Today, the Ontario government announced, that by following proper health and safety guidelines, certain business will be permitted to reopen operations on Monday, May 4 at 12:01 a.m., including:

  • Garden centres and nurseries with curbside pick-up and delivery only;
  • Lawn care and landscaping;
  • Additional essential construction projects that include:
    • shipping and logistics;
    • broadband, telecommunications, and digital infrastructure;
    • any other project that supports the improved delivery of goods and services;
    • municipal projects;
    • colleges and universities;
    • child care centres;
    • schools; and
    • site preparation, excavation, and servicing for institutional, commercial, industrial and residential development;
  • Automatic and self-serve car washes;
  • Auto dealerships, open by appointment only;
  • Golf courses may prepare their courses for the upcoming season, but not open to the public; and
  • Marinas may also begin preparations for the recreational boating season by servicing boats and other watercraft and placing boats in the water, but not open to the public. Boats and watercraft must be secured to a dock in the marina until public access is allowed.

That announcement can be found here.

This announcement follows on the heels of the announcement made on April 30, 2020, of the launching of a website dedicated to providing businesses with resources to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace once businesses are allowed to reopen, which can be found here. This is an expansion on the framework released by the government on April 27, 2020, which we blogged on here. These guidelines are sector specific and cover the following industries:

Most of the sectors have their own specific "guidance note" (linked above where applicable) as well as posters for employees and employers to be posted in each respective workplace.

Employers should be mindful of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) to take all steps reasonable in the circumstances in order to protect the health and safety of employees while in the workplace. That requirement includes taking precautions to protect employees from the spread of COVID-19. Following the government's recommendations will go a long way to fulfilling an employer's health and safety obligations, but employers may be required to go further in certain circumstances.

The government also announced the hiring of 58 additional Ministry of Labour inspectors to assist employers in implementing appropriate procedures. Inspectors also have the ability to hand out fines where employers are not in compliance with their legislative obligations to provide a safe workplace.

Originally published by Crawford Chondon & Partners, May 2020

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.