On January 4, 2021, Toronto Public Health announced new legal requirements for businesses and organizations in the City of Toronto that are permitted to remain open during the current lockdown. A copy of the news release is available here. The letter of instruction from Toronto Public Health describing the new requirements is posted here.
The “Stage 1” regulation under the Reopening Ontario Act requires employers to comply with public health guidance, which effectively makes the Toronto Public Health guidance “law” that employers in the City of Toronto must comply with.
Effective immediately, all businesses and organizations located in the City of Toronto are required to implement the following measures:
- Notification of Public Health regarding individuals who test positive for COVID-19
- Employers are required to immediately notify Toronto Public Health as soon as they become aware of two or more people connected to the workplace premises that test positive for COVID-19 within a period of 14 days.
- In addition, employers must complete the following:
- Provide Toronto Public Health with the contact information of a designated contact person at the workplace premises.
- Ensure the designated contact person is readily available to communicate with Toronto Public Health and implement any additional measures as required by Toronto Public Health.
- Ensure accurate and updated contact information for all workers is available to be produced to Toronto Public Health within 24 hours of request.
- Notify the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development and/or other relevant government authorities.
- Cooperate with Toronto Public Health infection prevention and control personnel.
- Infection prevention measures
- Employers must:
- Ensure hand sanitizer and hand-washing amenities are provided in work and rest areas. Particularly, Toronto Public Health recommends that employers use hand sanitizer with 60-90% alcohol content.
- Implement rigorous and frequent cleaning of all high-touch areas as well as all areas accessible to the public, including washrooms, check-out counters, concession stands, doorknobs and elevator buttons.
- Conduct or instruct the property owner or landlord to conduct a regular review of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to ensure that the systems are functioning properly.
- Minimize instances where driving associated with work involves more than one individual in a vehicle. Where driving with more than one individual in a vehicle is unavoidable, Toronto Public Health recommends that employers ensure that face coverings are worn in the vehicle and the windows are left open while the vehicle is occupied.
- Ensure that physical distancing of at least two metres between workers is maintained throughout the workplace, including eating and rest periods. Toronto Public Health suggests that employers install one-way walkways to prevent or reduce the frequency of close physical interactions.
- Install physical barriers, such as plexiglass, where physical distancing is not possible. Toronto Public Health notes that physical distancing is always preferable to reliance on the use of physical barriers.
- Remind workers of supports available
- Employers are required to ensure that all workers are aware of the income replacement and workplace-related benefits they are entitled to if they are required to isolate due to symptoms of COVID-19, testing for COVID-19 or being a close contact of someone diagnosed with COVID-19.
Publication of workplace outbreaks
In addition, Toronto Public Health announced revisions to the data published on the City of Toronto COVID-19 monitoring dashboard regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on workplace environments.
Effective January 7, 2021, all workplace outbreaks will be tracked and published on a weekly basis in accordance with the following categories:
- Bar, restaurant, nightclub and other entertainment venues
- Event venues and religious facilities
- Non-institutional medical health services including doctor’s offices, physiotherapy clinics, dental settings and wellness clinics
- Recreational fitness facilities, group fitness classes, team sports and related events
- Retail settings including grocery stores, pharmacies and malls
- Food processing plants
- Offices, warehouses, shipping and distribution, construction and manufacturing settings
- Other workplaces and community settings not captured in these categories
Toronto Public Health will disclose workplace outbreak information where it is determined that a public health risk exists. A public health risk is determined to exist where there is:
- Evidence of sustained transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace;
- A significant proportion of staff were involved in the outbreak;
- A significant duration of the outbreak and approximate time for a positive case to generate a second or third positive case, or cases; and
- The workplace is large enough that the risk of privacy concerns is mitigated.
For more information on the additional measures implemented by Toronto Public Health, please contact a member of our Dentons Employment and Labour group.