Provincial policy updates
October 15, 2021 update:
The Enhanced COVID-19 Vaccine Certificate with QR Code and Verify Ontario App are now available for download, and here’s what you need to know:
- Enhanced Vaccination Certificate with a QR code (printed or digital) alongside ID that has name and date of birth can be accepted as proof of vaccination alongside current vaccine receipts. The QR code does not yet work for people with medical exemptions.
- Anyone can download the Enhanced Vaccination Certificate with a QR code from the COVID-19 portal. It can also be emailed and mailed. People can give the address of a trusted agency for it to be mailed to. Individuals without a computer or photo health card, or otherwise needing help, can call the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900.
- Nonprofits can now download the free verification app, Verify Ontario, to scan the new Enhanced Vaccination Certificate with a QR code (printed or digital) to verify proof of vaccination alongside ID. Organizations can learn more about how to use the app and verify vaccination status here. More information on how the Ontario government’s proof of vaccination applies to nonprofits can be found here.
- Helps organizations by making it quicker and easier to confirm if a person is fully vaccinated while protecting their privacy.
- Can be used without an internet connection, but it will need to connect to the internet periodically to keep it up to date.
- Does not store personal information and only shows the minimum amount of information necessary to confirm vaccination
- Can scan QR codes from Quebec, BC and Yukon Territory
- While the current vaccine receipt without a QR code remains valid and will continue to be accepted, the province is encouraging individuals to download their enhanced vaccine certificate with a QR code as an easier, more secure and convenient way to have their proof of vaccination verified.
October 8, 2021 update:
Government of Ontario raising capacity limits in select settings
Effective October 9, the Ontario government is raising capacity limits in certain indoor and outdoor settings where vaccine certificates are required, as well as certain outdoor settings with capacity below 20,000. The change affects:
- Concert venues, theatres and cinemas;
- Spectator areas of facilities for sports and recreational fitness (not including gyms, personal training);
- Meeting and event spaces (indoor meeting and event spaces will still need to limit capacity to the number that can maintain physical distancing).
Read more here.
October 6, 2021 update:
Extension of Virtual Meeting Provisions to September 30, 2022
The government of Ontario recently announced the extension of virtual meeting provisions to September 30, 2022. With the extension, organisations currently governed under one of the following Acts are allowed to continue to hold meetings (including AGMs) virtually until Sept 30, 2022:
- Business Corporations Act (OBCA),
- Ontario Corporations Act (OCA)
- Ontario Co-operative Corporations Act (OCCA)
- Ontario Condominium Act
The extension of this temporary legislative provision also applies to the Ontario Not-for-Profit Corporations Act (ONCA) once it comes into force on Oct 19.
September 24, 2021 update:
The Ontario government has announced a regulatory change, effective September 25, that increases capacity limits for certain indoor and outdoor settings where proof of vaccination is required. Meeting and event spaces; sporting events; concerts, theatres and cinemas will be increased to up to 50 per cent capacity or 10,000 people (whichever is less) for indoor events.
For certain outdoor event venues where patrons stand, capacity limits will increase to up to 75 per cent capacity or 15,000 people (whichever is less). For certain outdoor event venues where patrons are seated, capacity limits will be increased to up to 75 per cent capacity or 30,000 people (whichever is less). Read the regulatory update or the press release.
Policy on COVID-19 vaccine mandates from the Ontario Human Rights Commission
The OHRC has released a policy statement on COVID vaccine mandates and proof of vaccine certificates, finding vaccination requirements “generally permissible” at all organizations as long as reasonable accommodations are in place for those who are exempt on medical grounds. Personal preferences and beliefs about vaccinations are not protected grounds for exemption. The OHRC backs up the Ontario government position that those organizations not subject to the new vaccine mandate may still use the vaccine certificate process or, alternatively, put COVID testing in place as a reasonable accommodation option (with organizations covering the cost of testing for those with medical exemptions). Policies for workplaces and spaces should ensure privacy protections and should be reviewed regularly to see if they are still needed. A reminder that you can read ONN’s analysis of the vaccine mandate as it applies to nonprofits here.
September 15, 2021 update:
ONN has analyzed the Sept. 15 announcement of a regulation under the Re-opening Ontario Act, providing details of the vaccination certificate requirements at certain workplaces and spaces. The regulation imposes significant obligations on affected nonprofits to implement a vaccination verification process for clients and community members age 12 and up who use their space. There are exemptions for medical reasons, for individuals entering to pick up an order or use the washroom, and a list of other details nonprofits should know about. Read more.
September 1, 2021 update:
Ontario government announces vaccine passports in certain settings and workplaces
The Premier of Ontario has announced that, effective Sept. 22, 2021, clients and community members will have to show proof of COVID vaccination (two doses + 14 days) in certain public spaces along with photo ID, with exemptions allowed only for unvaccinated people with medical exemptions and children under 12. Nonprofit settings affected include:
- Meeting and event spaces (banquet halls, etc);
- Facilities used for sports and fitness activities and personal fitness training, such as gyms, fitness and recreational facilities with the exception of youth recreational sport;
- Sporting events;
- Restaurants (excluding patios and take-out/delivery);
- Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments; and
- Concerts, music festivals, theatres and cinemas.
The press release notes that “For the period between September 22 and October 12, 2021, it is intended that people attending wedding or funeral receptions at meeting or event spaces will be able to provide a negative rapid antigen COVID-19 test from no more than 48 hours before the event as an alternative to proof of vaccination. These rapid antigen tests would have to be privately purchased.”
ONN will seek clarification regarding how these categories apply to the nonprofit sector (e.g., community hubs with halls to rent that also provide essential services to residents). We have received confirmation from government that places of faith are not covered by the vaccine certificate requirement.
Further highlights of the announcement:
- Initially, the system will involve showing the existing vaccination proof (downloadable by individuals here) alongside photo ID. A receipt with a QR code will be introduced shortly. A smartphone “verifier app” will be rolled out on October 22 for businesses and nonprofits to verify QR codes at the door while protecting privacy.
- Tools will include a means to check the vaccine status of people from outside Ontario.
- These mandatory requirements will not apply to health care settings, grocery stores, medical supply stores (“and the like”) nor in outdoor settings.
- People with medical exemptions from the COVID vaccine may show a doctor’s note “until recognized medical exemptions can be integrated” into the digital certificate.
- Additional tools and supports for individuals and workplaces will be provided by September 22, including alternatives for people without email, health card, or ID.
- Enforcement will be conducted by by-law officers and Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development inspectors, starting with education and warnings.
- There are no changes to capacity limits in any setting at this time.
- The Ontario government will “maintain Indigenous data governance, control, access and possession principles” in supporting vaccine certificates for Indigenous communities.
The move follows the August 17 announcement of a requirement for “high-risk settings” (generally, health and social service delivery sites) to have a vaccination policy in effect for staff, volunteers, and others. The government has since released a guidance resource for implementing vaccination policies in health, home and community care settings found here. These settings have a deadline of Sept. 7 for implementation. “High-risk settings” in social service areas have not yet been given a public deadline.
