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Ontario Drafting Emergency Legislation Changes to Cover COVID-19 Epidemic
Monday, March 16, 2020
Premier Doug Ford announced today that the province will be introducing new employment protection legislation this week for employees required to self-isolate due to COVID-19.
The legislation will address job loss fears by allowing employees who are forced to take unpaid leave due to self-isolation or quarantine, eligibility for EI benefits. These benefits will cover wages during work time off. Employees will also no longer be required to provide a medical note if they take the leave. The measures would be retroactive to January 25, 2020, the date that the first presumptive COVID-19 case was confirmed in Ontario.
The changes to the legislation will cover:
- An employee under medical investigation, supervision or treatment for COVID-19.
- An employee acting in accordance with an order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act.
- An employee in isolation or quarantine.
- An employee acting in accordance with public health information or direction.
- If an employer directs the employee not to work.
- If an employee needs to provide care to a person for a reason related to COVID-19 such as a school or day-care closure.
The province says it is working with the federal government to ensure the people of Ontario have adequate coverage during this time so that no one experiences job loss.
Employers and workers in the health sector should be following the Ministry of Health COVID-19 Guidance for the Health Sector.
The premier also said they are working on other solutions to manage the rapid social measures that are being put in place due to the COVID-19 epidemic.
Some of those solutions include:
- Working with the Minister of Energy to make hydro rates sustainable by adjusting off-peak hours to accommodate daytime energy use while people are in self-isolation or in quarantine at home.
- Ramping up Telehealth staff to accommodate the influx of calls.
- Looking to online alternatives in order to keep people away from Service Ontario locations for people who need to renew their driver’s licences, plates, health cards or other essential documentation that require immediate renewals.
The government recommends following their respective website pages for updates on the services you require during this time.