November 30, 2020by Israel Foulon LLP
On November 20, 2020, Bill 218, Supporting Ontario’s Recovery and Municipal Elections Act (“the Act”) received royal assent and became law. The Act limits civil liability against businesses, employees, and individuals in specified circumstances in relation to COVID-19, as set out below.
Supporting Ontario’s Recovery and Municipal Elections Act
The Act applies retroactively to March 17, 2020, and protects businesses and individuals from civil liability provided that they have made a good faith effort to comply with the advice of public health officials and any federal, provincial or municipal laws related to COVID-19. Specifically, section 2 of the Act prohibits a civil claim or cause of action against businesses or individuals, where their acts or omissions potentially exposed another person to COVID-19 – except in circumstances where the business or individual is found to be grossly negligent (which is undefined in the Act).
The Act defines good faith as an “honest effort, whether or not that effort is reasonable.” The Act also provides protection for employers who may otherwise be vicariously liable for the actions of their employees.
You can access the Supporting Ontario’s Recovery and Municipal Elections Act HERE.
Take Away for Businesses
The Act is welcome news for employers, businesses, and front-line workers as it shields those who made honest efforts to follow government and public health guidance to prevent the spread of COVID-19 from liability in specified circumstances. As a result, only those who have been grossly negligent with regard to public health and governmental orders and guidelines are likely to be found liable for tortious conduct related to the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
We recommend that businesses continue to monitor public health orders and take all measures to ensure the health and safety of their employees and customers. We also recommend that businesses and employers retain all documents and files that demonstrate that they have in fact made honest efforts to follow government and public health guidance to prevent the spread of COVID-19. If you have questions about how a specific public health order applies to your business, please consult us.
Israel Foulon’s Response to COVID-19 Israel Foulon is assessing the situation as it evolves, and is taking all necessary precautions within its workplace. To slow the spread of COVID-19 and for the health of our team and clients, absent extraordinary circumstances we are working remotely until further notice whenever possible. However, please be aware that our offices remain open and are fully functioning. In the circumstances, we encourage our clients to contact us by phone and email to the extent possible. Voicemail messages left at our office phone numbers are immediately forwarded via email. All messages will be promptly responded to. We remain steadfast in our commitment to our clients and would be more than happy to assist you with concerns regarding COVID-19 or any other employment or labour matters.