Ontario employers, cover up! Mandatory mask orders now in effect in Toronto & Ottawa

Lexblog report…

While businesses in Ontario reopen and welcome returning employees back to the physical workplace, employers and service providers, as operators of enclosed public spaces and establishments, must meet certain recently-announced conditions. As of July 7, 2020 at 12:01 AM, this now includes the mandatory mask covering of the mouth, nose and chin for members of the public and employees in indoor public spaces in Ontario’s two largest municipalities, Toronto and Ottawa.

The following outlines what employers and service providers need to know – in Toronto, Ottawa, and in other areas in Ontario.

How did the requirement come into being in Toronto and Ottawa?

In Toronto, mask-covering requirements were implemented by way of by-law, as linked above.

In Ottawa, the requirements were first ordered by the city’s Medical Officer of Health. Recently, on July 15, 2020, Canada’s Capital City passed a by-law, which supersedes the initial medical order, linked above. The by-law will expire at the conclusion of the next Council meeting on August 26, 2020, unless it is otherwise extended by Council.

The information included herein has now been updated to reflect the recent changes introduced by the by-law in Ottawa, which include:

  • The redefinition of “enclosed public space”, now including temporary structures, municipal facilities, public transit property, and other businesses, organizations, or places that are permitted to operate;
  • Changes where mask-covering requirements do not mandatorily apply, including offices of professional services where clients receive services, but which are not open to the general public;
  • Changes to the wording of the signage that must be posted in affected establishments, in both English and French; and
  • Penalties for non-compliance.

Where must masks be worn in Toronto and Ottawa?

In Ottawa and Toronto, masks are respectively required in public indoor establishments or enclosed public spaces, including places where food is served; in stores and malls; religious buildings; cultural and entertainment facilities, such as libraries, art galleries, museums, aquariums, zoos, theaters, cinemas, and casinos; common areas of hotels and short term rentals; community centers; and event spaces, such as banquet halls, convention centres, arenas, and stadiums.

In Toronto specifically, community service agencies; and real estate showings also require face masks.

In Ottawa specifically, masks are also required at sports facilities; transportation for hire, such as taxis; common areas of hospitals or the premises of a regulated health professional; temporary structures, such as trailers or temporary sales offices; municipal facilities; public transit property; and other businesses, organizations or places permitted to operate.

In all cases, masks must be worn before entering and while in the establishment.

 Exceptions for certain establishments

In Toronto, exceptions to mask-covering requirements include schools and child care facilities; private transportation and public transportation;[1] and hospitals, health facilities, and the offices of regulated health professionals.

In Ottawa, exceptions apply to schools; child care centers; day camps; offices of professional services such as lawyers and accountants where clients are receiving services in areas not open to the general public; and public transportation.[2] Further, masks may be temporarily removed where it is necessary to receive services or to engage in athletic activities, in addition to emergency or medical purposes.

What are the health and safety requirements for employers and service providers operating in indoor/enclosed public spaces in Toronto and Ottawa?

  • Adopt a policy: Adopt a policy requiring members of the public wear a mask which covers their mouth, nose, and chin in their establishment. Authorities may request the policy for inspection to ensure compliance.
  • Post notices: In Toronto, post a notice at all exits and entrances stating:

ALL PERSONS ENTERING OR REMAINING IN THESE PREMISES SHALL WEAR A MASK OR FACE COVERING WHICH COVERS THE NOSE, MOUTH AND CHIN AS REQUIRED UNDER CITY OF TORONTO BY-LAW 541-2020

  • In Ottawa, post a notice at all exits and entrance stating, in both English and French:

All persons entering or remaining in these premises must wear a mask that covers the nose, mouth, and chin as required under City of Ottawa By-law 2020-186.

Toutes les personnes qui entrent ou restent dans ces locaux doivent porter un masque qui couvre le nez, la bouche et le menton, comme l’exige le règlement 2020-186 de la Ville d’Ottawa.

  • Remind patrons: Ottawa specifically requires reminding any person not wearing a mask of the rules, and providing alcohol-based hand rub at all exits and entrances.
  • Provide training: Provide training to ensure employees are familiar with the newly announced measures and with the employer’s policy in that respect.

Exceptions for certain members of the public and employees

Although masks must be worn by members of the public in enclosed public spaces, certain members of the public are exempt, including children under the age of 2;  persons with medical conditions inhibiting their ability to wear a mask; persons unable to put a mask on, or take a mask off, without assistance. In Ottawa specifically, children under the age of five and individuals who, due to developmental disability, have the cognitive ability of a child under the age of five, are exempt if their caregiver cannot convince them to wear a mask.

With respect to employees, there are also certain exemptions that apply, including employees in an area not for public access; employees behind a physical barrier; and persons who are reasonably accommodated by not wearing a mask.

It should be noted that none of these exceptions require any supporting proof or documentation.

What are the consequences of non-compliance in Toronto and Ottawa?

In Toronto, employers and service providers may face a fine of up to $1,000.00 for non-compliance.

Ottawa initially relied on businesses to act in good faith, however, as noted above, City Council passed a by-law on July 15, 2020 that imposed a fine of not more than $500 for a conviction of an offence under the by-law. The Ottawa by-law also states that Ontario Court of Justice may issue orders prohibiting the continuation or repetition of the offence and requiring the person in contravention of the by-law to correct their contravention in a manner the Court considers appropriate.

What other parts of the province are affected?

