Robins Appleby

COVID-19 Litigation – SUPPORTING ONTARIO’S RECOVERY ACT, 2020

Darrell Gold and Samuel Mosonyi

My last two articles have been about the CERS program which provides a subsidy to commercial tenants, as well as Bill 229 which is now law, which provides a commercial tenant with protection (until a date to be determined) from eviction and distraint by its landlord for rent default.

In addition to that legislation, on November 20, 2020 Bill 218 received Royal Assent and is now in force[1] and statutorily bars causes of action (subject to certain exceptions discussed below) by a “person” arising from infection by or exposure to COVID-19. This is important to most workers/employers and for the purpose of this article, those in the Real Estate industry be it landlord, property manager, tenant, real estate broker or agent.

The Purpose for the Act

According to the Ontario parliamentary debates (the Hon. Doug Downey – Attorney General), the Act is intended to afford protection from lawsuits to “thousands of Ontario workers, employers, volunteers, non-profits and other organizations who make an honest effort to follow public health advice, follow public health guidance and law as Ontario responds to the COVID-19 pandemic” and who by doing so, “…risk significant liability in the event of transmission to third parties”.

Loss of Right to Sue for Exposure to or Infection with COVID-19

The prohibition on causes of action applies where the exposure or infection arose on or after March 17, 2020 as a direct or indirect result of an act or omission of the person if:

  1. at the relevant time, the person acted or made a good faith effort to act in accordance with,
  1. public health guidance relating to COVID-19 that applied to the person, and
  2. any federal, provincial or municipal law relating to COVID-19 that applied to the person; and

(b)        the act or omission of the person does not constitute gross negligence.

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Robins Appleby

Government of Ontario Clarifies COVID-19 Leave Rules for Employers

Barbara Green and Samuel Mosonyi.

On Friday, May 29, 2020, the Ontario government passed a new regulation (O. Reg. 228/20) under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 that made a fundamental change to the rules governing employees who had lost work or had wages reduced as a result of COVID-19.

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Robins Appleby

Legal Urgency in the time of COVID-19

Ellad Gersh, Philip Holdsworth, and Samuel Mosonyi.

If you have an urgent civil or commercial legal matter during the COVID-19 state of emergency, this article is the place to start.

On March 15, 2020, in response to the public health emergency of COVID-19, Chief Justice Morawetz issued an unprecedented “Notice to the Profession, the Public and the Media“, suspending the regular operations of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice until further notice (“March Notice”). An additional “Notice to the Profession, the Public and the Media Regarding Civil and Family Matters” was issued on April 2, 2020 (“April Notice”) and revised on April 22, 2020.

The suspension does not mean that the courts are closed. In an April 6, 2020 virtual fireside chat hosted by The Advocates’ Society, the Chief Justice stated unequivocally that the Ontario Superior Court of Justice “has never closed … we suspended in-court operations, but [the Court] continues to operate, and it is never going to stop operating”.

The March Notice states:

The Court will continue to hear urgent matters during this emergency period. The Court plays a fundamental role in our constitutional democracy. Access to justice for the most urgent matters must always remain available.

With respect to civil and commercial matters,[1] the March Notice defined “urgent” to include:

Urgent and time sensitive motions and applications in civil and commercial list matters, where immediate and significant financial repercussions may result without a judicial hearing.

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Robins Appleby

Supports for Ontario Employers and Employees During COVID-19

Barbara Green and Samuel Mosonyi.

April 21, 2020 (last updated April 27, 2020)

COVID-19 has changed the landscape for employers and employees. We are writing this article to provide some clarity as well as to inform employers and employees what government support is available to them.

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