COCA – COVID-19 Special Issue
This is a special edition of What’s New, devoted to workplace issues related to COVID-19 to help keep you safe and informed
The Ontario Legislature passed the Employment Standards Amendment Act (Infectious Disease Emergencies), 2020 last week. The legislation provides 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 daycare closures or to care for other relatives.
To further stop the spread of COVID-19, the Ontario Government ordered the mandatory closure of all non-essential workplaces effective as of Tuesday, March 24, at 11:59 p.m. This closure is in effect for 14 days with the possibility of extending this order as the situation evolves. A full list of businesses that are permitted to stay open was released on March 24.
New guidance for health and safety in the construction sector
The Chief Prevention Officer issued updated guidance to help construction employers better understand their responsibilities and what is needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on job sites. Keeping job sites open requires a heightened focus on health and safety, and construction employers must adapt to protect their workers in new ways in light of the virus.
The Ontario Government is enabling $1.9 billion in relief for employers to reduce the financial strain on business brought on by COVID-19. The measure, which will run through the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), will see premium payments deferred for six months for all businesses in the province.
The Ontario government announced a new order under the March 17, 2020, declaration of emergency to ensure health care resources are available to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep individuals and families safe. This temporary order gives hospitals the ability to cancel and postpone services to free-up space and valuable staff, identify staffing priorities, and develop, modify and implement redeployment plans.
Ministry extends working-at-heights training deadline
Construction workers will have an extra year to renew their training if they work at heights. The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development has extended the validity period of their previous training because many training providers have cancelled classes or shut down due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The mandatory training for more than 120,000 workers would have expired over the next six months. The extension will ensure these workers can continue to work when possible.
In response to COVID-19 outbreak, the ministry is planning to adjust the current 2020-21 health and safety compliance initiative schedule. Further updates will be provided as necessary.
The ministry is not currently accepting requests for labour relations services by mail or fax due to the provincial state of emergency related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Please submit your requests and collective agreements online.
New prevention branch email address
There is a new email address for questions about the implications COVID-19 may have on training programs approved by the Chief Prevention Officer. If you are a training provider, learner or employer and have a question about how COVID-19 will affect your training, please email COVID19LearnerLine@ontario.ca. For non-COVID-19 questions about training (e.g. lost card or learner ID, training provider applications, etc.), email:
- Working At Heights WAH.Inquiryline@Ontario.ca
- Joint health and safety committee certification training:
WSIB offering online and web-based services only
The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) offices will remain closed to the public during this time and will not be processing requests by mail. Staff will be happy to help through online services and are available by phone (1-800-387-0750, Monday to Friday 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.). Please check their website for updates.
This free e-course from Workplace Safety & Prevention Services (WSPS) focuses on the impact a pandemic may have on workplaces and our communities.
OHCOW offers COVID-19 resources
Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW) offers virtual Occupational Health & Disease Prevention services including Inquiry, Patient, Workplace Consultation & Knowledge Translation regarding COVID-19 while all staff self-isolate. Additionally, expert Occupational Hygienist John Oudyk has drafted a scientific analysis about COVID-19 transmission and necessary protection, at the request of frontline health care workers.
View bulletins on recent court decisions that resulted in fines and other penalties under Ontario’s workplace laws.