COVID-19 and the Workplace

It is important to our team that we keep our clients and readers updated with the most relevant information, especially in a novel situation like we are experiencing now with the COVID-19 outbreak. We will update this resource as often as we can so that you can stay up to date. 

Whether you are an employer or an employee, this unprecedented set of circumstances has raised a lot of difficult questions. If you are unsure of your rights and obligations, we are here to help. Please keep checking this blog and follow our social media feeds to keep up to date.

We know this is a stressful time. Please take care of yourselves and let us take care of you.
Contact us if you have any questions or concerns about your rights and obligations in this challenging time.

April 3, 2020: Ontario releases updated list of essential workplaces

By 11:59 p.m. Saturday, April 4, 2020, businesses that are not identified on this list must close their physical locations.

For more information, click here.

April 3, 2020: Ontario Human Rights Commission Releases COVID-19 Policy Statement

The Ontario Human Rights Commission has released its Policy statement on a human rights-based approach to managing the COVID-19 pandemic.

In their introduction, they explain that

This policy statement provides guidance to all levels of government on the principles that underlie a human rights-based approach to managing the COVID-19 pandemic. It offers high-level guidance that applies across a range of potential policy, legal, regulatory, public health and emergency-related responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Principles they set out include:

  1. Approach preventing and treating COVID-19 as a human rights obligation
  2. Respect the rights of First Nations, Métis and Inuit (Indigenous) peoples
  3. Set strict limits on measures that infringe rights
  4. Protect vulnerable groups
  5. Respond to racism, ageism, ableism and other forms of discrimination
  6. Strengthen human rights accountability and oversight

For more information, click here.

April 2, 2020: Unsure how the CERB works and interacts with Employment Insurance?

The Federal government has provided more information on the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and, in particular, details about how it interacts with Employment Insurance. We know this has been a source of much confusion.

For more information, click here.

April 2, 2020: Timeline for employers submitting Work-Sharing documentation

Employers are now requested to submit their applications 10 calendar days prior to the requested start date.

Prior to COVID-19, employers were requested to send their Work-Sharing application (and supporting documentation) 30 calendar days prior to their requested start date.

The streamlined measures undertaken by Service Canada will aim to reduce the processing time to 10 calendar days.

For more information, click here.

April 1, 2020: The website for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit is now open

The website for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit is now open

Applications can be made starting on April 6, 2020. To try to control the volume of applicants, the government has asked people to stagger their applications:

    • April 6th for those born in January, February or March

    • April 7th for those born in April, May or June

    • April 8th for those born in July, August or September

    • April 9th for those born in October, November of December

The Prime Minister stated that employers are still expected to pay their employees wages above the CERB. This is where the CEWS comes into play.

For more information, click here.

April 1, 2020: Details of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Revealed

Finally, some more detail about the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. As we have been saying, this provides much-needed relief and may prevent or reverse many layoffs.

Some highlights from what we understand so far:

  • It will apply from March 15 to June 9, 2020
  • The wage subsidy is 75% of Gross “Regular” Wages to a maximum of $847\week or $58,700 annually
  • Sales must have decreased by at least 30% on a monthly basis when compared with the same month in the prior year (ie. March 2020 sales have to be 30% less than March 2019)
  • Funds will be available to be paid to the employer in approximately six weeks from today’s date (around the middle of May 2020)
  • There have also been indications that the company must show that they are doing everything they can to pay the remaining 25%, but how this would be applied remains unclear.

For more information, click here.

March 31, 2020: Details of Wage Subsidy Delayed

Everyone is anxiously awaiting details of the wage subsidy program, but unfortunately it looks like we have to wait another day.

For more information, click here.

March 31, 2020: A COVID-19 Update from Rudner Law: Layoffs and Wage Cuts

At the end of the day, we know that everyone’s health is the number one priority, but we also want to make sure that people do not compromise their legal rights. We know that many of our clients are struggling. Whatever decisions they make, we want them to be informed decisions.

Read more here.

