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Ontario to Introduce Paid Covid-19 Leave

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Province to reimburse employers for up to three paid leave days related to COVID-19 for every employee
April 28, 2021
Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development

TORONTO – While Ontario government continues to work with the federal government to further support vulnerable workers by doubling payments made through the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) program, the province will introduce legislation that, if passed, will offer up to three paid sick days per employee.

On Thursday, April 29, 2021, Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, will introduce legislation that would, if passed, require employers to provide employees with up to $200 of pay for up to three days if they are missing work because of COVID-19. This program will be retroactive to April 19, 2021 and effective until September 25, 2021, the date the CRSB will expire.

By providing time-limited access to three paid leave days, the province is ensuring employees can pay their bills as they help stop the spread of the virus, including by getting tested, waiting for their results in isolation or going to get their vaccine. The province will partner with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board to deliver the program and reimburse employers up to $200 per day for each employee.

“Our government has long advocated for the federal government to enhance the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit program to better protect the people of Ontario, especially our tireless essential workers,” said Minister McNaughton. “It is a tremendously positive step that the federal government has signaled their willingness to continue discussions on the CRSB. Now we can fix the outstanding gap in the federal program so workers can get immediate support and can stay home when needed.”

The province has also offered to provide funding to the federal government to double CRSB payments to Ontario residents, adding an additional $500 per week to eligible individuals for a total of $1,000 per week. Combined with the province’s proposed three days of paid COVID-19 leave, doubling the CRSB would provide Ontario workers with access to the most generous pandemic paid leave in the country.

“Ontario is very proud of those working throughout this unprecedented time to keep essential parts of our economy and local communities open through the pandemic,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance and President of the Treasury Board. “The government of Canada and Ontario have done a historic job delivering the Safe Restart Agreement last year. New provincial funding would allow eligible individuals to receive a total of $1000 per week through the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit program if missing work because of COVID-19. Ontario looks forward to continuing discussions to secure Ottawa’s commitment to administer the program with the top-up to all Ontario applicants. We believe that this is the simplest and fastest way to increase program uptake and make this program more effective for those people who need this program most.” If an eligible worker learns that they must isolate for longer than 50 per cent of the time they would have otherwise worked for the week, whether because of a positive COVID-19 test or risk of exposure, they may apply for the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit if they haven’t taken a paid leave day under this proposal.

This latest measure builds on other existing provincial supports like job protected leave and access to isolation facilities, making Ontario’s approach the most comprehensive COVID-19 sick leave in the country.

Employers and their workers can call a dedicated COVID-19 Sick Days Information Centre hotline at 1-888-999-2248 or visit Ontario.ca/COVIDworkerbenefit to get more information and updates about the proposed Ontario COVID-19 paid leave days.
The province continues to visit workplaces to ensure they are adhering to COVID-19 safety requirements. Since the beginning of 2021, occupational health and safety inspectors and multi-ministry teams of provincial offences officers have conducted more than 21,900 COVID-19-related workplace inspections and investigations across the province. During these visits, more than 17,260 orders and more than 520 COVID-19-related tickets have been issued, and unsafe work related to COVID-19 has been stopped 35 times.
As the Ontario government continues to do what is necessary to control the spread of COVID-19, it remains vital for the federal government to secure more vaccines sooner and close the loopholes in border restrictions that will continue to allow new, more contagious variants to enter the country.

Quick Facts

• Currently, the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) provides $500 per week, before taxes.
• Recipients are entitled to up to four weeks between September 27, 2020, and September 25, 2021.
• As of April 11, 2021, over $600 million of the $1.1 billion committed by the federal government as part of the Safe Restart Agreement currently remains unclaimed.

Additional Resources
Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit
Resources to prevent COVID-19 in the workplace
COVID-19 safety checklist for workplaces
COVID-19 self-isolation and return to work

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Construction Can Continue in Ontario after April 17, 2021? An Overview and Discussion

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What Construction Can Continue
in Ontario after April 17, 2021?
An Overview and Discussion

Rob Kennaley
Kennaley Construction Law

On Friday, Ontario’s Premier announced that due to the assent of a third-wave of the COVID virus, construction activities in the Province will be limited through an amendment to Ontario Regulation 82/80 of the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020, passed by an Order in Council made today (April 17, 2021).

