Ontario has announced today that it will introduce a piece of legislation which, if passed, will provide protection for workers, volunteers and organizations that make an honest effort to follow public health guidelines and laws relating to exposure to COVID-19.
Who will be protected
If passed, the Supporting Ontario’s Recovery Act, 2020 will provide targeted protection for those who are making an honest effort to follow public health guidelines and laws, including:
- Healthcare workers and institutions;
- Frontline workers who serve the public everywhere from grocery stores to restaurants and retail stores;
- Businesses and their employees;
- Charities, non-profit organizations (which we believe would cover condo corporations); and
- Coaches, volunteers and minor sports associations.
What protection will be granted
If passed, we should expect this new legislation to protect condominium corporations and directors who act in good faith and who make an honest effort to follow the ever-changing public health guidelines. This would be in addition to the protection already found in the Condominium Act for directors who act honestly, in good faith and who exercise the care, diligence and skill that a reasonably prudent person would exercise in comparable circumstances.
To benefit from the protection, directors and condos must make a “good faith effort” to act in accordance with:
- public health guidance relating to COVID019; and,
- any federal, provincial or municipal laws relating to COVID-19.
This is key here. Those not acting in compliance with such guidance (or those not making a good faith effort to act in compliance with them) may not benefit from this protection.
In other words, those always looking for “creative” loopholes are not likely to benefit from this protection.
Limits of the protection
Directors will also have to be careful not to get too comfortable and complacent with respect to their COVID-related decisions. Indeed, the protection expected under this legislation is not endless. Owners will continue to be able to hold directors and corporations accountable in cases of willful or gross negligence endangering others.
In other words, this legislation is expected to raise the standard for claims in torts related to COVID infection/exposure from “regular negligence” to gross negligence. This legislation, if passed, will retroactively apply to legal proceeding already commenced.
You can review the text of the proposed legislation here.
Best to continue to consult with your legal expert and to continue to check your favourite condo law blog.