Yesterday, the Ontario Legislature adjourned for the remainder of 2020, two days ahead of the scheduled end of the 2020 fall session. A full list of bills passed during this session, including 10 private members’ bills and 26 government bills are available here. The list includes six emergency COVID-19 bills.
Prior to the adjournment of the Legislature yesterday, the Ontario government also introduced the Workplace Safety and Insurance Amendment Act, 2020. If passed, this Act would protect employers from unexpected increases in Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) premiums, while also ensuring that workers continue to be compensated for work-related injuries and occupational diseases during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This afternoon, the government also announced an investment of more than $5 million through the Ontario Together Fund. The investment will support three companies in designing and producing respirators and surgical masks for frontline and healthcare workers.
The government also announced the temporary expansion of online renewal options for Class G and M driver’s licences. All drivers within these classes are now eligible to renew their licenses at ServiceOntario.ca.
Introduction of Workplace Safety and Insurance Amendment Act
Yesterday, prior to the adjournment of the Legislature, the Ontario government introduced the Workplace Safety and Insurance Amendment Act, 2020.
This Act recognizes that the average industrial wage (AIG) of Ontario workers has increased by 7.8 per cent, due to the loss of jobs among lower wage workers in the retail, hospitality, and service sectors during the COVID-19 pandemic. If passed, the proposed legislation would limit the impact of this AIG increase on WSIB premiums to 2 per cent, to ensure that business owners are not faced with the added cost of a sudden and unexpected increase in WSIB premiums.
The proposed legislation would not impact the 7.8 per cent increase in the earning cap for workers, in order to ensure that employees continue to be fairly compensated for work-related injuries and occupational diseases during COVID-19.
Ontario Together Fund Investment to Produce Respirators and Masks
This afternoon, the Ontario government announced an investment of more than $5 million from the Ontario Together Fund to support three companies expand the production of respirators and masks in Ontario.
Kitchener-based O2 Canada will receive more than $1.8 million to design reusable respirators for healthcare and frontline workers. As a result of this project, 50 new jobs will be created at O2 Canada, as well as 25 jobs at Barrie-based Jomi Technical Services, which has partnered with O2.
Concord-based RONCO will receive over $1.47 million to establish the production capacity to manufacture surgical masks and respirators at its Ontario plant. As a result of new production capacity in Ontario, RONCO will produce more than three million masks and up to 260,000 respirators each month. New production capacity in Ontario will replace production which is currently taking place in China.
Kitchener-Waterloo based Swenco Ltd. will receive $2 million to establish a new facility for the production of surgical masks. As a result of this project, 24 new jobs are expected to be created.