Schedule 2 of the Regulation lists the businesses that may be open in the “Shutdown Zone” for areas in Stage 1 (which currently encompasses the entire province). Prior to April 17, 2021, s.43 of the Regulation provided that all construction activities or projects and related services were allowed to proceed. As of April 17, however, s.43 is significantly amended.

The full text of the amended s.43 is set out at the bottom of this article. What immediately follows is intended to summarize the shutdown provisions as they relate to construction. The text of the Regulation, or counsel, should be consulted to assess its application in any particular case. We will begin with the broad categories of what is allowed to continue, without limitation.

First, all “residential construction activities or projects and related services” are allowed. In his press-conference on Friday, the Premier specifically indicated that construction on hotels would be suspended. This provides some insight into how the attorney-general might interpret “residential construction”.

Second, “landscaping services” can continue by virtue of s.15 of the Schedule. Although not clear, in our view it appears that this applies to landscape maintenance, and not “hard” landscape construction. As “landscaping services” is coupled with “snow clearing” at s.15 (and not included in the exemptions set out in the s. 43 ‘construction section’, we suggest that only maintenance was intended Although not clear, we believe that those who perform landscape construction in a non-residential context that is not otherwise exempt by the Regulation should proceed with caution as they will likely be in violation of provisions.

Third, “maintenance, repair and property management services that manage and maintain the safety, security, sanitation and operation of institutional, commercial, industrial and residential properties and buildings” are allowed to continue. This is provided at s.35 of the Regulation (and not at the construction section, s.43).

Fourth, virtually all site services work may continue. Specifically, construction to “prepare a site for an institutional, commercial, industrial or residential development, including any necessary excavation, grading, roads or utilities infrastructure” is allowed by virtue of s. 43.

Fifth, all construction funded (in whole or in part) by the Federal or Ontario Governments, by an agency of those governments or by a municipality is allowed. In addition, construction intended to provide shelter or supports for vulnerable persons or affordable housing is allowed so long as it is funded in whole or in part by specified persons, a registered charity or a non-profit corporation. As regards these types of potential projects, we recommend that contractors seek clarity from the Owner on the nature of the funding, towards determining whether or not the construction is exempt from the Regulation.

Lastly, where construction needs to be suspended, work may continue so as to close the site, “to ensure ongoing public safety”.

As regards specific areas of the non-residential construction sectors of construction, the amended s. 43 allows construction to continue which:
1. is associated with the health care or long-term care sectors, including construction of or on spaces that “could be repurposed for health care space”;
2. ensures safe and reliable operations of, or provides new capacity in municipal or provincial infrastructure (which includes the transit, transportation, resource, energy and justice sectors);
3. supports or provides new capacity in the “supply or resources”, schools, colleges, universities, specified child care centres or the generation, transmission, distribution or storage of electricity or natural gas;
4. is required for the maintenance and operations of petrochemical plants and refineries or in “significant” industrial petrochemical projects where preliminary work has already commenced;
5. is required for “industrial” construction necessary for the production, maintenance or enhancement of PPE and specific medical devices “directly related to” combatting COVID;
6. will provide additional capacity in the production, processing, manufacturing or distribution of food, beverages or agricultural products; or
7. was already commenced and which will provide additional capacity in the operation and delivery of IT or for businesses that provide logistical support, distribution services, warehousing, storage or shipping or delivery services, or that extract, manufacture, process and distribute goods, products, equipment and materials.

Much of the above formed part of the Regulation passed during the previous shutdown, and confusion remains. It is, again, not clear what construction “associated with the healthcare sector” means. There is no question that hospitals, clinics, or doctor’s offices, etc., are part of this sector. The sector also probably includes services related to massage therapy, mental health care, addiction treatments and homeopathic care, etc. – ie. any service that is recognized and regulated by the province as a health care service. It is not clear, however, how far the “healthcare sector” extends.

It is also not clear that construction in relation to a pharmacy, medical supply warehouse, cannabis facility or health food store will be allowed to continue. While it would appear that these are most certainly “associated with the healthcare sector”, the Regulation goes out of its way to specify where construction in other areas of the sector will be allowed to continue, for example in relation to PPE equipment, ventilators and other identified products “directly related to combating” the pandemic. Because the Regulation specifically limits construction in relation to such vital products to “industrial” construction or structures, construction on non-industrial stores and distribution facilities for other, unspecified healthcare purposes, is most likely prohibited.