March 31, 2020: Who can I call for information or to ask a question about financial support from government right now?

Compiled by Jennifer Robson, Associate Professor of Political Management, Carleton University using public information.

Access here.

March 31, 2020: Law Society of Ontario, List of COVID-19 Notices/Resources

We thank the Law Society of Ontario for their extensive list of resources, and for including two of Rudner Law’s documents.

Access their list here.

March 30, 2020: Manitoba extends temporary layoffs because of COVID-19

Under the revised rule, a layoff occurring after March 1, 2020 will not be counted toward the period after which a temporary layoff would become a permanent termination. Normally, the province’s employment standards state that employees who have been laid off for eight or more weeks in a 16-week period are considered terminated and entitled to wages in lieu of notice.
Please remember that this does not give employers the right to lay employees off; it merely amends the parameters if a layoff is otherwise permitted.

March 30, 2020: Great news! Large and small business, non-profits, charities eligible for wage subsidy

A promised federal wage subsidy to cover three-quarters of salaries will go to any company — large, medium or small — charity or non-profit that can show it has seen revenues drop sharply due to COVID-19.
This is great news for employers and employees, as it should allow many layoffs to be avoided.
Learn more here.

March 28, 2020: A little more information about the Temporary Wage Subsidy

Yesterday, the federal government announced that it was increasing the Temporary Wage Subsidy from 10% to 75%. We are still waiting for all of the details, but here is a helpful summary of what we know so far.

March 27, 2020: Trudeau promises 75% wage subsidy for businesses hit by coronavirus

“It’s becoming clear that we need to do more – much more – so we’re bringing that percentage up to 75 per cent for qualifying businesses,” he said. “This means people will continue to be paid even though their employers have to slow down or stop their businesses.”
This should help businesses avoid potential layoffs and constructive dismissal claims.
For more information, click here.

March 26, 2020: Ontario to defer WSIB premium reporting and payments

The Ontario government announced today that all employers covered by WSIB will be able to defer premium reporting and payments until Aug. 31 2020, and no interest will accrue on outstanding premiums during this period.
For more information, click here.

March 26, 2020: Fact sheet for employers and employees

This post addresses some of the main questions and concerns you may have as an employer or employee in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For more information, click here.

March 26, 2020: Bill C-13 - Canada Emergency Response Benefit Act

PART 2

Canada Emergency Response Benefit Act

S.2
Worker means a person who is at least 15 years of age, who is resident in Canada and who, for 2019 or in the 12-month period preceding the day on which they make an application under section 5, has a total income of at least $5,000 — or, if another amount is fixed by regulation, of at least that amount — from the following sources:
(a) employment;
(b) self-employment;
(c) benefits paid to the person under any of subsections 22(1), 23(1), 152.‍04(1) and 152.‍05(1) of the Employment Insurance Act; and
(d) allowances, money or other benefits paid to the person under a provincial plan because of pregnancy or in respect of the care by the person of one or more of their new-born children or one or more children placed with them for the purpose of adoption.‍ (travailleur)
Eligibility
6 (1) A worker is eligible for an income support payment if
(a) the worker, whether employed or self-employed, ceases working for reasons related to COVID-19 for at least 14 consecutive days within the four-week period in respect of which they apply for the payment; and
(b) they do not receive, in respect of the consecutive days on which they have ceased working,
(i) subject to the regulations, income from employment or self-employment,
(ii) benefits, as defined in subsection 2(1) of the Employment Insurance Act,
(iii) allowances, money or other benefits paid to the worker under a provincial plan because of pregnancy or in respect of the care by the worker of one or more of their new-born children or one or more children placed with them for the purpose of adoption, or
(iv) any other income that is prescribed by regulation.
Exclusion
(2) An employed worker does not cease work for the purpose of paragraph (1)‍(a) if they quit their employment voluntarily.
Amount of payment
7 (1) The amount of an income support payment for a week is the amount fixed by regulation for that week.
For more information, click here.

March 25, 2020: Ontario releases new action plan

The Ontario government announced another initiative to help those affected by the COVID-19 virus.

