Province of Ontario Updates
February 9, 2021
Ontario Announces Regional COVID-19 Reopening Plan and Extends Stay-At-Home Order
Today, Premier Doug Ford announced that the Government of Ontario is moving to a regional approach and maintaining the shutdown in the majority of the public health regions in Ontario, including the Stay-at-Home order and all existing public health and workplace safety measures.
When it is safe to do so, the province will gradually transition each region from the shutdown measures to a revised COVID-19 Response Framework.
Employers in all industries should continue to make every effort to allow employees to work from home.
The shutdown and stay-at-home order will stay in effect in the Hamilton Region until Tuesday, February 16.
Final decisions will be subject to review of the trends in public health indicators at that time.
We will keep you updated.
Safe Approach to Retail
To support the province’s economic recovery, the government has updated the Framework to allow for a safe approach to retail. Limited in-person shopping in Grey-Lockdown zones will be permitted with significant public health and safety requirements, such as limiting capacity to 25 per cent. In addition, public health and safety measures in retail settings will be strengthened for other levels of the framework. Individuals will also be required to wear a face covering and maintain physical distance when indoors in a business, with limited exceptions.
Please visit https://covid-19.ontario.ca/zones-and-restrictions for the full list of public health region classifications.
The Ontario Small Business Support Grant – now available
The Ontario Small Business Support Grant will provide a minimum of $10,000 and up to $20,000 to help eligible small business owners who have had to restrict their operations due to the Provincewide shutdown.
Small businesses required to close or significantly restrict services will be able to apply for this one-time grant. Each eligible small business will be able to use the support in whatever way makes the most sense for their individual business. For example, some businesses could use the support to pay employee wages, while others may need support maintaining their inventory.
Eligible small businesses include those that:
- Are required to close or significantly restrict services due to the Provincewide Shutdown, which began at 12:01 a.m. on December 26;
- Have fewer than 100 employees at the enterprise level; and
Have experienced a minimum of 20 per cent revenue decline in April 2020 compared to April 2019. New businesses established since April 2019 will also be eligible if they meet the other eligibility criteria.
Visit Ontario.ca/COVIDsupport for more information on applying.
January 13, 2021
Ontario Returns to State of Emergency & Announces Stay-At-Home Order
At 1:30pm Tuesday, December 12 2021, Premier Doug Ford announced that effective immediately the Province of Ontario returns to a State of Emergency.
Effective Thursday, January 14, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., the government is issuing a 28-day stay-at-home order requiring everyone to remain at home with exceptions for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, for exercise, or for essential work.
All businesses must ensure that any employee who can work from home, does work from home.
If you have questions about what will be open or impacts to your business or employment, call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.
Additional Public Health Restrictions
Outdoor organized public gatherings and social gatherings are further restricted to a limit of five people with limited exceptions.
Individuals are required to wear a mask or face-covering in the indoor areas of businesses or organizations that are open.
Wearing a mask or face covering is now recommended outdoors when you can’t physically distance more than two metres.
Hardware stores, alcohol retailers, and those offering curbside pickup or delivery must open no earlier than 7 a.m. and close no later than 8 p.m. The restricted hours of operation do not apply to stores that primarily sell food, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and restaurants for takeout or delivery.
Non-essential construction is further restricted, including below-grade construction, exempting survey.
These measures will come into effect between Tuesday, January 12, 2021 and Thursday, January 14, 2021, including the provincial declaration of emergency under the EMCPA, orders under that Act, and amendments to regulations under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020.
New Enforcement Measures
Under the declaration of a provincial emergency, the province will provide authority to all enforcement and provincial offences officers, including the Ontario Provincial Police, local police forces, bylaw officers, and provincial workplace inspectors to issue tickets to individuals who do not comply with the stay-at-home-order, or those not wearing a mask or face covering indoors as well as retail operators and companies who do not enforce.
Those who decide not to abide by orders will be subject to set fines and/or prosecution under both the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, (ROA) and EMCPA.
In addition, all enforcement personnel will have the authority to temporarily close a premise and disperse individuals who are in contravention of an order and will be able to disperse people who are gathering, regardless whether a premise has been closed or remains open such as a park or house.
The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development is taking additional steps to protect workers with the launch of the “Stay Safe All Day” campaign, focusing workplace inspections in areas of high transmission, including break rooms, and providing new educational materials to employers to promote safe behaviour before, during and after work.
As part of the “Stay Safe All Day” campaign, inspectors will use a data-driven approach to focus on workplaces with reported COVID-19 outbreaks, manufacturing businesses, warehouses, distribution centres, food processing operations, construction projects and publicly accessible workplaces deemed essential, such as grocery stores.
