For Employees

COVID-19 has changed many things, including how we work. Many people are working from home. Others are waiting for their workplace to re-open, while some may be continuing to work but in a different way. No matter where and how you are working, it’s important to follow key preventive measures to stop the spread of COVID-19.


Key messages:

Take time to learn more if you have health and safety concerns about your workplace.


Workplace health and safety resources:

Visit the Ontario government website for a full list of sector-specific guidelines to reopen workplaces. You can also go to these Ontario health and safety associations for more COVID-19 health and safety advice tailored to your workplace: 

You have a right to a safe workplace – now more than ever during COVID-19. Learn about your rights during COVID-19 and discover resources/supports that can help reduce the risk of illness for you and others in your workplace.


Latest Updates

What if There is a Case of COVID-19 in My Workplace?
Employees/Co-workers
  • Anyone with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 must NOT go to work and should self-isolate at home. If contact with a positive case is confirmed, further directions will be provided by the Health Unit
  • Physical distancing rules at work mean employees should not be in close contact with each other. If, however, an employee is identified as being a close contact of a co-worker who is confirmed or suspected of having COVID-19, the person should immediately take Ontario’s online COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool to see what further care is needed or call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 The employee may also be contacted by the Health Unit with further directions on what to do, including self-isolating or self-monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Employers are strongly urged to support the COVID-19 instructions your employees have received from any health care provider. This protects the health of your workers and customers
  • Encourage everyone at work to continue following physical distancing rules (staying 2 metres or 6 feet apart from others) and regularly wash hands with soap and water
  • Continue to frequently clean and disinfect commonly touched or shared surfaces at work, including tools, equipment and workstations.
Customers/Clients
  • Follow direction from the Health Unit about any extra precautions that are needed to reduce the risk of illness. These directives can include: getting employees/staff who were in close contact with the customer/client to self-isolate or self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms, increasing cleaning and disinfecting at your workplace, and other measures
  • Continue to keep employees and customers safe:
    • Follow provincial rules that specify how your business/workplace can operate (for example, only offer curbside pickup, limit number of people in store, etc.).
    • Ensure a 2-metre (6-foot) distance is kept between people.
    • Reduce overcrowding.
    • Increase your online or phone services
    • Offer curb-side delivery
    • Make hand sanitizer available for customers at entry and exit points.

Frequently Asked Questions

Additional Resources:

Ontario Government (www.ontario.ca/coronavirus)
Government of Canada (www.canada.ca/coronavirus)
World Health Organization (www.who.int)



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Follow us for COVID-19 Updates

You can find and follow updates on COVID-19 in your local community via the following HKPR resources:

Subscribe by email to receive updates

If you have questions about COVID-19, you can contact the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577 x5020 or email at info@hkpr.on.ca

Mask Use during COVID-19

Face masks have become the new normal during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s important to know when and how to wear a mask properly.

Medical masks (like surgical and N-95):
close up White protective hygenic mask isolated backgrounds for doctors and patient from virus biological infection and PM2.5 dust, pandemic news

These must be kept for health care providers and for those providing direct care for someone with COVID-19.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and need to seek medical care, wear a mask. Your health provider may also recommend you wear a mask while you’re seeking or waiting for care. The mask acts as a barrier and helps stop the tiny droplets from spreading around you when you cough or sneeze.

Masks MUST be put on, taken off and thrown out properly. If you need to wear a mask, be sure to clean your hands frequently with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer. When wearing a mask, follow this Public Health Ontario fact sheet  on how to properly wear and throw away one.

Homemade (Cloth) Masks:

Non-medical masks (like homemade cloth masks and facial coverings) are NOT medical devices, are unregulated and are NOT proven to protect the person wearing them from getting COVID-19. The best way to stop the spread of COVID-19 remains washing your hands with soap and water, staying home and avoiding close contact with others outside your household.

If worn properly, non-medical masks can help to cover your mouth and nose to prevent your respiratory droplets from contaminating other people or landing on common surfaces. However, wearing cloth masks can also give you a false sense of security and may in fact cause you to touch your face more often when adjusting the mask. 

Despite this, some people may choose to wear a mask when leaving their homes for essential trips (grocery store, pharmacy). The Ontario government is also recommending people use face coverings to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when physical distancing and keeping two metres’ distance from others may be challenging. This includes wearing face coverings on public transit, smaller grocery stores/pharmacies, or when receiving essential services. The Public Health Agency of Canada advises that putting on a homemade mask can possibly help protect others around you if you’re ill with COVID-19 and do not yet know it.