With respect to employment, Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19 (March 2020 Economic and Fiscal Update) includes:

  • Helping families pay for the extra costs associated with school and daycare closures during the COVID-19 outbreak by providing a one-time payment of $200 per child up to 12 years of age, and $250 for those with special needs, including children enrolled in private schools.
  • Proposing to double the Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) payment for low-income seniors for six months.
  • Supporting more affordable electricity bills for eligible residential, farm and small business consumers, by providing approximately $5.6 billion for electricity cost relief programs in 2020-21, which is an increase of approximately $1.5 billion compared to the 2019 Budget plan.
  • Further supporting more affordable electricity bills by setting electricity prices for residential, farm and small business time-of-use customers at the lowest rate, known as the off-peak price, 24 hours a day for 45 days to support ratepayers in their increased daytime electricity usage as they respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, addressing concerns about time-of-use metering.
  • Cutting taxes by $355 million for about 57,000 employers through a proposed temporary increase to the Employer Health Tax (EHT) exemption.
  • Providing $9 million in direct support to families for their energy bills by expanding eligibility for the Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) and ensuring that their electricity and natural gas services are not disconnected for nonpayment during the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Providing emergency child care options to support parents working on the front lines, such as health care workers, police officers, firefighters and correctional officers.
  • Expanding access to the emergency assistance program administered by Ontario Works to provide financial support to people facing economic hardship and help more people meet basic needs such as food and rent during this public health emergency.
  • Enhancing funding by $148 million for charitable and non-profit social services organizations such as food banks, homeless shelters, churches and emergency services to improve their ability to respond to COVID-19, by providing funding directly to Consolidated Municipal Service Managers and District Social Service Administration Boards who would allocate this funding based on local needs.
    • Making available $6 billion by providing five months of interest and penalty relief for businesses to file and make payments for the majority of provincially administered taxes.
    • Over $1.8 billion by deferring the upcoming June 30 quarterly municipal remittance of education property tax to school boards by 90 days, which will provide municipalities the flexibility to, in turn, provide property tax deferrals to residents and businesses, while ensuring school boards continue to receive their funding.
    • Making available $1.9 billion by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) allowing employers to defer payments for up to six months.

For more information, click here.

March 25, 2020: Applications open for self-isolating Albertans in need of financial support

Financial support for working Albertans who are experiencing a loss of income resulting from self-isolation due to COVID-19 is coming, as Alberta opens the application process.

For more information, click here.

March 25, 2020: Canadians can expect to get $2,000 per month within 10 days

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau assured struggling and laid off workers that they will be able to access new emergency benefits within 10 days of applying.

People who have been laid off could receive $2,000 every month for four months, the prime minister said Wednesday.

Already, the government has processed 143,000 applications.

For more information, click here.

March 25, 2020: Trudeau combines emergency COVID-19 aid benefit for Canadians

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced the government is merging two previously announced employment insurance benefits for Canadians who are out of, or off work because of COVID-19.

He is also vowing that more financial assistance will come as the pandemic wages on, with the first $82-billion aid package set to flow as soon as it passes Parliament on Wednesday.

The new benefit combines the Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit — into the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and will provide up to $2,000 a month for the next four months for people who are off work and without an income as a result of the novel coronavirus.

For more information, click here.

For the official announcement, click here.

March 25, 2020: Can you refuse work during a pandemic? - CityNews

A pandemic alone is not reason enough to miss work, but an employee can refuse if there is a legitimate threat to their safety. Stuart appeared on CityNews to discuss the unusual circumstances we are currently dealing with.

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March 25, 2020: Thousands of businesses may be breaking the law - Toronto Star

Stuart told the Star that many businesses don’t have the right to lay their employees off, and there may be a wave of wrongful dismissal lawsuits in the coming weeks or months.

Read More

March 25, 2020: Saskatchewan amends law to remove notice requirement for temporary layoff

The Government of Saskatchewan amended its Employment Standards Regulations relating to layoffs caused by a public health emergency.