Confusion will also again arise over the intended scope of construction, expansion, renovation or conversion of space that “could be repurposed for health care space”. Clearly, in a pandemic, federal, provincial and municipal emergency response plans will generally incorporate hockey arenas, community spaces, university halls and libraries, etc., for various healthcare purposes during an emergency. The Regulation, again, offers no guidance as to what construction might meet the test. Some might argue, at the logical extreme for example, that if the space under construction is zoned to include for doctor’s offices, the space could be repurposed so as to meet the definition, such that the work can continue.

There are, of course, a range of businesses that are allowed to continue to operate during the shutdown period. In our view, unless it is maintenance or repair allowed under sections 15 or 35 of the Regulation, construction activities must be expressly included in s. 43 to continue. It is not enough, we suggest, that the construction be at or for a business that is itself allowed to operate during the lockdown. Thus, for example, it is not enough to be performing construction for example at a bank, a laundry mat or an automated car wash (among the long list of permitted businesses) unless the work is otherwise specifically allowed by s. 15, 35 or 43.

We note that the Premier’s office has announced that 200 workplace inspectors have been dispatched to visit 1,300 construction sites across the province towards enforcing the Regulation. In addition, a further Regulation has been passed which gives police and by-law offices extended powers to stop persons and make inquiries as to why they are away from home during the shutdown period. It does appear that, this time around, the Province is more determined to ensure that the Regulations are complied with, from an enforcement perspective.

Last year, the Province set up a Stop the Spread Business Information Line, at 1-(888)-444-3659. That line remains available as a resource to (hopefully) address any questions you might have in any particular circumstance. We will also be reviving our COVID-19 seminars which were popular last year. More information in that regard will follow in a further blog or article. Stay safe!

Rob Kennaley
Kennaley Construction Law
www.kennaley.ca

The full text of the amended s.43 of the O. Reg. 82/80 follows:

“Section 43 of Schedule 2 to the Regulation is revoked and the following submitted (formatting does not reflect the original):

Construction
43. Construction activities or projects and related services, including land surveying and demolition services, that,

(a) are associated with the health care sector or long-term care, including new facilities, expansions, renovations and conversion of spaces that could be repurposed for health care space;

(b) ensure safe and reliable operations of, or provide new capacity in,

(i) municipal infrastructure, or

(ii) provincial infrastructure, including but not limited to, the transit, transportation, resource, energy and justice sectors;

(c) support the operations of, or provide new capacity in, electricity generation, transmission, distribution and storage, natural gas distribution, transmission and storage or in the supply of resources;

(d) support the operations of, or provide new capacity in, schools, colleges, universities or child care centres within the meaning of the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014;

(e) are required for,

(i) the maintenance and operations of petrochemical plants and refineries,

(ii) significant industrial petrochemical projects where preliminary work commenced before April 17, 2021, or

(iii) industrial construction and modifications to existing industrial structures limited solely to work necessary for the production, maintenance or enhancement of personal protective equipment, medical devices such as ventilators and other identified products directly related to combatting the COVID-19 pandemic;

(f) would provide additional capacity in the production, processing, manufacturing or distribution of food, beverages or agricultural products;

(g) were commenced before April 17, 2021 and that would,

(i) provide additional capacity for businesses that provide logistical support, distribution services, warehousing, storage or shipping and delivery services,

(ii) provide additional capacity in the operation and delivery of Information Technology (IT) services or telecommunications services, or

(iii) provide additional capacity to, or enhance the efficiency or operations of, businesses that extract, manufacture, process and distribute goods, products, equipment and materials.