It’s good to wear a homemade mask or facial covering if it makes you feel safer and stops you from touching your face and mouth. But remember: do not touch your face with unwashed hands. You need to also continue practising physical distancing. 

Homemade masks or facial coverings should not be worn/put on by:

  • Children under age 2
  • Anyone who has trouble breathing
  • Someone who is unconscious, incapacitated or unable to remove the mask without help. 
How to Properly Use a Homemade Mask/Face Covering:  
  • Wash your hands immediately before putting it on and immediately after taking it off (use good hand hygiene while wearing it too)
  • Masks should fit snugly, but comfortably against your face (non-gaping) allowing you to breathe without restriction. Masks should be secured with ties or ear loops and have multiple fabric layers
  • Do not share cloth masks with others
  • Remember not to touch or rub your eyes while wearing it
  • Avoid moving, adjusting or touching your mask while using it, as it could become contaminated on the outside. 
  • Change face coverings if they get slightly wet or dirty
  • Wash the cloth mask after each use as it can get damp or dirty:
    • Put it directly into the washing machine or a bag that can be emptied into the washing machine and then disposed of
    • Cloth masks can be laundered with other items using a hot cycle, and then dried thoroughly.
    • Wash your hands with soap and water after putting the mask into the laundry.
  • Homemade masks that cannot be washed should be thrown out in a properly lined garbage bin as soon as they get damp, dirty or crumpled. Do not throw used masks on the ground or in a shopping cart. Immediately after wash your hands with soap and water.

Summary Do’s and Don’ts for Using Homemade Masks/Face Coverings

Do:

  • Wash your hands immediately before putting on and immediately after taking off a face covering or face mask
  • Practise good hand hygiene while you are wearing the face covering
  • Make sure the face covering fits well around your nose and mouth
  • Avoid moving the mask around or adjusting it often
  • Avoid touching the covering while using it
  • Change the face covering or face mask when it gets slightly wet or dirty

Do Not:

  • Share face coverings or face masks with others
  • Place on children under the age of two years or on anyone unable to remove without assistance or who has trouble breathing
  • Use plastic or other non-breathable materials as a face covering or face mask

Employee Health and Safety During COVID-19

Taking precautions like handwashing, coughing in your sleeve and practising physical distancing are essential during the current COVID-19 situation.

But even doing that can make you feel worried about your health and safety if you’re working during COVID 19. Read on to learn more about your rights during the pandemic:

Resources/Legislation

All levels of governments are taking steps to support and protect people affected by coronavirus. The following resources can help you understand your rights. (Information is current at the time of this posting; please check official government websites for the most recent updates):   

Ontario Human Rights Commission FAQs 
Explains your rights during COVID-19 in series of questions and answers.

Recent changes by the Ontario government are also designed to protect worker’s health during COVID-19: 

  • The newly approved Employment Standards Amendments Act (Infectious Disease Emergencies), 2020 includes: 
    • Job-protected leave to employees in isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19, and to those who need to be away from work to care for children at home due to school/daycare closures
    • Employees will not be required to provide a medical note. 
    • Measures are retroactive to January 25th, 2020.
  • As well, in a declared emergency, employees have the right to take an unpaid, job-protected leave if they are unable to perform job duties due to an emergency or other circumstances.  The Employment Standards Act Guide is being updated as more information becomes available.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act also:  

  • Gives workers the right to refuse work they believe is unsafe to them or co-workers. Workers who feel they are endangered by workplace violence may also refuse work.
    • Sets out a specific procedure that must be followed in any work refusal. 
    • If you have identified a health and safety issue at your workplace, contact your manager or supervisor, your Joint Health and Safety Committee representative, and/or your union representative.  
For Additional Complaints/Concerns
  • If you’re unable to resolve concerns, or want to report a workplace health and safety incident, critical injury, fatality, or work refusal, call the Health and Safety Contact Centre at the Ministry of Labour to report your issue.  You can speak to a representative at 1-877-202-0008.
  • For less urgent health and safety issues, file an online complaint now.  The Health and Safety Contact Centre will review and respond in due course. 
  • If you’ve been fired or punished for exercising your rights under the Ontario Health and Safety act, you can file a reprisal complaint with the Ontario Labour Relations Board.
Business Questions
Additional Resources:

Download and print resources below:

Image of Attention Staff AODA compliant poster – click to download
Image of Attention Staff AODA compliant poster – click to download

Attention Staff
Poster

Service Providers Working With Vulnerable Clients

It’s essential to slow the spread of COVID-19, especially to vulnerable clients. If you are a service provider working with vulnerable clients, you can access link/resources below to protect the health of staff, volunteers and clients.  