The amendments provide that a public health emergency arises if:

  1. an emergency declaration is made under The Emergency Planning Act; or
  2. the Chief Medical Health Officer makes an order that a disease poses a serious public health risk in Saskatchewan and that individuals must take measures to isolate themselves to prevent spread of that disease.

In such circumstances, an employer will not have to provide notice or pay in lieu of notice of layoff which would normally be required.

Note that this does not alter the common law or in any way grant a common law right to lay employees off that did not exist before. As we have discussed repeatedly, laying an employee of temporarily can constitute a constructive dismissal.

March 24, 2020: What is an "essential workplace" anyways?

As governments struggle to find ways to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus, we have seen many orders and directions regarding how business is to be conducted. In some cases, industries have been shut down entirely. Earlier this week, the government of Ontario announced the shutdown of all non-essential businesses effective midnight tonight.

Read More

March 24, 2020: Remember, temporary layoffs are not always allowed

Stuart and the team have been saying this for years, but it has never been so relevant:

Businesses do not automatically have the right to lay someone off on a temporary basis.

Doing so can constitute a constructive dismissal and expose the company to liability that far exceeds any short-term cost savings.

Business owners should not assume that they have the right to lay people off temporarily, even during a pandemic.

And employees that are laid off should not assume that they have no rights.

For a recent post by Stuart on the topic, click here.

March 23, 2020: Ontario announces essential services

As we reported earlier, the Government of Ontario has announced a shutdown of non-essential services. They have now clarified the scope of this by listing those services that are considered to be essential.

The Government also confirmed that this does not preclude the provision of work and services by entities not on this list either online, by telephone or by mail/delivery, and that teleworking and online commerce are permitted at all times for all businesses.

For  more information, click here.

March 23, 2020: Rudner Law's detailed list of COVID-19 workplace resources

Our team has put together a detailed list of resources to help you understand your legal rights and obligations when it comes to COVID-19 and the workplace.

Download Now

March 23, 2020: Toronto to declare state of emergency

Reports are that Mayor John Tory will declare a state of emergency in Toronto, effective immediately.

This will allow decisions to be made without going to a council vote.

For more information, click here.

March 23, 2020: Ontario Government announces shutdown of non-essential services

Premier Doug Ford has announced the shutdown of all non-essential services across the province in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19

Essential services that will remain open include manufacturers, supermarkets, LCBO, pharmacies and restaurants offering takeout.

For more information, click here.

March 23, 2020: How to find out if your business qualifies for the COVID-19 wage subsidy

Ottawa’s proposed wage subsidy was announced last week and is set to be in place for three months.

It will be equal to 10 per cent of total remuneration paid between March 18, 2020, and June 20, 2020, up to a maximum of $1,375 per worker and $25,000 per employer.

The wage subsidy is limited to eligible small businesses. The CRA says that includes the following:

  • Non-profit organizations.
  • Registered charities.
  • Canadian-controlled private corporations with less than $15 million in taxable capital employed in Canada, a measure also used to calculate the existing small business deduction.

If a business is eligible, but not paying employees during the applicable period because it is closed, it does not qualify.

For more information, click here.

March 23, 2020: Ontario gives hospitals temporary power over staff to deal with COVID-19 pandemic

The provincial government announced a state of emergency earlier this week, and on Saturday night it said that it would use the declaration to allow hospitals to override collective agreements.

“The province is taking decisive action to ensure we can continue to be responsive and nimble as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases grows,” Solicitor General Syliva Jones said.

“While normal protocols are important in routine times, these extraordinary steps will ensure our health sector workers are there, where and when they are needed.”

Hospitals can now move staff between locations and to COVID-19 assessment centres without notice.

It also allows hospitals to assign non-bargaining unit employees, volunteers or contract employees to do bargaining unit work.

Hospitals can now change the scheduling of work or shift assignments, as well as defer or cancel vacations, absences or other leaves

They can also start employing extra part-time or temporary staff or contractors.

For more information, click here.

