Expert Says More Measures Are Needed To Stop COVID-19 Transmission In Ontario's Workplaces

Ontario should have tracked workplace outbreaks a long time ago, says epidemiologist.
Staff Writer
Expert Says More Measures Are Needed To Stop COVID-19 Transmission In Ontario's Workplaces

An epidemiologist from Western University says Toronto's new COVID-19 measures for workplaces will help the city, but thinks it's not enough to just report outbreaks.

Dr. Stephen Barr, an associate professor in Western's Department of Microbiology & Immunology, says more protections need to be offered to Ontario workers so they can stay home while sick and prevent a COVID-19 outbreak before it begins.

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Workplaces are often much more confined and so the chance of spreading the virus, or contracting it, is a lot higher. Dr. Stephen Barr

On Monday, Toronto announced that employers in the city must report COVID-19 outbreaks to Toronto Public Health, who will then display that information on their website.

In an email to Narcity, Barr said this should have been done a long time ago, seeing as workplaces are a "big factor" in the spread of COVID-19.

But while employers are now required to keep their employees socially distanced wherever possible and limit passengers in company vehicles, Barr said sick pay is important when it comes to stopping people from bringing the virus into work.

"I think some businesses are in a position to address this by allowing people to work from home, especially if they are not feeling 100%," Barr said.

"Obviously not all businesses are in a position to do this, which is the challenge. Perhaps these businesses need to re-visit how much sick time workers have access to."

At a press conference yesterday, Toronto Councillor Joe Cressy called on the federal and provincial governments to guarantee workers have access to paid sick leave and income supports in order to safely self-isolate at home.

"Until we collectively protect [front-line workers] — until we protect everyone — we won't truly beat COVID," Cressy said.

Cormac O'Brien
Staff Writer
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