommend for individuals who have one or more of the four Severe Symptoms?

A. Call 911 or go directly to their nearest emergency department, and take the self-assessment again (presumably when the symptom(s) subside, given their severity).

Q. What actions does the Tool recommend for individuals who have one or more of the 17 Symptoms?

A. Among other things: (1) Go to a COVID-19 assessment centre to get tested; (2) Stay at home (self-isolate); (3) Only leave home for critical reasons (such as going to an assessment centre); (4) Monitor their health for a full 14 days after their symptoms started; (5) Tell people with whom they were in close contact two days before their symptoms started to monitor their health and self-isolate; (6) Work from home, if possible; otherwise call their manager and occupational health and safety representative to let them know if they are experiencing symptoms or have been instructed to self-isolate, and discuss next steps to ensure they and their company are taking the right safety precautions; and (7) Visit their local emergency department if they begin to experience worsening symptoms.

Q. What actions does the Tool recommend for individuals who in the last 14 days were in “close physical contact” with a High Risk Individual?

A. Among other things: (1) Go to a COIVID-19 assessment centre to get tested; (2) Stay at home (self-isolate) for 14 days; (3) Only leave home for critical reasons such as going to an assessment centre; (3) Work from home, if possible; otherwise call their manager and occupational health and safety representative to let them know if they are experiencing symptoms or have been instructed to self-isolate, and discuss next steps to ensure that they and their company are taking the right safety precautions; and (4) Get re-tested at an assessment centre if they start feeling sick, come into close physical contact with someone who has symptoms, or feel like they need a test.

Q. What actions does the Tool recommend for individuals in the “at risk group”?

A. Among other things: (1) Stay at home (self-isolate); (2) Only leave their home for critical reasons (such as going to an assessment centre or for a medical emergency); (3) Work from home, if possible; otherwise, call their manager and occupational health and safety representative to let them know if they are experiencing symptoms or have been instructed to self-isolate, and discuss next steps to ensure they and their company are taking the right safety precautions; and (4) Visit an assessment centre if they begin to feel sick, come into close physical contact with someone who has symptoms, or feel like they need a test.

Q. What actions does the Tool recommend for individuals who travelled outside Canada in the last 14 days?

A. Among other things: (1) Stay at home (self-isolate) for 14 days; (2) Work from home, if possible; otherwise, call their manager and occupational health and safety representative to let them know if they are experiencing symptoms or have been instructed to self-isolate, and discuss next steps to ensure they and their company are taking the right safety precautions; and (3) Monitor their health and visit an assessment centre if they have symptoms or were told to do so by their local public health unit or their health care provider (doctor, primary care physician).

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EXTRA, EXTRA! CKL IS MOVING TO PHASE 2 ON FRIDAY. BARS AND RESTAURANTS. HAIR SALONS. GATHERINGS UP TO 10 PEOPLE. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT TODAY'S ANNOUNCEMENT.

A significant list of businesses, including restaurants, hair salons and malls, will be allowed to reopen as of Friday in some parts of Ontario, except the Toronto-area and a few other regions, as the province enters Stage 2 of its restart phase through a regional approach.

The majority of Ontario's public health unit regions will move forward to Stage 2 on June 12, the province announced today.

Our Health Unit will move to Stage 2. 

The province said at the beginning of each week, the government will provide an update on the ongoing assessment of these regions, and whether they are ready to move into Stage 2 at the end of the week.

The province is also increasing social gathering rules, now allowing up to 10 people as of Friday. The increased social gathering rules apply to the entire province, regardless of whether the region is moving to Stage 2, but physical distancing rules still apply.

The province said the decision to move forward to Stage 2 was made in consultation Chief Medical Officer of Health and local health officials.

Ontario is also allowing places of worship to reopen, with attendance limited to 30 per cent capacity, with physical distancing rules in place.

These are the businesses that can reopen in regions entering Stage 2:

  •  Outdoor dine-in services at restaurants, bars and other establishments, including patios, curbside, parking lots and adjacent properties
  •  Select personal and personal care services with the proper health and safety measures in place, including tattoo parlours, barber shops, hair salons and beauty salons
  •  Shopping malls under existing restrictions, including food services reopening for take-out and outdoor dining only
  •  Tour and guide services, such as bike and walking, bus and boat tours, as well as tasting and tours for wineries, breweries and distilleries
  •  Water recreational facilities such as outdoor splash pads and wading pools, and all swimming pools
  •  Beach access and additional camping at Ontario Parks
  •  Camping at private campgrounds
  •  Outdoor-only recreational facilities and training for outdoor team sports, with limits to enable physical distancing
  •  Drive-in and drive-through venues for theatres, concerts, animal attractions and cultural appreciation, such as art installations
  •  Film and television production activities, with limits to enable physical distancing
  •  Weddings and funerals, with limits on social gatherings to 10 people.

These are the public health units moving to Stage 2:

  •  Algoma Public HealthBrant
  •  County Health Unit
  •  Chatham-Kent Public Health
  •  Eastern Ontario Health Unit
  •  Grey Bruce Health Unit
  •  Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit
  •  Hastings Prince Edward Public Health
  •  Huron Perth Public Health
  •  Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health
  •  Leeds Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit
  •  Middlesex-London Health Unit
  •  North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit
  •  Northwestern Health Unit
  •  Ottawa Public Health
  •  Peterborough Public Health
  •  Porcupine Health Unit
  •  Public Health Sudbury & Districts
  •  Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services
  •  Renfrew County and District Health Unit
  •  Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit
  •  Southwestern Public Health
  •  Thunder Bay District Health Unit
  •  Timiskaming Health Unit
  •  Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health

These are the public health units not moving to Stage 2:

  •  Durham Region Health Department
  •  Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
  •  Halton Region Public Health
  •  Hamilton Public Health Services
  •  Lambton Public Health
  •  Niagara Region Public Health
  •  Peel Public Health
  •  Toronto Public Health
  •  Windsor-Essex County Health Unit
  •  York Region Public Health
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CKL EMPLOYERS - USE ONTARIO'S UPDATED COVID-19 SELF-ASSESSMENT TOOL TO HELP SCREEN YOUR EMPLOYEES IN YOUR WORKPLACE - PROMOTE BETTER SAFETY; MINIMIZE LIABILITY. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Recently the Ontario government updated its COVID-19 SELF-ASSESSMENT TOOL.

The Tool delivers multiple questions designed to recommend what, if any, actions the self-assessing person should take or consider, including whether to attend work.

A link to the Tool is here:

https://covid-19.ontario.ca/self-assessment/

The Tool offers another way in which employers and employees can assess whether attending work is advisable, thereby clarifying uncertainty and confusion in the workplace.

The Tool also offers both employers and employees guidance on how to handle and impose policies and procedures regarding:

  • the potential symptoms of COVID-19, of which they should be aware;
  • determining which employees should be asked to leave the workplace and be directed to an assessment centre to get tested; and
  • determining which employees should self-isolate and work from home, if the nature of their work makes that possible.

Employers are permitted to request employees to use the Tool and follow the recommendations, as part of the overall health and safety plan in the workplace, particularly if there are reasonable grounds for suspecting an employee may be displaying any of the enlarged list of symptoms (described below), have the virus, or he or she may have been exposed primarily to the virus. 

Determining “At-risk group” and “close physical contact”:

The Tool identifies which individuals belong to an “at-risk group,” and defines “close physical contact.”

At-risk group:

Individuals who meet one of the criteria listed below are in an “at-risk group” for purposes of the Tool:

  • age 70 or older;
  • getting treatment that compromises their immune system (e.g., chemotherapy, medication for transplants, corticosteroids, TNF inhibitors);
  • having a condition that compromises their immune system (e.g., lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, other autoimmune disorder);
  • having a chronic health condition (e.g., diabetes, emphysema, asthma, heart condition); and
  • regularly going to a hospital or health care setting for a treatment (e.g., dialysis, surgery, cancer treatment).

Close physical contact:

The Tool defines “close physical contact” as:

  • being less than 2 metres away in the same room, workspace, or area for over 15 minutes; and
  • living in the same home

Four severe symptoms:

The Tool lists four potential severe symptoms of COVID-19:

  • severe difficulty breathing;
  • severe chest pain;
  • feeling confused or unsure of where you are; or
  • losing consciousness.

Seventeen additional symptoms:

The Tool also lists seventeen additional potential symptoms of COVID-19:

  • fever (feeling hot to the touch, a temperature of 37.8 degrees Celsius / 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher);
  • chills;
  • cough that is new or worsening;
  • barking cough, making a whistling noise when breathing (croup);
  • shortness of breath;
  • sore throat;
  • difficulty swallowing;
  • runny nose (not related to other known causes or conditions);
  • stuffy or congested nose (not related to seasonal allergies or other known causes or conditions);
  • lost sense of taste or smell;
  • pink eye (conjunctivitis);
  • headache that is unusual or long-lasting;
  • digestive issues (nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain);
  • muscle aches;
  • extreme tiredness that is unusual;
  • falling down often; and/or
  • for young children and infants: sluggishness or lack of appetite.

The Tool also addresses individuals who were in “close physical contact” with a person (High-Risk Individual) who:

  • tested positive for COVID-19;
  • is currently sick with a new cough, fever, having difficulty breathing; or
  • returned from outside of Canada in the last two weeks.

Finally, the Tool asks individuals if they have travelled outside of Canada in the last 14 days.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FROM THE TOOL:

The Tool provides recommendations for the actions that those in each categories should consider and take.