March 22, 2020: Toronto to provide free, 24/7 childcare for essential and critical service workers

The City of Toronto says it will provide free childcare 24 hours a day, seven days a week for children of essential and critical workers as they serve on the front lines of the battle against coronavirus.

The announcement comes after the Province of Ontario said Sunday that it will allow some childcare centres in the province to stay open to care for the children of health workers and first responders.

The centres in Toronto will be funded by the province. They are expected to open as soon as possible and will be available for children from infant to age 12.

For more information, click here.

March 22, 2020: What to do if you’ve been laid off due to COVID-19 - CityNews

While the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many Canadians having been temporarily laid off, it’s important to have frank conversations with your employers and pay attention to what’s in your contract. Stuart spoke to CityNews about this.

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March 22, 2020: More help coming from the federal government

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Sunday the House of Commons will be recalled on Tuesday at 12 p.m. in order to pass emergency legislation to help fight COVID-19.

Trudeau made the announcement from Rideau Cottage, where he is currently in self-isolation.

Trudeau said this will allow the government to “put their plan into motion,” including up to $82 billion in support for families, workers and businesses impacted by the pandemic.

For more information, click here.

March 22, 2020: Nova Scotia declares state of emergency effective immediately

As of Sunday, the province of Nova Scotia will be limiting gatherings to no more than five (5) people.

The Premier said Nova Scotians are still permitted to go grocery shopping or for walks in their own neighbourhoods, provided they are careful about social distancing.

Minister of Justice Mark Furey told the public that police would now be authorized to enforce social distancing, including issuing summary offense tickets and fines.

“The fines are for individuals found in breach of the order, $1,000 for each fine, each day,” said Furey.

For businesses, the fines would be $7,500 each day.

For more information, click here.

March 22, 2020: Loblaw to increase frontline worker pay due to coronavirus: union

UFCW said they have negotiated a $2 increase in hourly pay for all frontline employees across the country.

“The wage increase is in the process of being implemented and will be applied to the hourly rates of both full-time and part-time workers at all Loblaw stores and associated banners,” said union president Paul Meinema.

The pay increase announcement came out on the same day Loblaw said they plan to install plexiglass barriers to protect their employees from COVID-19.

For more information, click here.

March 20, 2020: Information for Dentists and Dental Practices - Rudner Law Blog - UPDATED

The purpose of this post is to try to address some of the main questions and concerns you may have as an employer in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Updated March 20, 2020.

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March 20, 2020: Information on the Supplemental Unemployment Benefit (SUB) Program

The SUB Program can be a great option for employers who need to lay off employees due to the impact of COVID-19 on their business.

Learn More

March 20, 2020: 6 key questions on how employers should handle staffing during pandemic

The questions keep flying when it comes to how employers can and should respond during the COVID-19 pandemic. Stuart spoke to HR Reporter to provide some key answers.

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March 20, 2020: COVID-19 Pandemic - Frequently Asked Employment Law Questions - UPDATED

A broad look at the implications of COVID-19 for employers and employees by providing answers to some of the questions we have received from our clients over the past few weeks.

Updated March 20, 2020.

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March 19, 2020: Ontario government enacts Employment Standards Amendment Act (Infectious Disease Emergencies)

The Ontario government has taken further steps to help workers impacted by the COVID-19 virus. This Act provided job-protected leave to employees in isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19, or those who need to be away from work to care for children because of school or day care closures or to care for other relatives.

It also provides that

An employee is entitled to take a leave under clause (1.1) (a) for as long as he or she is not performing the duties of his or her position because of an emergency declared under section 7.0.1 of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act and a reason referred to in subclauses (1.1) (a) (i) to (iv), but, subject to subsection (6), the entitlement ends on the day the emergency is terminated or disallowed.

    For more information, click here and here.

    March 19, 2020: New Brunswick declares state of emergency

    Among other things,

    • all retail outlets except grocery stores, pharmacies, NB Liquor, Cannabis NB, hardware stores and vehicle garages will be ordered to close.
    • restaurants will be restricted to takeout service, while bars must close.
    • anyone who is told to self-isolate by a medical professional must comply by law under the province’s Emergency Measures Act.

