COVID-19 Update: Ontario Releases List of Shut Down Exempt “Essential Services” – Implications for Employers

Late yesterday evening, the government of Ontario released a list of businesses that are considered “Essential Services” for the purposes of the province wide lock-down.   These Essential Services will be permitted to continue to operate, despite businesses generally being ordered to close.

The full implications of this exemption for a wide range of businesses is as yet unclear.   It is not known, for instance, whether employees of Essential Services will be exempt from the requirement to self-isolate post-travel or post-contact or whether any special rules will apply to these workers under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 or Occupational Health and Safety Act .

The government’s website listing the Essential Services has been crashing since the list was posted but below are a few key exemptions relevant to people with disabilities, their families and the not-for-profit agencies that support them:

    • Businesses that provide personal support services (many seniors and persons with disabilities, who can afford to, hire individuals to assist with the activities of daily living;
    • Not-for-profit organizations that provide critical personal support services in home and also provide residential services for individuals with physical disabilities (such as the Centre for Independent Living and March of Dimes);
    • Businesses and all other organizations that support the provision of food, shelter, safety or protection, and/or social services and other necessities of life to economically disadvantaged and other vulnerable individuals, including but not limited to food banks, violence against women emergency shelters, homeless shelters, community housing, supportive housing, children’s aid societies, residential services for adults with developmental disabilities and for children, and custody and detention programs for young persons in conflict with the law.

Who does the shut-down affect?

The list of “essential services” is extremely broad and in addition to the disability related essential services identified above includes groceries, pharmacies,  etc.

Remote Operation of Non-essential Services 

The government has indicated that, despite the shut-down order, non-essential services will be permitted to continue operations with employees working remotely, or through other contingency measures.  Otherwise they will be mandated to discontinue operations for 14 days commencing at 11:59 p.m. tonight (March 24, 2020).

PooranLaw will continue to monitor legal developments as they relate to Essential Services.

Official release:

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.