Several other regions in Ontario have required masks under conditions similar to those in Ottawa and Toronto:

  • In the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Health Unit, masks have been required since June 12, 2020 at 8:00 AM. Read more about the mask requirements in the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph health unit: here.
  • In the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, masks have been required since June 26, 2020 at 12:01 AM. Read more about the mask requirement in the Windsor-Essex health unit: here.
  • In the Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health area, masks have been required since June 27, 2020 at 12:01 AM. Read more about the mask requirements in the Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health area: here.
  • The City of Burlington has required masks on public transportation since July 2, 2020. The Halton Regional Council has also imposed mask by-law, described below. Read more about the mask requirement and debate in Burlington: here.
  • In the listed districts of the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, masks have been required since July 7, 2020. Read more about the mask requirements in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit: here.
  • In the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit masks have been required since July 7, 2020 at 12:01 AM. Read more about the mask requirements in the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit: here.
  • In the Region of Durham, masks have been required in commercial establishments since July 10, 2020 at 12:01 AM. Read more about the mask requirements in the Region of Durham: here and here.
  • In the Public Health Sudbury and Districts, masks have been required since July 8, 2020 at 12:01 AM. Read more about the Public Health Sudbury and Districts requirements: here.
  • In the Hastings Prince Edward Counties Health Unit, masks have been required since July 10, 2020 at 12:00 PM. Read more about the Hastings Prince Edward Counties Health Unit mask requirements: here.
  • The Peel Public Health region has required masks since July 10, 2020 through a series of by-laws. Read more about the Peel Region’s approach: here. Read more about the by-law in Caledon: here. Read more about the by-law in Brampton: here. Read more about the by-law in Mississauga: here.
  • In York Region, masks have been mandatory since July 17, 2020 at 12:01 PM. Read more about the York Region mask requirements: here.
  • In the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit, masks have been required since July 13, 2020 at 12:01 AM. On July 16, 2020 the mask requirement was expanded to cover more businesses, effective July 17 at 12:01 AM. Read more about the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit mask requirements: here.
  • In the Region of Waterloo, masks have been required in enclosed public places and on public transit since July 13, 2020. Read more about the Region of Waterloo mask requirements: here and here.
  • The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit has required masks as of July 13, 2020. Read more about the mask requirement in the Simcoe Muskoka Health Unit: here.
  • In the Renfrew County & District Health Unit, masks have been mandatory since July 14, 2020. Read more about the mask requirements in the Renfrew County & District Health Unit: here.
  • The Town of Halton Hills has required masks since July 16, 2020. Read more about the mask requirements in Halton Hills: here.
  • The Algoma Public health unit has required masks as of July 17, 2020 at 12:01 AM. Read more about the mask requirements in the Algoma Public health unit: here.
  • The Grey Bruce Health Unit has required masks since July 17, 2020 at 12:01 AM. Read more about the mask requirements in the Grey Bruce Health Unit: here.
  • The City of St. Catharines has required masks as of July 17, 2020. Read more about the St. Catharines mask requirements: here.
  • Huron Public Health has required masks since July 17, 2020 at 12:01 AM. Read more about the Huron Public Health mask requirement: here.
  • The City of Brantford has required masks since July 17, 2020. Read more about the City of Brantford by-law: here.
  • The City of Burlington will require masks as of July 20, 2020. Read about the mask requirements in Burlington: here.
  • The County of Brant will require masks as of July 20, 2020. Read more about the mask requirement in the County of Brant: here.
  • In the Middlesex-London Health Unit, masks will be required on public transit, in private transportation for hire, and in Personal Care Service Establishments as of July 20, 2020 at 12:01 AM. Read more about the Middlesex-London Health Unit mask requirements: here. A third order made masks mandatory in all indoor enclosed public spaces as of July 18, 2020 at 12:01 AM. Read more about the general mask order in the Middlesex-London Health Unit: here.
  • The Halton Regional Council will require masks as of July 22, 2020 at 12:01 AM. Read more about the mask requirement in the Halton Region: here. This by-law co-exists with the requirements in Burlington and Halton Hills.
  • The Porcupine Health Unit will require masks as of July 23, 2020 at 12:01 AM. Read more about the mask requirement in the Porcupine Health Unit: here.
  • The Thunder Bay District Health Unit will require masks as of July 24, 2020 at 12:01 AM. Read more about the mask requirement in the Thunder Bay District Health Unit: here.
  • The Timiskaming Health Unit will require masks as of July 24, 2020 at 12:01 AM. Read more about the mask requirement in Timiskaming Health Unit: here.
  • The North Bay Parry Sound District will require masks as July 24, 2020 at 12:01 AM. Read more about the order in the North Bay Parry Sound District: here.

In some health units and regions, requirements are being considered as follows:

  • The City of Hamilton Public Health Services has drafted a by-law on mandatory masks. City Council has to ratify the by-law on July 17 and it is expected to take effect on July 20, 2020.

To find out what health unit your business is in, click here or here.

In Quebec

For more information on mask covering requirements in neighboring Quebec, please click here (in French only).

We will keep you updated as new developments are made public.

The author would like to thank Alexander Carden, summer student, for his assistance in preparing this piece.

[1] Masks are mandatory on public transportation even though Toronto has exempted public transportation from this by-law. The TTC requires masks. Exemptions, such as for children under the age of 2, or those with a medical condition preventing them from wearing masks, are included in the policy.

[2] Masks are mandatory on public transportation even though Ottawa has exempted public transportation from this by-law. OC Transpo requires masks. Exemptions, such as for children under the age of 2, or those with a medical condition preventing them from wearing masks, are included in the policy.

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