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During an emergency sitting today, the Ontario Legislature passed two important pieces of legislation to respond to and address the COVID-19 pandemic and growing public health emergency.

The Ontario Legislature passed the Employment Standards Amendment Act (Infectious Disease Emergencies), 2020 and the Municipal Emergency Act, 2020. The two Bills passed with unanimous consent and only 26 MPPs present. Premier Ford was joined by 12 Progressive Conservative MPPs, 8 NDP MPPs, 2 Liberal MPPS, 1 Green Party MPP, 1 Independent MPP and Speaker Ted Arnott. In order to respect social distancing guidelines, the MPPs were given the option to sit outside of their traditional party sections.

Employment Standards Amendment Act (Infectious Disease Emergencies), 2020

The Act provides job-protected leave for employees who are in isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19, need to be away from work due to school or day care closures to care for children, or to care for other relatives. More details on what reasons qualify employees to be eligible for job-protected leave can be found here.

These measures are retroactive to January 25, 2020. The legislation also makes it clear that an employee will not be required to provide a medical note to miss work.

Under the new law, employers are also required to report all occupational illnesses, including COVID-19, within four days to the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development.

The text of the legislation can be found here.

Municipal Emergency Act, 2020

This Act ensures that the delivery of goods to Ontario’s businesses and consumers isn’t impacted by existing municipal noise by-laws. The Act also permits municipalities to conduct Council, local board and committee meetings electronically when faced with local and province-wide emergencies.

The text of the legislation can be found here.

Economic and Fiscal Update

The legislature is currently adjourned until next week. The Ontario legislature will reconvene on March 25th at 4pm to table the Economic and Fiscal Update. The economic update is in lieu of the annual Budget that the government releases around the start of its fiscal year. In light of Public Health’s recommendations for social distancing and self-isolation, the government will not be holding a stakeholder lockup prior to tabling the update in the Legislature.