For example:

Q. What actions does the Tool recommend for individuals who have one or more of the four Severe Symptoms?

A. Call 911 or go directly to their nearest emergency department, and take the self-assessment again (presumably when the symptom(s) subside, given their severity).

Q. What actions does the Tool recommend for individuals who have one or more of the 17 Symptoms?

A. Among other things: (1) Go to a COVID-19 assessment centre to get tested; (2) Stay at home (self-isolate); (3) Only leave home for critical reasons (such as going to an assessment centre); (4) Monitor their health for a full 14 days after their symptoms started; (5) Tell people with whom they were in close contact two days before their symptoms started to monitor their health and self-isolate; (6) Work from home, if possible; otherwise call their manager and occupational health and safety representative to let them know if they are experiencing symptoms or have been instructed to self-isolate, and discuss next steps to ensure they and their company are taking the right safety precautions; and (7) Visit their local emergency department if they begin to experience worsening symptoms.

Q. What actions does the Tool recommend for individuals who in the last 14 days were in “close physical contact” with a High Risk Individual?

A. Among other things: (1) Go to a COIVID-19 assessment centre to get tested; (2) Stay at home (self-isolate) for 14 days; (3) Only leave home for critical reasons such as going to an assessment centre; (3) Work from home, if possible; otherwise call their manager and occupational health and safety representative to let them know if they are experiencing symptoms or have been instructed to self-isolate, and discuss next steps to ensure that they and their company are taking the right safety precautions; and (4) Get re-tested at an assessment centre if they start feeling sick, come into close physical contact with someone who has symptoms, or feel like they need a test.

Q. What actions does the Tool recommend for individuals in the “at risk group”?

A. Among other things: (1) Stay at home (self-isolate); (2) Only leave their home for critical reasons (such as going to an assessment centre or for a medical emergency); (3) Work from home, if possible; otherwise, call their manager and occupational health and safety representative to let them know if they are experiencing symptoms or have been instructed to self-isolate, and discuss next steps to ensure they and their company are taking the right safety precautions; and (4) Visit an assessment centre if they begin to feel sick, come into close physical contact with someone who has symptoms, or feel like they need a test.

Q. What actions does the Tool recommend for individuals who travelled outside Canada in the last 14 days?

A. Among other things: (1) Stay at home (self-isolate) for 14 days; (2) Work from home, if possible; otherwise, call their manager and occupational health and safety representative to let them know if they are experiencing symptoms or have been instructed to self-isolate, and discuss next steps to ensure they and their company are taking the right safety precautions; and (3) Monitor their health and visit an assessment centre if they have symptoms or were told to do so by their local public health unit or their health care provider (doctor, primary care physician).

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LONG TERM CARE IN THE CKL - YOU HAVE A LEGAL DUTY TO REPORT SUSPECTED ABUSE, MISTREATMENT OR OTHER WRONGDOINGS. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW......

Care in long-term care facilities throughout Ontario remains a serious issue and concern. 

While the Ontario government is making announcements about inquiries, it is important to remember that Ontario law already has in place a duty for everyone to immediately report to the government any suspected abuse, mistreatment or other misconduct in any long-term care facility. 

Specifically, Ontario's Long Term Care Act, 2007, at sub-section 24(1), imposes a positive duty on everyone to report any suspected abuse, misconduct or misappropriation in a long-term care facility. 

This section reads:  

"Reporting certain matters to Director

24 (1) A person who has reasonable grounds to suspect that any of the following has occurred or may occur shall immediately report the suspicion and the information upon which it is based to the Director:

1.  Improper or incompetent treatment or care of a resident that resulted in harm or a risk of harm to the resident.

2.  Abuse of a resident by anyone or neglect of a resident by the licensee or staff that resulted in harm or a risk of harm to the resident.

3.  Unlawful conduct that resulted in harm or a risk of harm to a resident.

4.  Misuse or misappropriation of a resident’s money.

5.  Misuse or misappropriation of funding provided to a licensee under this Act, the Local Health System Integration Act, 2006 or the Connecting Care Act, 2019. 2007, c. 8, ss. 24 (1), 195 (2); 2019, c. 5, Sched. 3, s. 12 (3).

Although everyone, by statute, has a positive duty to report any of these suspected wrongdoings, it is only a offence to fail to do so for certain people; namely, the facility itself, any person who works at or is responsible for operating the facility or anyone who provide services at the facility.  

Notably, the facility itself, under the same legislation, has a legal duty to ensure that any alleged, suspected or witnessed incident of abuse of a resident by anyone, neglect of a resident by the facility or staff is investigated properly and that “appropriate action” is taken in response. 

The investigative results generated by the facility and its responsive action must also be reported to the Ontario government.

Every facility must, by law, also have in a place a process and procedures for receiving, investigating and responding to complaints, including by residents.  

 

 

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LAYOFFS IN ONTARIO - THE NEW DEAL FOR THE PANDEMIC - CANNOT BE A TERMINATION UNDER ONTARIO'S LEGISLATION. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW.....

CHANGES TO THE ESA DUE TO COVID-19

On May 29, 2020, the Ontario government enacted Regulation 228/20 – Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (“Regulation”) under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”).

It offers Ontario employers impacted by COVID-19 with temporary relief from the ESA’s rules on temporary layoffs, termination, severance and constructive dismissal, by deeming an employee to be on unpaid, job-protected Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (“IDEL”) in specific, but not all, circumstances. 

These changes apply solely to non-unionized employees, including assignment employees who are employed by temporary help agencies.

Deemed to be on IDEL 

As opposed to being placed on a temporary layoff, an employee who does not perform their duties because their hours of work have been temporarily reduced or eliminated due to COVID-19 during the “COVID-19 Period” is deemed to be on IDEL.

The “COVID-19 Period” is defined under the Regulation as the period beginning on March 1, 2020 and ending six weeks after the state of emergency in Ontario comes to an end.

IDEL is an unpaid, job protected leave which came into effect under the ESA on March 19, 2020. It has certain conditions to qualify, one of which is a need to provide childcare to children due to Ontario's school closures. .

Under the ESA, an employee on a statutory leave of absence is entitled to continue to participate in benefit plans for the duration of the leave.

However, this new Regulation provides an exception - as of May 29, 2020, if an employee ceased participation in the employer’s benefit plan, or the employer ceased contributions to a benefit plan, the employer is exempt from the general requirement that it continue benefits during an ESA leave.

Employees will not be considered on IDEL if, at anytime on or after March 1, 2020, the employer:

  • terminates/severs the employee’s employ;
  • closes its entire business at an establishment; or
  • has given or gives notice of termination to an employee and the employee resigns in response as specifically provided under the ESA.

Similarly, employees will not be considered on IDEL if, before May 29, 2020, the employee had been:

  • deemed terminated or severed under the ESA because of their layoff; or
  • constructively dismissed and had resigned within a reasonable period.

Where an employee has been given written notice of termination, if the employer and the employee agree, the notice of termination can be withdrawn and the employee can be deemed to be on IDEL.

Reduced Hours/Wages

For an employee whose hours of work have been temporarily reduced or eliminated, or whose wages have been temporarily reduced, for reasons related to COVID-19 during the COVID-19 Period, the usual ESA termination and severance provisions related to layoffs will not apply.

That is, these employees will not be considered to be laid off for the purposes of the ESA during the COVID-19 Period.

The usual ESA rules remain in place if:

  • the employee is or was laid off as a result of a complete closure of the employer’s business at an establishment; or
  • before May 29, 2020, the employee had already been deemed terminated or severed under the ESA because of their layoff.

The Regulation also deems certain circumstances not to constitute a constructive dismissal under the ESA if they occur during the COVID-19 Period, and are for reasons related to COVID-19:

  • a temporary reduction or elimination of an employee’s hours of work.
  • a temporary reduction in an employee’s wages.

However, employees may still claim that such a reduction/elimination constitutes a termination if the employee resigned within a reasonable period before May 29, 2020.

Existing ESA Complaints

Subject to a few exceptions, complaints filed with the Ministry of Labour claiming that a temporary reduction or elimination of an employee’s hours of work, or a temporary reduction in an employee’s wages, constitutes a termination or severance of employment are deemed not to have been filed if the reduction or elimination occurred during the COVID-10 Period for reasons related to COVID-19.

Exemption - where an employee’s employ was deemed terminated before May 29, 2020 because they were laid off for a period longer than a temporary layoff under the ESA.

If so, the employee would still be able to file an ESA complaint if they were not paid their termination and severance (if applicable) entitlements.

In addition, where an employee was constructively dismissed and had resigned within a reasonable period before May 29, 2020, that claim would be allowed to proceed.

The Regulation also addresses how to determine if an employee’s hours of work or wages have been reduced.

For example, where an employee has a regular work week, the employee’s hours of work will be considered reduced if the employee works fewer hours in the work week than they worked in the last regular work week before March 1, 2020.

Where the employee does not have a regular work week, the average number of hours worked in the 12-week period before March 1, 2020 is to be used for comparison purposes.

Important Notes

While this Regulation appears to creatively provide temporary protection to Ontario employers, remember  the pre-existing ESA rules, including the deemed termination provisions for exceeding the temporary layoff period, will apply once the COVID-19 Period expires, unless the Ontario government further intervenes.

Furthermore, for any layoffs that preceded March 1, 2020 and were COVID-19-related, the COVID-19 Period effectively stops the clock on the layoff. 

