After months of public discussion, Ontario’s Provincial Government announced today that it would be introducing legislation in the Supporting Ontario’s Recovery Act, 2020 to provide a good-faith liability protection to workers, volunteers, and organizations against COVID-19 related claims.
Since the start of the Pandemic, our clients have often grappled with how to continue providing their essential services without incurring liability if COVID-19 transmission occurs. The best practice to minimize liability has and continues to be to stringently follow public health general and sector-specific guidance. However, given the enhanced risk of COVID-19 as a result of community transmission, and the widening insurance gap as many insurers seek to exclude coverage of COVID-19 claims, many organizations have continued to face significant risk even when they make good faith efforts to comply with public health requirements. This is particularly the case as the COVID-19 second wave hits Ontario.
However, today’s announcement closes that gap and provides protection for those workers, volunteers and organizations that make an honest effort to follow public health guidance and laws relating to COVID-19 exposure. Of particular relevance to the Developmental Sector, these proposed measures would explicitly include:
- Healthcare workers and institutions;
- Frontline workers who serve the public;
- Charities, non-profit organizations.
At the same time, the new legislation will not protect workers, volunteers and organizations from claims involving gross negligence or intentional misconduct, ensuring that there is still an incentive to make best efforts and to hold bad actors accountable.
Overall, this is very positive news for many employers who have had to operate under the uncertainty of legal liability despite making best efforts to respond to unforeseeable and unprecedented circumstances.
PooranLaw will continue to monitor legal developments related to COVID-19 liability protection. In the meantime, if you require legal assistance, we encourage you to reach out to your regular PooranLaw lawyer, or any member of our team.
This article previously stated that the new legislation will protect workers, volunteers and organizations from claims of gross negligence and intentional misconduct. This was a typo and has since been corrected.
Note: This article provides general information only and does not constitute, and should not be relied upon as, legal advice or opinion. PooranLaw Professional Corporation holds the copyright to this article and the article and its contents may not be copied or reproduced in any form, in whole or in part, without the express permission of PooranLaw Professional Corporation