On April 22, 2022, the Ontario government announced that provincial masking requirements, which were set to expire on April 27, 2022, are being extended in certain higher-risk indoor settings until 12:00 a.m. on June 11, 2022. The extended measures have been made in an attempt to manage the sixth wave of COVID-19.
These higher-risk settings include:
- public transit;
- health care settings (e.g., hospitals, doctors’ offices, clinics that provide health care services, laboratories, specimen collection centres, and home and community care);
- long-term care homes;
- retirement homes; and
- shelters and other congregate care settings that provide care and services to medically and socially vulnerable individuals.
A complete list of settings where masking requirements continue to apply is available here.
Employers and employees in these settings should take note of this extended masking requirement.
Employees Who Refuse to Mask
In general, employers should consult with a lawyer if employees refuse to wear a mask or raise any potential human rights issue.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission’s position is that requiring people to wear a mask for health and safety reasons relating to COVID-19 does not generally cause concern under the Ontario Human Rights Code. However, if an employee raises a disability that creates difficulty or prevents them from wearing a mask, employers need to be mindful of their duty to accommodate up to undue hardship based on cost, health and/or safety. Employers should also keep in mind their obligation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act to provide a safe workplace.
If you need one-on-one advice from a lawyer to assist you with navigating COVID-19-related workplace issues please get in touch for a consultation.