Preventing COVID-19 in the Workplace
Employers must ensure employees understand their rights, responsibilities and safety requirements at work to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
It is important employers understand and meet their responsibilities under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
As of March 1, 2022, the province announced plans to remove all capacity limits in all remaining indoor public settings and lift proof vaccination requirements if businesses choose to do so.
Visit ontario.ca for the complete list of measures and conditions that apply to certain businesses, organizations, places and individuals.
Learn more about Public Health Safety Measures currently in place.
Orders and Instructions
The Regional Municipality of York’s Letter of Instruction for Workplaces dated October 12, 2021, has been rescinded effective Wednesday, January 5, 2022, at 12:01 a.m.
The Regional Municipality of York’s Letter of Instruction for Owners/Operators of Sports Facilities, last updated November 12, 2021 is revoked, effective March 1, 2022 at 12:01 a.m.
Owners/Operators of sports facilities must continue to comply with the Reopening Ontario Act, 2020 and its regulations applicable to these facilities.
Businesses who have a specific occupation workplace question may contact the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development Health and Safety Contact Centre at 1-877-202-0008 (TTY: 1-855-653-9260) or email @email
Case, Contact and Outbreak Management
The Ontario government has shifted its focus for Case, Contact and Outbreak Management to the highest-risk settings. York Region Public Health will only support workplaces with new exposures or outbreaks if they occur in the highest risk setting.
The highest risk settings include:
- Hospitals and health care settings, including complex continuing care and acute care facilities
- Long-term care homes
- Retirement homes
- First Nation elder care lodges
- Group homes
- Temporary foreign worker settings
- Correctional institutions
Employees who report testing positive will not receive a call from public health unless they work in a high-risk setting.
Highest Risk Workplace Settings
If a COVID-19 positive person or an individual with COVID-19 symptoms works in a highest risk setting, they should not attend work for 10 days from symptom onset (or from specimen collection date if asymptomatic).
Other Workplace Settings
Individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 are not required to receive a clearance test or letter from York Region Public Health to return to work or daily activities after their self-isolation period has ended. The provincial guidance states:
Workers who are confirmed cases or isolated due to COVID-19 symptoms are not required to provide proof of a negative test result or a positive serological test result to their employers in order to return to work.
It is expected that workers who have tested positive follow all public health direction and advice on when they would be considered clear to return to work.
For more information on what to do if you test positive for COVID-19, including positive results from a Rapid Antigen Test please visit the york.ca/COVID19Positive
York Region residents who recently tested positive on a rapid antigen test are invited to complete a short survey. Information collected in this survey will assist in understanding how COVID-19 is circulating in our community.
Proof of Vaccination
Effective March 1, 2022, the Government of Ontario has lifted proof of vaccination requirements for all settings. Businesses and other settings may choose to continue to require proof of vaccination if they choose.
Businesses, organizations and facilities who choose to continue requiring proof of vaccination can download the free Verify Ontario App from the Apple App and Google Play stores to scan government-issued QR codes presented either on paper or on a phone screen. Public health will not be involved in any enforcement-related activities for individual businesses or organizations continuing to voluntarily ask patrons for proof of vaccination.
Recommendations for Establishing a COVID-19 Workplace Vaccination Policy and Sample Policy Template
Local employers may implement their own organizational policy to protect their workers and public from COVID-19. Interested employers can refer to the sample template should they wish to develop a local policy. York Region Public Health does not enforce the policy.
Keeping Employees Safe
All employers in Ontario must keep employees and workplaces safe and free of hazards. According to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, employers must assess the workplace and decide how to best protect the health and safety of their employees.
See the Guide to the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Employment Standards Act for more information about all your rights and responsibilities as an employer.
- During COVID-19, employers are also required to:
- Understand and control COVID-19 risks in the workplace
- Develop a COVID-19 workplace safety plan
- Follow all advice, recommendations and instructions given by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and by the York Region Medical Officer of Health
As an added safety measure, York Region’s Chief Medical Officer of Health recommends all workplaces implement a COVID-19 Vaccination Policy:
Your COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan
All employers must develop a COVID-19 workplace safety plan that explains how they will help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. Businesses that fail to develop a plan and follow the measures in it can be charged under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020. It is important to:
- Share and post the plan where employees, customers and visitors can see it
- Show it to anyone who asks to see it, including by-law officers or public health inspectors
For help to develop a plan, see the COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan Guide, including helpful information on how you will screen for COVID-19, source control masking and use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
Inspections and Complaints
Businesses have an important role to play in reducing the spread of COVID-19. To keep their employees, customers and visitors safe, employers must follow all public health and workplace safety measures under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020.
1. Inspections and Fines
- York Region public health inspectors, local municipal bylaw officers and other enforcement agencies inspect businesses and provide education to ensure businesses are following COVID-19 safety measures. Businesses who fail to follow these safety measures can be fined, and repeat offenders could be closed under the Reopening Ontario Act 2020 and the Health Protection and Promotion Act
- Business operators who have questions about the COVID-19 safety measures, can contact Access York at [email protected] or by calling 1-877-464-9675
2. Reporting health and safety concerns
- Employees who are concerned about their health and safety at work, are encouraged to try to solve the problem by speaking with their employer or Health and Safety Representative. If concerns remain, they can file a complaint with the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development’s Health and Safety Contact Centre by calling 1-877-202-0008. An inspector may visit the workplace to determine if the employer is following the Occupational Health and Safety Act
COVID-19 Workplace Webinar Series: Making the Workplace Safer
Local businesses can learn tips to make the workplace safer during COVID-19.
Past Webinar Recordings:
- Multilingual COVID-19 Resources - Find resources to explain various COVID-19 terms and behaviors to the public (Public Health Ontario)
- COVID-19 Workplace Resources - Find resources to support the prevention and control of COVID-19 in workplaces (Public Health Ontario)
- Resources to Prevent COVID-19 in the Workplace - Get information to help develop a plan to protect workers, customers, visitors and the public from COVID-19. You can also find posters, tools and guidance for Ontario workplaces (Government of Ontario)
- COVID Alert app – Download the COVID-19 alert app to be notified of you came into close contact with a case of COVID-19 (Government of Canada)
Farms that employ International Agricultural Workers (IAW)
- COVID-19 Guidance — The Provincial Outbreak Guidance: Workplace and Living Settings for Seasonal International Agriculture Workers | French
- COVID-19 and Agricultural Workers — Fact Sheet
- COVID-19 Guidance Documents (Ministry of Health)
- COVID-19: A Guide for Temporary Foreign Workers Travelling to Canada (Government of Canada)
- Guidelines for the Enhanced Agri-Food Workplace Protection Program (Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs)
- COVID-19: Farmer Toolkit (Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs)
- COVID-19 and Workplace Safety (Workplace Safety & Prevention Services (WSPS)