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The Review

Ontario Protects Workers, Volunteers and Organizations Who Make Honest Efforts to Follow COVID-19 Public Health Guidelines and Laws

Posted On: Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Proposed Legislation Will Still Allow for Legal Action Against Intentional Misconduct and Gross Negligence

Ontario Protects Workers, Volunteers and Organizations Who Make Honest Efforts to Follow COVID-19 Public Health Guidelines and Laws

The Ontario government is introducing the Supporting Ontario's Recovery Act, 2020, that if passed, will provide liability protection for workers, volunteers and organizations that make an honest effort to follow public health guidelines and laws relating to exposure to COVID-19. At the same time, it will maintain the right of Ontarians to take legal action against those who willfully, or with gross negligence, endanger others.

“After listening to the concerns of Ontarians, we want to ensure people can seek redress against gross negligence, intentional misconduct and bad actors who fail to make an honest effort to follow COVID-19 guidance and laws,” said Attorney General Doug Downey. “We are also providing protection to the hard-working women and men who make essential contributions to our communities, from frontline health care workers to people coaching minor sports teams, to those keeping our supply chain moving, to people volunteering at the local food bank or those simply showing up for work each day despite the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19.”

If passed, the Supporting Ontario's Recovery Act2020 will provide targeted protection for those who are making an honest effort to follow public health guidelines and laws, including:

  • Healthcare workers and institutions;
  • Frontline workers who serve the public everywhere from grocery stores to restaurants and retail stores;
  • Businesses and their employees;
  • Charities, non-profit organizations; and
  • Coaches, volunteers and minor sports associations.

“The proposed legislation would ensure Ontarians, who are contributing to the recovery of our province and make good faith efforts to follow public health guidance and laws on COVID-19, are not discouraged from making a difference in their communities because they are afraid of civil liability,” said Attorney General Downey.

The proposed changes will also ensure court resources are used where they are needed most: to hold accountable bad actors who ignore public health guidance and laws or act with gross negligence.


Quick Facts

  • British Columbia and Nova Scotia have legislation in place to help protect workers supporting communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • “Good faith” is the standard commonly used in existing Ontario immunity provisions, meaning an honest effort to act in accordance with applicable public health guidance and laws relating to COVID-19.
  • The proposed legislation also includes changes to the Municipal Elections Act, 1996 that would remove the option to use ranked ballots for municipal council elections, making the electoral process consistent across municipal, provincial and federal elections.
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