The Government of Canada will be hosting the annual G20 Summit (G20) in Toronto, Ontario on June 26th and 27th, 2010. The G20 will be held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC), which was selected for its accessibility, size, security features and technological infrastructure MTCC), which was selected for its accessibility, size, security features and technological infrastructure.
A leaders' forum for international economic co-operation, the G20 was held twice in 2009. London, UK hosted it on April 1st, 2009; Pittsburgh, PA hosted it on September 24th and 25th. Important lessons for employers can be gleaned from the experiences in both London and Pittsburgh. Although the presence of the G20 is exciting to many, employers affected by the G20 must prepare in order to limit disruptions to their businesses and to avoid or minimize emergencies caused by the G20.
G20 Background Information
- The official meeting dates for the G20 are Saturday June 26th and Sunday June 27th, 2010.
- Although the meetings of the G20 will be held on the weekend, disruptions to the downtown core can be expected in the days immediately preceding the weekend and possibly a day or two following the meetings.
- Although specific details are still anticipated, security is expected to be in effect two to three days prior to the meeting dates. Some sources indicate that security will be in effect one week prior to the meeting dates.
Initial reports indicate that the security perimeter may be bordered by Queen Street to the north, Lakeshore Boulevard to the south, Spadina Avenue to the west, and Yonge Street to the east. The exact perimeter is not expected to be announced until two weeks prior to the G20.
The information currently available through the G20's official website indicates that:
- There will be multi-layered security strategy involving multiple security zones surrounding the MTCC, with the areas closest to the facility retaining the highest levels of security.
- There will be a wired fence surrounding the outer perimeter of the security zones.
The Government of Canada G20 website indicates that members of the Integrated Security Unit (ISU) are visiting community homes and businesses located in the G20 security zone to provide affected individuals with the opportunity to obtain accreditation. Information currently available is as follows:
- Accreditation is strictly voluntary.
- Information collected for accreditation will include basic information: name, date of birth, and address.
- Accreditation passes will be distributed in the late spring, a few weeks before the G20.
- Only individuals with accreditation will be permitted to travel through the "immediate vicinity and very nearby roads, where access will be restricted."
- Without accreditation, entry into the security areas and any other restricted areas will either not be possible or will involve security checks, with lengthy delays expected.
- Access will be restricted on June 26th and 27th, as well as a few days prior to the event, when security measures will be put into place.
Effect on Transportation
- All public transportation (TTC, GO Transit and VIA Rail) is expected to continue operations during the G20 and in the week leading up to the G20.
- Delays are anticipated due to motorcades, large protests and other events that may occur.
- The Gardiner Expressway will remain open; however, road closures are expected close to the MTCC.
- Protests are likely to delay traffic in areas that can not be predicted.
Doing Business During the G20: Practical Tips for Employers
The shared experiences of employers affected by the London and Pittsburgh G20 Summits in 2009 provide some useful guidance in preparing for the impact of the G20 in Toronto, as follows:
- Create a list of all employees and / or contractors who may require accreditation.
- Reschedule any large company meetings planned for the week of the G20 or relocate such meetings to a location outside the security perimeter.
- Communicate with security and building management regarding incoming and outgoing courier packages.
- If your business does not require certain employees to be physically in or near the downtown core, consider allowing them to work offsite. Companies are entitled to request that employees work offsite provided that appropriate resources are available to do so.
- Prepare contact lists of staff and critical contractors and vendors. Develop a list of alternative suppliers/contractors.
- Consider the need to prepare for the cross-training of staff if there are some employees who may not be accredited.
- Ensure there is enough first-aid equipment on hand and consider if emergency supplies may be required (e.g., food and water).
- Develop a comprehensive contingency plan and inform employees.
- If your company does not have a secure web page or other means of instant communication, consider establishing a telephone tree in order to communicate with workers quickly and efficiently in the event of unexpected closures.
- Nominate and train a dedicated liaison person to deal with communications with employees, property management / security, G20 organizers, and the ISU or other emergency responders.
Employer / Employee Rights
- Companies and employees can make arrangements regarding the use of vacation time during the G20. Generally, an employer must approve the use of vacation time. Specific entitlements in this regard are governed by any contract of employment, a collective agreement, and the applicable employment standards legislation.
- Employees do not have a general right to refuse to report to work, however, unavoidable delays are a real possibility.
- Employees should be encouraged to account for the possibility of delay when planning to attend work.
- Employers should be prepared to be flexible regarding the impact of unexpected delays on the ability of employees to report to work on time.
The Issue of Protests
Protests and demonstrations are expected to occur throughout the G20. The security teams are working with peaceful protesters, holding town hall meetings to ensure that protests are lawful and that protesters are aware of Canadian laws. Disruptions due to protests will be felt, and are likely to include road blockages, traffic delays, pedestrian delays, etc. The ISU (within the perimeter) and the police (outside the perimeter) will be prepared to respond in the event of any violence.
- Protestors are not entitled to demonstrate on private property.
- Protestors are not entitled to impede the ability of employees to enter private property.
- Employees should be counselled to avoid any significant confrontation and to report any issues to their manager or appointed liaison.
- Employees are not entitled to refuse to report to work simply because a protest or demonstration is occurring.
- Generally speaking, a protest or demonstration outside of an employer's facility on public property is not a hazard "at the employee's workplace." As such, there may not be recourse for an employee to refuse to report to work on health and safety grounds.
- If the demonstration is aggressive, harassing or intimidating, then the employer should immediately contact security and / or the police.
We hope this information is of assistance to you. Employers may also find the following websites helpful:
www.g20.gc.ca — Government of Canada's official G20 website
www.g8-g20isu.ca — Integrated Security Unit website
www.ward20.ca — Adam Vaughan (Toronto City Councillor)
www.drie.org — Disaster Recovery Information Exchange
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.