(h) support the operations of broadband internet and cellular technologies and services;

(i) are residential construction activities or projects and related services;

(j) prepare a site for an institutional, commercial, industrial or residential development, including any necessary excavation, grading, roads or utilities infrastructure;

(k) are necessary to temporarily close construction sites that have paused, or that are not active, to ensure ongoing public safety;

(l) are funded in whole or in part by,

(i) the Crown in right of Canada or in right of Ontario,

(ii) an agency of the Crown in right of Canada or in right of Ontario, or

(iii) a municipality;

(m) are,

(i) intended to provide shelter or supports for vulnerable persons or affordable housing; and

(ii) being funded in whole or in part by, or are being undertaken by,

(A) the Crown in right of Canada or in right of Ontario,

(B) an agency of the Crown in right of Canada or in right of Ontario,

(C) a municipality,

(D) a service manager as defined the Housing Services Act, 2011, or

(E) a registered charity within the meaning of the Income Tax Act (Canada), or

(F) a not-for-profit corporation.”

Kennaley Construction Law, a professional corporation
Copyright © 2018 – All rights reserved.
KCLB-2018-3

Our admin office mailing address is:
Wincey Mills, Unit 305 31 Mechanic Street, Paris ON NI3 1K1
This material is for information purposes and is not intended to provide legal advice in relation to any particular fact situation. Readers who have concerns about any particular circumstance are encouraged to seek independent legal advice in that regard.

 

 

 

Vaccination and the Workplace

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Briefing note from Sherrard Kuzz, LLP – March 15, 2021

With COVID-19 vaccination within reach for most Canadians, many employers want to know if they can require employees and, in some cases, customers to be vaccinated once vaccines are readily available. Employers are also uncertain about the information they can collect about vaccination and whether widespread vaccination in the workplace means fewer health and safety protocols such as distancing, masking, disinfecting, etc.
This briefing note addresses four common vaccination questions:
1. Can an employer mandate COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment?
2. Can an employer collect information about COVID-19 vaccination status from its employees, even if not mandating vaccination?
3. Can a business screen its patrons (customers, clients, etc.) for COVID-19 vaccination prior to entry into the workplace?
4. Is a business permitted to relax its masking, physical distancing and other public health and safety measures if it can confirm all employees have been vaccinated?

Read the full briefing note

Cooperative Education (Co-Op)

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Cooperative Education (Co-op) is a program that allows students to earn secondary school credits while completing a work placement in the community. Students develop the essential skills and work habits required in today’s workplace under the mentorship of the employer. Each student is granted a credit based upon 110 combined hours of on-the-job learning and classroom instruction. The goal of all co-op experiences is to ensure a mutually beneficial partnership between the training supervisor, the teacher and the student.

BENEFITS

  1. Attract energetic, motivated and job-ready students prepared to apply the latest in technology
    and ideas
  2. WSIB coverage is provided by the Ministry of Education for unpaid learners
  3. Cost-effective, additional support in the workplace
  4. Participate in a positive community partnership
  5. Potential to hire students for after-school, weekend or summer work
  6. Opportunity to recruit and train a future employee
  7. Train the workforce of the future, and help keep our economy stimulated and renewed
  8. Influence young peoples’ attitudes toward work and school
  9. Students bring new ideas, fresh perspectives and enthusiasm to the workplace

RESPONSIBILITIES

  1. Interview students to ensure a mutually beneficial experience
  2. Provide students with a safe working environment
  3. Offer students the opportunity to learn from experts in the field
  4. Designate one employee for supervising and assessing student performance
  5. Provide students with oral and written feedback
  6. Provide challenging learning experiences that will encourage personal growth and help students develop career goals
  7. Meet with teacher over the course of placement to discuss student progress and identify areas for improvement
  8. Provide orientation and site-specific health and safety training

TIMELINES

September – January

  • Morning ~ 12.5 hours/week
  • Afternoon ~ 12.5 hours/week
  • Full Day ~ 25 hours/week

February – June

  • Morning ~ 12.5 hours/week
  • Afternoon ~ 12.5 hours/week
  • Full Day ~ 25 hours/week

Students are in-class for approximately 1-3 weeks at the beginning of each semester in preparation for the workplace, and will participate in classroom-based integration sessions throughout the placement.

INSURANCE

While at the work placement, students are covered by WSIB through the Ministry of Education provided they are not being paid at their placement. The emphasis of the program is to provide students with the ability to develop skills in a challenging learning environment. Students are awarded credits towards their diploma and benefit from the skills learned, work habits developed and experiences obtained.

