By order of Ontario health officials, starting September 25, 20200, all workplaces in Ontario must screen all workers, contractors, volunteers and outside service providers for COVID-19 as a condition of entry to the premises.

Failure to comply can lead to significant penalties, including potentially fines and imprisonment under the legislation. 

The new "COVID-19 Screening Tool for Workplaces (Businesses and Organizations)" (PDF - the "Screening Tool") is available here:

Per the Screening Tool, virtually everyone must be screened to enter the workplace; namely:

  • workers, which means all staff and is "intended to include students, contractors or volunteers that conduct business or related activities where applicable and appropriate"; and

  • essential visitors, which "includes individuals providing a service in the establishment who are not employees or patrons of the establishment (e.g., delivery, maintenance, contract workers)."

You do not need to screen:

  • patrons of an establishment; or

  • "emergency services or other first responders entering a workplace for emergency purposes".

However, businesses are not prohibited by the Screening Tool from subjecting these individuals to screening in accordance with applicable legal requirements. 

The Screening Tool outlines three screening questions that should be used "at a minimum". Each individual subject to the Screening Tool is to be asked:

  • whether the individual has any new or worsening symptoms or signs of COVID-19;

  • whether the individual has travelled outside of Canada in the past 14 days; and

  • whether the individual has had close contact with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19.

These screening questions are to be applied before or at the time a worker enters the workplace at the beginning of their workday or shift, or when an essential visitor arrives.

If the worker or essential visitor answers "yes" to any of the three questions, then pursuant to the Screening Tool, the individual should be advised that they should not enter the workplace, should self-isolate at home and should call their health care provider or Telehealth Ontario.

The Screening Tool also applies to any outdoor or partially outdoor workplace.

What is a "probable case of COVID-19"?

Per the Ontario Ministry of Health's Case Definition for COVID-19 (PDF), which as of August 6, 2020, defines a probable case as follows:

A. a person (who has not had a laboratory test) with symptoms compatible with COVID-19 AND:

  1. traveled to an affected area (including inside of Canada) in the 14 days prior to symptom onset; OR

  2. had close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19; OR

  3. lived in or worked in a facility known to be experiencing an outbreak of COVID-19 (e.g. long-term care, prison),


B. a person with symptoms compatible with COVID-19 AND in whom laboratory diagnosis of COVID-19 is inconclusive.


Before this, employers were already required to operate workplaces in compliance with the "advice, recommendations and instructions of public health officials", which would include public health officials at the municipal, provincial and federal level as applicable.

Now, Ontario employers must now specifically comply with the requirements of the Screening Tool, and to implement such screening at any physical workplaces it operates in the province.

Any employer who was not already screening workers and other visitors to their premises should implement the Screening Tool as a condition of entry.  Employers who are already screening workers and other visitors should review their screening procedures in light of the requirements of the Screening Tool.

The Screening Tool has an acknowledgement that it "may be adapted based on need and the specific setting" and, therefore, there appears to be some flexibility in how it is implemented.

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Employers operating in Ontario, Canada should be aware that Ontario’s minimum wage rate is set to increase on October 1, 2020. This increase affects not only the general minimum wage rate, but also the alternative minimum wage rates that apply in Ontario.

Effective on October 1, 2020, all minimum wage rates are increasing as follows:


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You know you should do it - make an estate plan. Do a last will and testament and your powers of attorney. Don't let the government take more than necessary; protect your beneficiaries. 

But what happens if you don't listen and you have no will or estate plan? Is it really that bad? 

Answer - yes, it can be. Read on. 

What happens if I die without a valid will?

An individual is said to die "intestate" if there is no properly executed Will. When a person dies intestate a number of questions present themselves. Among them will be, who will administer my estate? How will my assets be distributed?

Under these circumstances, in order to deal with your assets, someone has to apply to the Court, in order to become the legal representative of your estate and to receive what is known as a Certificate of Estate Trustee Without a Will (frequently referred to informally as “probate”). That person will be the closest relative who wants to assume the burden of looking after your assets, paying your taxes and other debts, selling your assets and distributing the balance of your estate to a person or persons, in accordance with a very specific list of relatives prescribed by law. If more than one such relative wishes to be appointed, in a Court application which must be made, a Judge will decide who will be appointed, after a hearing and substantial expense.

When making the original application for a Certificate, “probate fees” (formally, Ontario “Estate Administration Tax”) will be payable on the fair market value of your assets. It is calculated at 1.5% of the gross value of assets in excess of $50,000 ($15 per $1,000). In arriving at values, for purposes of that tax, the gross values of all assets are included. However, only the value of real estate situated in Ontario is included. The only debts deductible from gross values of assets are the amounts owing on any mortgages registered against Ontario real estate.

