As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the Ontario provincial government released an updated list of essential workplaces that can remain physically open during the pandemic. These restrictions are put in place to minimize contact between people and reduce the spread of COVID-19. It is not unreasonable for separated parents to be concerned about the well-being of their child if the other parent works in a business or industry that falls within one of the listed essential workplaces. Anyone who continues to come into regular contact with the general public is presumably more likely to have more exposure to the virus.

However, this may not meet the legal threshold for the suspension of access. In Zee v. Quon, Justice Nakonechny ruled that the court is not convinced that parenting time should be suspended for the reason that the Applicant mother is a healthcare professional. In this case, the Respondent father refused to relinquish care of their child to the Applicant mother, even though there was a previously agreed parenting schedule, on the ground that she works as a physiotherapist at Sunnybrook Hospital. The father argued that the mother is of ‘high-risk profession’ in becoming exposed to the coronavirus, therefore parenting time with their daughter should be suspended indefinitely.

The court ruled that it is in the best interests of the child for her to spend time with both parents. In addition to the fact that the court was satisfied that the mother and Sunnybrook Hospital are well aware of the COVID-19 related protocols, Justice Nakonechny wrote that disrupting the status quo would signal to the child that her mother is incapable of caring for and keeping her safe throughout the crisis. 

It appears that the party asking for the court to suspend an ongoing access schedule on the grounds of the other parent’s profession must be able to show specific examples as to how their workplace would negatively affect the child’s well-being.

This blog post is not intended to be legal advice and was written for general education purposes.

The above information is NOT legal advice of any kind, and you should be sure to speak to a qualified family law lawyer about your specific situation related to COVID-19, child custody and access. For more information, on how to find justice during a pandemic, call us at 905-273-4588 or email us at contact@kainfamilylaw.com to book a free 30-minute consultation with one of our experienced family law lawyers at Kain & Ball Family Law.

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