working from home ontario

Ontario advises employers to keep letting people work from home

The working from home trend will likely continue as Ontario advises employers to hold off on bringing staff members back to offices.

As COVID-19 cases continue to climb — with 1,453 new cases on Friday — the highest single-day total since May 23 — and the new Omicron variant, Ontario announced more measures today to reduce the spread of the virus.

For those who like working in their pajamas, part of the news may not be so bad. For those trying to make a living in downtown Toronto, however, it's not great.

Ontario is advising employers to allow their employees to work from home whenever possible.

"Just as I am asking individuals to continue practicing public health measures and get vaccinated, I'm also asking businesses and organizations to remain diligent and vigilant," Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore said in a press conference on Friday. "We are asking that employers ask their employees to work from home whenever possible."

Work parties might be out too as the province suggests limiting indoor social gatherings this holiday season.

This summer, an Angus Reid survey found only a very small fraction of Ontarians (six per cent) actually want to return to the office every single day in the future.

But this is troublesome for those relying on customer traffic. Downtown businesses, particularly those in the PATH system once had hundreds of commuters grabbing a coffee or lunch on their way to the office.

Although there have been some signs of life, the downtown core has been a bit of a ghost town lately. Last month a study revealed the Financial District is hardest hit in terms of daily worker visits, down a staggering 77 per cent since 2019.

Some experts worry that this shift might be permanent with so many workplaces going either fully remote or hybrid. Toronto Region Board of Trade president and CEO Jan De Silva said last month that conditions haven't been right for workers to return in great numbers yet.

"Workers and visitors are critical to the downtown economy in Toronto and in the centre of other cities across the Innovation Corridor," said De Silva.

Lead photo by

Jack Landau

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