Where a person dies intestate, and regardless of any desires of the deceased to leave specific items to particular people, the total estate, after payment of debts, including Income Tax, will be divided strictly in accordance with existing laws.

In Ontario, the distribution of an estate where there is no valid will is as follows:

a) Where the deceased was married but had no children, the surviving spouse inherits the whole of the estate.

b) Where the deceased was married and had children, the first $200,000 goes to the surviving spouse and the remainder is divided as follows:

i) If the deceased had one child, the remainder of the estate will be divided equally between the spouse and the child. But, if the child had died before the deceased, leaving children then alive, that child’s share of the estate will be divided among those surviving children.

ii) If the deceased had more than one child, 1/3 of the remainder of the estate goes to the spouse and the remaining 2/3rds is divided equally among the children. But, if any child had died before the deceased, leaving children then alive, that child’s share of the estate will be divided among those surviving children.

iii) If there is no surviving spouse, but there is a surviving child or children, the estate will be divided equally among those children. But, as before, if a child had died before the deceased, leaving children then alive, that child’s share is divided among those surviving children.

iv) If there is no surviving spouse, child or deceased child’s children, the estate is divided between surviving parents, equally.

v) If no surviving parents, but there are brothers or sisters, then they share equally.

vi) If no brothers or sisters, then nieces and nephews (by blood, not marriage) share equally.

vii) If no nieces or nephews, the estate is distributed equally to the next closest next of kin.

viii) If no such next of kin survive, then the estate becomes the property of the Ontario government.

It should be noted that if anyone under the age of 18 is entitled to any share in the Estate, the amount has to be paid into Court and will only be received by the beneficiary on a special application to the Court, otherwise, only when reaching 18.

Those are likely most unhappy results!


Aird & Berlis LLP/Aird & McBurney LP, published via on Sep. 28, 2020 


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As CERB ends, the Federal Government has announced the introduction of Bill C-2, An Act relating to economic recovery in response to COVID-19, to create three new temporary Recovery Benefits for Canadians who are unable to work for reasons related to COVID-19. These benefits will be provided to workers who are not eligible for EI. If Bill C-2 is passed, these three benefits will provide income support to Canadians:

  • A Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) of $500 per week for up to 26 weeks, for self-employed workers or workers who are not eligible for EI but still need income support. The CRB would aid Canadians who have not returned to work or who have returned to work but have had their income decrease by at least 50%. Workers receiving this benefit must be available and looking for work and must accept work where the request is reasonable;

  • A Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) of $500 per week for up to two weeks, available to workers who are sick or must self-isolate due to COVID-19; and,

  • A Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) of $500 per week for up to 26 weeks per household, available for Canadians who are unable to work because they have to care for a child under the age of 12 or another family member because schools, day cares, or care facilities are closed because of COVID-19 or because the individual receiving care is sick or must quarantine.

CRB, CRSB, and CRCB will be available for Canadians to apply for through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for up to one year maximum until September 21, 2021.

As previously announced, temporary measures to make EI benefits more accessible to Canadians are also coming into effect on September 27, 2020 for one year. The changes to accessing EI will create a minimum weekly benefit payment of $500 for all those receiving EI, at the same level as the CRB.

Bill C-2 also proposes amendments to the Canada Labour Code to make sure that federally regulated employees have job-protected leave so they may utilize the Benefits if necessary.

The Government of Canada will also invest $1.5 billion in Workforce Development Agreements with provinces and territories. This is in addition to the $3.4 billion already provided to provinces and territories under Labour Markets Development Agreements and Workforce Development Agreements. The announced goal is to provide Canadians with the skills training and employment supports they need to re-enter the workforce, especially those in sectors hit hardest by the pandemic.

Bill C-2, including detailed eligibility criteria, can be found on the Parliament of Canada’s website.

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The Canada Revenue Agency’s has an online calculator for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (“CEWS”).

As a Canadian employer who has seen a drop in revenue due to COVID-19, you may be eligible for a subsidy to cover part of your employee wages, retroactive to March 15. This subsidy will enable you to re-hire workers, help prevent further job losses, and ease you back into normal operations.

The CEWS is extended to December 19, 2020, but is likely to be extended to the summer of 2021.

It now uses a new variable-rate subsidy, but the subsidy is arguably now more difficult to calculate, mostly because it is comprised of two, variable-rate, subsidies:

  • the “base subsidy,” which is available to employers with any monthly revenue drop; and
  • the “top-up subsidy,” which is only available to employers with a 3-month average revenue drop of over 50%.

