The PAO is committed to keeping our member associations and your local police personnel as updated as possible about information related to COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus and the policing profession.
Please regularly review the PAO’s email updates and media scans for the most up-to-date information. If you are not receiving these communications, please send an email to email@example.com to be added to the distribution list.
Please use the following linked bullets to jump down this page to a specific topic:
- Workplace Policies – Association Key Messaging
- COVID-19 Vaccination Policies Tracking Chart
- Government Updates
- MAG Recovery Secretariat Updates
- PPE / Masks in Police Workplaces – PSHSA Fact Sheet
Workplace Policies – Association Key Messaging
The PAO has developed a set of guiding key messages for member associations to reference when responding to inquiries from local members, the media and/or other stakeholders as well as when discussing these policies with your police service senior management.
The key messages are complementary to the legal opinion that the PAO obtained from Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP as shared with the membership on August 24, 2021. A reminder that this opinion is strictly confidential. We ask that you do not share it with your members but instead use it to inform your own understandings of the issues as you formulate your association’s response to the matters at hand.
Download the key messages here (updated November 3, 2021). The PAO remains committed to supporting our member associations in your navigation of this evolving landscape and is available to answer any questions you may have.
COVID-19 Vaccination Policies Tracking Chart
The PAO continues its efforts to collect and share accurate, relevant data from member associations about COVID-19 vaccination policies in police services across the province.
Download the latest version of the vaccination policies tracking spreadsheet here, updated August 29, 2022. A new topic of discussion, the vaccination policy impacts on OMERS, grievances, annual leave and seniority. To contribute to this chart, please email your police service’s policy or information to Karen.Peral@pao.ca
For the latest information and status updates about COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus in Ontario, please visit Ontario.ca/Coronavirus or contact your local Public Health Unit.
The Public Services Health & Safety Association (PSHSA) has put out health and safety guidance during COVID-19 specific to police services. It can be accessed at https://www.pshsa.ca/covid-19
For country-wide information, visit the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 specific website: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19.html
For information specific to federal COVID-19 financial aid measures, please visit https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan/covid19-individuals.html
Ministry of the Attorney General – Recovery Secretariat Updates
The Ministry of the Attorney General (MAG)’s Recovery Secretariat has been issuing updates in relation to COVID-19 policies and procedures for Ontario’s courthouses. These updates can be found below for member reference.
An updated Guidebook – COVID-19: Recommended Precautionary Measures for Resuming Court Operations – was released on November 1, 2021.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):
- Limited changes for court staff.
- Masks can now be temporarily removed when in a cubicle-style workspace where the partition wall is of a sufficient height to act as a barrier between employees when they are both seated and standing, or in an open concept environment where no other person is present.
Monitoring & Reporting of HVAC Data:
- Updated to reflect Infrastructure Ontario’s (IO) new HVAC web-based portal.
- Temperature, relative humidity and CO2 readings are uploaded to a cloud-based website where ministry staff, judiciary, and justice sector partners can access up-to-date daily readings independently, ask questions directly to IO, download relevant reports, and share the information with their staff, members, or colleagues.
This new section speaks to the vaccination requirements that are now in place for:
- Justice sector partners and members of the public (no requirement);
- Jurors (in line with Order from the Superior Court of Justice that all jurors must be vaccinated);
- Ontario Public Service Employees (in line with the OPS COVID-19 Safe Workplace Directive).
This Guidebook is a living document and will continue to be updated by MAG over time in response to feedback or evolving guidance regarding COVID-19. The PAO will communicate these updates to members accordingly.
PPE / Masks in Police Workplaces – PSHSA Fact Sheet
The Public Services Health & Safety Association has developed a fact sheet designed to assist Police organizations and the frontline worker with understanding the benefits and limitations of the various types of facial PPE, so that they can make a more informed decision about selection. It can be downloaded here.
Best Practices for Police Workplaces During COVID-19
The continued spread of COVID-19 has prompted significant action from local public health units and various levels of government. Of note is Ontario Regulation 364/20, made under the Reopening Ontario Act. Under this regulation, employers have a series of duties. These duties operate in addition to the already existing duties under the Ontario Human Rights Code, Occupational Health and Safety Act, and Employment Standards Act.
The regulations require workplaces to operate in compliance with public health advice relating to distancing, cleaning, disinfecting, and screening. Further, the regulation requires that employers ensure masks are worn by employees and others in a facility or vehicle (with some exceptions) where physical distancing cannot be maintained.
In developing policies for workplace issues that arise as a result of the spread of COVID-19, particularly as Ontarians head into a potential broad second wave, employers and associations should be focused to the greatest degree possible on:
1) Following public health advice
2) Limiting the potential for the spread of illness among workers, and
3) Abiding by the applicable law and the collective agreement.
Depending on the issue, these three factors will apply in different ways. This list will be updated as new issues arise:
From time to time, workers may be required to self-isolate based on public health advice. These periods of self-isolation are required in order to ensure that the Coronavirus does not unduly spread. It is incumbent on all employers and employees to do their part when it comes to self-isolation.
Given that, if self-isolation arises based on the instruction of a local public health unit, it should be paid time. Policies around self-isolation should, to the maximum degree possible, encourage people to report symptoms of COVID-19, report contact with confirmed cases, get tested, and receive appropriate advice. Members should not be required to spend time out of a bank to continue to be paid for this time. Banked time is not a gift from the employer; it is earned time that the member accrued to be used when the member determines that they cannot attend the workplace.
Members who self-isolate are doing so for the common good, and the employer should encourage this practice by creating a “COVID-19 time” category for these types of absences.
After the pandemic was first announced in the spring of 2020, the PAO wrote a paper outlining the Association’s position on paid leave for police personnel members across Ontario in self-isolation due to COVID-19. If you’re interested in a copy of this paper, please email PAO Policy & Research Counsel Michael Duffy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If a member who exhibited symptoms of COVID-19 or who was a close contact of a confirmed case receives a negative test result, the next step should be determined by the public health advice received.
If the member is instructed to continue to self-isolate, the self-isolation policy should continue to govern. If the member is instructed to self-monitor, they should be permitted to return to work.
Members who choose to remain out of the workplace after receiving a negative test and after being told that they need not self-isolate should account for their absence in the usual manner.
In cases where a child or other dependent has been ordered to self-isolate, the caregiver-member has a right to a family status accommodation. This accommodation may take the form of a leave, schedule modification, or work-from home arrangement.
Again, best practice is to allow for these leaves to be paid without the member using time from an accrued bank. However, if the service does not agree to pay the member, the member may, if a civilian, opt to take an unpaid leave under the Employment Standards Act and thereafter apply for and receive the Canada Recovery Benefit.
How the employer plans to handle situations such as school closures, class isolations, etc. should be, to the degree possible, determined in advance by the employer and the association. Keep in mind, however, that all accommodations require an analysis of the individual circumstances of the member requesting accommodation.
Work From Home Arrangements
Employers are likely not required to allow ongoing work from home arrangements generally. However, there are many circumstances where work from home may be the most reasonable solution to an accommodation or leave issue, as mentioned above.
Aside from this, where work from home is practical and an employee wishes to continue to work from home, the employer should have a good reason for not allowing work from home.
As with any occupational disease, employers and employees have a duty to report if COVID-19 is contracted and the infection is work-related. Exposure reports should also be filed when applicable.