The Ontario government is taking steps to make it easier for employers to test for COVID-19 in the workplace by providing guidance to employees who want to participate in voluntary, supervised self-swab rapid antigen testing as part of the Provincial Antigen Screening Program. On-site testing will be expanding to interested employers in a variety of high-risk sectors, including first responders, emergency medical services, construction, trucking and transportation, and post-secondary institutions. Ontario has also lifted some of the regulatory barriers that restricted the use of COVID-19 tests, which will improve accessibility to on-site testing and support for employers.
This expansion of rapid testing is part of the COVID-19 Provincial Antigen Screening Program that was deployed in select Ontario essential workplaces in November 2020. The expansion of the program is supported by the success reported by the ‘Rapid Screening Consortium’, which introduced voluntary rapid screening to 12 prominent Canadian employers, including Air Canada, Loblaws, Magna, and Scotiabank. Employees who choose to participate are screened twice a week before entering their workplace and receive their results within 15 minutes.
While we do not have a definitive answer from the courts, it is unlikely that most employers will be able to introduce mandatory testing for their employees. Instead, voluntary programs like these will allow employers and employees to work together to continue operating safely and monitor the risks of a COVID-19 outbreak.
If you are an employee or employer seeking answers regarding the COVID-19 Provincial Antigen Screening Program, testing, or vaccination in the workplace, it is advisable to seek advice from an experienced employment lawyer. To better understand your entitlements and explore the viability of a claim during these unprecedented times, we encourage employees to seek legal advice. We at Whitten & Lublin are happy to provide insight and advice into your specific circumstances. If you’re looking for employment lawyers and would like more information about what Whitten & Lublin can do for you, please contact us online or by phone at (416) 640-2667 today.