The base subsidy is calculated as a multiple of the employer’s monthly revenue drop percentage, and the multiple varies depending on the Claim Period. 

Both the base subsidy and the top-up subsidy are subject to a maximum threshold.

Employers may also compare revenue based on the current month or the prior month, as well as a special “safe harbour rule” for Claim Periods 5 and 6 to ensure employers receive a subsidy at least equal to what they would have received under the previous flat-rate subsidy rules. These too are of course welcome measures, but also create additional complexity.

One advantage of the calculator is that, to account for the changes to the rules beginning in Claim Period 5, it will automatically apply the best available subsidy rate based on the information entered.

The calculator is designed to assist employers in navigating the new rules, as well as to enable them to:

  • calculate (based on their particular circumstances) their base and/or top-up subsidy amounts to enter into their CEWS online application form;
  • preview their total estimated subsidy; and
  • print their results and save them to validate their claim.

For employers with under 20 employees, who are entering employee pay on a weekly basis, there is an online calculator option available, into which each employee’s data is entered directly. Employers with 20 or more employees, or who wish to enter pay on a bi-weekly basis, will need to download and complete a spreadsheet to calculate the total eligible remuneration, the base subsidy, and the top-up subsidy.

The current calculator can be used only for Claim Periods 1 to 5, with more periods to be added going forward.

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Mom and Dad are separated, with minor children.

They had a dispute about whether the kids should attend remote, online learning or attend school.

They escalated their dispute to the Family Court.

The Court held they would attend online learning for one semester.

The Court noted:

The policy of the provincial government is that in-person school attendance is optional for the 2020-2021 school year. If parents decide their children should not return to the physical classroom, remote learning is available. This flexibility allows parents to make the best decision for their family. However, this model breaks down where parents have separated and are not like-minded about their children’s best interests. That is the case for [these children]. The result for them over the past weeks has been ambiguity and confusion about their return to school plus increased conflict between their parents on the heels of what has already been many months riddled with change and uncertainty……..There can be no doubt that the school environment offers children social, psychological, and developmental advantages. The question here is whether those benefits outweigh the physical risks of returning to that environment in the context of this two-household family?" 

The Court considered many factors in its decision-making, weighing in favour of minimizing the dispute and declaring online learning would be appropriate, at least temporarily.

So said the Court:

… I take notice of the information widely repeated in the public domain that very young children are likely to be at higher risk due to their immature immune systems.  A return to in-class learning brings increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 and, in turn, increased risk of transmitting the virus to vulnerable family members. It is a risk that I find unnecessary, for this family, at this time. [The children] are good students and are surrounded by trained educators in both households to help them, if needed. Their mother will be in the home every day at least until late January 2021 to guide and supplement their online learning. I am also satisfied that both parents are attentive to the girls’ need for social interaction, social learning, and physical exercise.

…. For these reasons, I find it is in [the children’s] best interests to attend school virtually for the 2020 fall semester and to do so from their mother’s home.  The father is away from the home during the day and the other members of his household are working, either from home or away from the home.

Most important, the Court yet again cautioned separated parents to act flexibly, reasonably and in the best interests of children, which rarely involves a heated, protracted Family Court proceeding. 

I encourage the parties to make every effort to resolve this issue quickly and focus on reducing the conflict between them, especially as the children return to their studies and grapple with the many challenges and changes the world continues to present.  I also urge the parties to consider the most sensible schedule for the children in the context of all their needs and best interests. [The children] deserve nothing less.

The Case:

Joachim v. Joachim, 2020 ONSC 5355

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The Government of Canada has and continues to provide support to Canadians who face ongoing hardships from the COVID-19 pandemic. A few recent updates for those who have had their employment impacted by the pandemic, is a simplified Employment Insurance (EI) program, as well as new income support benefits to take effect as of September 27, 2020. To assist in the transition, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) has been extended by 4 weeks, allowing for a maximum of up to 28 weeks of benefits.

The purpose of this program was designed to assist those who remain unable to work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, provided they meet eligibility requirements, and to introduce new temporary and taxable recovery benefits to provide further support.

The eligibility requirements for the program consist of the individual having worked 120 hours in the last year to qualify for a minimum EI benefit rate of $400/week, for at least 26 weeks of regular benefits.

