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Are you operating a food bank or clothing “shop”, providing furniture and other goods free of charge to those experiencing poverty, distributing food hampers, or providing services like free income tax return preparation for marginalized communities?

And now you’re wondering whether your good works are stymied by Ontario’s latest Stay At Home Order (“SAH Order”)? This post will take a look at what the SAH Order and Rules for Areas in Stage 1 say. I’ll note what seem to be the most relevant sections, but it is not an exhaustive list. Of course all of the general rules continue to apply to activities the government allows.

The SAH Order has a part called “Obtaining Goods and Services.”

  • Section 5 permits people to obtain food, beverages and personal care items
  • Section 6 permits people to obtain goods or services that are necessary for the health or safety of an individual, including health care services
  • Section 8 allows people to purchase or pick up goods through alternative methods, such as curbside pickup from places allowed to offer curbside under the Rules for Areas in Stage 1 (more on that below)
  • Section 11 permits people to receive social services and supports, mental health support services, or addiction support services

It also has a part called “Assisting Others.”

  • Section 12 permits people to deliver goods or provide care or other support or assistance to an individual who requires support or assistance, or to receive such support or assistance.

The Rules for Areas in Stage 1 also apply to all Grey Zones – right now that is the entire province. In Schedule 2 of the Rules, it lists business that may open.

Retail businesses allowed to open are listed in sections 2-10 and 33(2). Section 10 allows other retailers to operate if:

  • Sales are made using alternative methods like curbside (i.e. customers aren’t entering “the indoor area of the business”)
  • If the business allows customers to pick up items, it must either have a public entrance opening onto a street or exterior sidewalk OR in a mall have a designated pickup location set by the mall
  • Pickup items have to be ordered before arriving at the business
  • Hours are limited to 7am-8pm

Some financial services are allowed to be open.

  • Section 30 permits businesses that provide “accounting and tax services” to operate.

Health Care and Social Service providers that are allowed to operate are listed beginning at number 52.

  • Section 52 permits home care or personal support services to seniors and persons with disabilities
  • Section 54 permits professionals and organizations to provide in-person counselling services
  • Section 60 permits organizations to provide food, shelter, safety or protection and/or social services and other necessities of life to economically disadvantaged and other vulnerable individuals

The bottom line is that if you’re providing, delivering or facilitating goods and services to vulnerable communities, there’s a good chance one of the permissive sections in the SAH Order and Rules will apply. It’s a matter of properly characterizing your activities and carefully reading the SAH Order and Rules to ensure you’re within the scope of those sections.

Our members are engaged in such a vast spectrum of charitable works, this post almost certainly doesn’t cover all of the potential ways in which charities are meeting community needs – but hopefully this overview gives many of you both a place to start and some encouragement that there are ways to continue in your love and good works!

Want more? Join our online discussion in The Green about challenges facing believers in pandemic. You can talk about pandemic-related restrictions, creative engagement, how to respond, challenges and opportunities and more!

Noteworthy is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Every organization’s circumstances are unique. Before acting on the basis of information contained in this blog, readers should consult with a qualified lawyer for advice specific to their situation.

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