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Torkin Manes LegalPoint
Sep 29, 2020

COVID-19 Update: Screening of Employees in Ontario Workplaces now Mandatory

By Gillian Howe
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On September 25, 2020, the Ontario Government amended Ontario Regulation 364/20 “Rules For Areas In Stage 3”  under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020. The amendment  adds a requirement that, effective September 26, 2020, the person responsible for a business or organization that is open, operate the business or organization in compliance with the advice, recommendations and instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health on screening individuals.

In short – organizations and businesses must implement mandatory screening for workers and essential visitors.

In connection with this amendment, the Ministry of Health issued a “COVID-19 Screening Tool for Workplaces (Businesses and Organizations)” (the “Screening Tool”) which sets out the requirements of the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and provides required screening questions.

What Employers Need to Know:

  • The screening requirement came into effect on September 26, 2020.
  • Screening must occur before or when a worker enters the workplace at the beginning of the day or shift, or upon the arrival of the essential visitor.
  • Workplaces are required to implement this screening for any workers or essential visitors entering the work environment.
    • The term “workers” is intended to include students, contractors or volunteers that conduct business or related activities where applicable and appropriate.
    • The term “essential visitor” includes individuals providing a service in the establishment who are not employees or patrons of the establishment (eg. delivery, maintenance, contract workers).
    • Exclusions – The following individuals are excluded from screening: 1) patrons entering a workplace (such as customers entering a grocery store or restaurant); and 2) emergency services or other first responders entering a workplace for emergency purposes.
    • The Ministry of Health has stated that essential workers who travel outside of Canada for work purposes should not be excluded entry on this basis alone.
  • While the screening questions may need to be adapted based on the needs or specific setting, at a minimum the screening questions in the Screening Tool must be used to screen individuals before they are permitted to enter the workplace.
  • Anyone who does not pass screening is to be advised that they are not permitted to enter the workplace and should self-isolate, call their health care provider or Telehealth Ontario

The Screening Tool issued by the Ministry of Health also notes that employers must also meet all obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (“OHSA”), implying that at a minimum, employers are required to implement and conduct the mandated screening, in accordance with employer health and safety obligations under the OHSA.

If you have any questions about this mandatory screening and its implementation in your workplace, COVID-19 and your workplace, or any other human resource law issue, please contact a member of our team. For more information about dealing with COVID-19, please visit our COVID-19 Resource Center.