Q&A’s from the Workshops

The following summarizes answers to any questions or issues raised during the webinars.   The Q&A’s have been organized by portfolio and topic.

Click on the question to reveal the answer.

Human Resources

Employees, Contractors and Clergy

How many hours does an employee have to work each week to be eligible for benefits?
In order to qualify for benefits, an employee needs to work 20 hours per week.

Are organists and choir leaders typically employees or contractors?
This question is difficult to answer without having all the facts and it is not always easy to see the delineation. Typically, an organist and choir leader is an employee. The music is under the direction of the priest and the parish decides their hours. There are rare situations where an organist might be an independent contractor but they are rare. If you are unsure, then you need to review the comprehensive criteria by CRA to determine who is an employee vs an independent contractor. Please contact Human Resources for guidance as each situation is different.

If you laid-off an individual due to COVID-19 who was self-employed, are you required to rehire them?
Those are competing statements because if you were laying-off a self-employed individual they are an independent contractor. An employee laid off due to COVID-19 has job protected leave under the new rules that the government has released.  An individual who is self employed would imply that they are an independent contractor. Your obligations in reference to termination of those services would be detailed in the independent contractor agreement. I would highly recommend that you contact Human Resources directly for guidance as each situation needs to be reviewed carefully.

Responsible Ministry: Screening in Faith

Are individuals who have keys to the church building considered high-risk ministry positions?
Yes, having keys to the building typically would make a position high-risk because it means that the person can have unsupervised access to the building or people at any time. However, we recommend that you review the entire job description and complete the Risk Assessment Checklist (Appendix D) to determine the risk factors and make a determination. If you require help, don’t hesitate to contact a member of the Human Resources team.

How often are high-risk employees required to get a Police Record Check?
At the beginning of their ministry and every three years thereafter.

How can parishes offer Screening in Faith and Sexual Misconduct Policy training workshops during the COVID-19 pandemic? Rather than having it at the parish or deanery level, it would be more efficient to have a Diocesan or Area-wide webinar such as this one. It would be the best way to prepare to resume high-risk ministries to children and elders when our buildings re-open. Would Human Resources be able to offer this?
Parishes can offer these training workshops by webinar and clergy are encouraged to contact their Regional Dean because parishes can come together to do it together. Like all ministry during this time, we need to find creative ways to do complete the Sexual Misconduct Policy training. You can book a webinar or online conference call with participants and go through the same training you would do in person. You could also ask participants to read the policy and then follow up with a phone call to ensure they understand it and answer questions.

We are beginning a pastoral parish phone ministry, what level of risk (low, medium, high) would this be? Would a Police Record Check be needed? How would screening happen during the pandemic?
You will need to assess the position using your job description and the attached assessment checklist (see above) in order to determinate level of risk. A Police Record Check is required if the position is assessed to be high risk.

Are two screened adults required when working with children and youth on a Zoom call?
Yes, screened adults are required when working with children and youth on a zoom call.

How does COVID-19 affect the hiring or re-hiring of staff and the Police Record Check requirement?
Police Record checks are required for all new employees and rehired employees in positions that are assessed as high risk.

Health & Safety

Do first aid and safety representatives need to be staff members?
Yes, first aid and safety representatives need to be staff members.

Are Health and Safety policies, including WSIB, required for a church with less than three employees?
All parishes must implement appropriate health and safety standards for their context. Health and safety policies are required for organizations that have 5 or more employees however it would be best practise to have a health and safety policy no matter how many employees you have. WSIB is not a requirement. It is each Parish’s individual decision. The advantages of a parish having WSIB are significant. Since most parishes do not provide short-term disability coverage, employees have assurance that they will continue to be paid while recovering from a WSIB approved workplace injury.

Are all parish website required to be AODA compliant?
Parishes that have less than 50 employees are not required to have their websites AODA compliant.

Do we have an accident/incident report template available on our website?
Several templates including an accident/critical injury report are available on the Health & Safety page on the diocesan website.