Nonprofits should bear in mind that individuals may offer their OHIP card as photo ID (as per the press release) but you should not collect or record the health number.
ONN will share further information on the vaccine certificate system as we get answers to our questions. If you have information about how this affects your subsector, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
August 23, 2021 update:
Temporary wage subsidy extended to October 31
On the day it was set to expire, the Ontario government extended the wage subsidy for personal support workers and direct support workers in provincially-funded home and community care, social services, long-term care, and hospitals. The government has resisted calls from the Ontario Community Support Association and others in the sector to make the increases permanent and add them to base funding.
August 17, 2021 update:
The Ontario government has mandated COVID-19 vaccination policies for “high-risk settings” and has paused the exit from the Provincial Reopening, meaning the Step Three restrictions remain in place for the foreseeable future. The vaccine directive requires organizations to have a COVID-19 vaccination policy, effective no later than September 7, 2021, covering:
- Employees, staff, contractors
Individuals subject to the policy must provide proof of one of the following:
- Full vaccination against COVID-19,
- A medical reason for not being vaccinated, or
- Completion of a vaccination education session
Individuals who do not provide proof of full vaccination will be required to undertake regular testing.
Organizations affected include home and community care settings as well as hospitals. They must track and report on implementation of this policy to the Ontario government, similar to requirements in place since July 1 for long-term care.
A similar policy (with dates to be announced) will be implemented shortly for other “higher-risk settings” including:
- Post-secondary institutions
- Licensed retirement homes
- Women’s shelters, and
- Congregate group homes and day programs for adults with developmental disabilities, children’s treatment centres and other services for children with special needs, and licensed children’s residential settings.
The announcement also notes that the Ministry of Education will introduce for the 2021-22 school year a vaccination disclosure policy for all public and private school employees and employees of licensed child care, with similar testing requirements for those who are not vaccinated.
August 12, 2021 update:
Nonprofits must operate in compliance with the instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health on screening individuals.
For clients and community members
Nonprofits must continue to implement passive screening for the public by posting signs (PDF) at all entrances informing people to screen themselves for COVID-19 before entry.
Active screening is required in accordance with instructions by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health. Where this is required (e.g., meeting and event spaces, sports facilities), it is noted in the detailed guidance provided here. Nonprofits may use the COVID-19 customer screening tool to meet this requirement.
Workplaces must actively screen all workers before entering the work environment. See the new (Aug. 10) COVID-19 Screening Tool for Workplaces for more information. This tool does not apply to certain healthcare, long-term, care and other congregate settings where different screening rules apply.
August 4, 2021 update:
Ontario’s Solicitor General is preparing for the eventual end of Step 3 of the Reopening Framework and released regulations on July 30 for the “Roadmap Exit Step.” Almost all restrictions will be ended at that point (including capacity limits) except for the mask requirements in indoor public spaces. The regulation requires schools (public and private) in the “Roadmap Exit Step” to follow separate guidance from the Ministry of Education, and requires day camps and overnight camps for children to follow separate guidance provided by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health (schedule 5). The regulation, which can be found at this link, also contains information on allowable exemptions from mask requirements (schedule 4).
Licensed child care and before and after school programs that operate in schools must follow the operational guidance for child care and before and after school programs posted here.
The guidance for schools notes that Community Use of Schools is once again permitted for the 2021-22 school year.
August 3, 2021 update:
Summary of Rules Regarding Nonprofits’ Annual General Meetings (AGMs)
The Ontario Corporations Act and Co-operative Corporations Act were amended on May 12, 2020, relaxing the rules in the statutes to permit electronic meetings of directors and members to be held during the “temporary suspension period”, regardless of contrary provisions in a corporation’s bylaws. The Ontario government has since extended the temporary suspension period until December 31, 2021, through the filing of O Reg 544/20, Extension of Temporary Suspension Period and O Reg 543/20 Extension of Temporary Suspension Period, respectively. However, the timelines for annual general meetings are NOT extended.
This means that despite provisions in a corporation’s letters patent, supplementary letters patent or by-laws of a corporation that provide otherwise, member, board and board committee meetings can be held electronically until the end of 2021. Nonprofits can hold members’ meetings and board meetings online or by phone. But if you hold a board meeting online or by phone, directors must be able to speak, listen to, or live chat each other at the same time.
In addition, on June 3rd, Bill 276 was passed. This ominous bill also contains schedules related to nonprofits’ ability to hold annual meetings virtually.
- Schedule 2 – OCA – Amends Ontario Corporations Act to clarify that nonprofits are allowed to conduct meetings and votes virtually (the section that states “charities law prevails” is repealed).
- Schedule 17 amends the Ontario Not-for-Profit Corporations Act (ONCA) to permit nonprofits to hold electronic meetings during the temporary suspension period until December 31, 2021, regardless of contrary provisions in a corporation’s constating documents.
Currently, the Ontario Corporations Act and the Co-operative Corporations Act are the laws in effect for provincially-incorporated nonprofits, as the Ontario Not-for-Profit Corporations Act (ONCA) has not been proclaimed. After proclamation, the regulations under ONCA will apply.
July 12, 2021 update:
The Ontario government has posted the regulations enabling Step Three of the Reopening Plan. O.Reg. 520/21 includes all the changes. A “clean copy” of the current regulations (effective July 16, 2021) are provided in O.Reg. 364/20. Nonprofits should note the requirements for safety plans, the distinct rules for children’s camps, child care, social services, meeting and event spaces, and sports leagues/associations, and the continued requirement for screening.
July 9, 2021 update:
Ontario moving to Step Three of Roadmap to Reopen on July 16
The Ontario government has moved up Step Three to July 16 thanks to low COVID rates and respectable vaccination rates across Ontario. The announcement provides additional details on capacity limits for indoor and outdoor events and gatherings.
- Indoor gatherings up to 25 people
- Indoor religious services (including weddings and funerals) “permitted with physical distancing” (no limit provided)
- Indoor sports and recreation, concert venues, and theatres: 50 per cent capacity (up to 1,000 people). Outdoor sports events are capped at 75 per cent of capacity up to 5,000 (unseated) or 15,000 people (seated)
- Indoor meeting and event spaces “with physical distancing and other restrictions” 50 per cent capacity up to 1,000 people
- Museums, galleries, historic sites, aquariums, zoos, landmarks, botanical gardens, science centres, casinos/bingo halls, amusement parks, fairs and rural exhibitions, festivals, with capacity limited to not exceed 50 per cent capacity indoors and 75 per cent capacity outdoors
- Face coverings in indoor public settings and physical distancing requirements remain in place throughout Step Three.
June 28, 2021 update:
Ontario Moving to Step Two of its reopening plan on June 30
Step two loosens restrictions on overnight camps, outdoor theatres, fairs, rural exhibitions and festivals. There are also regulations for workplaces for Step Two.
The Region of Waterloo will not be moving to Step Two with the rest of the province on June 30, instead aiming for mid-July. The Porcupine Health Unit joined the rest of Ontario in Step One on June 25 and expects to continue its reopening in line with the rest of the province.