This is a temporary measure - anticipate the usual rules for lay off will apply again at the end of the defined Covid-19 Period, including the 13-week, rolling threshold for temporary layoffs under the ESA.   

Lastly, note that this Regulation does not impact an employee's right to claim constructive dismissal at common law, which remains preserved and an option. The Ontario government has yet to decree otherwise.   

The Regulation is here: 

https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/r20228

 

 

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FEDS - NON MEDICAL MASKS USE REQUIRED IN AIR, SHIP, TRUCKING AND OTHER TRANSIT - EXPANDED USE.

The federal Government has expanded the required use of face coverings on planes, trains, ships and transit to reduce the spread of COVID-19. 

Effective Thursday, June 4 at midday, airline flight crew and airport workers will be required to wear non-medical masks, in addition to the existing requirement for passengers. 

Railway operators will have to notify passengers to wear a face covering when physical distancing of two metres from others can't be maintained, or as requested by the rail companies. 

All railway workers will be required to be given face coverings and ensure they are worn according to risk or when mandated by local authorities. 

Marine workers will be advised to possess a face covering that will be worn depending on the workplace risk, when physical distancing can't be maintained or where local authorities require it. 

Practices for the use of personal protective equipment, including masks, will be established for trucking, motor coaches and transit in collaboration with provinces, territories and industry. 

 

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CKL FRONTLINE WORKERS - DO YOU QUALIFY FOR THE TEMPORARY PANDEMIC PAY? ANSWERS HERE.......

The Ontario government has published a list of employees eligible for its temporary pandemic pay program. 

To provide additional support for frontline workers fighting COVID-19, the government is providing temporary pandemic pay of $4/hour worked on top of their regular wages. In addition, the government will be providing monthly lump sum payments of $250 for four months to eligible frontline workers who work over 100 hours per month. The pandemic pay will be effective for 16 weeks, from April 24, 2020 until August 13, 2020.

Temporary pandemic pay is designed to support eligible full-time, part-time and casual employees. It does not apply to management.

To receive pandemic pay, you must work in both an eligible:

  • role (i.e. be an eligible worker)
  • workplace

Eligible workplaces and workers are those listed below, by sector.

Health care

To be eligible for pandemic pay you must be an eligible worker (full-time, part-time or casual) who works in an eligible workplace providing in-person publicly-funded services.

Eligible workplaces

  • All hospitals in the province providing publicly-funded services, including small rural hospitals, post-acute hospitals, children’s hospitals and psychiatric hospitals
  • Home and community care settings, including community-based mental health and addictions

Eligible workers

  • Personal support workers including home support workers, home help workers, community support workers, residential support workers, homemakers
  • Registered nurses
  • Registered practical nurses
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Attendant care workers
  • Auxiliary staff, including:
    • porters
    • cooks, food service, food preparation
    • custodians, cleaning/maintenance and environmental services staff, sterilization and reprocessing staff
    • housekeeping
    • laundry
    • security, screeners
    • stores/supply workers, receivers, department attendants
    • hospital ward and unit clerks
    • client facing reception/administrative workers, schedulers, administrative staff working in home and community care or community-based mental health and addictions
    • community drivers
    • community recreational staff/activity coordinators
  • Developmental services workers
  • Mental health and addictions workers: counsellors/therapists, case workers and case managers, intake/admissions, peer workers, residential support staff, Indigenous/cultural service workers
  • Respiratory therapists in hospitals and in the home and community care sector
  • Paramedics
  • Public health and infection prevention and control nurses

Long-term care

Eligible workplaces

  • Long-term care homes (including private, municipal and not-for-profit homes)

Eligible workers

  • All non-management publicly funded employees and workers in eligible workplaces (full-time, part-time and casual)

Retirement homes

Eligible workplaces

  • Licensed retirement homes

Eligible workers

  • All non-management employees working on site in licensed retirement homes (full-time, part-time and casual), excluding hours worked to provide extra care services purchased privately

Social services

Eligible workplaces

  • Homes supporting people with developmental disabilities
  • Intervenor residential sites
  • Indigenous healing and wellness facilities and shelters
  • Shelters for survivors of gender-based violence and human trafficking
  • Youth justice residential facilities
  • Licenced children’s residential sites
  • Directly operated residential facility – Child and Parent Resource Institute
  • Emergency shelters
  • Supportive housing facilities
  • Respite and drop-in centres
  • Temporary shelter facilities, such as re-purposed community centres or arenas
  • Hotels and motels used for self-isolation and/or shelter overflow

Eligible workers

  • Direct support workers (such as developmental service workers, staff in licenced children’s residential sites, intake and outreach workers)
  • Clinical staff
  • Housekeeping staff
  • Security staff
  • Administration personnel
  • Maintenance staff
  • Food service workers
  • Nursing staff

Corrections

Eligible workplaces

  • Adult correctional facilities and youth justice facilities in Ontario

Eligible workers

  • Correctional officers
  • Youth services officers
  • Nurses
  • Healthcare staff
  • Social workers
  • Food service
  • Maintenance staff
  • Programming personnel
  • Administration personnel
  • Institutional liaison officers
  • Native Institutional Liaison Officers
  • TRILCOR personnel
  • Chaplains
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REMOVING DISABILITY BARRIERS IN THE CKL - THE NEW, FEDERAL ENABLING ACCESSIBILITY FUND. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW......

The federal government has now announced a call for proposals under the Enabling Accessibility Fund ("EAF") – small projects component.

The EAF provides funding for projects that make Canadian communities and workplaces more accessible for persons with disabilities.

The application process has been streamlined, and flat rates have been introduced to reduce the burden on applicants and expedite the process.

Applications are due by July 13, 2020.

The government's announcement is here: 

https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/news/2020/06/newly-modernized-enabling-accessibility-fund-issues-a-call-for-proposals.html

Applications for this new program can be found here: 

https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/programs/enabling-accessibility-fund.html?utm_campaign=EnablingAccessibilityFund&utm_source=SocialMedia%5CDdn%5CBanners&utm_medium=VanityUrl&utm_term=en&utm_content=canada-ca_accessibility-fund

 

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FINALLY......ONT. GOV. DECREES CANNOT SUE IF YOU ARE LAID OFF DUE TO PANDEMIC - BETTER LATE, THAN NEVER.

Finally.........

Yesterday, the Ontario government published a new regulation which, among other things, deems temporary reductions or cessations in hours due to COVID-19, or any temporary layoffs due to COVID-19, which began on or after March 1, 2020 not to trigger constructive dismissal claims or the deemed termination and severance provisions under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”). 

The regulation deems employees who are not performing work (e.g., those on a temporary layoff under the ESA) on or after March 1, 2020 to have been on an Emergency Leave under the ESA. 

The regulation also provide that employees that were on layoff under the ESA have been, instead, on this Emergency Leave.

Though leaves of absence under the ESA generally require employers to continue employee participation in applicable pension plans, life insurance plans, accidental death plans, extended health plans and dental plans, the regulation does not require such participation or employer contributions if an employee who is not performing work (e.g., who is on a temporary layoff) is not participating in these plans/the employer was not making contributions as of May 29, 2020.

 

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IS WORKING-AT-HOME GOING TO BE PERMANENT OR MORE REGULAR, EVEN AFTER THE PANDEMIC? LEGAL TIPS - WHAT YOU NEED TO CONSIDER.

Working from home – will it be more permanent or, at least, regular, even after the pandemic?

Stay-at-home work may be part of the “new normal” in the City of Kawartha Lakes for many businesses and organizations.

If so, there are a few legal issues to consider and plan for, not only to minimize liability for employers, but to enrich the work-at-home arrangement for both employers and employees.

Transitioning to remote work conditions involves some changes, legally.

HEALTH AND SAFETY ISSUES:

Although there may be some debate amongst legal professionals, arguably Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (the “Act”) extends to remove working arrangements. If not, expect the provincial government to soon verify that is the case.

Employers have a statutory duty to take all reasonable steps to ensure safety in the workplace, including for those working at home. Similarly, applicable federal legislation imposes the same obligation. To minimize exposure to liability, employers should assume this duty extends to those employees who are asked to, or who are permitted to, work at home in future.

Ontario has recently promulgated health and safety guidelines for operating a business during the pandemic, which apply to work-at-home arrangements, as may be relevant. Those should be reviewed and considered by both employers and employees. 

To incorporate work-from-home arrangements in future, including following the pandemic, employers should review and revise their workplace policy to ensure they: 

  • require employees conduct their own assessment of the workplace and, after doing so, promptly report any potential risks/hazards;

  • explore and address ergonomic issues relating to employees’ workplaces, including seating, keyboarding and monitor viewing;

  • establish the procedure for notifying and contacting the employer and evacuating the home or other remote work area to a safe location in the event of an emergency;

  • address the procedure for reporting promptly any work-related incidents or injuries;

  • facilitate a fairly regular, scheduled "check-in" process with the employer and, if appropriate, co-workers;

  • provide for a risk management/emergency procedure if an employee cannot be contacted, or communication is otherwise disabled; and

  • provide for suitable and appropriate training for both supervisors and those working from home.

ONTARIO HUMAN RIGHTS CODE ISSUES:

COVID-19 bring more attention to the potential need to accommodate employees, particularly regarding family status and disability-related issues. The most common issues are:  

  • employees with young children being forced to balance full-time work with child care and educational responsibilities, while schools are closed and without the usual services  provided by child care centres, schools, home maintenance, etc.;

  • a need for additional time off due to illness, or a need to care for family members who are ill; and

  • a need to work remotely due to concern of exposure or for other family (household) members who may have existing medical conditions or are elderly, which may make them more vulnerable to COVID-19.

