On March 9, 2022, the Ontario government announced a plan to bring an end to all COVID-19 restrictions by April 27, 2022. Below is a summary of the upcoming employment-related changes.
Changes Effective March 14, 2022
Ontario is ending the requirement for vaccination policies for workers in long-term care homes. The province is also ending this requirement for:
- workers covered by the Ministry of Education;
- workers covered by the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services; and
- workers covered by the Ministry of Seniors and Accessibility.
On March 14, 2022, Ontario will also lift the directive requiring that unvaccinated workers in high-risk healthcare settings participate in rapid testing programs.
Changes Effective March 21, 2022
The COVID-19 regulatory requirements are contained in O. Reg. 364/20 of the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 will end, including the requirements to:
- prepare safety plans describing the measures and procedures to lower the risk of transmitting COVID-19;
- passively and actively screen workers and patrons; and
- maintain physical distance within the indoor areas of shopping or retail businesses.
The province will lift masking requirements in most areas. Mask mandates will remain in the following settings:
- public transit;
- long-term care and retirement homes;
- healthcare settings;
- congregate care settings;
- shelters; and
Changes Effective March 28, 2022
The Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020, will expire. The orders associated with this act will remain in force for another thirty days.
Changes Effective April 27, 2022
All remaining restrictions or policies will end or expire. These include:
- all orders under the act;
- mask requirements in settings such as public transit; and
- remaining healthcare directives, including the directive requiring medical professionals to wear a “well-fitted N95 mask.”
As the province aims to bring an end to all restrictions by the spring, many employers may consider the impact of these changes on their workplaces. The province has indicated that businesses and employers are permitted to impose health and safety measures (such as masking and screening) even after the government mandates have ended, meaning that employers will retain a degree of control over the COVID-19–related measures that they wish to retain in their workplaces.
Ogletree Deakins will continue to monitor and report on developments with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic and will post updates in the firm’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center as additional information becomes available. Important information for employers is also available via the firm’s webinar and podcast programs.