The Public Health Agency of Canada has released new guidance for people who have had both COVID vaccinations.
COVID-19 guidance for employers
The Ministry of Health recently released Guidance for Employers Managing Workers with Symptoms within 48 Hours of COVID-19 Immunization. These guidelines provide information on screening in the few days following vaccination and specific requirements for workers experiencing vaccination side-effects that are the same as COVID-19 symptoms.
June 11, 2021 update:
The Ontario government has announced that the wage subsidy for personal support workers (PSWs) and direct support workers (DSWs) will be extended to August 23, 2021 – but no commitment on making it permanent despite the recruitment and retention challenges nonprofits are facing. Long-term care, home care and social services workers will receive an additional $3 per hour, and 10,000 workers in public hospitals will get an additional $2 an hour. The province will “review” the pandemic pay bump again in August.
June 9, 2021 update:
The Ontario government has extended pandemic-related leave provisions under the Employment Standards Act (ESA) In response to the COVID-19 pandemic to September 25, 2021. The government had made a regulation that changed certain ESA rules during the “COVID-19 period.” This regulation affects ESA rules on temporary layoff, constructive dismissal, termination, and severance. Read the overview.
June 7, 2021 update:
The Ontario government has announced that Step One of the COVID economic re-opening will begin on Friday, June 11. Step One includes:
- Maximum 10 people for outdoor gatherings.
- Day camps are open. Overnight camps remain closed until Step Two. Ontario Parks and campgrounds are open.
- Outdoor performance spaces are open for rehearsing or performing a recorded or broadcasted event – 10 people maximum, spectators not permitted (indoor rehearsals may begin without audiences in Step Two).
- Religious services including weddings and funerals: 15% capacity indoors; outdoor capacity to permit 2-metre physical distancing.
- Outdoor fitness classes, outdoor sports training (no games or practices) permitted with 10 participants maximum and 3 metres physical distancing.
- Indoor recreation facilities closed except for high-performance athletes and day camps.
- Outdoor splashpads, tennis courts, etc. remain open with physical distancing restrictions.
- Community centres may open for social services, child care and day camps, mental health support services or addictions support services, and permitted indoor and outdoors activities and services, with restrictions.
- Meeting and event spaces remain closed except for social services, government operations, court services, and select in-person examinations. Bingo halls remain closed.
- Museums, art galleries and attractions must keep their indoor spaces closed. Outdoor zoos, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens, and similar attractions may open with capacity limited to 15% for ticketed areas and other restrictions. Fairs and rural exhibitions remain closed until Step Two.
- Boating clubs may open with indoor amenities closed.
- Short-term home rentals are no longer reserved for people in housing need.
- Personal care services remain closed until Step Two.
For a complete list, see Reopening Ontario.
June 2, 2021 update:
The provincial stay-at-home order has been lifted but almost all other rules remain in place until Step 1 of the new Reopening Framework is triggered. The Ontario Government has provided additional guidance for specific industries on what is permitted at each step (including “Before Step 1”) on its Reopening Ontario webpage. Note that additional clarity for performing arts, museums, religious ceremonies, health & safety training, and community centres and multi-purpose facilities has been added. Emergency orders under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act have been extended to June 16. The ban on enforcing residential eviction orders has now been lifted.
May 20, 2021 update:
The Ontario government has released its “Roadmap to Reopen” with a three-step roadmap based on vaccination rates. Each stage will last at least 21 days, depending on vaccination rates and positive trends in other key public health and health system indicators. The regulation published pertains only to the rules effective May 22. The press release outlines the anticipated implementation of the roadmap.
- Ontario will allow more outdoor recreation to reopen, with restrictions in place, on May 22, 2021 (no team sports or classes permitted). This includes soccer fields and skate parks (a complete list is in the regulation).
- The province remains in “Grey-Lockdown” after the stay-at-home order is lifted on June 2 until June 14, when Step 1 is expected to begin.
- Step 1: 60 per cent of adults vaccinated with one dose.
- Outdoor gatherings up to 10 people are permitted, including outdoor religious services, with distancing, outdoor sports/training (up to 10 people), day camps, and outdoor pools.
- Step 2: 70 per cent of adults vaccinated with one dose and 20 per cent vaccinated with two doses.
- Outdoor gatherings up to 25 people.
- Indoor gatherings up to 5 people, with masks where possible.
- Personal care services with masks.
- Outdoor county fairs and rural exhibitions.
- Outdoor sports leagues and events.
- Outdoor performing arts and live music.
- Step 3: 70 to 80 per cent of adults vaccinated with one dose and 25 per cent vaccinated with two doses.
- Capacity limits TBD on indoor and outdoor gatherings.
- Indoor attractions and cultural amenities, bingo halls, etc, permitted to open.
- No changes announced to essential services in the nonprofit sector.
- Public and private schools to continue remotely for the time being.
On the same day, the Ontario Government tabled and passed a motion in the Legislature extending the orders and powers made under Bill 195 to December 1, 2021, meaning the Legislature will not need to reconvene over the summer to renew the regulations under the Reopening Ontario Act.
May 13, 2021 update:
The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, is extending the Stay-at-Home Order (O. Reg. 265/21) until at least June 2, 2021. All public health and workplace safety measures under the provincewide emergency brake will also remain in effect.
Starting the week of May 31, youth between the ages of 12 and 17 will be eligible for the Pfizer vaccine through multiple channels, including at dedicated youth and family clinics offered the weeks of June 14 and 21.
Orders currently in force under the Reopening Ontario Act, with the exception of O.Reg 129/20 (Signatures in Wills and Powers of Attorney), have been extended until June 19, 2021. That includes measures like working in only one care home, work deployments that override collective agreements, and rules for congregate care settings.
Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries Minister Lisa MacLeod announced new one-time payments of $10,000 to $20,000 for small enterprises (<99 employees) in the tourism and travel industries that are struggling due to the pandemic. Only firms that did not receive the Ontario Small Business Support Grant will qualify. Similar eligibility rules apply. Applications are open until June 25.
May 12, 2021 update:
The Ontario government has partnered with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce to launch a rapid testing portal through which employers with fewer than 150 employees can obtain free rapid antigen screening kits to detect asymptomatic COVID-19 cases. Employers do not have to be members of the chamber of commerce.
May 5, 2021 update:
As expected, emergency measures under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, including work redeployments, residential eviction prevention, and the stay-at-home order were extended on April 30. On May 4, the Legislature passed a motion enabling a further extension of emergency orders until June 2, 2021. (Orders currently in force under the Reopening Ontario Act, have been extended until May 20, 2021, and will likely be further renewed at that time.)
April 26, 2021 update:
With COVID hospitalizations skyrocketing, health care professionals are being transferred from New Brunswick (paid for by the federal government) to Ontario hospitals. On April 23, the Ontario government updated emergency order O.Reg 271/21 “Work redeployment for local health integration networks and Ontario healths” with O. Reg 312/21 to allow for redeployments (overriding collective agreements) between regions, hospitals, long-term care homes, and retirement homes.