    For more information, click here.

    March 19, 2020: Work Sharing Might be an Option when Reducing Employee Hours

    Among many initiatives to assist those impacted by COVID-19, the Federal Government announced that it would

    Introduce enhancements to the Work-Sharing program to help support employers and their workers who are experiencing a downturn in business due to COVID-19. Work-sharing helps keep workers employed and able to receive income support even as their hours of work may be reduced. These enhancements will double the length of time that employers and workers are eligible to use work-share from 38 to 76 weeks, and streamline processes so help can be accessed as soon as possible.

    This can be helpful for employers that need to reduce the working hours of some or all of their employees. However, there is a waiting period and a formalized process to be followed.

    For more information, click here.

    March 19, 2020: COVID-19 Pandemic and Travel - What Should Employers Do? - UPDATED

    We provide you with some practical recommendations to ensure you are complying with your legal obligations as an employer. Employees as well will benefit from reviewing this blog post to understand their rights. The reality is that this is a relatively novel situation and employers, employees and Employment Lawyers are all working through the issues that this has created.

    Updated March 19.

    Read Post

    March 18, 2020: Statement from Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health

    As forwarded by the Human Resources Professionals Association:
    Statement from Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health: Enhanced Measures to Protect Ontarians from COVID-19
    The Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, issued the following statement detailing enhanced public health measures to help contain the spread of COVID-19:
    Following a number of significant announcements regarding travel and public health measures over the past 72 hours, and after further consultations with my colleagues across Canada, I would like to take the opportunity to clarify my guidance to Ontarians on COVID-19.
    This is an evolving situation, and your role in helping to manage the spread of COVID-19 in Ontario is critical. It is imperative that we take steps now and take steps together to reduce opportunities for transmission. I am asking for your cooperation in following the advice below as best you can over the coming weeks. By working together, we can make a difference in this outbreak and protect those among us who are most vulnerable to COVID-19.
    The symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, new cough and difficulty breathing, and these may occur within 14 days of an exposure to another case.
    Dr. Williams continued by strongly recommending a further limitation to public gatherings from his advice on March 12, 2020. He is further advising Ontarians to avoid large gatherings of over 50 people. 
    In addition, he specifically requests the closure of the following settings as soon as possible:
    • All recreational programs and libraries
    • All private schools
    • All daycares
    • All churches and other faith settings
    •  All bars and restaurants, with the exception of restaurants that can shift to takeout/delivery mechanisms
    If you do not have any symptoms of COVID-19
    Everyone in Ontario should be practicing social distancing to reduce their exposure to other people. This means that one can carry out daily activities, such as going to work (if they cannot work from home) and doing necessary shopping and appointments. 
    It is asked that everyone in Ontario do their best to avoid close contact with people outside of their immediate families. Close contact includes being within 2 meters of another person. 
    In addition Dr. Williams explained, If you believe you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 symptoms, he recommends that you begin to self-monitor for a period of 14 days. This means that, in addition to social distancing, you should track how you feel. You should take your temperature daily and log any other symptoms that develop (e.g., sore throat, new cough). You can share these records with your primary care provider over the phone if you seek assessment services. 
    All persons over 70 years of age and individuals who are immunocompromised are advised to self-isolate for a period of 14 days. This means that you should only leave your home or see other people for essential reasons.  Where possible, you should seek services over the phone or internet or ask for help from friends, family or neighbours with essential errands. 
    If you have travelled outside of Canada in the last 14 days and are not a healthcare worker or another essential service worker, he asks that you self-isolate for 14 days since your arrival in Canada. People who are self-isolating should not go to work. Learn about travel advisories related to the 2019 novel coronavirus.
    Workers who have travelled and are part of workplaces that are essential to daily living are able to return to work as long as they are asymptomatic. However, they should self-monitor for a period of 14 days and identify themselves to their employer so that a plan can be put into place to ensure the protection of those workplaces.
    Children under the age of 16 years who have travelled outside of Canada should also self-isolate for a period of 14 days. Parents should actively monitor their children’s symptoms. Children who are self-isolating should stay at home and avoid social gathering points such as community centres or parks.
    Public Health Ontario has excellent fact sheets on how to self monitor and self isolate.
    If you start to feel symptoms of COVID-19:
    Dr. Williams requests anyone who begins to feel unwell (fever, new cough or difficulty breathing) to return home and self-isolate immediately. People who are self-isolating should seek clinical assessment over the phone – either through TeleHealth Ontario (1-866-797-0000) or by calling their primary care provider’s office. If one needs additional assessment, their primary care provider or TeleHealth will direct them to in-person care options. If one is in medical distress and need urgent care, they should call 911 and let 911 know what they are self-isolating because of COVID-19.
    If you are an employer:
    Dr. Williams asks all employers in Ontarians to facilitate virtual work arrangements to enable employees to work from home where possible to enable workers to limit their activities, care for children and to self isolate. However, he recognizes that there are a number of workplaces where this is not possible. He would ask those employers to use their judgement to sustain operations in a manner that maintains social distancing.
    If need to seek health care for COVID-19:
    If one is unwell and needs to seek health assessment for COVID-19 there are three options to available:
    • A Self Assessment Tool available at: https://www.ontario.ca/page/2019-novel-coronavirus
    • Telehealth Ontario at: 1-866-797-0000 (24/7)
    • One’s primary care provider – they should call their primary care provider and they will provide virtual assessment by phone or other technology. One should not book an in-person visit for COVID-19 assessment without first having a virtual assessment. 
    • If one requires an in-person health assessment, they will be referred to an appropriate location for in-person health assessment.  Only people with COVID-19 symptoms will be tested. 
    Health Reminders:
    Dr. Williams wants to remind all Ontarians that there are important actions that they should be taking every day in order to protect your health. These include:
    • Washing your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer
    • Sneezing and cough into your sleeve
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
    • Avoid contact with people who are sick
    • Stay at home if you are sick. In particular, do not visit a long-term care, retirement home or other congregate living situation. 
    The well-being of our members, volunteers, stakeholders and staff is our utmost priority, and we will continue to update you on the evolving situation. We hope that you and your families remain safe and healthy as this global health challenge continues to unfold.

