While long-term-care homes might be the most visible beneficiaries of the Ontario government’s decision to protect businesses from COVID-19-related lawsuits, experts say retailers and restaurants are also breathing a big sigh of relief.
On Tuesday, provincial Attorney General Doug Downey introduced legislation to protect businesses and their employees from COVID-19 liability lawsuits, providing they could prove they made an “honest effort” to follow the rules.
“This is a huge relief for our members. It’s something we’ve been asking for, and we’re glad the government has taken these steps,” said Sebastian Prins, Ontario director of government relations for the Retail Council of Canada.
“The best practices have changed so many times as we’ve gone through COVID that it became confusing for many small retailers. People would be following the rules, and then the rules would change, and that made them vulnerable to lawsuits,” Prins said.
Almost 2,000 residents of long-term-care homes in the province have died from COVID-19, and many homes are facing lawsuits from grieving relatives. The legislation doesn’t protect companies or their workers from COVID-19-related suits involving gross negligence or deliberate skirting of safety rules.