Toronto Mayor John Tory announced new workplace measures during the city’s Monday COVID-19 briefing, while 974 new confirmed cases and nine additional deaths were reported.
Tory said employers must do the “right thing” and follow the new measures in order to protect their employees and to ultimately protect all Toronto residents.
He said while current cases are “alarmingly high,” it will take time for new measures to have an impact on COVID-19 figures.
Some of the measures include providing sick leave benefits and increasing workplace inspections.
Dr. Eileen De Villa also confirmed the city would publish more details weekly about where COVID-19 is spreading in workplaces — though she stressed workers’ privacy would be ensured.
“With more infection prevention and control measures, with more distance and clearer lines of accountability, there is greater capacity to manage public health while businesses operate in the pandemic,” De Villa said.
“Distance will produce results.”
Businesses will need to “immediately notify” Toronto Public Health (TPH) as soon as they become aware of two or more employees with COVID-19 and designate a contact person.
Businesses must also reduce the number of times where more than one person is travelling in a vehicle, ensure physical distancing is followed, implement rigourous and frequent cleaning and ensure regular functional assessments of heating ventilation and air conditioning systems.
The new details on workplace outbreaks will be published through the TPH website and will be released on Monday and updated weekly on Thursdays, de Villa said.
Warehouses, food processing plants, manufacturing facilities and some retail stores are among the essential businesses exempt from the province’s lockdown orders.
Coun. Cressy, chair of city’s board of health, said “information is power” amid the pandemic.
He said sharing of workplace outbreak information will help protect workers by ensuring employers are knowledgeable and held accountable.
Cressy said it has been 16 weeks since the Toronto Board of Health voted to ask De Villa to implement such a system.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 6,200 COVID-19 cases have been traced back to workplaces.
The city has been under the province’s grey-lockdown zone since Nov. 23. If provincial lockdown restrictions are lifted for southern Ontario later this month, Toronto will have been locked down for 60 days.
Under the current lockdown measures, employees in Toronto who work indoors are required to wear masks.