Property Resources

License and Lease Agreements

What is the difference between a Lease Agreement and a License Agreement?
A Lease Agreement is when you are giving exclusive use of a space, for instance, a Day Care or rectory whereas a License Agreement gives permission to use a room for a particular time.

The tenant in our rectory is leaving the end of June. Are we allowed to rent the rectory a gain at this time or should we wait?
Yes, you can rent the rectory; however, leadership should understand that regardless of what you write into the Lease Agreement you cannot evict that tenant. You may want to speak to your Area Bishop because of the strategic use of our rectories for mission and ministry going forward.

Would a License Agreement with Boy Scouts or Girl Guides be considered high risk?
Yes. High Risk Licenses include minors, vulnerable adults, other faith communities, registered psychotherapy, dog obedience classes and other similar licensees.
The full Canon 6 process applies for all new https://news.ontario.ca/opo/en/2020/06/ontario-permits-more-businesses-and-services-to-reopen-in-the-coming-days.html and renewal agreements. For mandatory insurance requirements, see the Summary Chart.

With churches closed for public worship during the summer, how does that affect our ability to resume tenancies, provided they are observing proper COVID-19 guidelines?
This is evolving on a daily basis. Essentially the Province of Ontario has re-opened places of worship. Parish leaders will need to determine whether their tenants are allowed to operate and request plans for their compliance with municipal, provincial and federal government requirements.

Has COVID-19 made existing contracts, lease/license agreements null and void?
No however, churches have had to deny access to their premises by order of the province.

What about other congregations which have a License Agreement with us? Can they resume worship services even though we ourselves are not resuming worship services? If we are not comfortable with that, do we have any ability to restrict that?
Churches are now considered open by the province. This means that we no longer have any reason to deny groups access that we have existing rental/lease agreements with provided that those groups are permitted to meet and we can ensure safe access. Before other churches are allowed access to our space, each church must ensure that their space has been properly cleaned and that protocols have been established for social distancing and cleaning. It could take several weeks before churches are able to safely allow other worshiping communities access to our churches.

With respect to say, day cares or AA groups using our facilities, should we get in writing a specific plan about their ‘clean-up’ and how it complies with government standards?
You should be getting assurances that those groups have plans to comply with all government guidelines. That would include limiting the number of people that can attend those meetings and how the organization is going to comply.

Can you outline any new responsibilities we might have toward our regular renters, such as a Montessori school, given the pandemic?
With respect to rent relief it is a parish by parish decision.  Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CERCA) or Ontario-Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (OCERCA) is a program that will provide a forgivable loan to parishes if, over a 3 month period, they have reduced the rent to between 0 and 25% of the original rent.  If qualified, parishes would receive some money back in the form of a grant.  There is an application form that must be completed and a modified attestation form.

Our church facility is closed. Would our renter (e.g. yoga group or AA) be allowed in to use the facility during this time?
Churches are no longer closed.  Because we are not having worship services does not change that our buildings have been reopened.  If people who lease or license space are able to open, yes, provided that we are certain that they are going to be able to do so safely.  This also includes other denominations that use our space.  Some groups have not been permitted to reopen yet.

If your incumbent is renting the rectory are there any potential conflict-of-interest scenarios?
With the incumbent in the rectory and there would not typically be a Lease Agreement.  There would be a deemed housing value as it is part of an incumbents remuneration.  An amount equal to the rental value would be included on the T4.  Without specifics, it is not possible to speak to any potential conflict of interest.

What is defined as a “commercial size parking lot” for small parish?
The size of the lot doesn’t matter, it is the number of spaced rented that is the determinant.  A commercial lot is considered renting out 20 or more parking spaces.

Is a limousine considered commercial vehicle?  Can you have 4 limos as part of your 20 parking places?
A limousine is considered a commercial vehicle.  No commercial vehicles are allowed.

Can licenses be for longer than 12 months?
Yes, they can be brought forward for consideration.

