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Oct 5, 2020

Ontario Government Introduces Mandatory COVID-19 Screening in the Workplace

Effective September 26th, businesses and organizations in Ontario must implement daily COVID-19 screening for workers and essential visitors before they enter the premises. The Ontario Government amended Ontario Regulation 364/20[1] in response to the recent increase of COVID-19 cases in the province. One of the amendments requires businesses and organizations to operate in compliance with the advice, recommendations and instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH), which has mandated the advance screening.

What is the Screening Tool?

The COVID-19 Screening Tool for Workplaces provided by the Ministry of Health sets out three required screening questions:

  1. Whether the individual is experiencing any new or worsening symptoms or signs of COVID-19, which are listed in the screening tool;
  2. Whether the individual has travelled outside of Canada in the past 14 days; and
  3. Whether the individual has had close contract with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19.

If the individual answers yes to any of the three screening questions, they must not enter the workplace. Instead, the employee should return home to self-isolate and should contact their health care provider or Telehealth Ontario to determine if they need a COVID-19 test.

Who must Complete the Screening Tool?

Workers and essential visitors must complete the screening tool. “Workers” refers to staff and includes students, contractors or volunteers. “Essential visitors” includes individuals providing a service in the establishment who are not employees or patrons of the establishment, for example delivery, maintenance, or contract workers.

The screening tool does not need to be completed by patrons entering a workplace such as a grocery store, restaurant, bar or other food or drink establishment or by first responders entering a workplace for an emergency.

How must the Screening Tool be Completed?

Screening should occur before or when a worker first enters the workplace each day, or when an essential visitor arrives.

There are no specific requirements as to how the screening tool must be completed; for example, the employer may decide to send it out by email, leave copies at reception, or create an online questionnaire. Whatever method the employer implements, it must ensure that its screening process complies with the CMOH guidelines.

Co-written with Amelia Briggs-Morris, Articling Student

[1] “Rules For Areas In Stage 3” under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020.

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