COVID-19 Update: New Measures for Toronto Workplaces

On January 4, 2021, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, announced new measures for Toronto workplaces to minimize the spread of COVID-19. Effective immediately, there are new reporting requirements, infection prevention measures, and a system to publicly report on workplace related outbreaks.

Employers must immediately notify Toronto Public Health once aware of two or more people who test positive for COVID-19 within a 14-day interval in connection with the workplace premises. On the occurrence of two positive cases within the noted interval, employers must also:

  • Provide Toronto Public Health with a designated contact person;

  • Ready a list of accurate contact information for all workers that can be produced within 24 hours;

  • Notify the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training, and Skills Development and/or other relevant government authorities of the outbreak; and

  • Cooperate with Toronto Public Health, including allowing entry to the workplace for inspection and to support enhanced control measures.

Toronto Public Health has issued additional infection prevention measures that workplaces are instructed to abide by. These include:

  1. Ensuring hand sanitizer and hand-washing facilities are provided in work and rest areas;

  2. Implementing rigorous and frequent environmental cleaning in all high-touch areas such as doorknobs and elevator buttons, and areas accessible to the public such as washrooms, check-out counters, and concession stands.

  3. Conducting a review of the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems to ensure proper functionality;

  4. Minimizing instances of more than one individual in a vehicle. Where not possible, ensuring face coverings are worn and the windows of the vehicle are open;

  5. Ensuring the physical distancing of workers of at least two meters and installing one-way walkways; and

  6. Implementing physical barriers where physical distancing is not possible.

Additionally, employers are required to ensure employees are aware of income replacement and workplace benefits that they are entitled to if they have to isolate as a result of COVID-19 symptoms, a test, or close-contact with a case. The city hopes this will encourage employees to report COVID-19 symptoms and contacts to their employers. 

Dr. Eileen de Villa also announced that Toronto Public Health will make available a list of workplace related outbreaks. The list will be updated every Thursday and contain workplaces where there has been sustained transmission of COVID-19, a significant proportion of staff have been infected, the outbreak is of a significant duration, and/or the workplace is large enough that the risk of privacy concerns are mitigated. The list will cover 11 settings, including grocery stores, pharmacies, food-processing sites, offices, warehousing, shipping and distribution, construction, and manufacturing facilities.

The Toronto Public Health Instructions for Workplaces can be found here.

If you have any questions regarding the impact of this update on your business, please do not hesitate to contact McCarthy Tétrault’s labour and employment group.



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