Gatherings of People

Currently, Ontario is banning all large gatherings of more than 5 people. Exemptions are in place for families with more than five people, grocery stores and child care centres supporting health care workers and first responders. Funerals can proceed, but with only 10 people at a time.

General Tips
  • Access  short Health Unit video modules  on how to prepare your workplace/organization for COVID-19. 
  • Know what to do if your staff or client has COVID-19 symptoms, or been in close contact with someone who  has been confirmed. Use the Ontario Ministry of Health’s Self-Assessment Tool to help determine what you should do. 
  • Maintain a clean and safe environment 
  • Staff and volunteers MUST stay home when sick 
  • Practise regular and frequent hand washing/sanitizing 
  • Practise physical distancing 
  • Increase surface cleaning/ disinfection especially on high-touch surfaces 
  • Practise respiratory etiquette 
  • Post information and insist staff, volunteers and clients cough or sneeze into the elbow, sleeve or tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash hands. 
  • Clients/participants MUST NOT share items (e.g. drinking cups, utensils) 
  • Develop an organizational plan in the event COVID-19 is spreading in the community. Consider how to:  protect staff; protect those clients more vulnerable to COVID-19 (seniors 65+ and those with compromised immune system); provide isolation opportunities for those who require it; modify service delivery based on staff capacity; and reduce fear, barriers, and stigma around COVID-19 by providing credible information. 
  • Contact 211 Community Support to find/search government and community-based services during COVID-19.  Call or text 2-1-1 day or night to find support for all of life’s challenges. Live Chat also available Monday to Friday from 7 am to 9 pm.

For Homeless Shelters and Service Providers 

For Food Banks/Food Program Providers 

In your Food Program Location: 

  • Each food bank or food program is set up differently. Change the layout to reduce contact between clients 
  • Pre-pack food boxes or bags and pass out food at the door 
  • Stagger arrivals and departures to reduce client contact 
  • Remove client wait areas. Get people to wait outdoors, standing at least 2 metres apart. 
  • Practise physical distancing. Keep at least two meters away from each other, especially if someone may be sick. 
  • Consider safe delivery options to get food to high-risk clients 
  • Allow staff and volunteers to fill out any forms or paperwork on behalf of clients. (NOTE: Clients must be able to view and verbally verify the information documented is correct. Staff and volunteers cannot sign on behalf of a client.)  
  • Extend hours or open at additional times or days so clients are spread out.  
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick. Clients who are ill MUST stay home and have a friend or neighbour pick up their food or meal items instead.  

Remember Safe Food Handling 

  • Temporarily postpone any food demos or cooking classes. Do not serve food and beverages 
  • Stay at home and away from others if you’re feeling ill 
  • Increase access to handwashing stations  
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, using single use paper towel to dry hands and to close taps 
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer  
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches, all phones, counters, handles on cabinets, fridges, utility or grocery carts, pens, computers stations, etc. 
  • Do not allow clients to handle food items. Let staff/volunteers do this for clients 
  • Remind staff, volunteers and clients to sneeze or cough into their sleeves 

Food Distribution Considerations: 

  • Consider if your organization can provide service to individuals in isolation or quarantine, such as dropping off meals or supplies 
  • Consider pre-packing food boxes or bags and pass out food at the door 
  • Pre-bag produce to limit direct touching 
  • Create an alternate delivery system such as a drive-through where clients pull up in their cars and volunteers deliver a prepackaged bag to them 
  • Mobile food distribution could be considered to deliver food to clients who are ill 
  • Prepare and plan for operations with a reduced workforce and fewer volunteers 
  • Plan to reduce services, but also anticipate when you may need to ramp them up 

Additional Resources

Download and print resources below:

Fact Sheet: Take Care of Yourself and Each Other – Public Health Ontario

Image of Are You Sick? AODA compliant poster – click to download
Image of Are You Sick? AODA compliant poster – click to download

Are You Sick?
Poster

Image of Attention Visitors AODA compliant poster - click to download
Image of Attention Visitors AODA compliant poster – click to download

Attention Visitors
Poster

Provincial and Federal Benefits and Income Supports

Getting Help

Worried about your job, income or housing due to COVID-19? Do you own a business or employ staff in an operation affected by COVID-19?