On April 23, the stay-at-home order and related regulations were extended officially to May 5. The stay-at-home order was amended to clarify that the exception for multi-household gatherings included not only single persons (who may join with one other household) but also a caregiver for any of those persons.
The rules for businesses/organizations that are open were amended (O.Reg 82/20) to require either plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier, or distance of two metres were provided to separate any worker who removed their mask to eat or drink in a workplace from others in the space.
April 19, 2021 update:
On April 16, the Ontario government extended the current State of Emergency and stay-at-home orders until May 5 (they require legislative approval to be extended further) and introduced new enforcement measures (amended April 17). Indoor religious/wedding/funeral services maintain their cap of 10 people (indoors or outdoors; drive-through permitted), but outdoor gatherings (including receptions) are now restricted to members of your own household (singles may continue to meet up with one other household). Essential services, including volunteering for an essential service, remain permitted reasons to leave home. Interprovincial borders now have check-points. Caregiving and essential services remain valid reasons to enter Ontario. Employers must continue to ensure that all workers can work from home if possible.
Sports and recreation facilities are subject to new restrictions as follows:
Open (as long as two metres physical distancing can be maintained):
- parks and recreational areas, including benches
- playgrounds, play structures, and play equipment
- off-leash dog parks
Closed (including but not limited to):
- outdoor sports facilities, such as golf courses, tennis courts, basketball courts and skate parks
- baseball diamonds, soccer fields and other multi-use fields
- picnic sites and picnic tables
April 15, 2021 update:
Nonprofit essential workers in LTC, child care, developmental services, violence against women services, victims’ services, anti-human trafficking services, homeless shelters, and those engaged in interpreting or intervenor services have access to emergency child care, including for school aged children, effective April 19, 2021. Read more.
April 14, 2021 update:
The Ontario government has provided details on the “hotspot” plan for vaccine distribution.
April 12, 2021 update:
The Ontario government is moving public and private schools to remote learning next week (and by April 15 for private schools open during the public school spring break). Child care for non-school aged children will remain open, before and after school programs will be closed and free emergency child care for the school-aged children of eligible health care and frontline workers will be provided. No end-date for remote learning has been provided.
The government is also undertaking a COVID-19 Rapid Screening Pilot Program in Waterloo Region and reminds employers and service providers of its private COVID testing guidance document available here.
April 7, 2021 update: Stay-at-home-order
The Ontario government has declared a third state of emergency and issued a new stay-at-home order. The order takes effect on April 8.
Ontarians must remain at home except for essential purposes such as groceries, healthcare (vaccinations included), work that cannot be done remotely, and exercise close to home (with only those from one’s household). Schools and child care remain open (except where closed locally). Only stores selling essential goods will remain open. Residential evictions are once again paused. Paid sick days were not included in the new measures.
On April 6, the Ontario government updated its vaccination plan as the province moves into Phase 2. Vaccine appointments for Ontarians aged 60 and older opened in all of the province’s public health units on April 7. In “hotspot” areas, those aged 50 and up will be eligible as of April 9. The province’s press release indicates that the nonprofit sector’s advocacy on partnering to accelerate vaccinations, especially to reach people most affected by the pandemic, has been heard:
“To support this expanded vaccination effort, mobile teams are being organized to administer vaccines in high-risk congregate settings, residential buildings, faith-based locations, and locations occupied by large employers in hot spot neighbourhoods to individuals aged 18 or over. Pop-up clinics will also be set-up in highly impacted neighborhoods, including at faith-based locations and community centres in those hot spots, in collaboration with public health units and community organizations within those communities. The province will provide additional resources to support these mobile and pop-up clinics in the hardest-hit neighbourhoods.”
April 1, 2021 update: Province-wide shutdown
On April 1, Premier Doug Ford announced that Ontario will again be subject to a province-wide shutdown, effective Saturday, April 3. It will last at least four weeks. For nonprofits in Sudbury, Sarnia, Thunder Bay, Toronto, and Peel (that were already in Grey-lockdown), this will mean minor changes, but the rest of the province should note the following:
- Personal care services, sports and recreation facilities, and all meeting and event spaces (including theatres) must close except to provide therapy for persons with disabilities not available elsewhere
- Social services, childcare (and authorized recreational and skill building programs described in the Child Care and Early Years Act), courts, community gardens, and mental health and addiction services may stay open
- New for this shutdown: day camps must close
- Indoor gatherings are for people in the same household (singles can join one other household), and outdoor gatherings have a limit of five people. Short-term rentals may be rented only to those “in need of housing”
- Weddings, funerals and religious services are allowed indoors at 15 per cent capacity
- Schools will stay open, and the April 12 “March” break week will proceed
- Employers in all industries should make every effort to allow employees to work from home
March 19, 2021 update on vaccine roll-out
As COVID-19 infection rates rise in line with scientific projections and numerous public health units move into more restrictive “colours” on the COVID scale, public health officials note we have entered the third wave. On the positive side, the Province’s vaccination strategy has been updated with accelerated timelines for the roll-out.
March 5, 2021 update: vaccine roll-out and more regions emerging from stay-at-home orders
On March 5, the Ontario government announced an update to the timeline for the COVID vaccine roll-out. During Phase Two, groups that will receive the vaccine include:
- Older adults between 60-79 years of age
- Individuals with specific health conditions and some primary caregivers
- People who live and work in congregate settings and some primary caregivers
- People who live in hot spots with high rates of death, hospitalizations and transmission
- Certain workers who cannot work from home
ONN was pleased to see the inclusion of front-line workers in congregate and community settings following our advocacy on the importance of prioritizing these populations. We will ask for clarification on the status of other nonprofit workers and the people we serve.
The Ontario government also announced that Toronto and Peel were being released from the stay-at-home order but only as far as “Grey-Lockdown.” North Bay-Parry Sound emerges from stay-at-home into the Red Zone. Seven other public health regions will change colours, effective March 8.
March 1, 2021 update: vaccine prioritization and after-school care
On February 26, Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced regulatory changes (effective March 8) to how the province’s child care system operates. Importantly, the changes include the removal of the three-hour limit on care offered by recreation organizations. Organizations like the YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs, First Nations, and municipalities can now run longer (unlicensed) before and after school programs, as well as full-day sessions. During the first phase, 5,000 recreational spots will be made available.
As Thunder Bay and Simcoe-Muskoka re-enter the “Grey-Lockdown” mode of COVID restrictions, other regions have seen restrictions lifted. In all, nine regions were shifted on Feb. 26. You can see the latest here.
And as we move closer to mass vaccination, public health units in many areas (Ottawa, Waterloo, Guelph, and York Region at the time of writing) have launched or are about to launch registration portals for priority populations to schedule their COVID vaccinations. The Ontario Government has given permission to public health units to add people who are homeless to the Phase I priority rollout of the vaccine.
February 21, 2021 update on Small Business Support Grants
There’s a new way for nonprofits and small businesses to check the status of their application: https://www.app.grants.gov.on.ca/msrf/#/home#BSGStatusWindow
Scroll down to “Check Ontario Small Business Support Grant application status” and have your authorization number and CRA business number ready.
