Workplaces & Businesses
The Government of Ontario has ordered the mandatory closure of all non-essential workplaces and businesses effective as of Tuesday, March 24th at 11:59 p.m. This closure will be in effect for 14 days with the possibility of extending this order as the situation evolves. A list of essential workplaces is available at this link. Any questions about closing non-essential workplaces should be directed to the Stop the Spread hotline at 1-888-444-3659. This hotline is available 8:30am-5:00pm Monday-Friday.
The Government of Ontario has introduced a number of payment deferrals for employers including a five-month interest and penalty-free period for businesses to make payments for the majority of provincially administered taxes. The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) is also allowing Schedule 1 employers with premiums owed to defer reporting and payments until August 31st, 2020. Further information about the government’s support for businesses can be found at this link.
The Government of Ontario has also launched a website called “Ontario Together” as a portal for businesses such as manufacturers to partner with the government in response to COVID-19. If your business can help fight the virus, visit this link.
Job Protection Measures
The Province of Ontario passed the Employment Standards Amendment Act (Infectious Disease Emergencies), 2020 on March 19, 2020. The Act protects workers who must take time off because of isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19, or who must care for relatives due to closures or illness related to COVID-19. A medical note is not required, and measures are retroactive to January 25, 2020. The Act applies to the majority of Ontario employees, including full-time and part-time workers, students, employees of temporary help agencies, and casual workers. It does not apply to federal employees or employees under federal jurisdiction. Details of the Act are available here.
Extending Validation Periods
There is increased flexibility for Driver, Vehicle and Carrier Products, Services and Health Cards which expire. Additional details are available here.
The Government of Ontario has ordered the closure of all daycare services and learning institutions (including independent schools) and has not yet provided a date that schools will be permitted to re-open. All EQAO and secondary school testing has been cancelled for the remainder of the school year. The Ministry of Education has launched a Learn from Home portal to offer at-home math and literacy activities for students in kindergarten through grade 12. The Learn at Home portal can be accessed here.
For further information on Ontario schools, click here.
Medical resources & Assessment Centres
If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, contact your primary care provider or Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000. The Government of Ontario is asking individuals not to visit an assessment centre unless you have been referred by a healthcare professional. Do not call 911 unless it is an emergency.
Public Health Updates
The Government of Ontario is updating the public on the status of cases in the province everyday at 10:30am and 5:30pm. The Government has also updated its self-assessment tool. All health resources, including the self-assessment tool can be found at this link. The Government of Ontario has asked everyone in the province to practice social distancing, and only visit essential business such as grocery stores and pharmacies when necessary.
On March 28, 2020, the Ontario Government announced a new emergency order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act to prohibit organized public events and social gatherings of more than five people, effective immediately.
The Government of Ontario has advised against any travel and has emphasized that all Ontarians returning from abroad (including the United States) remain in their homes for 14 days upon arrival in Ontario. The Ontario government is also waiving 3-month waiting period for new residents of Ontario to access the Ontario Health Insurance Program. Further information is available here.
Emergency Financial Measures
COVID-19 Emergency Assistance from the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services
The Government of Ontario has made $200 million in funding available for the following services and agencies:
- Food banks
- Emergency services.
- Charities and non-profits.
The funding will also go to people and families who are struggling financially but are unable to access federal support programs, said Ontario Social Services Minister Todd Smith on Monday at Queen’s Park. Anyone can apply through the Government of Ontario website here.
Parents: To help parents pay for the extra costs associated with the closure of schools and daycares during the COVID‑19 outbreak, the government is providing a one-time payment of $200 per child up to 12 years of age, and $250 for those with special needs, including kids enrolled in private schools. More information and the application can be found at this link.
Seniors: The Government of Ontario will also be increasing the Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) maximum payment for low-income seniors, for six months starting in April 2020. This would increase the maximum payment to $166 per month for individuals and $332 per month for couples. Check back here for more information.
Students: In addition to the federal portion of student loan repayments being suspended, Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loan repayments are being temporarily suspended between March 30, 2020 and September 30, 2020. During this time borrowers will not be required to make any loan or interest payments.
Rent and flexibility: City of Toronto residents will have an extra 60 days to pay property tax, water and solid waste utility bills, retroactive to March 16th. More information on City of Toronto affected services can be found at this link.
On March 24, 2020, Toronto Community Housing confirmed that it will be flexible and work with market rent and rent-geared-to-income (RGI) tenants whose employment income has been impacted by COVID-19. More details about this announcement are available here.
The Government of Ontario is resetting electricity prices and providing electricity cost relief programs. More information about rates and programs can be accessed through the Ontario Energy Board at this link.
Moving dwellings: No restrictions have been communicated as of yet.
Evictions and Repossession of Dwellings
As of March 19, 2020 the Government of Ontario announced that all in-person hearings at the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) are postponed and will be rescheduled to a later date. Front-line counter services are also closed until further notice. The Board will consider written hearings or telephone hearings for some cases. The court has also ordered that all residential evictions cease. Read the Court’s decision can be read at this link.
Funerals in Ontario
The Bereavement Association of Ontario has issued a number of directives for funeral home and cemeteries:
- All cemeteries in Ontario are directed to open their cemeteries and be available for interments immediately, or as soon as possible if restricted by ground conditions.
- All funerals, as of now, must be limited to the maximum number that can be accommodated for people to maintain a distance of two metres (six feet) apart at all times. The provincial maximum for any gatherings is 5 people, however under order from the Government of Ontario, funerals are permitted to proceed with up to 10 people at one time. Organizers should ensure that measures are in place to reduce risk, including providing hand washing stations or alcohol-based hand sanitizer, spacing seating to ensure physical distancing, and encouraging outdoor services, if possible. In addition, people should
- Interments and burials must not be delayed.
The Bereavement Association of Ontario continues to post updates at this link.