If eligibility requirements are not met for EI, there are three new income support benefits available as of September 27, 2020 for a period of one year:

1. Canada Recovery Benefit: For individuals (ie. self-employed) who require support as they remain unable to return to work due to COVID-19, or who have had their hours reduced since the pandemic and have not voluntarily quit their job. Employment and/or self-employment income needs to be at least $5,000 or more in either 2019 or in 2020. This benefit provides for $400/week for up to 26 weeks. Note, that if income is more than $38,000 (excluding the Canada Recovery Benefit), the claimant would need to repay some, or all, of the benefit through their income tax return.   

2. Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit: For individuals who are unable to work because they are sick and/or must self-isolate due to COVID-19. This benefit provides for $500/week for up to 2 weeks in a one-year timeframe. Claimants need to be employed or self-employed at the time of the application with income to be at least $5,000 or more in either 2019 or in 2020. Claimants must have missed a minimum of 60% of their scheduled work, in the week that they claim the benefit. Note, a medical certificate is not required to qualify, and the benefit is taxable.  

3. Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit: For individuals who are providing care to children who are under 12 years old, to support other dependents or providing care to a family member with a disability. The benefit provides for $500/week for up to 26 weeks per household. Individuals need to be employed or self-employed on the day immediately preceding the period for which the application is made, with income to be at least $5,000 or more in either 2019 or in 2020. Claimants must have been unable to work for at least 60% of their normal work week. Note, the claimant cannot be receiving paid leave from an employer in the same week, and cannot be receiving CERB, EI Emergency Response Benefit, Canada Recovery Benefit, Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, short-term disability benefits, workers compensation benefits or any EI Benefits in the same week. This benefit is taxable. 

The Canada Revenue Agency will provide further information as to how and when Canadians can apply at the following link:

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Social gatherings can be made up of any group of people from outside a household or social circle, but physical distancing of at least two metres must be maintained or a face covering must be worn when physical distancing is a challenge or required.

People having a social gathering can't hug or touch each other.

Social Circles

As the fight against COVID-19 continues, social circles remain the safest way for Ontarians to expand the number of people they can come in close contact with, without having to physical distance. To form a safe social circle, Ontarians should follow these five simple steps:

  1. Start with your current circle: the people you live with or who regularly come into your household.

  2. If your current circle is under 10 people, you can add members to your circle, including another household, family members or friends.

  3. Get agreement from everyone that they will join the circle.

  4. Keep your social circle safe. To protect it, maintain physical distancing with anyone outside of your circle.

  5. Be true to your social circle. No one should be part of more than one circle.

Everyone living in the same household is in a social circle. People in the same social circle do not have to physically distance and can hug and touch each other.

Public Health Advice

Whether in a social gathering or as part of a social 'circle' it remains critical for Ontarians to continue following public health advice to help stop the spread.

  • Staying home when ill, or keeping your child home from school when ill, even with mild symptoms.

  • Maintaining physical distancing with anyone outside of your (maximum 10 person) social circle.

  • Protecting your social circle.

  • Adhering to gathering limits and rules.

  • Regular and thorough handwashing.

  • Wearing a face covering indoors and outdoors where physical distancing is a challenge or required.

For additional protection, the Ontario government is encouraging everyone to download the new COVID Alert app on their smart phone from the Apple and Google Play app stores.

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With the spike in cases, more attention is being given to hosting gatherings, like holiday get togethers, Thanksgiving, etc. 

Here are tips for hosting a family or other gathering at your home, courtesy of our Health Unit: 

  • Remind guests to stay home if sick. Consider keeping a list of guests who attend for potential future COVID-19 contact tracing needs.

  • When entertaining, consider physical distancing in determining the number of people to invite to your home. Limit the number of guests to a manageable number that allows people to safely maintain a 2 metre (6 foot) distance, especially if they are outside your social circle/household. While Ontario currently puts a limit on 50 people for indoor gatherings and 100 guests for outdoor events, these numbers may be too high for a comfortable gathering at your home.

  • Be upfront with your guests about the COVID-19 prevention measures you’re taking so they know what to expect before they arrive.

  • When possible, host your gathering outdoors. In colder weather months, go indoors but try to ensure the room or space is well-ventilated (e.g. open a window).

  • Arrange tables and chairs in advance to allow for physical distancing (if already set up, guests may be reluctant to move them).

  • People from the same household or social circles can be grouped/seated together, but should be 2 metres (6 feet) apart from other families.

  • When guests arrive, minimize gestures that promote close contact between those outside households or social circles.

  • Encourage guests to wear masks when physical distancing is difficult. Consider providing masks for guests or ask them to bring their own.

  • Ensure there is enough soap and hand sanitizer for people to use during the gathering.

  • Use single-use hand towels or paper towels for drying hands so guests do not share a towel.

  • Remind guests to wash their hands before serving or eating food.