    March 18, 2020: COVID-19, layoffs, and frustration of contract

    Professor David Doorey is a well-known and well-respected leader in the world of Employment and Labour Law. He has posted “an introduction” to COVID-19, layoffs, and Employment Standards which can be found here.

    Among other things, Professor Doorey reminds us that according to the common law, a temporary layoff can trigger a constructive dismissal. Employers should not assume they have the right to unilaterally lay someone off, even if there is a shortage of work. And employees should not assume a layoff can be imposed upon them.

    Of course, as Professor Doorey also points out, the present circumstances could lead to a finding that employment contracts have been frustrated, which would allow the employer to bring about the end of the employment relationship without the requirement of providing notice or compensation. This point is certainly open to argument, at least until the government enacts legislation to address the issue.

    March 18, 2020: Canadian government unveils $82bn in aid for families, business

    New measures to help individuals and businesses impacted  by COVID-19 (which, of course, is most of us) were announced by Prime Minister Trudeau today. They include:

    • A new Emergency Care Benefit that will provide up to $900 bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks for Canadians without paid sick leave or access to Employment Insurance sickness benefits (this will assist those forced to self-isolate)
    • The Canada Revenue Agency will provide up to $5 billion for unemployed workers without access to EI through a new Emergency Support Benefit
    • A subsidy equal to 10 per cent of employee wages, up to $1,375 per employees and $25,000 per employer, to help businesses avoid layoffs

    For more information, click here.

    March 18, 2020: How to apply for EI sickness benefits and the new emergency worker fund

    Our federal government is offering new financial support for Canadians whose jobs have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Wednesday that the government will provide up to $27 billion for workers and businesses.

