COVID-19: End of Declaration of Emergency in Ontario, New COVID-19 Response Legislation Passes
Today, the Provincial Government announced that the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 has received Royal Assent and will come into effect July 24, 2020. As a result, the declared provincial emergency will also come to an end on July 24, 2020.
So what does this mean?
Under the new law, the emergency orders (including orders related to re-deployment and staffing and single-employer restrictions) passed under the emergency declaration will continue for an initial 30 days, then can be extended every 30 days thereafter if the Lieutenant Governor in Council signs on. These orders can be continually extended up to one year, and after that, they would need the legislature to sanction the extension.
The Government can amend the existing emergency orders if they need to in order to:
- Address labour relations issues and staffing priorities;
- Amend business and public closures and rules to address provision of goods and services in a safe way;
- Comply with public health advice, and
- Make rules for gatherings and organized public events.
However, the new law prohibits amendments to certain orders expressly listed, including the orders on Special Rules Re Temporary Pandemic Pay, Management of Retirement Homes in Outbreak, Management of Long-Term Care Homes in Outbreak or Signatures in Wills and Powers of Attorney. The government will also not be able to make new emergency orders under this new law. The government will rescind the existing emergency orders when its safe to do so.
The law will still impose the same types of penalties for breach of emergency orders as we saw under the declaration of emergency.
The proposed purpose of the legislation is to allow the government greater flexibility and authority to carry on its response to COVID-19 beyond the crisis period while also ensuring proper oversight and transparency. There will be regular reporting under the law to provide rational for the extensions.
The full text of the law can be found here.
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