To help local business, workers, volunteers, and non-profits, the provincial government of Ontario has introduced a bill that would protect those groups from COVID-19 exposure-related lawsuits.
According to Attorney General Doug Downey, who introduced the bill at the provincial legislature on Tuesday, the bill would ensure that any business or group making an “honest effort” to follow public health guidelines while working or volunteering would not be vulnerable to liability claims.
However, the bill will not stop lawsuits against those who willfully – or through gross negligence – endanger others, Downey explained.
CBC News reported that the bill would cover healthcare workers and institutions, frontline retail workers, as well as charities and non-profits. In addition, coaches, volunteers, and minor sports associations would be covered.
Once passed, the bill will retroactively apply to March 17, 2020, Downey said.
The bill was met with praise from the long-term care industry – an industry that has had trouble renewing or purchasing commercial liability insurance during the pandemic.
“Liability protection is a necessary measure to stabilize and renew Ontario’s entire long-term care sector,” said Ontario Long Term Care Association CEO Donna Duncan in a statement. “Without it, many insurance companies will cease coverage, as they have already begun to do, putting homes across the province at risk and jeopardizing their expansion and renewal.”