By order of Ontario health officials, starting September 25, 20200, all workplaces in Ontario must screen all workers, contractors, volunteers and outside service providers for COVID-19 as a condition of entry to the premises.

Failure to comply can lead to significant penalties, including potentially fines and imprisonment under the legislation. 

The new "COVID-19 Screening Tool for Workplaces (Businesses and Organizations)" (PDF – the "Screening Tool") is available here:

Per the Screening Tool, virtually everyone must be screened to enter the workplace; namely:

  • workers, which means all staff and is "intended to include students, contractors or volunteers that conduct business or related activities where applicable and appropriate"; and

  • essential visitors, which "includes individuals providing a service in the establishment who are not employees or patrons of the establishment (e.g., delivery, maintenance, contract workers)."

You do not need to screen:

  • patrons of an establishment; or

  • "emergency services or other first responders entering a workplace for emergency purposes".

However, businesses are not prohibited by the Screening Tool from subjecting these individuals to screening in accordance with applicable legal requirements. 

The Screening Tool outlines three screening questions that should be used "at a minimum". Each individual subject to the Screening Tool is to be asked:

  • whether the individual has any new or worsening symptoms or signs of COVID-19;

  • whether the individual has travelled outside of Canada in the past 14 days; and

  • whether the individual has had close contact with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19.

These screening questions are to be applied before or at the time a worker enters the workplace at the beginning of their workday or shift, or when an essential visitor arrives.

If the worker or essential visitor answers "yes" to any of the three questions, then pursuant to the Screening Tool, the individual should be advised that they should not enter the workplace, should self-isolate at home and should call their health care provider or Telehealth Ontario.

The Screening Tool also applies to any outdoor or partially outdoor workplace.

What is a "probable case of COVID-19"?

Per the Ontario Ministry of Health's Case Definition for COVID-19 (PDF), which as of August 6, 2020, defines a probable case as follows:

A. a person (who has not had a laboratory test) with symptoms compatible with COVID-19 AND:

  1. traveled to an affected area (including inside of Canada) in the 14 days prior to symptom onset; OR

  2. had close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19; OR

  3. lived in or worked in a facility known to be experiencing an outbreak of COVID-19 (e.g. long-term care, prison),


B. a person with symptoms compatible with COVID-19 AND in whom laboratory diagnosis of COVID-19 is inconclusive.


Before this, employers were already required to operate workplaces in compliance with the "advice, recommendations and instructions of public health officials", which would include public health officials at the municipal, provincial and federal level as applicable.

Now, Ontario employers must now specifically comply with the requirements of the Screening Tool, and to implement such screening at any physical workplaces it operates in the province.

Any employer who was not already screening workers and other visitors to their premises should implement the Screening Tool as a condition of entry.  Employers who are already screening workers and other visitors should review their screening procedures in light of the requirements of the Screening Tool.

The Screening Tool has an acknowledgement that it "may be adapted based on need and the specific setting" and, therefore, there appears to be some flexibility in how it is implemented.

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