In Ontario, employers must be mindful of the COVID-19 legal implications, including:

  • Ontario now has a job-protected, unpaid infectious leave of absence, including for COVID-19;

  • Ontario’s Human Rights Code requires employers to adopt individualized approaches to employees' requests for accommodation - there is no one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter, standard approach to accommodation requests and each request must be determined on the basis of the relevant circumstances affecting the individual employee and the employer; and

  • employers’ obligations may vary or differ depending on whether the accommodations requested are short-term, medium-term, or permanent - permanent accommodation requests should not be rebuked merely because they are permanent in nature; rather, employers may be obliged to provide permanent accommodation if doing so falls short of "undue hardship."

REMEMBER BULLYING, INTIMIDATION AND HARASSMENT:

Harassment, bullying and discrimination occur with virtual interactions, too.

Employers are required to take reasonable steps to prevent and address such conduct under Ontario’s human rights and occupational health and safety legislation.

Accordingly, employers must review and ensure their workplace violence, bullying and harassment policies address "virtual" conduct and include a process for complaints and investigations that can take place outside of the regular workplace environment.

WORKPLACE POLICY:

For those employers intending to continue work-at-home arrangements, including after the pandemic, they should establish a workplace policy delineating the protocol, practice and procedures for:

  • the existing arrangements (during the pandemic);

  • when schools and child care centres reopen ultimately;

  • when social/physical distancing measures are relaxed, or removed; and

  • the post-pandemic period, when restrictions no longer exist and the “new normal” applies.

Set expectations for employees sooner, rather than later, despite that it may be difficult to do so amidst the uncertainty of the pandemic.  Things will change; developments will materialize that were not reasonably predicted. Workplace policies may need to be modified, or changed, to accommodate unforeseen developments during and after the pandemic.

Employers should develop and implement a flexible, scalable remove working policy, which addresses:  

  • the meaning of "remote work";

  • the employer's organizational polices, rules and practices that apply to remote work employees;

  • eligibility, approval and duration of a remote work arrangement;

  • specific remote work arrangements that may need to incorporate a distinct written remote work agreement between the employee and the employer;

  • specific responsibilities of the manager/supervisor for the work-at-home arrangement;

  • remote work training that may be necessary, if any;

  • feedback, performance reviews and evaluations;

  • technology and communications, including setting up employees with the necessary computer and peripheral equipment at home and the costs related thereto;

  • work hours and schedule;

  • overtime issues and procedure;

  • emergency measures;

  • performance, work quality and professional standards and expectations;

  • information and personal information security and measures to prevent unauthorized disclosure and privacy breach protocols; and

  • restrictions and limits on engaging in personal affairs/business during the work day.

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HOW TO RE-OPEN - COVID-19 STEPS TO TAKE - RETAIL STORES, OFFICES, ETC. IN THE CKL - BEST PRACTICES TO MAXIMIZE SAFETY AND MINIMIZE LIABILITY.

As we gradually re-open the CKL, some sectors, including retail stores and professional offices, have no health and safety guidelines available yet from the Ontario government. 

While the guidelines for the five, key sectors announced to date overlap substantially and, effectively, apply to any public business space, it is important for all business spaces to know and adhere to the proper containment measures, including because there is so much discussion about a 'second wave' currently. 

Below is an excellent article on procedures and steps that should be considered for any public business space, including offices and retail stores, while those businesses should also review and implement the Ontario health and safety guidelines recently published, to the extent they provide for additional measures not specifically identified by this article. 

"As we better understand the challenges associated with COVID-19, attention has turned to reopening the Canadian economy and retuning to work. This, in turn, raises questions about the steps that employers should be taking to train their employees and adapt their physical workplaces in order to continue operating (if they did not shutdown during the pandemic) or return to work (if they did shutdown) in a COVID-19 world.

As employers across the country consider these challenges, one thing is absolutely clear—careful planning is required to accomplish the competing but essential goals of maximizing protection from the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace for employees, customers and others, while at the same time minimizing disruption to the employer's business operations. Every business is unique, and there is no one business continuity or return to work plan that is recommended for all. Instead, employers must consider a range of issues in the context of their particular business needs. The purpose of this blog is to address some of the issues that employers should have in mind as they develop and adapt their business continuity and/or return to work plans. Bennett Jones is available to assist you and your business as you adjust to the "new normal" of COVID-19.

Risks Associated with Operating a Business During COVID-19

In response to the spread of COVID-19, governments across Canada issued public health directives and emergency orders, including closure orders for many businesses in non-essential industries. As the economy gradually reopens, these closure orders are being removed. However, the timing for reopening of specific businesses varies from industry to industry, and from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Employers who were required to shutdown due to COVID-19 should understand when their business, in their province or jurisdiction, is permitted to reopen, and must not reopen until they are legally permitted to do so. Failure to comply with a closure order can lead to significant liability for businesses including, for example in Ontario, a fine of up to $10,000,000 under the Ontario Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, and personal liability for directors and officers of the business.

Employers should also consider how the risks associated with COVID-19 affect their obligation to take reasonable steps to ensure a safe and healthy workplace under applicable occupational health and safety legislation. In particular, employers who fail to take adequate steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace may be subject to inspections, compliance orders and significant fines imposed by occupational health and safety officials. There is also the potential for civil liability where the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace leads to illness or injury for employees and third parties who do not have workers' compensation coverage. Finally, employers must be mindful of their obligations under existing employment agreements, employment policies and (if they are unionized) collective agreements, and ensure their business continuity and/or return to work plans take these obligations into account.

In addition to the legal risks associated with carrying on business during COVID-19, there are operational risks as well. In particular, if an employer fails to take adequate steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace, the risk of an outbreak among employees increases. This, in turn, could necessitate the adoption of even stronger preventative measures, or reclosing parts of the employer's business, or the whole business, for an additional period of time. On the other hand, if the anti-COVID-19 measures adopted by an employer are too restrictive or onerous, the employer's business operations may suffer as a result.

Preliminary Steps Before Developing a Business Continuity or Return to Work Plan

Before an employer develops its business continuity or return to work plan, there are a number of preliminary steps that should be taken.

  1. First and foremost, determine who the decision makers are that will be responsible for designing and implementing the plan. Steps involved in this process should include:

    • plan preparation, which includes assessing your workplace and developing an operational/return to work plan that clearly demonstrates you have taken "every reasonable precaution in the circumstances" to prevent the spread of COVID-19;

    • plan implementation, which includes developing an effective communication and training strategy for employees;

    • monitoring compliance with, and the effectiveness of, the business continuity/return to work plan, which includes regular review and consideration of applicable government and public health guidance; and

    • responding to issues and problems as they arise and adapting the business continuity/return to work plan as necessary to meet unforeseen challenges.

    If a COVID-19 response team or committee has previously been set up, it may be best suited to take on responsibility for the business continuity/return to work plan as well.

  2. Consider if the decision makers responsible for your business continuity/return to work plan have the necessary expertise, or if they require the assistance of experts such as a medical professional, occupational health and safety specialist, communications expert, design consultant or other technical specialist. In addition, consider if anyone other than the designated decision makers should be consulted about the business continuity/return to work plan, such as, for example, a joint health and safety committee or, in the case of a unionized workplace, possibly the union.

  3. Consider what resources are available to monitor the latest updates regarding COVID-19, and business operation/return to work guidelines for employers. For example, federal and provincial governments have all established dedicated COVID-19 websites and online resources that are regularly updated with public health and related information. Guidance for employers in each province and jurisdiction to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace has now been posted to these locations. In addition, federal, provincial and some municipal public health authorities have established websites and links that are regularly updated as information becomes available. Most provincial occupational health and safety authorities have established similar online resources. Lastly, many industry associations have developed or are preparing return to work recommendations and best practices specifically tailored to their industry. All of these resources should be regularly consulted and considered by the designated business continuity/return to work decision makers for your business.

  4. Finally, consider timing for the ramp-up or reopening of your business. In particular, determine when your business is legally permitted to reopen. For employees who have been laid off, consider how they will be recalled and confirm whether any advance notice of recall is required in your jurisdiction. Also consider whether all employees will return to the workplace at the same time, or if the return to work will occur in stages, with some employees returning before others. For example, will some employees who are able to work or continue working remotely from home be permitted or required to do so, while other employees return to the physical workplace? If a staggered return to work is contemplated, consider which employees will return first and whether this creates any constructive dismissal or other issues under existing employment contracts. Also, if there is a collective agreement with a union, review the recall and seniority provisions to determine if they comply with the business continuity/return to work plan, or if changes are necessary in consultation with the union.

Issues to Consider in Your Business Continuity or Return to Work Plan

There are a number of issues that should be considered in any business continuity or return to work plan. These include the following:

Communications and Training

Consider how the business continuity/return to work plan, and employee responsibilities under the plan, will be communicated to employees. For example, will there be any communication with employees regarding the plan before they return to the physical workplace? How will questions or feedback from employees be handled? Will you hold regular health and safety meetings to review COVID-19 related procedures? Will any signage be needed in the workplace to ensure employees understand their obligations in particular circumstances? With respect to training, consider whether anything is required so that employees know their obligations in terms of sanitizing, physical distancing, use of PPE and other matters. Consider whether managers require any special training to administer the business continuity/return to work plan. Finally, make sure your plan states that you will continue to adapt and make changes as necessary, and communicate those changes to employees.