Employee Support in the Workplace
In the unfortunate event that an employee becomes infected with COVID-19, they may be entitled to federally funded paid sick leave of up to $500 a week for two weeks.
Workers can also access Canada’s Recovery Caregiver Benefit of up to $500 per week for up to 26 weeks if they are unable to work because they must care for their child under 12 years old or a family member who needs supervised care.
For More Information, click here to read the Media Release: https://news.ontario.ca/en/release/59922/ontario-declares-second-provincial-emergency-to-address-covid-19-crisis-and-save-lives
The Ontario Small Business Support Grant
The Ontario Small Business Support Grant will provide a minimum of $10,000 and up to $20,000 to help eligible small business owners.
Small businesses required to close or significantly restrict services will be able to apply for this one-time grant. Each eligible small business will be able to use the support in whatever way makes the most sense for their individual business.
Eligible small businesses include those that:
Are required to close or significantly restrict services due to the Provincewide Shutdown, which began at 12:01 a.m. on December 26;
Have fewer than 100 employees at the enterprise level; and
Have experienced a minimum of 20 per cent revenue decline in April 2020 compared to April 2019.
You will be able to apply for this grant in the coming days.
Visit Ontario.ca/COVIDsupport for more information.
November 17, 2010
Ontario’s COVID-19 Response Framework
The Government of Ontario’s COVID-19 Response Framework, Keeping Ontario Safe and Open.
The framework takes a gradual approach to help avoid broader closures and allow for additional public health and workplace safety measures to be introduced or removed incrementally.
It categorizes public health unit regions into five levels:
- Lockdown – being a measure of last and urgent resort.
Each level outlines the types of public health and workplace safety measures for businesses and organizations. These include targeted measures for specific sectors, institutions and other settings.
October 19, 2020The Ontario government has announced Ontario’s Main Street Recovery Plan and intends to introduce the Main Street Recovery Act, 2020, proposed legislation that would support small businesses and modernize rules to allow them to innovate and meet the challenges of today. If passed, the act will remove hurdles faced by small businesses and allow them to pursue new opportunities — while maintaining or enhancing protections for public health, safety and the environment.The plan includes:
- A one-time grant of up to $1,000 for eligible main street small businesses — in retail, food and accommodations, and other service sectors — with two to nine employees to help offset the unexpected costs of personal protective equipment (PPE);
- Ontario’s Small Business COVID-19 Recovery Network, which links 47 Small Business Enterprise Centres across the province as places where small businesses can access tailored advice and information on local, provincial and federal programs;
- Digital Main Street Squads to help small businesses grow online;
- Mental health supports for families, frontline workers, young people, children, and Indigenous communities;
- Ontario’s Small Business Recovery Webpage to provide single window access to small business supports.
For more information:https://news.ontario.ca/en/release/58708/ontario-supports-small-main-street-businesses-with-60-million-in-funding-through-ppe-grantGovernment of Ontario Announces Hamilton Moving To Stage 3Effective Friday, July 24, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. Hamilton IS moving to Stage 3.As part of the Stage 3 reopening, Ontario will be increasing gathering limits for those regions entering the next stage to the following:
- Indoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 50 people;
- Outdoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 100 people;
- Gathering limits are subject to physical distancing requirements.
Public gathering limits apply to indoor and outdoor events, such as community events or gatherings, concerts, live shows, festivals, conferences, sports and recreational fitness activities, fundraisers, fairs, festivals or open houses. A two metre distance must still be maintained at such events.The Chief Medical Officer of Health, public health experts and other officials have advised the following, high-risk places and activities are not yet safe to open, even if a region has entered Stage 3, due to the likelihood of large crowds congregating, difficulties with physical distancing, or challenges maintaining the proper cleaning and sanitation required to prevent the spread of COVID‑19. Businesses and services listed as not yet safe to open:
- Amusement parks and water parks;
- Buffet-style food services;
- Dancing at restaurants and bars, other than by performers hired by the establishment following specific requirements;
- Overnight stays at camps for children;
- Private karaoke rooms;
- Prolonged or deliberate contact while playing sports;
- Saunas, steam rooms, bath houses and oxygen bars;
- Table games at casinos and gaming establishments.
