Toronto Begins Publicly Naming Companies With COVID-19 Outbreaks

January 5, 2021 Updated: January 6, 2021

The City of Toronto will now start publicly naming businesses and workplaces with active COVID-19 outbreaks, health officials announced on Jan. 4. 

Toronto Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa said at a press conference that businesses reporting active outbreaks, based on specific criteria, will be published and updated weekly on the city’s website.

Criteria for disclosing data on an outbreak includes the number of infected staff, duration of the outbreak, and whether the company is sufficiently large that employees’ privacy is not jeopardized.

The first businesses to be publicly revealed on Jan. 4 include beauty company DECIEM Inc., food producer Sofina Foods Inc., and computer hardware manufacturer TTM Technologies Inc.

The decision signals a shift in strategy after Toronto health officials for months resisted publicly naming companies. Policies on publishing workplace outbreaks vary widely across Canada, and are decided by regional and provincial health units. 

Toronto Mayor John Tory said the new rules were a bid to encourage employers to take greater precautions during the pandemic.

“I believe this kind of transparency and public accountability will help to encourage employers to do everything they can to protect their workers and it will help give everyone a better indication of where the COVID-19 virus is spreading in our community,” he said at the press conference. 

Toronto Public Health (TPH) will also now require all employers and businesses in the city to “immediately notify” health authorities if they become aware of two or more employees contracting COVID-19 and “immediately implement any measures” required by TPH, said de Villa. The directive was one of a slew of new requirements for businesses that TPH announced. 

Toronto will also start releasing a weekly snapshot of the number of cases by workplace sector, covering 11 sectors such as retail, personal services, entertainment venues, fitness facilities, food processing, plants, farms, and offices. 

Toronto and neighbouring Peel Region have been under lockdown since Nov. 23, 2020, with the measures extended provincewide on Dec. 26.