Self-Reporting Requirements and Privacy Considerations

Ensure clear guidelines are established so that employee know their responsibility to self-report a positive COVID-19 diagnosis for themselves or their family members, or where the employee or a family member exhibits symptoms of possible COVID-19, or where the employee has come into contact with someone else with COVID-19, or where the employee is subject to travel-related quarantine restrictions, etc. Consider if employees should be required to perform a self-assessment or complete a questionnaire prior to attending at work, or provide any other information to the employer such as COVID-19 test results. Consider if other forms of assessment such as temperature checks will be carried out at work. Consider if employees will be required or encouraged to download a government approved contact tracing app onto their cell phone, and make information from the app available to the employer on request. Finally, consider what privacy protections are necessary in order to deal with any COVID-19 related personal information that is received by the employer, and whether there are any privacy limits on the information that can be collected.

Sanitizing the Workplace

Implement a thorough cleaning of the physical workplace before employees return to work, and communicate this to employees. Consider if the initial cleaning should be carried out by your regular cleaning contractor, or if a specialized service provider is necessary. Once employees return to the physical workplace, consider what cleaning schedules and protocols are necessary. Consider whether cleaning and disinfecting supplies such as alcohol wipes, hand sanitizer dispensers and wash stations will be provided for employees, if the availability and location of these supplies is adequate, and what rules will be enforced concerning their use by employees and third parties present in the physical workplace.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Consider whether employees will be required to use PPE, and if so which employees, in what circumstances and what specific PPE. For example, will employees who take an elevator to and from the office each day be required to wear a face mask during their elevator trips? Will PPE be provided or made available to employees required to use it, and if so what standard of PPE will be considered adequate (for example, will an N95 mask be considered necessary in certain circumstances, as opposed to another form of face mask). Will employees be permitted to use their own PPE if they prefer and, if so, are there any standards applicable here?

Regular Hours of Work, or Shifts and Staggered Start Times?

Will regular hours of work be maintained for all employees, or will shifts or staggered start times be required in order to reduce the number of employees at work at a given time, and promote physical distancing? If staggered start times or shifts are necessary, review any union collective agreements to determine whether the proposed work schedule is in compliance, or if discussions with the union will be necessary. Consider your obligations under applicable employment standards and human rights legislation if there are any employees for whom the proposed shift or start times create a particular hardship due to family obligations or other factors.

Entry and Exit Points

Consider entry and exit points to the physical workplace, and whether these access points are controlled by the employer or a third party such as a landlord. If the landlord or other third party controls the access points, consult with them to determine what their plan is to reduce to the risk of COVID-19 exposure for people using the access points, and whether the proposed measures are too lax or too onerous in the circumstances. For example, will there be limits on the number of people allowed to use the elevator at one time, and are those limits practical in the circumstances? How will lineups and bottlenecks at access points (for instance, people waiting to use the elevator) be dealt with, and how will physical distancing be maintained in these circumstances? Consider if the number of access points to the workplace should be restricted so that the number and identity of people in the workplace can be better monitored and controlled. Consider how any such measures comply with fire code and other safety regulations. Consider if any special monitoring equipment such as temperature checking devices will be used at access points, and what rules apply to that. Finally, consider how deliveries and other shipping and receiving issues will be dealt with, and whether items delivered to the workplace should be sanitized and how.

Physical Distancing of Work Stations

Consider whether the physical separation of work spaces is adequate and whether any changes to the physical layout of the workplace are advisable or possible. Consider whether other measures besides reconfiguring the workplace are possible, such as reducing the density of employees in particular areas, use of plexiglass screens or other physical separation equipment or the use of directional signage and floor markings.

Gathering Areas

Consider common gathering areas such as reception areas, lunch rooms and meeting rooms, and whether any measures are required to promote physical distancing in these spaces. Consider whether all common or gathering areas in the workplace will be open, or whether some will remain closed.

Frequent Touchpoints and Common Equipment

Consider frequent touchpoints such as door handles, light switches and elevator buttons, and what steps are necessary to ensure they remain clean and disinfected. Should measures such as propping open doors be considered, and how will this work in terms of safety and security concerns, fire code regulations and other considerations? What steps will be taken to ensure that common equipment such as coffee machines, cups and glasses, microwave ovens, vending machines, water coolers and photocopiers remain clean and disinfected, and will all such equipment remain in use or will some of it be temporarily removed or shut off?

HVAC Systems

Are there any changes or improvements to the HVAC system that should be considered to improve ventilation and air circulation in the workplace?

Third-Party Access

Consider whether any measures are necessary to limit or control third-party access to the physical workplace. Consider what physical distancing, sanitization, PPE or other requirements will be imposed on third parties present in the workplace, and what steps will be taken if a third party refuses to comply with these requirements. Consider if there are any contractor employees present on site (for example cleaning personnel), what COVID-19 related rules apply to them, whether the rules are adequate and who is responsible for enforcing those rules. Consider if there are any alternatives to in-person third-party meetings that should be promoted or mandated through the use of technology (such as Zoom conferences and other virtual meeting options).

Changes to Employment Policies

Consider whether there is anything in the business continuity or return to work plan that requires your existing employment policies to be amended, or new polices to be adopted, and how those policy changes will be communicated to employees. In the case of a unionized workplace, consider whether the business continuity/return to work plan complies with any collective agreements, and whether consultation with the union is necessary or advisable in relation to the plan.

Consequences for Failure or Refusal to Comply with the Business Continuity or Return to Work Plan

Consider what disciplinary or other consequences will be applied to employees who fail or refuse to comply with the business continuity or return to work plan. For example, will employees be sent home in these circumstances, and if so will they be paid or unpaid while they are away? When considering the issue of discipline, take into consideration whether the employee's action constitutes misconduct, or if it reflects a legitimate concern involving human rights, privacy or the right to refuse unsafe work under occupational health and safety legislation. Also consider what steps will be taken where a third party or contractor employee fails or refuses to comply with the business continuity or return to work plan.

Response to a Positive Diagnosis or Potential Exposure to COVID-19 in the Workplace

Consider in advance what steps you will take if an employee or their family member tests positive for COVID-19, or is exhibiting symptoms of possible COVID-19, or has been exposed to someone else with COVID-19. Will self-quarantining or testing be required in these circumstances, and what happens if the test result comes back positive or negative? What steps will be taken with respect to contract tracing among other employees, and who will be responsible for that? Will the business remain open while these steps are taken, or are there any additional protective measures that will be implemented in these circumstances? How will a positive test result in the workplace be communicated to other employees, bearing in mind the privacy rights of the employee with confirmed or suspected COVID-19?

Response to Employees Who Believe that Returning to Work will Cause or Exacerbate a Disability or Health Risk

Some employees may believe that returning to work at this time will cause or exacerbate an existing disability such as anxiety, an autoimmune disorder or respiratory problems, or lead to some other increased risk to health and safety. Consider in advance how you will handle these concerns, including who such concerns should be directed to, what medical information will be required from the employee, whether any job protection exists under applicable employment standards legislation and whether the employee would qualify for short- or long-term disability benefits in these circumstances. Also consider whether any human rights issues arise and, if so, whether the employee can be accommodated by working from home.

The list of issues above is not exhaustive, and other factors may also need to be considered depending on the nature of the employer's business....." 

Credit: 

 Carl Cunningham and John R. Gilmore, Bennett Jones LLP, published via Lexology on May 21, 2020 

 

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CKL BUSINESSES - ONT. GOV. BEING CRITICIZED FOR ALLOWING RE-OPENING WITHOUT PROPER TESTING IN PLACE - GET READY FOR THERMAL TESTING IN YOUR WORKPLACE. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW.

A primary symptom of the virus is an elevated body temperature of above 38˚C (100.4˚F).

Accurate body temperature measurements seek to measure a person’s core body temperature. The normal core body temperature range in an adult is 36.5 – 37 C, but not everyone’s “normal” is the same. As well, different methods of temperature testing, such as oral, axillar (armpit), or tympanic (inside the ear) can yield different results. Therefore, having tests performed by medically trained staff is required for proper testing, and appropriate assessment of results. As well, employers should be aware that proper hygiene, and the provision (and proper use) of PPE is required if considering oral, axillar or tympanic temperature testing as this necessitates  physical contact, and potentially puts the person doing the testing at risk. This can raise issues of cost, liability if proper measures are not followed, and the risk of employee refusal to participate.  

For rapid and hygienic testing, contactless Infra-Red (IR) thermometers are often the method chosen by employers.  However, some experts believe IR devices are unreliable because of user error and even when used correctly, those infected may go fourteen days or more without showing any symptoms.  IR temperature results can also be influenced by environmental factors (ie: someone who walked to work in the sun compared to someone who drove to work in air conditioning).

Touchless temperature scanners are available to employers to use, but can they?

There has been no government order to do so to date, including under Ontario’s new health and safety guidelines.

This issue is unclear and controversial, including because an employee may have a temperature without having the virus.

On the other hand, thermal testing is non-invasive, generates fairly objective and instant results and tests for one of the primary symptoms of COVID-19.

So, employers may consider using thermal testing, but not randomly in the workplace, but rather only if they have reasonable grounds for suspecting an employee may be symptomatic.

Ideally, an employee would consent to a temperature screen in the workplace, further minimizing the risk of liability for a privacy violation.

