Ontario, Canada Government Intends to Provide Job-protected Leave to Employees During COVID-19 Crisis

On March 16, 2020, Premier Doug Ford and Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, announced that the Ontario government intends to introduce legislation that, if passed, would immediately provide job-protected leave to employees in isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19, or those who need to be away from work to care for children because of school or day care closures.

The government’s Backgrounder lists the following circumstances in which job-protected leave would be provided:

  • The employee is under medical investigation, supervision or treatment for COVID-19.
  • The employee is acting in accordance with an order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act.
  • The employee is in isolation or quarantine.
  • The employee is acting in accordance with public health information or direction.
  • The employer directs the employee not to work.
  • The employee needs to provide care to a person for a reason related to COVID-19 such as a school or day-care closure.

The announcement indicates that the proposed legislation will not require employees to provide a medical note if they take the leave, and that it will be retroactive to January 25, 2020, the date when the first presumptive COVID-19 case was confirmed in Ontario.

The Ontario government’s parliamentary calendar for 2020 indicates that the province’s legislature will not meet again until March 23, 2020.  It remains to be seen whether an emergency meeting of the legislature will be scheduled before then so that the proposed legislation can be introduced and enacted without delay. 

Once the text of the legislation has been tabled and released, further information will be provided on the precise scope and application of the requirements in the context of COVID-19.

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.