Ontario Government Provides Updated Guidance on COVID-19 Workplace Safety

The Ontario Government updated the COVID-19 Response Framework in November 2020. It requires all businesses to prepare a plan describing the procedures that will be implemented to reduce the risk of COVID-19.

The plan must describe how the requirements will be implemented and must also be posted in the workplace and be available to any person for review, including, an inspector or compliance officer during an inspection of the workplace.

The article below provides more detail.

In the January 2021 What’s New newsletter, the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development (“MOLTSD”) modified and added the following guidance to support employers in developing their COVID-19 safety plan and to provide guidance on how to make their workplaces safer. The newsletter includes an updated safety plan guide, updated construction sector guidance, new guidance on meal and break periods, new guidance on self-isolation and return to work and new workplace screening tools.



Can Canadian Employers Require Employees to Join a Group Benefit Plan?

If you work with Mainstay Insurance Brokerage Inc, then you know that we structure all benefit plans as “contractually mandatory” enrolment. This means all eligible full-time permanent employees MUST be enrolled on the benefit plan.  We do this to protect our client partners and put the risk onto insurers rather than vice-versa.

Even with this contractual format, employees sometimes ask to opt out during periods like maternity leave when they are asked to continue their contributions.  I have had great success in getting the industry to make changes to protect women returning from mat. leave (more on that HERE) if they chose to opt-out, but it is still from perfect, so suggest maintaining coverage every time. Failing to stay enrolled can leave both the employer and employee (and dependants) in a very risky position. Call us before considering this in any situation.

The article below, provides more info on these situations. Please note that w “waive” due to spousal coverage is NOT the same as someone opting out of the plan, and is allowed if there is spousal coverage in place.

Can Canadian Employers Require Employees to Join a Group Benefit Plan?



New Health Measures for Travellers Entering Canada – COVID-19

Most people are aware of the testing required to re-enter Canada when travelling abroad, but this is a good reminder for family, friends or employees. I now know of several people that went away to warmer climates and tested positive when it was time to return and as a result they are not allowed to fly home.  They don’t know how long it will be until they test negative. Until then they will have to remain quarantined in their hotel rooms. No beaches, no restaurants or pools.

On January 6, 2021, Canada’s Transport Minister, Marc Garneau, announced that a negative COVID-19 test will now be required in order to enter the country by aircraft. Here is more information…

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Tax Tip – If your employees share the health and dental premium

As employers prepare T4’s, they can make like a bit easier for staff.  By reporting the employees contributions to the health and dental premium in Box 85, you are helping staff make sure they get the medical Expense Tax Credit (METC) where available.

This avoids employees being audited for proof of contributions (and you having to write out letters for them).  You can find more on the CRA site below or ask your accountant.


2020 HR Law Year in Review and Trends to Watch in 2021 – Jan. 19, 2021

Please see the webinar invite on a topic that may be of interest.

Laura Williams & Williams HR are a local (Markham) HR & Employment Law practice that does great educational events.

If you’re looking for help with employment issues, look no further. Lauras contact info can also be found on our website under NEED HELP

Registration info and details are below.

It goes without saying that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented extraordinary challenges for employers in 2020, and it continues to do so into 2021. That said, there were also numerous, non-pandemic-related developments that occurred in 2020 that employers need to be aware of to avoid risks and proactively meet new and evolving HR law obligations.

Join the Williams HR Law team on January 19, 2021 at 1pm ET for a free 90-minute webinar on 2020 HR Law Year in Review and Trends to Watch in 2021. This session will:

  • Review the key developments in labour and employment law in 2020, both pandemic and non-pandemic-related;
  • Identify the trends that must be on employers’ radars for 2021; and
  • Explore actionable strategies for HR and business leaders to ensure legal compliance, minimize workplace exposures and make the changes necessary to adapt to the realities of the “new workplace”.

This interactive webinar will include Q&A time for attendees to pose questions which Williams HR Law’s lawyers will answer live during the webinar.

We look forward to you joining us!


Date And Time

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

1:00 PM – 2:30 PM EST

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