To utilize thermal screening effectively and to minimize risk of privacy violation, employers should consider:

  1. if possible, retaining a third party to conduct the thermal screening;
  2. ensure any other employee engaging in the screening is duly and properly trained and qualified to use the touchless temperature scanner and is knowledgeable about COVID-19 symptoms and what other factors may influence screening results;
  3. providing the tester with personal protective equipment, including: surgical (latex) gloves, face masks, a lab or disposable coat and alcohol-based hand sanitizer in all workplace areas where testing is undertaken;
  4. asking employees who attend work if they are displaying any flu-or-cold-like symptoms, such as coughing, breathing trouble, fever, pink eye, etc., or otherwise feeling ill for any reason;
  5. asking employees if they have had any contact within the past fourteen days with any other person who is a confirmed, or suspected, case of COVID-19;
  6. asking the consent of employees before undertaking the thermal testing – if there are reasonable grounds for suspecting an employee may be infected, but the employee refuses conduct, the employee may be asked not to attend the workplace due to the risk of potential contamination of others;
  7. conducting the testing in a private area, beyond the observation and earshot of others; and
  8. not collecting, recording, storing, using or disclosing for any reasons the information collected other than solely for determining whether the employee should be permitted to enter the workplace.

If an employee Employees thermal tests at at or above 38˚C (100.4˚F), or the employers “yes” to any of the screening questions, the employee should be advised to leave the workplace and stay at home, self-isolate, contact their physician or the local health unit for further assessment and next steps and leave home only for essential reasons.

Thermal testing and screening questions are reasonable methods to protect a workplace from a potential outbreak of COVID-19.

Provided that employees consent to being tested, the test results are not recorded, and the tests are conducted safely and privately, liability for potential violation of privacy should be minimized, if not eliminated entirely.

 If any testing or screening is conducted, how should that information be handled?

There is no decisive, clear statutory privacy-related laws in Ontario regarding implementing and conducting thermal testing in workplaces.

Therefore, employers must adhere to “best practices” to avoid potential privacy violations at common law.

If thermal testing is utilized, the personal information obtained from the employee through temperature screening should not be collected, recorded, stored, used or disclosed for any purpose other than solely determining whether the employee should be permitted to enter the workplace.

In addition, any personal information collected should be anonymized prior to recording, if recording is even required.

Any personal information collected should also be safeguarded against unauthorized use or disclosure.

The information collected should be limited as much as possible to fulfill the purpose of testing, and test records should not be collected, stored, used or disclosed for any purpose other than the screening context.

Ontario’s Human Rights Code Applies to all Workplace Screening and Testing:

Currently, Ontario’s Human Rights Commission indicates that medical assessments in the workplace to determine an employee’s ability and fitness to perform his or her employment duties may be permissible in these circumstances under Ontario’s Human Rights Code.

Despite this, personal information collected by medical tests may have an adverse impact on employees with other disabilities.

Therefore, employers should only obtain information from medical testing that is reasonably necessary in the circumstances to evaluate the employee’s fitness to perform on the job and any restrictions that may limit this ability, while excluding information that may identify a disability.

Based on this, touchless thermal scanning properly undertaken is unlikely to expose employers to tenable human rights and discrimination-related claims.

 
 
 
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SUPPORT FOR OUR ELDERLY AND ISOLATED - N.I.C.E. - FREE SESSIONS - CHECK IT OUT.

Did you know about the NATIONAL INITIATIVE FOR THE CARE OF THE ELDERLY (NICE)?

NICE is an international network of researchers, practitioners and students dedicated to improving the care of older adults, both in Canada and abroad.

Its members represent a broad spectrum of disciplines and professions, including geriatric medicine, gerontological nursing, gerontological social work, gerontology, rehabilitation science, sociology, psychology, policy, law and older adults themselves and their caregivers.

Joining NICE is only a click away. 

NICE partners with both the Canadian government and the University of Toronto, among others. 

They run a program called TALK 2 NICE, mostly supporting our elderly and other socially isolated people during these challenging times.

The program offers no-charge outreach and counselling to older adults and those with disabilities.

A person may join and call in to the program – they will be connected with social workers or social work students.

The toll free number is: 1 (844) 529-7292.

A session can also be booked online at http://www.nicenet.ca.

Sessions of varying times may be scheduled, including up to thirty minutes, or simply a “Friendly Check In”.

Socially isolated elderly and disabled people may benefit from his support, especially during the pandemic. 

NICE has trained volunteers offering positive, supportive advice and assistance, including referral to more helpful resources, if needed.

NICE also offers guidance on whether to relocate a family member from institutional care during the pandemic.

This is a great resource to those who may be isolated, lonely or otherwise in need of trained, positive support. 

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NON-MEDICAL MASKS OFFICIALLY RECOMMENDED TODAY AS "ADDITIONAL MEASURE" - PHYSICAL DISTANCING REMAINS ESSENTIAL. YOUR UPDATE.

Today federal public health officials are now officially recommending that people wear non-medical masks in situations where physical distancing isn’t possible.

After initially advising against wearing non-medical masks, federal health officials said in April that people who don’t have symptoms of COVID-19 could wear non-medical masks when in public as “an additional measure” to protect others — but officials didn’t present it as an official recommendation.

Updated recommendations on the use of non-medical masks amid the ongoing pandemic will be posted on the government’s website later today, Canada’s chief medical officer of health said Wednesday.

Dr. Theresa Tam has said some evidence suggests that COVID-19 can be spread by people who aren’t showing symptoms.

Tam, however, has emphasized that wearing a mask — whether medical or non-medical — does not replace staying two metres apart from people outside your household and maintaining proper hand hygiene.

Health officials on Wednesday said those measures must continue through the spring and summer months and urged that “staying home when sick is a must.”

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CKL BUSINESSES - ELIGIBILITY FOR THE CEBA $40,000 LOC NOW EXPANDED - FIND OUT IF YOU QUALIFY - WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY.

Today the federal government announced an expansion to the eligibility criteria for the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA), to now include many owner-operated small businesses.

The changes to the CEBA are intended to allow more Canadian small businesses to access interest free loans that will help cover operating costs during a period when revenues have been reduced, due to the pandemic.   

The program will now be available to a greater number of businesses that are sole proprietors receiving income directly from their businesses, businesses that rely on contractors, and family-owned corporations that pay employees through dividends rather than payroll.

To qualify under the expanded eligibility criteria, applicants with payroll lower than $20,000 would need:

  • a business operating account at a participating financial institution
  • a Canada Revenue Agency business number, and to have filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return.
  • eligible non-deferrable expenses between $40,000 and $1.5 million. Eligible non-deferrable expenses could include costs such as rent, property taxes, utilities, and insurance.

Expenses will be subject to verification and audit by the Government of Canada. Funding will be delivered in partnership with financial institutions. More details, including the launch date for applications under the new criteria, will follow in the days to come.

Notably to date, over 600,000 small businesses have accessed the CEBA, and the government will work on potential solutions to help business owners and entrepreneurs who operate through their personal bank account, as opposed to a business account, or have yet to file a tax return, such as newly created businesses.

More Key Information About The CEBA: 

  • $40,000 line of credit or loan, depending on financial institution
  • Government-backed (guaranteed)
  • Intended to be used for funding operational expenses, including commercial rent and utilities
  • Must have payroll between $20,000 and $1.5 million in 2019
  • $10,000 is non-repayable if balance is repaid by Dec. 31, 2022
  • New businesses, self-employed and those who pay themselves by dividends may not qualify
  • Tips for applying here: http://wardlegal.ca/31586368607013

 

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FAMILY COURT ISSUES ANOTHER STERN WARNING TO WARRING PARENTS (AND THEIR LAWYERS). A MUST-READ FOR ANYONE FACING FAMILY COURT LITIGATION.

The Family Court has recently issued another stern caution and warning to those embroiled in Family Court litigation, including the lawyers who represent them. 

This important guidance is in Alsawwah v. Afini, 2020 ONSC 2883, at paragraph 108, and is a must-read for every person who finds himself or herself in the challenging landscape of the Superior Court - Family Division: 

"In the hopes of lowering the rhetorical temperature of the future materials of these parties and perhaps those of others who will come before the court, I repeat these essential facts, often stated by my colleagues at all levels of court, but which bear constant repetition:

1.            Evidence regarding a former spouse’s moral failings is rarely relevant to the issues before the court.

2.            Nor are we swayed by rhetoric against the other party that verges on agitprop.

3.            Our decisions are not guided by concerns of marital fidelity. A (nonabusive) partner can be a terrible spouse but a good parent. Everyone is supposed to know this, but all too often I see litigants raise these issues for “context”.

4.            Exaggeration is the enemy of credibility. As it is often said, one never gets a second chance to make a first impression. If that impression, arising from a parties’ materials or argument, is one of embellishment, that impression will colour everything that  emanates from that party or their counsel.

5.            Affidavits that read as argument rather than a recitation of facts are not persuasive. They speak to careless drafting.

6.            Similarly, hearsay allegations against the other side which fail to comply with r. 14(18) or (19) are generally ignored, whether judges feel it necessary to explicitly say so or not.

__________________

Note by us: Sub-Rules 14(18) and (19) read:

AFFIDAVIT BASED ON PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE

(18) An affidavit for use on a motion shall, as much as possible, contain only information within the personal knowledge of the person signing the affidavit.  O. Reg. 114/99, r. 14 (18).