  • Limit the number of people handling or serving food (including limiting access to where food is being prepared, such as the kitchen).

  • Avoid buffet-style meals. If serving any food, consider identifying one person to serve all food so that multiple people are not handling the serving utensils

  • Limit contact with high-touch surfaces or shared items. If possible, clean and disinfect these surfaces and shared items between uses.

  • If you choose to use any shared items that are reusable (e.g. seating covers, tablecloths, linen napkins), wash, clean, and sanitize them after the event.

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Employers with 10 or more employees in Ontario are required to preserve pay equity in accordance with the Ontario Pay Equity Act, RSO 1990, c P7 (“PEA”).

Under Ontario's laws, "pay equity" is different from "equal pay for equal work".

Under Ontario’s Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA), subject to certain exceptions, an employer cannot pay one employee at a rate of pay less than another employee on the basis of sex when they perform substantially the same kind of work in the same establishment, their work requires substantially the same skill, effort and responsibility and their work is performed under similar working conditions.

Under Ontario's Pay Equity Act, "pay equity" requires an assessment of all jobs in an organization and an unbiased comparison of the work done by women to the work done by men in order to determine whether the women are being compensated equitably. For example, the receptionist for a company may be as valuable to the organization as the warehouse shipper-receiver. The Pay Equity Act requires an employer to compensate work done by female job class(es) at least equally to work done by comparable male job class(es).

Pay equity is not about equal pay for equal work in the traditional sense of a woman and a man being paid the same wage for the same job. Instead, it focuses on whether traditionally female jobs are being paid the same as traditionally male jobs of equal value. Implementing pay equity is a four-step process. First, employers must identify the job classes within the establishment, including the gender and job rate of each class. Second, they must ascribe the value of each job class based on skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions. Third, they must compare all female job classes by using the prescribed methodology of compensation. Finally, if female job classes are underpaid, their wages must be adjusted to eliminate that gap.

Once pay equity is achieved, it is important that employers work actively to maintain it, especially as jobs are added or eliminated. There are penalties for failure to comply, including back payments to make up for past inequity and fines if there is wilful disregard of the rules. When there is a failure to abide with pay equity obligations, the rectification process can be onerous. Pay equity compliance is fairly straightforward to achieve at the onset, but can be difficult to remedy after non-compliance has already occurred.

If your business has 10 or more employees, but has not yet assessed or implemented pay equity, you should act quickly to ensure that you are complying with the PEA.

What’s the difference between “pay equity” and “equal pay for equal work”?


​Pay Equity

​Equal Pay for Equal Work

Pay Equity is equal pay for work of equal value.

Equal Pay for Equal Work addresses situations in which men and women do the same work.

​The Pay Equity Act requires employers to pay female jobs at least the same as male jobs if they are of comparable value.  Pay equity compares jobs usually done by women with different jobs usually done by men. Female jobs are mostly or traditionally done by women such as librarian, childcare worker or secretary. Male jobs are mostly or traditionally done by men, such as truck driver, firefighter, or shipping clerk.

​The Equal Pay provisions of the Employment Standards Act require that men and women receive equal pay when doing the same job or substantially the same job such as two cooks or two machine operators on the same line.

The value of jobs is based on the levels of skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions involved in doing the work.

​Substantially the same work means the same kind of work that involves about the same levels of skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions. The duties do not have to be exactly the same to be substantially the same.

Key Differences

​Pay Equity

​Equal Pay for Equal Work

Pay equity compares the value and pay of different jobs, such as nurse and electrician.

Equal pay compares the pay of similar jobs.

​Only people (both men and women) in jobs done traditionally by women can complain that their work is undervalued.

​Either men or women can complain. If a male incumbent is paid less than a female incumbent in the same job, he can file a complaint. As well, a woman can complain if she is paid less than a man in the same job.

Clarifying Questions

​​Pay Equity

​Equal Pay for Equal Work

If you answer "yes" to ​the following questions you may have a pay equity complaint.

  • Are you in a ​job that is typically or traditionally female such as secretary, nurse, payroll clerk?
  • Are you comparing your job to different jobs, jobs that are mostly or traditionally done by men, within the same employer?

Call the Pay Equity Commission Toll-Free
at 1-800-387-8813 or 416-314-1896
TTY: 416-212-3991 or TTY: 1-855-253-8333

If you answer "yes" to the following questions you may have an equal pay for equal work complaint.

  • Are you comparing your work and pay to someone doing your own or a very similar job?
  • Are you comparing your work and pay to a person of the opposite gender?

Call the Employment Standards Branch at
1-800-531-5551 or 416-326-7160 or visit their site.


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