Capital Improvements

Is Diocesan Council permission required to install a wheelchair accessible washroom while we are still closed?
If the scope of work requires a building permit, Diocesan Council permission is required.  If the total construction cost is less than $75,000 you may be able to use the simplified Canon 6 process.  See Renovations/Capital Improvements page.

If you are looking to purchase a new sign for the front lawn, does this require approval?
This depends on the scope of work.  Parishes are also encouraged to check with their municipality regarding any requirements/by-laws on signage. 


Do churchwardens have personal liability in their role? In a “corporation”, typically there is no personal liability for Directors and Officers but in a “trust” the liability does “flow” right through to Trustees. Where do churchwardens fit in?
Our corporate structure is that each parish is separate corporation, and the Churchwardens form that corporation. They are not in that role personally, they are in that role as the corporation. If the church is sued they will be named in their role as a Churchwarden not as an individual.
Churchwardens are covered under the Directors and Officers liability insurance.

Who is covered by Directors & Officers liability insurance, just the churchwardens?
The church’s liability insurance also includes volunteers.


We are applying for a grant from the municipality which disburses fund from the federal government. The grant requires the legal owner to sign the grant form.  Should the Incumbent and Churchwardens sign as trustees for the Diocese?
It would depend on who is on title.  If the property is listed in the name of the church then the Incumbent and Churchwardens would sign, if it’s the Incorporated Synod of the Diocese of Toronto listed, the Diocese would need to sign.  The parish should not apply for the grant without Diocesan approval if they are required to agree to any historical designation or other designation that may constrict future building use/modifications.

Without an incumbent is the priest-in-charge a signing authority?
Yes, pursuant to Canon 9(14) a priest-in-charge exercises the function of an incumbent for the period of their appointment.

Is it only Churchwardens that have signing authority or does this also apply to Deputy Churchwardens?
At its annual meeting, the Vestry names and authorizes signing officers who include the Churchwardens and may include other members of the Vestry nominated by the Churchwardens.  A Deputy Churchwarden may be authorized by Vestry to exercise the same level of signing authority granted to a Churchwarden provided they are nominated in writing by both Churchwardens.

What resources are available to parishes without the financial resources to pay for extensive changes to old buildings to make them accessible?
This will vary from municipality to municipality and depending on what is available at any one time.  There may be certain incentives from the government.  There is not a lot of money available.  The Property Resources department may be aware of possible grants or incentives.


Are you aware whether our insurer or user group insurers are exempting the pandemic from their policies?
There is no coverage for financial losses due to closure during the pandemic.

Is there any reduction to insurance premiums during the COVID-19 pandemic as our building is not being used?
Although our buildings are not being used there remains an insurable risk with our buildings and at the end of each year, our insurer provides us with loss ratios and that is part of what determines rates for the next year.  It has been to our benefit that our insurance company is treating our buildings as not being vacant even though churches were closed for a period.

Are workplace injuries covered under general insurance or should we look at separate WSIB coverage?
Your insurance will provide coverage however if you have WSIB you will need to look to that coverage first.  If it’s a workplace injury and you have WSIB, you need to report that through WSIB and need to complete a Form 7 immediately.

Why did you change brokers? Our rates went way up.
Periodically, brokers are reviewed by conducting a Request For Proposal.  About four years ago, the decision was made to change brokers from Marsh Canada to Aon.  Insurance rates are set by the insurer, not the broker and all insurance markets in the last year have seen significant increases in premium.

When we got our notice about our insurance premium this year, there was a huge leap in price.  Was this a one-off?
Insurance rates are determined by the market and by claims experience.  Globally, the insurance industry has experienced large losses and as a result, this has caused an increase in premiums.  The Diocese of Toronto program has also experienced a high frequency of claims, which has also worked against us.  This makes reviewing risk assessments tools and doing routine maintenance on our buildings all the more important.

Why do we need to go through AON for insurance renewals?
We have a Diocesan Insurance Program which means that every parish in the Diocese has the same policy and same wording.   A group policy will provide coverages and wording that are beneficial and not generally available to an individual parish. 