Check your application status: https://www.app.grants.gov.on.ca/msrf/#/home#BSGStatusWindow
As of Feb. 24, 2021, the Ontario Government has provided $950 million in support grants to 67,000 applicants.
Learn more about the grant: http://ontario.ca/COVIDsupport
February 12, 2021 update
The Ontario government is transitioning twenty-seven public health regions out of the shutdown and into a revised and strengthened COVID-19 Response Framework. The four remaining public health regions, Toronto, Peel,, York Region, and North Bay Parry Sound District, will remain in the shutdown, and the Stay-at-Home order and all existing public health and workplace safety measures will continue to apply to these four public health regions. Read more.
On the same day, the Ontario Government announced an expansion of rapid COVID testing beyond long-term care and retirement homes. Testing will be done at residential mental health, adult and children’s residences, supportive housing and other congregate living settings and essential service worksites “in the coming days and weeks.” Read more.
February 8, 2021 update
The Ontario government is allowing the State of Emergency to expire on Feb. 10. Emergency orders remain in place but regions are moving back to the colour-coded “zone” framework. Regions will gradually transition back starting February 10 until February 22, subject to review of the trends in public health indicators. Until your region returns to the framework, the shutdown and stay-at-home orders still apply in your area. While the province-wide Stay-at-Home order will cease to apply in some regions as of February 10, everyone is strongly advised to continue to minimize their contacts. Employers should continue to make every effort to allow employees to work from home.
Nonprofit social enterprises will be pleased to note that retail is gradually permitted to reopen with restrictions in place, in accordance with the COVID “colour code” of their region.
For more information, please see the government press release.
January 27, 2021 update
The Ontario Government is extending the electricity rate relief until Feb. 9 for small businesses, which includes many nonprofits. See the press release for details.
With school boards resuming in-person classes on Feb. 1 in four Public Health areas (Ottawa, Eastern Ontario, Middlesex-London and Southwestern Ontario), emergency child care provisions will end, and before- and after-school child care programs can resume in those regions.
January 18, 2021 update: Ontario Small Business Support Grant
On January 15, the Ontario government opened applications for the new Ontario Small Business Support Grant. The grant, first announced in December, provides $10,000 to $20,000 to eligible small businesses and nonprofits with paid staff that have had to close or significantly restrict their operations due to the Provincewide Shutdown.
Businesses and nonprofits are eligible if they:
- were required to close or significantly restrict services due to the province-wide shutdown that started December 26. They must be included in the list of eligible businesses, and applicants are requested to select the specific type of business. What’s not eligible: “essential workplaces” operating as usual, as well as those that had to shut down prior to the introduction of modified Stage 2 measures on October 10, 2020
- have between one and 99 employees (headcount). Note that volunteer-only nonprofits do not qualify
- have experienced at least a 20 per cent revenue decline in April 2020 compared to April 2019. New organizations that started operating since April 2019 are also eligible provided they can demonstrate a comparable revenue decline using different months
Since the start of the pandemic, ONN has participated on a small business advisory committee convened by the Associate Minister for Small Business and Red Tape Reduction. ONN has brought the voices of the sector to convey the impact of the COVID crisis on nonprofits. We have been briefed on the new program and were pleased to learn that nonprofits are eligible if they meet the criteria. These funds are general operating support.
- The application process is quick and easy. You will need your CRA business number, as well as revenue information and number of employees
- Nonprofits that qualify can expect to receive funds in approximately ten business days, assuming all information is provided
The list of specific organizations legislated to close because of the Provincewide Shutdown includes community centres and multi-purpose facilities, day camps for children, in-person teaching and instruction, media industries including film and television production, meeting or event spaces, museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, and performing arts and cinemas. Read the full list./
January 12, 2021 update:
State of emergency follows province-wide shutdown
The provincial government has declared a second state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic, building on the province-wide shutdown announced December 21, 2020. The announcement included slightly revised instructions for workplaces, updated screening instructions for child care, and a soon-to-be-issued temporary residential eviction ban. The announcement didn’t contain a commitment to paid sick days or other social supports for Ontarians affected by the measures.
January 9, 2021 update
The Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce, has released a list of essential worker categories eligible for the (free) emergency child care during the Provincewide Shutdown. (The original list, including health care workers, can be found here.) In terms of the nonprofit sector, the list now includes:
- Health care workers, long-term care and retirement home workers, animal welfare (on the original list)
- Front-line staff in Children’s Aid Societies and residential services
- Individuals working in developmental services, violence against women services, and anti-human-trafficking services
- Individuals working in victims’ services
- Individuals engaged in interpreting or intervenor services for persons who are deaf or deafblind
- Individuals working in a homeless shelter or providing services to homeless persons
- Employees of a hotel or motel that is acting as an isolation centre, health care centre, vaccine clinic or housing essential workers
January 8, 2021 update:
The Ontario Government has extended the shutdown in Northern Ontario to four weeks from two.
Utility relief program under the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program: Nonprofits may be eligible for up to $1,500 in relief from their utility bills under the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program as of January 1. Apply through your electricity or natural gas provider’s website.
Ontario extends COVID-19 measures affecting severance pay: For employers with non-unionized employees, the Ontario government is extending regulatory changes brought forward under the Employment Standards Act to July 3, 2021. Learn more.
January 8, 2021 update:
The Ontario Government has extended the shutdown in Northern Ontario to four weeks from two.
Utility relief program under the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program: Nonprofits may be eligible for up to $1,500 in relief from their utility bills under the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program as of January 1. Apply through your electricity or natural gas provider’s website.
Ontario extends COVID-19 measures affecting severance pay: For employers with non-unionized employees, the Ontario government is extending regulatory changes brought forward under the Employment Standards Act to July 3, 2021. Learn more.
Summary of “Provincewide Shutdown” measures announced on December 21, 2020
The Ontario Government has announced a new COVID-related “Province-wide shutdown” for Ontario.
The lockdown is in effect as of 12:01 a.m. on December 26.
- It will last two weeks for northern Ontario (until Jan. 9)
- It will last four weeks for southern and eastern Ontario (until Jan. 23)
- From the press release: “all Ontarians are advised to stay home as much as possible with trips outside the home limited to necessities such as food, medication, medical appointments, or supporting vulnerable community members.”
Geographic boundaries: Northern Ontario is defined as including the following seven public health units: Algoma, North Bay-Parry Sound, Porcupine, Sudbury & District, Thunder Bay District, and Timiskaming. Southern Ontario is defined as the remainder of the province (southern and eastern Ontario).
Schools (except First Nations schools) are virtual until Jan. 11 in northern Ontario. In southern Ontario, secondary students will resume in-person learning Jan. 25 and elementary students on Jan. 11.
Child care centres will remain open (including those that operate in schools).