All levels of governments are taking steps to support and protect people and businesses affected by coronavirus. The following information is current at the time of this posting. Please check official government websites for the most recent updates (Do not visit offices. Access services on-line or call in advance to confirm whether offices are open).:   


Federal Support Programs

For Workers/Employees

Visit Service Canada for full details or access the Find Financial Help During COVID-19 Online Tool to see what federal supports are available to you. Read further for more specific program supports: 

Temporary Wage Top-Up for Low Income Essential Workers – All provinces and territories have confirmed, or are in the process of confirming, plans to cost-share wage top-ups for their essential workers.

Increasing Canada Child Benefit – An extra $300 per child is available through the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) for 2019-20. This will mean approximately $550 more for the average family. This benefit will be delivered as part of the scheduled CCB payment in May.

Special Goods and Services Tax Credit Payment: A one-time special payment will be available by early May through the Goods and Services Tax credit for low- and modest-income families. The average additional benefit will be close to $400 for single individuals and close to $600 for couples.  

Extra Time to File Income Taxes: Filing date for 2019 tax returns is being pushed back to June 1, 2020. 

Mortgage Support: Canadian banks have committed to work with customers on a case-by-case basis to find solutions to help them manage hardships caused by COVID-19. Canadians who are impacted by COVID-19 and experiencing financial hardship as a result should contact their financial institution regarding flexibility for a mortgage deferral. For more information visit  tools to lenders.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB): This new taxable benefit of $2,000 a month for up to four months is available to eligible workers who meet certain conditions. Learn more here.

CERB is accessible through a secure web portal. Applicants can also apply via an automated phone line or via a toll-free number. Call 1-800-959-2019 or 1-800-959-2041 or 1-833-699-0299. This benefit replaces the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit.

Employment Insurance: If you have lost your job through no fault of your own and qualify for Employment Insurance benefits, you can submit your request today.  

If you are sick, quarantined or have been directed to self-isolate, the federal government will waive the requirement to provide a medical certificate to access EI sickness benefits.

Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs): The required minimum withdrawals from RRIFs are being reduced by 25% for 2020

Support for Low-Income Seniors: A one-time, tax-free payment of $300 is being given to seniors who qualify for Old Age Security. An additional $200 will also be paid to seniors who currently receive the Guaranteed Income Supplement. This measure would give up to $500 in one-time payments to eligible seniors.

Canada Student Loans: Effective March 30, the federal government is placing a six-month interest-free moratorium on the repayment of Canada Student Loans for all student loan borrowers. No payment will be required, and interest will not accrue during this time. Students do not need to apply for the repayment pause.

Canada Emergency Student Benefit – This provides support to students and new graduates who are not eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit or Employment Insurance, or who are unable to work this summer due to COVID-19. The benefit provides $1,250 per month for eligible students or $2,000 per month for eligible students with dependents or disabilities. This benefit is available from May to August 2020.

For Businesses/Employers – Federal

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy: This subsidy program covers 75% of an employee’s wages for employers of all sizes and sectors who have seen a drop in gross revenues of at least 15% in March and 30% in both April and May. Program is in place from March 15 to June 6, 2020.

Temporary 10% Wage Subsidy: This three-month measure allows eligible employers to reduce the amount of payroll deduction required to be remitted to the Canada Revenue Agency.

Extending Work-Sharing Program: This support program is extended from 38 to 76 weeks. It provides income support to employees eligible for EI who agree to reduce their normal working hours due to COVID-19.

Temporary Changes to Canada Summer Jobs Program: Employers can receive up to 100% of the provincial/territorial minimum hourly wage to hire summer employees under this program.

Other sector-specific business support programs may also be available. Learn more here.

Small Business COVID-19 Hotline – Is your small business facing pressing financial needs? Call this support hotline operated by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce at 1-866-989-1080 (toll-free) seven days a week (8 am to 8 pm).


