Data Insights – Halton’s unemployment rate drops slightly to 6.3 per cent in Q2 2022

On July 8, Statistics Canada released Labour Force Survey data for June 2022. Halton’s unemployment rate in Q2 2022 was 6.3 per cent, representing a 0.3 percentage point decrease since Q1 2022. The rate of Halton residents participating in the labour force in Q2 2022 increased from the previous quarter by 1.9% per cent to 66.6%.

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Data Insights – ICI development across Halton during the first quarter

Industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) development activity across Halton declined by 43 per cent during the first quarter of 2022 over the previous period. Between January and March, $128 million in building permit construction value was issued for ICI developments in Halton, down $95 million from the fourth quarter of 2021.  In comparison to the same period in 2021, however, ICI building permit construction value was 11 per cent higher than last year.

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Data Insights – Halton’s unemployment rate edges up in the first quarter

On April 8, Statistics Canada released Labour Force Survey data for March 2022.  Halton’s unemployment rate in Q1 2022 was 6.6 per cent, representing a 2.9 percentage point increase since Q4 2021. The rate of Halton residents participating in the labour force in Q1, 2022 remained essentially unchanged from the previous quarter at 64.7 per cent.

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Data Insights – Halton Census Infographic Series

Throughout 2022, Halton Region Economic Development will be releasing a series of infographics coinciding with Statistics Canada’s data releases from the 2021 Census.  The first Census release in February 2022 included 2021 population and dwelling count information.  Halton Region was the fastest growing upper- or single-tier municipality in Ontario and ranked 4th as Ontario’s most densely populated Census Division in 2021.

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Removal of Mask Mandates – Employer Considerations

March 29, 2022

With the Ontario Government’s announcement to remove the mask mandate as of March 21st, employers are left with questions on whether masks should be mandated in the workplace.  

The Ministry of Labour has released guidelines to help employers to comply with the COVID restrictions under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) to reflect these changes. 

Mask Coverings

Requirements for masking and face coverings are lifted for most settings with the exception of select settings such as:

  • Public transit
  • Long-term care homes
  • Retirement homes
  • Hospitals including private hospitals
  • Other health care settings (for example, clinics that provide health care services, laboratories and specimen collection centres, Independent Health Facilities, and employees and contractors of home and community care providers)
  • Congregate care settings
  • Shelters

Mask coverings for the settings listed above are anticipated to remain in force up until April 27th, 2022, when the orders expire under the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA).

Screening

As of March 21st, 2022, employers are no longer required to screen employees prior to entering workplace premises.   

COVID-19 Safety Plans

Businesses are no longer required to develop or post a COVID-19 Safety Plan.  While having a COVID-19 Safety Plan is no longer required by law, employers may find it helpful to maintain a similar plan to minimize the risk of transmission and effectively adapt safety protocols if needed.   Employers are still required to consider the physical, types of interactions or activities in the workplace that will affect the risk of transmission of COVID-19.

Guidance for Employers

In Ontario, employers have a legal obligation under the OHSA “to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect the health and safety of workers”. With the removal of most COVID-19 restrictions, employers should continue to assess the workplace to determine how to protect the health and safety of their employees.

Employers considering removing mask mandates in the workplace should be mindful to take appropriate safety measures to protect employees based on the risk of transmission and the type of work performed. Employers should conduct a risk assessment and consider the following:

  • What is the risk of transmission of COVID-19?
  • Whether to continue to maintain physical distancing in the workplace
  • Whether to continue screening employees
  • Whether to prepare a modified version of the COVID Safety Plan
  • Whether to modify or maintain policies regarding mandatory masking in light of these changes
  • Employers should continue to monitor COVID-19 cases, hospitalization increases or the arrival of new variants
  • Maintain basic infection control protocols such as hand hygiene
  • Monitor public health agencies for any changes in guidelines
  • Provide information to employees on what to do if the employee shows symptoms of a respiratory illness
  • Report any work-related illness to the Workplace Safety Insurance Board within three days and file a notice to the Ministry of Labour of within four days

Frequently Asked Questions

With the end of mask mandates in Ontario, are employers still able to enforce a mask mandate in the workplace?

Although the Ontario Government has lifted the mask mandate as of March 21st, 2022, employers can choose to continue a mask mandate in the workplace for the health and safety of their employees.

However, employers must provide accommodation under the Human Rights Code for employees who are not able to wear a mask because of a legitimate reason or medical condition.

Does the employee have the right to refuse wearing a mask?

Despite the lifting of the mask mandate by the Provincial Government, an employee must follow workplace policies, which may require an employee to continue wearing a mask for health and safety purposes. If an employee continually refuses to wear one, an employer may discipline the employee for not following workplace health and safety protocols. Depending on the situation, an employer may be able to terminate the employee for unjust cause by providing reasonable notice. However, employers should seek legal advice in such cases before conducting a termination.