AFFIDAVIT BASED ON OTHER INFORMATION

(19) The affidavit may also contain information that the person learned from someone else, but only if,

(a) the source of the information is identified by name and the affidavit states that the person signing it believes the information is true; and

(b) in addition, if the motion is a contempt motion under rule 31, the information is not likely to be disputed.  O. Reg. 114/99, r. 14 (19).

_________________________

7.            A lawyer’s letter, whatever it says, unless it contains an admission, is not evidence of anything except the fact that it was sent. The fact that a lawyer makes allegations against the other side in a letter is usually of no evidentiary value.

8.            Facts win cases. A pebble of proof is worth a mountain of innuendo or bald allegation.

9.            Relevance matters. If the court is dealing with, say an issue regarding parenting, allegations of a party’s failures regarding collateral issues, say their stinginess or the paucity of their financial disclosure, are irrelevant and counter-productive. They do not reveal the dark soul of the other side or turn the court against the allegedly offending spouse. Rather, they demonstrate that the party or their counsel is unable to focus on the issue at hand. Often those materials backfire leading the court to place greater trust in the other side.

10.          One key to success in family law as in other areas of law is the race to the moral high ground. Courts appreciate those parties and counsel who demonstrate their commitment to that high ground in both the framing and presentation of their case.

11.          While dealing with that moral high ground, many capable counsel advise their clients against “me-too” ism. One side’s failure to obey a court order or produce necessary disclosure does not give licence to the other side to do the same. Just because the materials of one side are incendiary or prolix, that does not mean that the other side is required to respond in kind. Judges are usually aware when a party has crossed the line. Showing that you or your client does not do the same is both the ethical and the smart thing to Do." 

 

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REOPENING THE CKL - WHO? WHEN? HOW? ANSWERING YOUR QUESTIONS

May 15 - The Ontario government announced the following businesses will be permitted to open, with restrictions, effective Tuesday May 19, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. E.D.T.:

  • "Retail services that are not in shopping malls and have separate street-front entrances with measures in place that can enable physical distancing, such as limiting the number of customers in the store at any one time and booking appointments beforehand or on the spot.

  • Seasonal businesses and recreational activities for individual or single competitors, including training and sport competitions conducted by a recognized national or provincial sport organization. This includes indoor and outdoor non-team sport competitions that can be played while maintaining physical distancing and without spectators, such as tennis, track and field and horse racing.

  • Animal services, specifically pet care services, such as grooming and training, and regular veterinary appointments.

  • Indoor and outdoor household services that can follow public health guidelines, such as housekeepers, cooks, cleaning and maintenance.

  • Lifting essential workplace limits on construction.

  • Allowing certain health and medical services to resume, such as in-person counselling; in-person services, in addition to virtual services, delivered by health professionals; and scheduled surgeries, all based on the ability to meet pre-specified conditions as outlined in A Measured Approach to Planning for Surgeries and Procedures During the COVID-19 Pandemic."

In addition, effective Saturday, May 16, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. E.D.T., the following seasonal services and activities will be permitted to reopen according to a government press release:

  • "Golf courses will be able to open, with clubhouses open only for washrooms and restaurants open only for take-out.

  • Marinas, boat clubs and public boat launches may open for recreational use.

  • Private parks and campgrounds may open to enable preparation for the season and to allow access for trailers and recreational vehicles whose owners have a full season contract.

  • Businesses that board animals, such as stables, may allow boarders to visit, care for or ride their animal."

The regulation required to permit these operations was not yet published by 5:00 p.m. E.D.T. on May 14, 2020.

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CKL SEPARATED PARENTS - DID YOU KNOW YOU CAN SET UP AND ADJUST CHILD SUPPORT ONLINE DURING THE PANDEMIC? NO FAMILY COURT REQUIRED. SEE IF YOU QUALIFY - WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW.

Did you know you can potentially set up, or adjust, child support payments online, without having to endure the Family Court process? 

How it works

To set up or update child support online, you and the other parent or caregiver may have to provide your income information. It is used to calculate the amount of child support to be paid.

When one parent sets up or updates child support online, the other parent will be notified by mail and must respond online within 25 calendar days. Both parents may also be required to complete a consent form to allow the Canada Revenue Agency to share their income information with the service.

Once you and the other parent or caregiver have provided the necessary income information, both of you will be mailed a Notice of Calculation or Recalculation. This document includes the new child support arrangement, including the amount to be paid. It will be enforced just like a court order.

For more information about setting up or updating child support online, please call the Child Support Service Contact Centre at 1-866-656-7753.

If the other parent or caregiver does not respond

If the other parent or caregiver does not respond to the request, the service may automatically update your child support based on the information you provided.

This will only happen if:

  • you set up your existing child support in court or online

  • your child support case is not currently before the court

  • you are not changing the special expenses covered in your child support

If the parent or caregiver who did not respond pays child support, the service may assume that their income has increased.

Who can use the service

You can set up or update child support online if:

  • one parent or caregiver lives with the child or children 60% of the time

  • you don’t currently live with the other parent or caregiver

But, if you’re setting up child support, the other parent or caregiver can deny your request to use the online service. In this case you will have to use the court process or arrange child support in a written agreement.

Talk to the other parent or caregiver before submitting an application to make sure that they agree to use this service.

You cannot set up or update child support online if:

  • either parent or caregiver, or any of the children, live outside of Ontario

  • any children are over 17.5 years old or married

  • there is split or shared custody of the child or children

  • the child support order being updated was based on undue hardship or imputed income

  • the parent or caregiver who currently pays or will pay for child support:

    • is self-employed

    • earns more than $150,000 or less than $12,000 annually

    • earns income in cash

    • is a partner or majority shareholder of a business

    • earns most of their income as a landlord or seasonal worker (e.g., employed in snow removal, fishing or landscaping)

If you are the parent or caregiver who pays child support you can choose whether to provide your income through tax information or pay stubs.

If you are the parent or caregiver who receives child support, and you don't think the other parent’s income can be accurately shown by either pay stubs or tax information, you should not use this service.

Required documents

Before you start setting up or updating child support online, make sure you have:

  • your Social Insurance Number or Temporary Tax Number

  • a current mailing address for the other parent or caregiver

  • contact information for the person responsible for payroll at your workplace (if you’re the person who currently pays or will pay child support)

  • an electronic copy of your current court order or separation agreement, or information from your current Notice of Calculation or Recalculation

If you didn’t file your taxes last year, you will also need either:

  • your three most recent pay stubs, or

  • the most recent statement of income from employment insurance, social assistance, a pension, workers compensation or disability payments

Start using the service

Start using the online service to set up or update child support.

Set up or update child support

Cost

There is a non-refundable $80 fee each time you use the service, whether you’re setting up or updating child support.

Accepted forms of payment

Visa, Mastercard or Interac® Online

No refunds for inaccurate information

You will not be refunded the $80 fee if the application cannot be processed due to inaccurate information. This includes when the other parent or caregiver replies that information is not accurate in the original application.

Fee waiver

You may be eligible to have the application fee waived, if your household (you, your spouse and children) are considered low-income. You can apply for the fee waiver in the online application.

Consulting a lawyer

Consult a lawyer if you’re still unsure about setting up or updating child support online. If you can’t afford a lawyer, you can find out if you qualify for legal aid.

Contact the Child Support Service

For more information about setting up or updating child support online, please call the Child Support Service Contact Centre at 1-866-656-7753.

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CKL BUSINESSES - IF YOU DO NOT QUALIFY FOR OTHER RELIEF, OR YOU NEED MORE FINANCIAL HELP, APPLY NOW FOR THE NEW RELIEF AND RECOVERY FUND. NOW OPEN FOR APPLICATIONS. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW.

The Government of Canada has announced a new national $962 million Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF), which provides $675 million in financing support to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are unable to access existing COVID-19 measures and $287 million to support rural business' and communities with access to capital through Community Futures Development Corporations (CFDCs).

FedDev Ontario will deliver $213 million in RRRF funding throughout southern Ontario. Southern Ontario CFDCs will deliver $39.4 million in funding to support rural businesses in the communities they serve.

Through the new RRRF, there is available: 

Through the new Regional Relief and Recovery Fund, Canada’s six RDAs are delivering:

  • $675 million in support to SMEs that are unable to access other federal COVID-19 relief measures; and
  • $287 million for the national network of Community Futures Development Corporations (CFDCs) to provide funding and other support to small businesses in rural communities; 
  • in southern Ontario, FedDev Ontario will invest $213 million by providing interest-free repayable contributions (loans) to help support business’ fixed operating costs, where revenues have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The RRRF seeks to support southern Ontario SMEs to address gaps in or supplement other federal relief measures, as well as complement those provided by other levels of government. In particular, the RRRF seeks to provide support to southern Ontario SMEs that do not qualify for, or have been rejected from, current Government of Canada COVID-19 relief measures, or are experiencing ongoing funding needs despite having accessed other funding measures.

For assistance: 1-866-593-5055.

Qualify and apply here: 

https://www.feddevontario.gc.ca/eic/site/723.nsf/eng/home

 

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MORE FEDERAL SUPPORT TO BUSINESSES - BRIDGE LOANS, NOT BAILOUTS.

May 12 - The federal government announced additional support to mid-size and large businesses. The support is bridge financing and loan guarantees, rather than bailout funds, including: 

[1] expanding the Business Credit Availability Program to mid-sized companies with significant financing needs, including loans of up to $60-million per eligible company, and guarantees of up to $80-million; and

[2] establishing a Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility ("LEEFF") to provide bridge financing to eligible large employers whose needs are not being met through conventional financing mechanisms.