Provincial Support Programs

For Individuals/Workers:
  • Evictions:  No new eviction orders will be issued until further notice. Enforcement of current eviction orders will be postponed  
  • Protected Leave:  Employers must ensure protected leave for workers who have to be off work due to COVID-19. This includes workers who are: self-isolating, getting treated, following medical direction or caring for a loved one. 
  • Medical Notes: Employees do not need to provide a doctor’s note to take unpaid sick leave 
  • Support for Families – While schools and daycares are closed, parents can apply for direct funding to support their children’s learning at home. Eligible parents will receive a one-time payment of: $200/child ages 0-12 years; $250/child or youth aged 0-21 years with special needs. Note: If you are already receiving Support for Parents payments, you will automatically be eligible for this program and do not need to apply for it.
  • Doubled GAINS payments for seniors: If you are a senior receiving monthly Ontario Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) payments, we will be doubling your payment, making it up to $166 per month for individuals and up to $332 per month for couples. If you are a GAINS recipient, you will receive this extra support automatically for six months, with the first payment on April 24, 2020.
  • Ontario’s Community Support Program to assist low-income seniors and people with disabilities during COVID-19.
  • Additional funding for supplies is now offered to current recipients of Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program. Funding of up to $100 for single individual and up to $200 for families is available.
  • Help for electricity bills is here. Through the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program, low-income consumers can get direct support to pay bills and ensure electricity and natural gas services are not cut off during COVID-19. If you are behind on your payments and face having your service disconnected, you could qualify for $500 in relief for electricity bills ($600 if your home is heated by electricity) and $500 for natural gas bills.

Extensions on validations and deadlines:

OSAP Payments:

Learn more about the temporary deferral of  OSAP  payments. 

  • From March 30, 2020 to September 30, 2020: 
    • You do not need to make any loan payments 
    • Interest will not be added to your student loans 
    • If your loans are in good standing, visit the National Student Loans Service Centre (NSLSC) or the Canada student aid page for more information.  If your  OSAP  debt is in collections, contact the Ministry of Finance at 1-877-535-0554 or the private collection agency assigned to your account to discuss your options. 

COVID-19 Emergency Assistance: 

  • If you are not currently getting social assistance 
  • If you need help paying for food and housing and are not already on Ontario Works or ODSP, you can  apply for COVID-19 emergency assistance

Click here to apply for any of the following provincial programs:

For Businesses/Employers – Provincial

The Ontario government is providing various relief programs to support businesses, including interest and penalty relief, tax relief, WSIB payment deferrals and reduced electricity bills.


Local Support Programs

For Businesses/Employers – Local

Getting Help To Apply For Programs 

The Help Centre and Legal Centre of Northumberland: The Help Centre and Legal Centre provide free services to residents of Northumberland County on the topics of income, employment and housing.   


Additional Resources

211 Community Support – Easily find/search government and community-based services during COVID-19.  Call or text 2-1-1 day or night to find support for all of life’s challenges. Live Chat also available Monday to Friday from 7 am to 9 pm.

Physical Distancing at Work

With many workplaces reopening, it’s essential to keep your space from others to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Here’s what to do to follow physical distancing rules at work:


  • Staff and customers MUST maintain a distance of two meters (six feet) wherever possible. 
  • Offer alternatives to customers such as delivery or pick up services. Consider partnering with a non-profit group to provide delivery options for vulnerable clients/customers who may have a hard time accessing your services. 
  • Post self-screening signage at entrances to tell customers to delay their visit 
  • Implement strategies to help eliminate customer lineups, such as extended shopping hours 
  • Stagger employee use of common break spaces 
  • Replace face-to-face meetings with tele- or video-conferencing options 
  • Postpone or cancel non-essential work travel. 
Additional Resources:

Fact Sheet – Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Physical Distancing – Public Health Ontario

Download and print resources below:

Hand Hygiene/Respiratory Etiquette at Work

Protecting yourself, your staff and customers at work is essential to slow the spread of COVID-19. By doing so, you help to protect those most at risk from the virus:


  • Provide hand sanitizer and tissues at all entrances and work stations 
  • Encourage employees to wash their hands frequently and thoroughly   

Download and print resources below:

Image of Are You Sick? AODA compliant poster – click to download
Image of Are You Sick? AODA compliant poster – click to download

Are You Sick?
Poster

Image of Attention Staff AODA compliant poster – click to download
Image of Attention Staff AODA compliant poster – click to download

Attention Staff
Poster

Image of Attention Visitors AODA compliant poster - click to download
Image of Attention Visitors AODA compliant poster – click to download

Attention Visitors
Poster

Image of Attention Shoppers AODA compliant poster – click to download
Image of Attention Shoppers AODA compliant poster – click to download

Attention Shoppers
Poster

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