Much attention has recently been given to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision in Coutinho v. Ocular Health Centre Ltd., 2021 ONSC 3076 (“Coutinho”). The reason for this is simple; Coutinho is the first court judgment in Ontario to address how Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (“IDEL”), introduced by the Ford government in May 2020, affects traditional employee rights.
COVID-19 continues to have a dramatic impact on both our economy and social interactions as we face a potential second lockdown. With most workplaces functioning and schools reopening, we have started to see an uptick in new COVID-19 cases. With the increase in infections comes an overall increase in health risks, and as such, the Government of Ontario has responded by re-introducing modified Stage Two measures in some hotspot areas, including the reduction of gathering limits and the closure of indoor dining. Accordingly, it is possible that we may continue to see our progress towards returning to our “new normal” slow down and even revert to more restrictive temporary norms.
Ontario employers take note: in a surprise announcement on September 3, 2020, the provincial government announced that it had extended its freeze of temporary layoff limitations. Regular layoff rules had been set to resume on September 4, 2020. Pursuant to O. Reg. 492/20, this date has now been pushed back to January 2, 2021.