- Child care centres are not permitted to serve school-aged children for the “virtual learning” week of Jan. 4 to 8
- No before-and-after-school programs may operate that week
- A targeted “emergency” child care program will run that week for parents who cannot accommodate their school-aged children’s care/learning at home
- A list of eligible worker categories (updated Jan. 9) is here
- “Employers in all industries should make every effort to allow employees to work from home>
- Food production, distribution, and sales (including indoor farmers markets) are open, with indoor stores/markets permitted to remain open at 50 percent capacity. Community gardens are permitted to remain open
- Community centres, libraries, and multi-purpose facilities (e.g., YMCAs) are permitted to open only for child care, mental health/addictions, and social services. Fitness facilities are to be closed except for elite athletes. Libraries may offer curbside pick-up
- Government services including court services will be open
- Meeting and event spaces are closed except for the purpose of child care (and designated recreation services), social services, mental health and addiction services (including support groups up to 10 people), and government services. Contact information must be recorded
- Short-term home rentals are permitted only for persons in need of housing
- Parks and outdoor sport and recreation facilities are permitted to remain open (except ski hills), subject to limitations (e.g., change rooms closed, washrooms open)
- Research facilities are permitted to remain open
- No arts and culture events or gatherings outside your own household for the duration of the shutdown
- except single persons and single parents may mix with one other household
- Religious ceremonies, weddings, and funerals may have 10 persons maximum (indoors or outdoors). Drive-in services permitted
- Performance venues may open only to rehearse or record, with no more than 10 persons permitted on stage at a time. Singers and wind instrument players must be separated from others by plexiglass. Contact information must be recorded. No drive-in/drive-through performance events permitted
- Museums and cultural amenities are closed
- Bingo halls and gaming establishments are closed
Shutdown mitigation measures
- A new $12.5 million to implement a High Priority Communities Strategy to fund community agencies in 15 priority communities in the York, Peel, Durham, Ottawa, and Toronto regions. The backgrounder notes that “Evidence shows that racially diverse, newcomer and low-income communities have been impacted more significantly by COVID-19 than others, and they need specific supports as they are facing complex barriers to accessing services and enacting core prevention measures.” The strategy includes 1) Tailored community outreach and engagement, 2) Increased access to testing, 3) Wraparound supports using a case management approach, along with 4) Isolation centres.
- The 15 high-needs communities identified to date include:
- South West Mississauga
- East Mississauga
- North West Mississauga
- North Etobicoke Malton West Woodbridge (Peel)
- North Etobicoke Malton West Woodbridge (Toronto)
- East Toronto
- Scarborough North
- Scarborough South
- Western York Region
- Eastern York Region
- North York West
- Durham West
- Central Ottawa
ONN has reached out to Ontario government officials for more details on eligibility and distribution of funds.
$42 million will be distributed to establish isolation centres in partnership with municipalities.
A new Ontario Small Business Support Grant which will provide a minimum of $10,000 and up to $20,000 to eligible small business owners, i.e., those that:
- are required to close or significantly restrict services subject to the Provincewide Shutdown
- have fewer than 100 employees at the enterprise level
- have experienced a minimum of 20 per cent revenue decline in April 2020 compared to April 2019
ONN has reached out to government officials and been told that nonprofits that meet these conditions will be eligible.
The PDF document outlining these measures can be found here.
Since the Emergency Declaration on March 16 (currently extended until June 30), the province has made a considerable number of announcements on their policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in Ontario. With the provincial budget postponed, the government of Ontario released its Economic Update and COVID-19 Action Plan of $17 billion in funding to respond to the pandemic.
The Action Plan was modest in light of the COVID health and the economic crisis that Ontario is facing. Following the economic update, the government continues to announce and share daily updates or policy changes. Like most other provinces, the Ontario government is relying on the federal government to provide the majority of economic support needed during this crisis. Moreover, it is still too early to know whether or how the financial support provided by the province will be sufficient to help sustain the nonprofit sector.
ONN is advocating for and continues to work with the province to ensure nonprofits are supported in following ways:
- A stabilization fund for the nonprofit sector (see our letter to the Premier and proposal)
- Revisions to employment standards policies regarding paid sick days for all employees
- Flexibility in provincial funding agreements with nonprofits, e.g., moving funds between budget lines, postponing reporting deadlines, and carry-forward provisions at year-end
- Access to emergency child care for workers in settings that have been identified as “essential,” including health care and social services
- Access to adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for front-line workers in community settings, such as neighbourhood groups who do isolation visits, along with home care, long-term care, and others
- Establishment a nonprofit advisory table to inform the Cabinet Committee on the economic recovery.
With the emergency order being extended until June 30, the government has slowly been updating it’s list of places that can be reopened. As of May 27, seasonal businesses as well as community health providers have been permitted to open or expand services. Organizations are still encouraged to refer to the list of essential workplaces for more information.
Find the list of the most recent emergency orders here.
On April 27, the government of Ontario shared it’s framework and guiding principles to reopen the province. The government intends to approach the reopening of the province in three stages depending on the advice and guidance of the Chief Medical Officer and health officials on when to ease public health and safety measures, this includes a two-for-week decline in new COVID-19 cases and health system capacity.
There were no clear deadlines or benchmarks provided, but the government has indicated that each stage is expected to last for two-to-four weeks, after which the government will determine what next steps need to be taken.
There were no insights on how the nonprofit sector will be involved, except for those that are in sectors that have been deemed essential services. The document does not sufficiently account for the nuances that exist across the sector and how the reopening of the province will impact nonprofits, their workers and the communities they support. ONN is continuing to advocate for the establishment of a nonprofit advisory table to better inform both the reopening phase and steps towards recovery.
ONN will be monitoring and advocating to ensure that the nonprofit sector is included in this process.
On May 1, the government of Ontario began to take its first steps towards reopening the province. The province announced that it would allow businesses to open where safe to do so and under strict guidelines.
For more information
• News Release, May 1
• News Release, May 14
Framework for reopening: Stage 1
On June 8, the government announced an easing of restrictions, following its decision to take a regional approach to reopening. As a part of stage 2, the government has increased the limit on social gathering from 5 to 10 people. The provincial government is allowing businesses and services to reopen ensuring that the proper safety measures are in place for regions that have been permitted to be open. With services such as child care, summer camps, training centres, as well as public transit remaining open regardless of the state a region is in.
The government has put together additional workplace and safety guidelines to support employers along with templates to guide organizations as they develop their plans in order to support their workers.
We continue to monitor how the reopening process will impact nonprofits, with attention on how non profit childcare and nonprofit workers that require childcare will be impacted, especially with the closure of 24/7 emergency child care on June 26 and the reopening of non-emergency related child care centres.
For more information:
News release, June 8
The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) has released a new series of backgrounders detailing key positions on issues of interest to human services professionals:
Relief funding for the nonprofit sector
On March 23, the Ontario government announced that it is providing $200 million in social services relief funding in response to the outbreak of COVID-19.
The province provided $148 million to municipalities and organizations that administer social services with funding to support them in their response to COVID-19. The funding was intended to help municipalities and social service providers such as shelters, food banks, emergency services, charities and nonprofits continue to deliver their critical services, hire additional staff, and find ways to promote social distancing and self-isolation to keep clients safe and healthy. Ontario’s municipal service managers were asked to determine local needs and distribute the funding, ensuring clients are receiving the support they need. ONN will survey the sector gain in June to determine how the funds were distributed.