If work like shovelling/salting the walk is done by a paid independent contractor, do we still keep a logbook or would we refer to their records?
It is still necessary to monitor when the work is done and that it is done adequately.  It is good practice to keep a logbook.  This comes down to your agreement with the contractor.  Under the agreement they are responsible and if they don’t do a reasonable job or timely work, in the event of a fall, they would be one of the parties responding.


Who makes up the Diocesan council?
There are approx. 40 members, the Bishop of Toronto is Chair.

If Diocesan Council doesn’t meet again until September, can final approval for church renovation work not be given until then, or could Executive Board and Trusts Committee deal with it?
Unless an emergency arises, the plan is to bring forward items of approval to the September meeting.  The deadline to submit materials to the Diocesan Centre is September 3, 2020.  Low risk leases and licenses can move forward during the summer provided that all checklist items are followed.

Is the timing of the approval process, i.e. for capital improvements impacted by the current situation with the pandemic and shutdowns?
In terms of the summer there will not be an impact.  In March, Diocesan Council gave power to act to the Executive Board and Trusts Committee so that we could deal with matters in a more expeditious way.  Diocesan Council will start to sit again in the normal process in September.

What parish historical information should be sent to the Diocesan Centre Archives for safe keeping?
Materials of archival value that are not being used on a regular basis.  The Archives has an area set aside that has a fire suppression unit so that in the event of a fire the documents would be maintained.  Additionally, Archives is set up for the document filing and retrieval.

Do we have an approved product for sanitization?
No although we will be providing a resource next week that will contain a list of potential suppliers of personal protection equipment and cleaning products.

When we start to congregate, will the Diocesan have specific guidelines for parishes?
Yes, there will be a re-entry guide posted on the Diocesan website by June 30, 2020.  See Guidelines for Reopening in the Diocese of Toronto


Allotment and Billing

With regard to the Jubilee, how will parishes receive the York Rectory income, will it be paid out or a credit on the July invoice?
With the approval of the Jubilee, the York Rectory income has been suspended from April to June 2020.  At the time of approval, it was not known what the income was going to be and whether the income would sustain the dividend being paid out.  The York Rectory Fund Commissioners will be meeting to determine the credit moving forward based on what is sustainable.

How is allotment calculated?
The Diocesan Allotment is each parish’s share of the Diocesan budget. The allotment is calculated by using the formula outlined in Canon 4; the past three years of Assessable Base are multiplied by the Assessment Rate approved by Synod.  This is also part of our contribution as Anglicans to the ministry of the wider church.

Please explain the difference between restricted versus non-restricted funds?
A restricted fund is a reserve account that funds can only be used for specific purposes that was defined by the donors when it was established, whereas non-restricted funds can be used for general operations.

Consolidated Trust Fund (CTF)

What are dividends from the CTF and how are they accounted?
The Investment Committee determines the Dividend Rate on an annual basis.  The Committee has set 4.25% as the Dividend Rate for 2020.  The dividend payout ($9.99) is calculated by taking the Dividend Rate (4.25%) multiplying that by the unit value and is paid out quarterly each year.

What is your forecast for the revaluation of funds in the CTF at the end of 2020?
Don’t have the answer as market is hard to predict, however the fund has not declined as bad as originally anticipated as we have a diversified investment portfolio, and market has recovered significantly since April.

Internal Controls

We have been meeting the requirement to have two people count offerings/donations by having one person in the office and the second person in a live chat/zoom, witnessing the count.  Is this meeting the spirit of the requirement?
I believe we have to utilize technology to meet the internal control requirement during the period of the pandemic, while following the government protocols on social distancing.

Can a parish get a credit card?
As long as the limit is not high and there are sound approval processes in place for the card.




Can a parish apply for a loan that will be liquidated within a year without Diocesan Council approval?
Yes, although you do need to make sure that the loan will be liquidated within a year.  This would typically apply to a line of credit from a bank that you may draw on from time to time.  An example would be during the summer you may borrow when cash flow is not great and then essentially pay it back in the fall.