According to Statistics Canada, two in five employers in Canada have reduced hours or laid off one or more employees since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. One of the risks associated with those difficult decisions is a constructive dismissal claim that would trigger statutory notice and severance requirements under provincial employment standard legislation and under the common law. Ontario’s government has now taken a major step to prevent claims under its Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) resulting from COVID-19.
On April 30, 2020, the Ontario government, in collaboration with provincial health and safety associations, released the Health and Safety Association Guidance Documents for Workplaces During the COVID-19 Outbreak.
On April 1, 2020, Canada’s Minister of Finance outlined the federal government’s plans for a comprehensive wage subsidy plan that, in total, would put as much as $71 Billion (CAD) back into the pockets of participating employers. The stated purpose of the plan is to maximize the ability of employers to maintain employment relationships with their employees during this difficult time.
On March 24, 2020, the British Columbia government made two changes to the BC Employment Standards Act to provide workers with unpaid, job-protected leave due to illness and injury.
As of March 3, 2020, the Canadian government has confirmed 33 cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) across the country: 20 cases in Ontario, 12 in British Columbia, and one in Quebec. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) continues to assess the public health risk as low. Nevertheless, Canadian employers may want to ensure that the risk of exposure in the workplace is minimized. Here are some key questions for employers to consider.