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This is the fourteenth bulletin in a weekly series that provides a recap of important COVID-19 developments and their impact on employers as they navigate these challenging times. This recap covers the week of June 22, 2020 and is current as of June 29, 2020.

During the week of June 22, 2020, the Government of Canada temporarily extended recall time periods for federally regulated employees. Ontario further extended its Declaration of Emergency and various Emergency Orders, the City of Toronto, Peel Region, and most of Windsor-Essex proceeded to Stage 2 of Ontario’s reopening plan, and a mandatory mask requirement was proposed for York Region.

These key developments are set out below.

Federal Government Temporarily Extended Recall Time Periods for Federally Regulated Employees

On June 22, 2020, new amendments to the Canada Labour Standards Regulations came into effect, temporarily extending the time periods for which federally-regulated employers can lay employees off. As discussed in our recent article, the time periods are extended as follows:

  • For employees laid off prior to March 31, 2020, the time period is extended by six months or to December 30, 2020, whichever occurs first.
  • For employees laid off between March 31, 2020, and September 30, 2020, the time period is extended until December 30, 2020, unless a later recall date was provided in a written notice at the time of the layoff.

These new amendments do not apply to employees whose employment had already been terminated prior to June 22, 2020, nor do they apply to lay-offs occurring after September 30, 2020. The changes also do not apply to unionized employees who are covered by a collective agreement containing recall rights.

These extended timelines will provide federally-regulated employers with some additional flexibility with regard to timelines for recalling laid-off employees as they plan the reopening of their businesses in the current difficult economic climate.

Ontario Government Extended the Province’s Declaration of Emergency and Emergency Orders

On June 24, 2020, the Ontario government extended the provincial Declaration of Emergency to July 15, 2020. This extension allows the government to continue to make and amend emergency orders to protect the public’s health and safety in the context of COVID-19.

On June 27, 2020, the Ontario government extended all emergency orders currently in force until July 10, 2020 and removed certain restrictions for indoor sports and recreational fitness facilities for Stage 2. The government is continuing to review all emergency orders to determine if and when they can safely be amended or lifted as the province continues to reopen.

City of Toronto, Peel Region and Most of Windsor-Essex Proceeded to Stage 2 of Ontario’s Reopening Plan

On June 24, 2020, the City of Toronto and Peel Region were allowed to move to Stage 2 of the province’s reopening plan, as discussed in our recent article, while the majority of Windsor-Essex region moved to Stage 2 on June 25, 2020. Only the Leamington and Kingsville areas of Windsor-Essex remain in Stage 1, due to continuing outbreaks of COVID-19 in those areas, particularly among migrant agriculture workers.

With nearly the entire province now in Stage 2, many more businesses and services are able to reopen, with proper health and safety measures in place. For more details about what businesses and activities resume under Stage 2, please see our recent article.

Toronto Area Mayors Called for a Mandatory Mask Requirement

On June 25, 2020, the Mayor of Markham Mayor brought forward a motion at the York Regional Council to make wearing masks mandatory in York Region in all indoor spaces, and in crowded outdoor spaces where physical distancing is not possible. While not yet adopted as a law or government order, the proposal could be implemented through a bylaw under the Municipal Act or as an order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act.

On June 29, 2020, mayors from the Greater Toronto and Hamilton areas issued a joint statement calling for the Ontario government to issue a mandatory face covering measure for indoor settings for the province’s large municipalities.

While Premier Doug Ford has encouraged the use of face coverings in public, he has stated that the Ontario government is not considering a provincial order to mandate wearing masks due to the difficulty of enforcing such an order.