Funding was also made available to organizations delivering social services to First Nations individuals and families. Included in the $200 milion is an expanded Emergency Assistance program administered through Ontario Works ($52 million), to help individuals who do not qualify for emergency financial supports under federal programs. There will also be discretionary benefits available to those who already receive social assistance.
On April 4, the government announced an investment of $40 million to support organizations that provide residential services for children and youth, people with developmental disabilities and emergency shelters for women and families fleeing domestic violence. This $40 million included the $20 million that was previously announced, that was allowed to be carried over if not used in the FY 2019-2020. The fund is supposed to cover costs such as additional staffing, personal protective equipment and initiatives to support physical distancing. The aim of the fund is to provide organizations address the costs that emergency shelters are facing at this time.
For more information on the fund: https://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/en/mcss/crrf.aspx
In partnership with the Ontario Community Support Association (OCSA), the government of Ontario launched the new Ontario Community Support program to expand Meals on Wheels services for low-income seniors and people with disabilities and chronic medical conditions in the province. Announced on April 20, the $11 million is an increase from the $5 million announced in the mini-budget.
For more information: www.ontariocommunitysupport.ca
On October 20, 2020, the Ontario government introduced legislation to provide liability protection for nonprofits and charities that make an honest effort to follow public health guidelines and laws relating to exposure to COVID-19. ONN is pleased to see the province address this issue. We note that Bill 218 is also an omnibus bill and includes other provisions not related to COVID-19 or liability. ONN supports liability protection outlined in Schedule 1, Supporting Ontario’s Recovery Act, 2020 only.
ONN has been calling for liability protection for nonprofits and charities since June 2020, including in our Fall 2020 budget submission. ONN is pleased to see that the provisions are retroactive to March 17, 2020.
It is important to note that liability protection only applies to those organizations that follow all public health guidelines and operate in “good faith”. Negligence or abuse and bad actors will not be protected by this liability coverage. This liability protection only covers the inadvertent transmission of COVID-19, and no other issues.
ONN will review the legislation carefully and provide updates as more details become available.
Relief funding for employers
On May 9th, the Ontario government announced that in partnership with municipal and federal partners, as well as EarlyON and Family Centres are supporting parents in retaining access to local licensed child care.
The province is planning to support families in the following ways:
- Support for fixed operating costs for eligible care and EarlyON Centres, while providers are prohibited from charging fees while the Emergency Order is in effect
- Direct funding delivery through service system managers for centres that currently receive funding
- A separate application process for child care centres that do not currently receive provincial funding, allowing them to apply directly through the Ministry of Education
- Direction that all child care centres will be required to maximize all available support under Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, including staffing costs retroactively to March 15, 2020, in addition to federal-provincial rental subsidy supports
- Waiving all child care licensing applications, renewals and revisions fees
- Automatic extension of child care licenses set to expire during the emergency period
- Protecting existing base funding for licensed home child care agencies, and regular funding and wage enhancement grant funding for licensed home child care provides who have remained active during the emergency closure
- Directing school boards not to charge rent for child care centres or EarlyON centres located in schools, until the end of the closure period
ONN is working with our networks to understand what this means for nonprofit child care providers across the province.
The Ontario government launched a new website to help identify challenges and temporary solutions to respond to COVID-19. Individuals or organizations can identify opportunities for the provincial government to temporarily change a regulation or rule to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. The intent is to use the information received to remove obstacles and ensure that organizations have the ability and flexibility to respond.
Organizations can submit their recommendations here
The Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program is open for applications. The program was initially announced in April and is funded jointly with the province. Some Ontario nonprofits and charitable organizations are eligible for the program.
The applications are staggered depending on the province. Applicants in Ontario can register starting Wednesday, with the registration portal available open for 24/7 for applicants to upload data and input information.
The Ontario Government has released a rent assistance calculator to assist small businesses find out if they are eligible to receive rent through the CECRA.
See ONN’s detailed analysis here
The Ministry of the Labour, Skill and Skills Development has partnered with Ontario’s Health and Safety Associations to provide guidelines for specific sectors. Resources will continue to be added as the government slowly moves to open new sectors of the economy.
Sector guidelines have been provided for the following sectors:
- Food processing
- Restaurant and food services
- Long-term Care
ONN is currently looking into how these guidelines affect nonprofits across these industries and whether there will be more details targeted to the nonprofit sector more broadly, such as performance spaces, summer camps and places of worship.
For more information: Resources to prevent COVID-19 in the workplace
Some nonprofits may benefit from the deferral of Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) payments for up to six months. Employers who are covered by WSIB workplace insurance are automatically eligible for the deferral. The packaged applies to schedule 1 and schedule 2 organizations.
For more information: www.wsib.ca/en/financialrelief
On June 1, the Ontario government announced changes to the Employment Standards Act that would extend the length of time employees can be laid off temporarily from 13 weeks to up to six weeks after the declared emergency ends. The move grants some breathing room to employers who would have had to permanently lay off staff and pay severance after 13 weeks.
With the release of the economic and fiscal update, the Government of Ontario updated measures on property tax.
The government announced that it would defer June 30 quarterly municipal remittance of education property tax to school boards by 90 days. Along with this, the province will allow municipalities to provide property tax deferrals to residents and businesses, while ensuring that school boards receive their funding.
The government also announced it is postponing their planned property tax reassessment. Assessments for the 2021 taxation year will continue to be based on the same valuation date that was in effect for 2020.
On March 13, the Ontario Government passed an emergency order giving the government the ability to issue a mandatory support long-term care space to better manage COVID-19 outbreak.
The order restricts the movement of long-term care staff between multiple homes, enables pandemic premium pay for LTC workers and allows for the deployment of hospital staff where shortages in staffing occur, this also includes the use of Infection Prevention and Control teams.
For more information:
News Release, May 13
Support for nonprofit workers
On October 1, the provincial government announced $461 million to temporarily enhance wages for over 147,000 personal support workers (PSWs). The temporary wage enhancement applies to for PSWs working in the following settings:
- Home and Community Care
- Long-term Care
- Public Hospitals
- Social Service Sectors (e.g. children, community and social services)
The wage increase are broken down by work setting:
- $3 per hour for approximately 38,000 eligible workers in home and community care
- $3 per hour for approximately 50,000 eligible workers in long-term care
- $2 per hour for approximately 12,300 eligible workers in public hospitals; and
- $3 per hour for approximately 47,000 eligible workers in children, community and social services providing personal direct support services for the activities of daily living
The temporary wage increase comes into force on October 1, 2020 and will be reviewed and could be extended through March 31, 2021.
The intention of the province is to retain and attract PSW workforce to support the care needed for patients, clients and residents in response to COVID-19. The measure is an extension of the provinces COVID-19 Fall Preparedness Plan for Health, Long-Term Care and Education and the province’s investment of $26.3 million to support PSWs and supportive care workers. Although a welcome measure, the increase is not applied equally across the sectors listed.