The government invites businesses not able to open or resume full activities due to Stage 3 restrictions to visit Ontario.ca/reopen to submit a reopening proposal.For questions on restrictions that will remain in place during Stage 3, review the Stage 3 Emergency Order on the emergency information portal or call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.https://www.ontario.ca/page/framework-reopening-our-province-stage-3Media Release – https://news.ontario.ca/opo/en/2020/07/ontario-moving-more-regions-into-stage-3.htmlJune 16, 2020What can open in Stage 2Ontario will be taking a regional approach to move into Stage 2. As directed by the province, each region will be permitted to enter Stage 2 when safe to do so as public health criteria outlined in the framework are met. Read the Stage 2 framework.Regions are based on public health unit boundaries.While Stage 2 businesses and workplaces can open, dates and approaches may vary based on each community’s local needs and the ability of each business or service to meet workplace safety guidelines and public health advice.By following general public health advice and implementing workplace safety measures, workplaces and people can help make Stage 2 a success.Hamilton can open in Stage 2 – Effective Friday, June 19 at 12:01 a.m.For Details on What can open in Stage 2https://www.ontario.ca/page/reopening-ontarioJune 8, 2020Stage Two of Re-Opening the EconomyEffective Friday, June 12, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. the Ontario government has announced the following changes:
- There will be a regional approach to moving to Stage 2 of reopening the province however Hamilton and some neighbouring regions ARE NOT permitted to move to Stage 2 at this time.
- Regardless of whether a region has moved to Stage 2, the province will increase the limit on social gatherings from five to 10 people.
Businesses and services permitted to reopen with proper health and safety measures in place in regions entering Stage 2Outdoor dine-in services at restaurants, bars and other establishments, including patios, curbside, parking lots and adjacent properties;
Select personal and personal care services with the proper health and safety measures in place, including tattoo parlours, barber shops, hair salons and beauty salons;
Shopping malls under existing restrictions, including food services reopening for take-out and outdoor dining only;
Tour and guide services, such as bike and walking, bus and boat tours, as well as tasting and tours for wineries, breweries and distilleries;
Water recreational facilities such as outdoor splash pads and wading pools, and all swimming pools;
Beach access and additional camping at Ontario Parks;
Camping at private campgrounds;
Outdoor-only recreational facilities and training for outdoor team sports, with limits to enable physical distancing;
Drive-in and drive-through venues for theaters, concerts, animal attractions and cultural appreciation, such as art installations;
Film and television production activities, with limits to enable physical distancing; and
Weddings and funerals, with limits on social gatherings to 10 people.May 14, 2020Stage One of Re-Opening the EconomyFor all the details:https://news.ontario.ca/opo/en/2020/05/ontario-announces-additional-workplaces-that-can-reopen.htmlIf you have questions about what will be open or impacts to your business, read the Government of Ontario’s frequently asked questions or call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.The Province stressed that these workplaces must operate in accordance with the Ministry of Health’s Guidance Document for Essential Workplaces and occupational health and safety requirements. Refer to our ‘Business Re-Opening Guide’ for more informationThe school year has officially ended as schools will remain closed for the rest of the school year.Tackling the Barriers websiteThe Ontario government has created a website where they will accept proposals for temporarily changing rules and regulations as they realize that many companies are experiencing immediate challenges to running their businesses as a result of Covid-19.Covid-19: Tackling the Barriers website (https://www.ontario.ca/page/frontline-business-help-us-support-you-during-covid-19)List of essential workplaces:
https://www.ontario.ca/page/list-essential-workplaces#section-10Gatherings of more than five people prohibited with strict exceptions
https://news.ontario.ca/opo/en/2020/03/ontario-prohibits-gatherings-of-five-people-or-more-with-strict-exceptionsPrice gouging is prohibited. Form to report price gouging:
https://www.ontario.ca/form/report-price-gouging-related-covid-19The government’s action plan is a first step in its response to COVID-19 and includes $7 billion in additional resources for the health care system and direct support for people and jobs. It also will make available $10 billion in support for people and businesses through tax and other deferrals to improve their cash flow, protecting jobs and household budgets. Key initiatives in the government’s plan to strengthen its response to the COVID-19 outbreak and support workers and employers include:
- Supporting more affordable electricity bills by setting electricity prices for residential, farm and small business time-of-use customers at the lowest rate, known as the off-peak price, 24 hours a day (and has extended this to May 31st) to support ratepayers in their increased daytime electricity usage as they respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, addressing concerns about time-of-use metering.
- Cutting taxes by $355 million for about 57,000 employers through a proposed temporary increase to the Employer Health Tax (EHT) exemption.
- Enhancing funding by $148 million for charitable and non-profit social services organizations such as food banks, homeless shelters, churches and emergency services to improve their ability to respond to COVID-19, by providing funding directly to Consolidated Municipal Service Managers and District Social Service Administration Boards who would allocate this funding based on local needs.
The Ontario Government’s plan also includes measures that will make available support for people and businesses through tax and other deferrals to improve their cash flows over the coming months, including:
- Making available $6 billion by providing five months of interest and penalty relief for businesses to file and make payments for the majority of provincially administered taxes.
- Making available $1.9 billion by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) allowing employers to defer payments for up to six months.