There is no obligation to report a confirmed case of COVID-19 to federal or provincial/territorial health authorities. The medical professional who received the diagnosis has the obligation to report the positive test result to federal or provincial/territorial health authorities.
In general, occupational diseases must be reported to the workers’ compensation board of your jurisdiction in every case. The assessment of whether the employee is entitled to compensation would be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
Regarding COVID-19, most instances of COVID-19 are not work-related and do not need to be reported. Note that the directive from public health agencies states that coronaviruses like COVID-19 can be caught through contact in the community, home or work, therefore, if employee contract COVID-19 from a co-worker, it does not do not need to be reported.
Also, workers compensation boards will have to assess whether COVID-19 is an occupational disease: e.g. it was caused by and arose out and in the course of employment.WCB will adjudicate work-relatedness and benefit entitlement based on the specific and unique circumstances of each case.
When a worker contracts COVID-19 as a direct result of their employment, they may be entitled to compensation if the following general conditions are met (these conditions may vary by jurisdiction):
- The nature of employment involves sufficient exposure to the source of infection, and
- The nature of employment is shown to be the cause of the condition, or,
- The nature of employment creates a greater risk of exposure for the worker.
For example, acute care hospital worker has patients coming in for treatment of COVID-19. Thus, they are at a greater risk than the general public of contracting the disease. If COVID-19 is work-related due to greater risk at work (e.g., health care providers), any treatment complications are also considered work-related.
Like any other claim, WCB must determine whether exposure to the disease arose out of the course of employment and was caused by an employment hazard (in this case, workplace exposure to the virus).
That said, the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development is responding to inquiries regarding worker protections for COVID-19 and continues to investigate all complaints related to workplace health and safety to provide support, advice and enforcement, including proactive inspections as needed to ensure the health and safety of Ontario’s workers.
Employers are required to report all occupational illnesses, including COVID-19, to the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development in writing within four days. Employers are also required to notify their joint health and safety committee or a health and safety representative and a trade union if they exist.
Employers and workers are advised that isolation and monitoring requirements are in place for people who are at risk for COVID-19.
Normal practices for cleaning and disinfection procedures should always be followed unless your employer provides additional instructions.
Alberta has indicated that any work-related cases of COVID-19 that creates lost-time claims must be reported to WCB-Alberta.