    The emergency care benefit will provide up to $900 every two weeks, for up to 15 weeks, to help Canadian workers who

    1. cannot go to work,
    2. do not have paid sick leave and
    3. do not qualify for EI sickness benefits.

    This includes those who are sick themselves, as well as those who are staying home to look after others who are sick or children who are not in school.

    The emergency support benefit will offer payments of undisclosed amounts to unemployed workers who are not eligible for EI.

    More information about applying for EI sickness benefits is available on the government’s website.

    For more information, click here.

    March 18, 2020: Ontario cancels EQAO

    Students (including Stuart’s kids) will be happy to learn Ontario is cancelling standardized tests for elementary and high school students throughout the province for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. That includes EQAO.

    For more information, click here.

    March 18, 2020: Canada-US border to close to non-essential travel

    The Canadian and American governments are working on a border closure that will see all non-essential travel banned. Details have yet to be finalized but are expected to be announced in the next day or so.

    March 17, 2020: Ontario government declares state of emergency

    The Ontario Government has declared a state of emergency for Ontario due to the coronavirus outbreak. Ontario is the first province to do so. 

    This is not a province-wide shutdown, and many businesses will continue to operate, including grocery stores, convenience stores, pharmacies, manufacturing facilities, public transit, important public services, construction sites and office buildings.

    However, the following are required to close:

     the following establishments are legally required to close immediately:

    • All facilities providing indoor recreational programs
    • All public libraries
    • All private schools as defined in the Education Act
    • All licensed child care centres
    • All bars and restaurants, except to the extent that such facilities provide takeout food and delivery
    • All theatres including those offering live performances of music, dance, and other art forms, as well as cinemas that show movies
    • Concert venues

    For more information, click here.

    March 17, 2020: Alberta Government Declares COVID-19 a Public Health Emergency

    The Government of Alberta has taken this aggressive step. Gatherings of groups of 50 or more are banned and citizens are also banned from public places like casinos, bingo halls, theatres, children’s play centres, recreation centres and arenas, science centres, museums and art galleries, community centres, fitness facilities, and entertainment facilities like movie theatres.

    Note that the ban does not apply to health care facilities, grocery stores, airports, the Alberta legislature, and other essential services.

    Sit-down restaurants, cafés, coffee shops, food courts and other food-serving facilities, including those with a minors-allowed liquor license, are limited to 50 per cent capacity to a maximum of 50 people.

    For more information, click here.

    March 17, 2020: Fire Away Discussion - How to Navigate COVID-19 in the Workplace

    Richa Sandill, Brittany Taylor and Nadia Zaman joined Stuart for a discussion on the workplace challenges facing employers and employees during the COVID-19 outbreak.

    Watch Video

    March 16, 2020: A Message From Rudner Law Regarding COVID-19

    This is unprecedented, and any unprecedented situation results in questions and uncertainty. It can also result in risk and legal liability. There are many questions, and the key is to have proper legal advice so that you can make an informed decision.

    Read Post

    March 16, 2020: COVID-19 Pandemic - Frequently Asked Employment Law Questions

    A broad look at the implications of COVID-19 for employers and employees by providing answers to some of the questions we have received from our clients over the past few weeks.

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    March 13, 2020: COVID-19 Pandemic and Travel - What Should Employers Do?

    We provide you with some practical recommendations to ensure you are complying with your legal obligations as an employer. Employees as well will benefit from reviewing this blog post to understand their rights. The reality is that this is a relatively novel situation and employers, employees and Employment Lawyers are all working through the issues that this has created.

    Read Post

    Stuart Rudner

    I am the founder of Rudner Law. In 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020, I was selected by my peers for inclusion in ‘The Best Lawyers in Canada’ in the area of Employment Law and have been repeatedly named in Canadian HR Reporter’s Employment Lawyers Directory (a comprehensive directory of the top employment law and immigration law practitioners in Canada), and was also named one of Canada’s top Legal Social Media Influencers.