Can employees still wear a mask where there is no mask mandate in the workplace?

An employee may continue to choose to wear a mask to protect themselves or a family member from the risk of transmission of COVID-19. Medical experts have confirmed a high risk of transmission continues to exist and individuals who are vulnerable to COVID-19 should continue to wear their masks in public places.  They also advise others to be respectful of those who continue to wear a mask.

Can an employee resign if they do not want to wear a mask?

Generally, when an employee resigns, they are leaving their job voluntarily and, in such cases, not entitled to any termination pay or severance. However, if an employee resigns because the employer is enforcing a mask mandate after the risk of transmission of COVID-19 has significantly declined, and it may no longer be considered reasonable by a Court for the employer to enforce wearing a mask, and the employee may be able to file a claim for constructive dismissal.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter and should not be considered legal advice. Specialist advice should be sought for specific circumstances.

Prepared by: Samina Sial, Paralegal/HR Consultant (CHRL), HR Enable

Samina is an experienced Human Resources Consultant and qualified CHRL (Certified Human Resources Leader) with Human Resources Professional Association of Ontario (HRPAO). Samina is also a Licensed Paralegal with the Law Society of Ontario focusing on employment law. Her passion for strong HR project leadership that positively influences organizations in the short and long terms is the driving force behind HR Enable Inc.

HR Enable
1300 Cornwall Rd Suite 201, Oakville, ON L6J 7W5
Phone: 905-483-5115
E-mail: info@hrenable.ca
Website: www.hrenable.ca

Contact the Halton Small Business Centre for assistance with your recovery, growth or expansion efforts. Learn more about our programs and services, including free one-on-one meetings with our Business Consultants. Contact us at www.halton.ca/smallbusiness or e-mail smallbusiness@halton.ca.

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Data Insights – ICI Development across Halton during the 4th quarter

Industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) development activity across Halton increased 54 per cent during the fourth quarter of 2021 over the previous period. Between October and December, $223 million in building permit construction value was issued for ICI developments in Halton, up from $145 million in ICI construction value during the third quarter of 2021.  Similarly to the previous quarter, much of the increase was attributable to a rise in commercial construction value, which rose from $126 million in the third quarter of 2021 to $183 million in the fourth quarter.  In comparison to the same period in 2020, ICI development was 34 per cent higher than last year.



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Data Insights – Halton’s unemployment rate continues downward trend

On January 7, Statistics Canada released their Labour Force Survey data for Q4 2021. The data shows that Halton Region’s unemployment rate in Q4 was 3.7 per cent, representing a 1.9 percentage point decline since Q3 2021.  Coinciding with Halton’s falling unemployment rate, however, is a corresponding drop in the rate of Halton residents participating in the labour force which fell to 64.6 per cent in Q4 – a decline of 3.6 percentage points since Q3 2021.

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Data Insights – Halton Business Recovery Survey Results Report

On December 21, Halton released results of the Halton COVID-19 Business Recovery Survey administered in November. The survey collected approximately 700 responses from Halton business owners on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected operations and workplaces, and supports that businesses may need as they move toward reopening and recovery. The results indicated that the pandemic has had significant impacts on business revenues, financial liquidity, and has led to rising debt loads.  Halton business owners identify supply chain disruptions, employee shortages and the continuing economic uncertainly as the biggest challenges facing business recovery. Read the report:

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Data Insights – ICI Development across Halton during the 3rd quarter

Industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) development activity across Halton increased 44 per cent during the third quarter of 2021 over the previous period. Between July and September, $145 million of building permit construction value was issued for ICI developments in Halton, up from $101 million in ICI construction value during the second quarter of 2021.  Much of the increase was attributable to a rise in commercial construction value, which rose from $56 million in the second quarter of 2021 to $126 million in the third quarter.  In comparison to the same period in 2020, ICI development was 12 per cent higher than last year, fuelled by a significant rise in commercial activity in 2021.

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Data Insights – Halton’s unemployment rate approaches pre-pandemic levels

On October 10, Statistics Canada released the Labour Force Survey data for Q3 2021. The data shows a consistent downward trend in Halton Region’s unemployment rate from the first and second quarter of 2021. The Region’s current unemployment rate sits at 5.6%, representing a 2.5 percentage decrease from Q2 2021. In addition, the Region’s participation rate had increased by 0.3 percentage points over Q3 to 68.2%. Halton Region’s unemployment rate has been consistently lower than Ontario and Canada’s unemployment rates.

Halton Region Economic Development Services

Halton Region Economic Development provides a range of services through the Invest Halton team, Halton Small Business Centre and the Halton Global Business Centre. Whether you are considering locating in Halton, planning an expansion of your existing location, or looking to start up, scale up and go global, the Region’s Economic Development group can help. Halton Economic Development also offers a variety of resources, data and industry research to suit your needs. 

Need more information? CONTACT US

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