Human Resources Legislative Update
Private Member’s Bill Introduces COVID-19 as a Presumptive Occupational Disease under the WSIA
Date: May 22, 2020
On May 19, 2020, Bill 191, Workplace Safety and Insurance Amendment Act (Presumption Respecting COVID-19), 2020 was tabled by a Private Member and carried on First Reading in the Ontario Legislature.
If passed, Bill 191 would amend the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 to add a presumption that COVID-19 is an occupational disease (unless the contrary is shown) for workers who test positive for COVID-19 and who work for an essential business listed in an order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA).
The presumption would apply whether the workers work for the essential business as an employee or otherwise, and regardless of when the business was listed as essential in an EMCPA order. It would apply to a positive test received on or after January 25, 2020.
Transitional provisions would also apply.
Bill 191 is a Private Member’s bill and we note that historically the majority of Private Member’s bills do not pass and become law.
At this time the WSIB is adjudicating COVID-19 claims on a case-by-case basis. To date 983 claims have been allowed. The costs of allowed claims will be allocated among all employers in the applicable schedule.
Elsewhere in Canada, on April 30, 2020, the Board of Directors of WorkSafeBC directed its Policy, Regulation and Research Division to add COVID-19 to the list of diseases in Schedule 1 of the Workers’ Compensation Act on an expedited process. This process is expected to take about six months.