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Ontario’s Proposed COVID-19 Liability Protection Legislation – All You Need To Know

November 16, 2020 • Canadian Law, Canadian Regulation, Legal Professionals, Resources for Lawyers

When we talk about the COVID-19 pandemic, there really is no playbook or manual.

Governments are playing it by ear and modifying policies and legislations as the situation evolves.

Ontario’s government recently proposed putting liability protection in place for some workers, businesses, and non-profit organizations. This would protect these parties from COVID-19 exposure-related lawsuits.

What does this mean? How will it impact businesses? Who is covered? – We answer these questions in this blog.

What is Supporting Ontario’s Recovery Act?

The Supporting Ontario’s Recovery Act, 2020, if passed, will offer liability protection to workers, volunteers and organizations that make an honest effort to follow public health guidelines and rules and regulations relating to COVID-19.

This is not really a new concept. British Columbia and Nova Scotia, for instance, already have legislation in place, that protects workers supporting their communities during the pandemic.

Attorney General Doug Downey shared that this Act has been proposed to address the concerns that people in Ontario have voiced.

He stated that there are a number of Ontarians showing up to work every day, no matter how challenging the situation is. These individuals range from frontline workers and food bank volunteers to sports coaches and those managing supply chains.

This bill is retroactive (to March 17, 2020) and has been designed to protect these people from being exposed to liability in civil proceedings.

Though, the Attorney General also stressed that the bill would not prevent lawsuits against those who willfully or through “gross negligence” endangered others.

Who is Covered?

The Supporting Ontario’s Recovery Act, 2020, will provide targeted protection to:

  • Healthcare institutions and workers;
  • Those frontline workers who are working in public-facing roles at grocery stores, restaurants, retail stores, etc.;
  • Businesses and their employees;
  • Charities;
  • Non-profit organizations; and
  • Coaches, volunteers, and minor sports associations.

CBC reports that the Insurance Bureau of Canada termed the proposed legislation as balanced and responsible. Steve Kee, a bureau spokesperson, said that this announcement shows that the government is committed to supporting entrepreneurs and hardworking Ontarians during these challenging times.

What Steps is Teranet Taking?

While the government is doing its part in helping businesses and individuals get through the pandemic, it is our responsibility to ensure that, as organizations, we have protocols & policies in place, to protect our employees, customers, and other stakeholders.

At Teranet, for instance, we have created a robust Business Continuity Plan to prevent and minimize service disruptions while ensuring that our employees stay safe. Some of the policies we have put in place to protect our employees and customers include:

  • Communicate good hygiene practices to help prevent the spread of any respiratory disease.
  • Provide hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes in all common areas and adjacent to high-touch surfaces.
  • Conduct weekly COVID-19 health and safety inspections to ensure all protocols are being followed.
  • Suspend all non-essential business travel regardless of destination.
  • Enforce social distancing for meetings. Encourage conducting meetings virtually whenever possible.
  • Encourage employees to stay home if they or family members are unwell.

We are consistently reviewing and updating our policies in accordance with the guidance received from local governments and Public Health Authorities.

Latest updates are available on Teranet’s COVID-19 Information Centre: https://www.teranet.ca/teranet-news-categories/covid-19-information

If you have any further questions or would like to get in touch, please visit www.teranet.ca.

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