 The LEEFF program will be open to large for-profit businesses (with the exception of financial sector businesses) as well as certain not-for-profit businesses (e.g., airports) whose annual revenues are generally $300-million or more. While many LEEFF details remain unknown, the government stated that the following "guiding principles" will apply:

  • protection of taxpayers and workers:  
  • fairness; and
  • timeliness.

Businesses must be seeking financing of about $60-million or more and have significant operations or workforce in Canada in order to qualify for LEEFF. 

Businesses involved in active insolvency proceedings are ineligible. 

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CKL BUSINESSES - NAVIGATING THE REOPENING - YOUR ROADMAP TO SUCCESS - TIPS, TRAPS AND WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Ontario’s three-phase framework for Re-opening Ontario after COVID-19 (the "Framework") outlines general methods and guidelines to follow to reportedly safely and efficiently contain the spread of COVID-19, while re-opening businesses, services and public spaces:

Stage 1 (in progress)

Stage 2

Stage 3

  • opening select workplaces that can meet current public health guidelines
  • allowing essential gatherings of a limited number of people
  • opening some outdoor spaces
  • continued protections for vulnerable populations
  • opening more workplaces with significant mitigation plans
  • opening more public spaces
  • allowing some larger public gatherings
  • continued protections for vulnerable populations

 

  • opening all workplaces responsibly
  • relaxing restrictions on public gatherings
  • continued protections for vulnerable populations

 

No definitive timelines have been announced, particularly for phases two or three.

BUSINESSES GRADUALLY REOPENING IN PHASE ONE

As of May 4, subject to complying with "strict safety guidelines", these businesses were permitted to reopen:

  • garden centres and nurseries with curbside pick-up and delivery only;

  • lawn care and landscaping;

  • additional essential construction projects that include:

    • shipping and logistics;

    • broadband, telecommunications, and digital infrastructure;

    • any other project that supports the improved delivery of goods and services;

    • municipal projects;

    • colleges and universities;

    • childcare centres;

    • schools; and

    • site preparation, excavation, and servicing for institutional, commercial, industrial and residential development;

  • automatic and self-serve car washes;

  • auto dealerships, open by appointment only;

  • golf courses may prepare their courses for the upcoming season, but not open to the public; and

  • marinas may also begin preparations for the recreational boating season by servicing boats and other watercraft and placing boats in the water, but not open to the public. Boats and watercraft must be secured to a dock in the marina until public access is allowed.

As of May 6, "easing restrictions" for retail stores and "essential construction" was initiated, as follows and subject to "applicable health and safety guidelines":

  • May 8, 2020, at 12:01 a.m. – garden centres and nurseries will be able to open for in-store payment and purchases;

  • May 9, 2020, at 12:01 a.m. – hardware stores and safety supply stores will be permitted to open for in-store payment and purchases; and

  • May 11, 2020, at 12:01 a.m. – retail stores with a "street entrance" can begin offering curbside pickup and delivery.

In addition, "expanding essential construction" is permitted to allow below-grade multi-unit residential construction projects (such as apartments and condominiums). Existing above-grade projects may also continue.

“STRICT” HEALTH AND SAFETY GUIDELINES

Eligible retailers preparing for in-store purchases are expected to operate under the same health and safety guidelines that apply to retailers in the essential services sector, including grocery stores and pharmacies.

Eligible businesses offering curbside pickup and delivery services are expected to meet strict health and safety guidelines comparable to those applying to the essential services sector.

These “strict safety guidelines” expected to be followed are guided by resources made available by Ministry of Labour in Ontario (the “MOL”) and various provincial Health and Safety Associations (“HSAs”) in Ontario, including guidelines published by:

  • the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association (IHSA) for the construction, electrical and utilities, aggregates, natural gas, ready-mix concrete and transportation sectors;

  • the Public Service Health and Safety Association (PSHSA) for hospitals, nursing and retirement homes, residential and community care facilities, universities and colleges, school boards, libraries and museums, municipalities, the provincial government and its agencies and fire and paramedic services;

  • the Workplace Safety North (WSN)  for the forestry, mining, smelting, refining, paper, printing and converting sectors; and

  • the Workplace Safety and Prevention Services (WSPS) for the agriculture, manufacturing and service sectors.

The MOL has also released "guidance notes" for employers in five sectors:

The MOL has also published sector-specific posters for both employers and employees to promote infectious disease prevention strategies in certain sectors.

These posters and sector-specific health and safety guidelines can be downloaded and printed from the MOL’s Web site.

NEXT STEPS FOR ELIGIBLE BUSINESSES

  • "strict compliance" with the new health and safety directives is required for employers to reopen and operate – at the very least, employers should:

    • review, develop and implement appropriate training on industry-specific health and safety requirements, pursuant to the Framework;

    • post in the workplace any relevant or applicable posters or guidelines that are published by the MOL and/or applicable HSAs;

    • conduct periodic reviews and audits of materials and guidelines published by the MOL and applicable HSAs to ensure ongoing compliance and up-to-date training; and

    • maintain records of any and all COVID-19-specific training provided to employees;

  • these new guidelines are not "limited" to businesses that have recently re-opened, or are intending to re-open; rather, they will impact businesses that have continued to operate throughout Ontario’s State of Emergency, either as a result of being deemed essential, or as a result of not having been ordered to close – these businesses should continue to conduct their operations as they have to date, ensuring ongoing compliance with any relevant or applicable health and safety guidelines developed by Ontario;

  • whether reopening or continuing to operate, employers remain statutorily required to "take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances" for the protection of workers and other individuals at the workplace;

  • employers should take steps to achieve and, whenever possible, exceed the basic protections required by the guidelines and occupational health and safety legislation in Ontario to safeguard workers and minimize any risk of non-compliance with health and safety requirements; and  

  • failing to comply with any existing or newly promulgated health and safety requirements may lead to significant penalties, including fines, compliance orders, stop-work orders, risk of prosecution and/or imprisonment.  

Despite all of this, things may change. Nothing is certain during the pandemic. Be watchful for ongoing updates and modifications, particularly if infections may increase during phase one. 

CKL businesses should proactively ensure that they have taken all reasonable steps to adhere to applicable guidelines, emergency orders and other potential sources of liability, including:

  • compliance with health and safety protocols; and

  • adhering to any applicable employment standards, human rights protections and employee privacy regulations, particularly regarding the collection, use and potential disclosure of personal health information.

 

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COVID-19 - THE LAW DOES NOT TOLERATE RACISM DURING THE PANDEMIC - BE PREPARED FOR SIGNIFICANT DAMAGES. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW.

Both regrettably and predictably, racism and discrimination appear to be surging with the spread of the COVID-19 virus. 

Credible sources now report that xenophobia, racially-motivated acts of discrimination and harassment towards ethnic groups is increasing. 

Through public messaging by some, including the President of the United States, COVID-19 has been referred to as the "Chinese" and the "Wuhan" virus, on the basis that it is believed to have originated in Wuhan, China. 

Doing so only serves to reinforce negative connotations, perception and stigma, inescapably encouraging more pronounced and insidious racist ideologies and prejudices directed at a specific ethnic group.

As a result, members of our Asian ethnicities have been targeted. Some report experiencing more racist acts during the pandemic, presumably attributable to existing racist views, assumptions and unconscious biases of racialized people and groups, as well as stigma, fear, or being misinformed.

There is some legal protection against these unjustified acts, promulgated by Canada's Criminal Code (hate crimes, etc.). 

In addition, employees in Ontario are protected by Ontario's Human Rights Code (the "Code") in terms of the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, those protections include: 

- it is discriminatory to treat employees who have, or are perceived to have, contracted COVID-19, in a negative manner, for reasons unrelated to public health and safety;

- employers have a duty to accommodate employees in relation to COVID-19, unless it would amount to undue hardship based on cost, or health and safety; 

- employers should not treat employees in a differential manner over COVID-concerns, unless these concerns are reasonable and consistent with the most recent advice of medical and public health officials;   

- unless an employee can provide a legitimate reason why he or she cannot work, employers have a right to expect they will continue to perform their work. If an employee is required to self-isolate for legitimate reasons, the employer can explore alternative options to allow the employee to continue to work; 

- employers may not discipline or terminate individual employees who are unable to come to work because medical or health officials have quarantined, or advised them to self-isolate and stay home because of COVID-19 concerns; 

- employers should accommodate employees who have care-giving responsibilities to the point of undue hardship, which may include working from home, reduced hours or leave without pay; 

- employers should take requests for accommodation in good faith and avoid requiring medical notes to justify employee absences where such notes are unnecessary; and 

- it is not discriminatory to lay off employees if there is no work for them to do because of the impacts of COVID-19.

Employers should also remind employees that it is unacceptable to treat other employees or members of the public differently, or assume they might be infected with COVID-19 on the basis of their race, place of origin, citizenship, ethnic origin or ancestry.

Differential treatment related to this virus is not permissible and prohibited by Ontario's law.

COVID-19 does not discriminate against specific ethnic groups, why would we? 

We should all raise our voices against stigma and discrimination

Nervous fear is natural and expected in this crisis, but it cannot translate into short-signed, divisive hate-mongering. This is not a "Chinese" virus, as a certain leader may espouse. Rather, this is global pandemic, of which we are all, by necessity, a part.

Civility must prevail. Solidarity and altruism, not bigotry, will triumph.

We are all in this together.

 

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