New Reporting Measures for COVID-19 Outbreaks in the Workplace

Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health issued a letter of instruction to all employers in the City of Toronto permitted to be open under the Reopening Ontario Act. The letter outlines new reporting requirements, along with other measures aimed at controlling the spread of COVID-19 in workplaces.

Employers are now required to notify Toronto Public Health as soon as two or more workers are infected with COVID-19 within a 14-day interval.  The definition of worker means any employee, independent contractor, manager, director, officer, owner, partner, shareholder, volunteer, student or any other person engaged in the business or organization’s activity at the workplace. If two or more COVID-19 cases have been confirmed within a 14-day interval, employers must:

  • Provide contact information for a designated person at the workplace who is readily available for contact by Toronto Public Health to immediately implement any additional required measures.
  • Provide contact information for all workers within 24 hours to support case and contact tracing.
  • Notify the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training, and Skills Development and any other relevant government authorities.
  • Cooperate with infection prevention and control personnel from Toronto Public Health including allowing entry into the workplace premises for inspection.

In addition to the reporting obligations, employers are instructed to follow infection prevention measures such as:

  • Ensuring hand sanitizer and hand-washing facilities are available, and that there is rigorous and frequent environmental cleaning in all high-touch areas and those areas accessible to the public.
  • Conducting regular assessments of heating, ventilation, and air condition systems to ensure they are working well.
  • Minimizing instances where more than one individual is travelling together in a vehicle for work, and if unavoidable, ensuring face coverings are worn in the vehicle and driving with the windows open.
  • Ensuring physical distancing of workers by at least two metres where possible, and installing physical barriers (i.e plexiglass) when physical distancing is not possible.

Employers will also have to ensure that all workers are aware of income replacement and workplace-related benefits they are entitled to if they have to isolate due to COVID-19 symptoms, being tested for COVID-19, or being a close contact of someone with COVID-19. The purpose of this measure is to encourage forthright reporting of COVID-19 systems or contact among workers.

Licensed child care programs, schools and school boards, and health care providers or health care entities are exempt from these instructions due to sector-specific guidance governing COVID-19 measures in these workplaces.

Similar directives have also been introduced by Peel Public Health and Durham Region Health Department.

If you have any questions about this matter, other COVID-19 related issues, or would like any other workplace law assistance, please contact a Mathews Dinsdale lawyer, or refer to the Firm’s COVID-19 website resources.

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