Ontario Introducing Legislation to Protect Workers During COVID-19 Outbreak

Workers
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Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced this morning that his government would be introducing legislation to protect workers from losing their jobs during the current COVID-19 outbreak.

“The reality is we’re facing some rough times ahead,” the Premier said as he spoke to a crowd of reports. “We are taking every step possible to slow the spread of this virus.”

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The new legislation includes the removal for any workers self-isolating to produce a doctor’s note in order to be protected from taking time off. Ontario Minister of Labour, Training & Skills Development Monte McNaughton said, “No one should lose their job because they’re following the best available medical advice.”

If passed, the protections would be retroactive to January 25, 2020.

According to a government release, the proposed legislation would, if passed, provide job protection for employees unable to work for the following reasons:

  • The employee is under medical investigation, supervision or treatment for COVID-19.
  • The employee is acting in accordance with an order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act.
  • The employee is in isolation or quarantine.
  • The employee is acting in accordance with public health information or direction.
  • The employer directs the employee not to work.
  • The employee needs to provide care to a person for a reason related to COVID-19 such as a school or day-care closure.

Given the turbulence of the past few weeks, and the turbulence expected in the weeks to come, Finance Minister Rod Phillips also announced that the government would not be releasing a full 2020 Provincial Budget on March 25 as scheduled, but rather an economic and fiscal ‘update’ will be provided.

During question period, Premier Ford was asked about the possibility of shutting down all non-essential services in the province. His response was that “Everything’s on the table, but we take our advice from our Chief Medical Officer,” before also adding that the government will take “decisive action” when necessary.

And when asked about the Federal government’s efforts in the fight against COVID-19, Ford praised the work of Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland. He also said he would support the closure of provincial borders to visitors, but not to trade or commerce or any citizens of Ontario, though he did state his worry that the Federal government is not doing enough at Canadian borders, adding, “We need the federal government to tighten up the border.”

Coupled with the announcement of the new legislation was the urging of residents to use a new self-assessment tool on the Ontario website before visiting assessment centres in the province.

“In difficult times like these, we learn a lot. We learn a lot about who we are as people. We learn a lot about what Ontario is made of.”