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It’s tough to get authorities to agree as more Canadians are refusing to work due to COVID-19.

Posted in Canada, Featured, S. Asia

Published on June 22, 2020 with No Comments

Provincial labour laws on refusing dangerous work are being tested as businesses reopen during pandemic.

As more workplaces open up, Canadians are faced with the challenge of going back to work after being told for months that can be dangerous. 

Data on work refusals reported to provincial labour authorities shows there’s been a spike in the number of people who have formally refused to work citing dangerous conditions. But virtually none of those work refusals are being upheld, which may illustrate just how unprepared existing labour laws are for dealing with COVID-19.

All provinces have laws allowing people to refuse dangerous work. But a general fear of contracting COVID-19 is not enough to justify a work refusal, and neither are the risks associated with travelling to-and-from work, illustrating the challenges Canadians face as they balance exposure to the virus with getting back to the office or factory floor.

As some Canadians grapple with whether it’s safe to return to their jobs, provinces are going ahead with reopening plans that will see more Canadians getting back to their workplaces.

Stage two of Ontario’s reopening includes personal care services like hair salons and day spas, along with shopping malls and outdoor restaurant patios. Quebec is reopening salons, restaurants, gyms, arenas and indoor pools in parts of the province.

As more businesses start calling their employees back to work, provincial labour laws are about to get tested as authorities try to balance the economy with keeping workers safe from the pandemic.

There have been COVID-19-related work refusals in other provinces as well, although the overall numbers remain low. 

In Quebec, there were 21 refusals related to COVID-19. Only one was upheld. It involved an immunocompromised employee in a workplace where they could not get reliable information on the health condition of their colleagues, according to Quebec’s workplace health and safety commission. The commission did not identify the workplace.


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