On April 25, 2020, the government of Ontario announced temporary pandemic pay for frontline workers from April 24 to August 13. Eligible essential workers will receive $4/hour worked on top of their regular wages. In addition, the Ontario government will be providing monthly lump-sum payments of $250 for four months to eligible frontline workers who work over 100 hours per month. Eligibility depends on role (frontline) and workplace. More details on how the funds will be transferred and then disseminated to workers will be announced shortly.
Nonprofits eligible for this funding include:
- Long-term came homes
- Home and community care
- Developmental services
- Intervenor residential sites (for people who are deaf-blind)
- Indigenous healing and wellness facilities/shelters
- Women’s shelters
- Youth justice residential facilities
- Children’s mental health (licensed) and other residentials child/family facilities
- Homeless shelters, including hotel overflow and re-proposed arenas/community centres
- Supportive housing facilities
- Respite/drop-in centres
- The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) announced that it has worked with the province to expand pandemic pay to include all addictions and mental health workers who, in a congregate setting, serve the same functions as workers in acute-care hospital settings previously noted as receiving pandemic pay
Early childhood educators and community health workers are not eligible for pandemic pay. Management is not eligible either, however it is unclear if management who has been redeployed to the frontlines is eligible.
The government of Ontario’s Pandemic Pay is the cost-share temporary wage boost for essential workers program announced by the federal government.
Pandemic pay is a much needed boost for historically and traditionally low-waged and low-valued workers in essential services nonprofits and charities. However, a glaring gap is that it does not include early childhood educators and community health workers who are delivering essential services and particularly make up the low-waged and low-valued women workers in our sector.
Further details are still pending on how pandemic pay will be implemented by the province. For instance, whether the wage boost applies only to organizations that have ongoing transfer payment agreements with a provincial ministry or agency as this would mean that those eligible but funded through municipalities will be excluded, such as drop-in centres, food banks, and shelters.
If the sector can take advantage of the Wage Boost for Essential Workers, it can ensure essential service nonprofits retain staff and remain open to continue delivering services in communities. We are seeing a growing crisis in certain parts of the nonprofit sector, particularly in human service areas (outside urgent healthcare institutions) where frontline workers are risking their lives to go to work, often without adequate PPE and for wages that are now insufficient to keep workers in community settings rather than opting to work in higher-paid institutional settings or else stop work altogether and receive federal relief.
Status quo funding rates and pay structures were already creating recruitment and retention challenges in many nonprofit settings — these challenges have now become a full-blown crisis. In the long-term it will be important to not only sustain this temporary pay increase for the sector, but in a way that does not create internal inequities in pay within the sector and individual nonprofits and charities.
Read more of ONN’s analysis here
The government of Ontario has been offering free 24/7 emergency childcare to essential services workers during the pandemic as schools and daycares remain closed. Working with our child care partners, ONN advocated to the Ontario government asking for nonprofit workers providing essential services to be eligible for emergency child care.
On April 17 the list was adjusted to include workers in:
- Developmental services
- Victim services
- Violence against women services
- Anti-human trafficking services
- Child welfare services (children’s aid societies)
- Children’s residential settings
- Health care settings auxiliary works which (e.g., cooks and cleaning staff in hospitals and long-term care homes)
As of June 26, the government will be winding down emergency child care services as all licensed childcare centres are now permitted to reopen. Although permitted to reopen, child care operators are still prevented from charging fees for spaces.
Declared emergencies and infectious disease emergencies are the two categories wherein employees can take a leave of absence from work. The infectious disease emergencies leave is in addition to the emergency declared leave that was already in the Employment Standards Act (ESA).
Where there has been an emergency declared under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA), and an employee is unable to work, they can take an unpaid leave of absence for the following reasons:
- They are subject to an order under the EMCPA
- They are subject to an order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act (HPPA)
- They are needed to provide care or assistance to a specified individual
- They are subject to other reasons prescribed
Infectious disease emergencies
For infectious disease emergencies, employees can take a leave of absence for the following reasons:
- 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 in quarantine in accordance with public health information or direction
- The employer directs the employee not to work due to a concern that COVID-19 could be spread in the workplace
- 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 employee is prevented from returning to Ontario because of travel restrictions
No sick notes, but other “evidence” may be required
Under declared or infectious disease emergencies, employers may ask for ”evidence reasonable in the circumstances,” in order for employees to take unpaid leave of absence. This can look like a note from a day-care or an airline cancellation notice, but the employer cannot ask employees for a sick note as evidence.
It is important to note that the leave is unpaid and is only applicable “until the day the emergency is terminated or disallowed.” Also depending on the circumstances of employees, the leave may be applied differently e.g. an employee who self-isolates for 14 days may be treated differently from an employee who needs to provide care due to school closures. The new law also gives the Cabinet the power to exempt certain classes of employees.
Expansion of categories of family relationships receiving care
For employees providing care, support and assistance for others (e.g. family members), the new law expands the categories of family relationships to whom the provision applies:
- The employee’s spouse
- A parent, step-parent, or foster parent of the employee or the employee’s spouse
- A child, step-child or foster child of the employee or the employee’s spouse
- A child who is under legal guardianship of the employee or the employee’s spouse
- A brother, step-brother, sister or step-sister of the employee
- A grandparent, step-grandparent, grandchild or step-grandchild of the employee or the employee’s spouse
- A brother-in-law, step-brother-in-law, sister-in-law or step-sister-in-law of the employee
- A son-in-law or daughter-in-law of the employee or the employee’s spouse
- An uncle or aunt of the employee or the employee’s spouse
- A nephew or niece of the employee or the employee’s spouse
- The spouse of the employee’s grandchild, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece
- A person who considers the employee to be like a family member, provided the prescribed conditions, if any, are met
- Any individual prescribed as a family member
Following their May 14, 2020 announcement, the Ontario government has provided further direction and guidance on testing. The guidelines outline who can get tested, the list of symptoms, as well as testing in respect to specific settings (e.g. hospitals, congregate settings and long-term care homes).
On March 19, the Ontario government passed the Employment Standards Amendment Act (Infectious Disease Emergencies), 2020 (Bill 186). The Act amends the provisions around leaves of absence, by repealing provisions of Declared Emergency Leave of the ESA and introduces a new leave: Declared Emergencies and Infectious Disease Emergencies. With these changes, employees who are in quarantine or in isolation due to COVID-19, or those who need to be away to provide care for children due to school or daycare closures or employees providing care, are now provided with unpaid job-protected emergency leave of absence. These measures are retroactive to January 25, 2020.
The retroactive measures taken by the Ontario government below are a step in the right direction. It means that a broader swath of workers will be able to take unpaid leave and not risk losing their jobs. However, Bill 186 does not adequately support Ontario’s nonprofit workforce during this time of crisis. It does not protect or supplement wages for workers nor does it include any provisions to provide paid sick and emergency leave. Such measures would support Ontario’s nonprofit employers and workers as well as the communities they serve. More substantial provisions would allow the nonprofit sector to provide decent work to its employees at a time when they are needed most. These are critical investments that are needed at crucia