NEXT STEPS

All of our high schools are actively seeking new opportunities to partner with the business community for student co-op placements. Contact the Cooperative Education Department at your local high school to get more information, develop a placement description, and become connected with today’s emerging talent.

For more information, please visit www.scdsb.on.ca.

FAQ’s

Steel Toe Careers Bursary Program

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Steel Toe Careers will provide Bursaries to those seeking financial assistance to pursue their career path in the construction industry. Skilled Trades College of Canada focuses on Pre-Apprentice training for a variety of trades in the construction industry that include but not limited to Electrical, Plumbing and Intro to Home Renovations.

To be eligible for this bursary this individual must be:

18+
A Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident
High School Diploma or Equivalent
Demonstrates clear career objectives in the construction industry
Evidence of financial need

Learn more

Ontario Extending Stay at Home Order

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Ontario Extending Stay-at-Home Order across Most of the Province to Save Lives
February 8, 2021
Public Health Units to Gradually Return to the COVID-19 Response Framework

TORONTO — In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the government is moving to a regional approach and maintaining the shutdown in the majority of the public health regions in Ontario, including the Stay-at-Home order and all existing public health and workplace safety measures. When it is safe to do so, the province will gradually transition each region from the shutdown measures to a revised and strengthened COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open (the “Framework”).

Details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones, and Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health.

“Our number one priority will always be protecting the health and safety of all individuals, families and workers across the province,” said Premier Ford. “But we must also consider the severe impact COVID-19 is having on our businesses. That’s why we have been listening to business owners, and we are strengthening and adjusting the Framework to allow more businesses to safely reopen and get people back to work.”

To support the province’s economic recovery, the government has updated the Framework to allow for a safer approach to retail. Limited in-person shopping in Grey-Lockdown zones will be permitted with public health and safety measures, such as limiting capacity to 25 per cent in most retail settings. In addition, public health and safety measures in retail settings will be strengthened for other levels of the Framework. Individuals will also be required to wear a face covering and maintain physical distance when indoors in a business, with limited exceptions.

Other measures include a requirement for individuals to wear a face covering when attending an organized public event or gathering (where permitted) if they are within two metres distance of another individual who is not part of their household (both indoor and outdoor). All other requirements for gatherings and organized public events would be maintained.

Read the full press release

2021 BCA Membership Directory

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The Barrie Construction Association Member Directory is an annual publication that lists all BCA member companies.  It is distributed to all members as well as key individuals in purchasing departments throughout Simcoe County and beyond.

This handy guide lists all members alphabetically and by division.  Advertisements are placed within your divisional category making your company stand out above the rest! Don’t miss out on the opportunity to showcase yourself to over 350 members and procurement professionals in our region! Click on the price links below to purchase ad space.

Full Page Advertisement (4.75″ x 7.5″)

  1. Colour – $350 + HST

  2. Black & White – $250 + HST

Half Page Advertisement (4.75″ x 3.5″)

  1. Colour – $225 + HST

  2. Black & White – $200 + HST

Business Card Size Advertisement (4.75″ X 1.75″)

    1. Colour – $175 + HST

  1. Black & White – $150 + HST

Formats accepted are JPEG, PDF and TIFF.

Changes can be made to existing artwork.  The fee starts at $50 but may be higher depending on the scope of work.  Details can be discussed with Bryony prior to confirming ad placement in the 2020 edition.

All new ads will be charged a one time set up fee of $30 + HST

For further details, please contact Bryony at bryonybuchanan@barrieca.com

Wage Subsidy Update April 1

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UPDATE COVID-19: FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES NEW CANADA EMERGENCY WAGE SUBSIDY FOR EMPLOYERS – NOW WITH MORE (BUT NOT ALL) DETAILS

Last week the government of Canada announced that it will offer a wage subsidy of up to 75% for qualifying businesses, backdated to March 15, 2020.  You can read CCPartners’ blog on that announcement here.  At first we thought this was a substantial increase from the 10% federal wage subsidy for small businesses introduced previously, and a welcome expansion to the previously announced subsidy only for small and medium businesses (undefined).  However, it now appears that the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy is an additional subsidy accessible for employers.  Some details remain unannounced, but now we have somewhat of a clearer picture – pending legislation actually being passed.

Here is what we know as of April 1, 2020:  Click here to read more on the CCPartners website