COVID-19:  Cross country update (July 14 & 15, 2020)

July 15, 2020


The Government of Canada announced the following measures:

Support for International Students

In response to COVID-19, a number of temporary policy changes were made to support international students, learning institutions and other stakeholders:

  • International students with valid study permits beginning on or before March 18, 2020 are exempt from travel restrictions which prevent foreign nationals from entering the country;
  • Students who were forced to study online or take a break from their studies are permitted to continue working if their permits allow it;
  • Students in Canada have been assured that they won’t lose their eligibility for post-graduation work permits if forced to complete more than 50% of their program online, study online or take a temporary study break;
  • Until August 31, 2020 students are permitted to work more than 20 hours a week if they are working in an essential service; and
  • After graduation, work permits will not be negatively affected if students are forced to begin their studies online outside of Canada.

For more information on these supports visit the Government of Canada’s website.


British Columbia

The Government of British Columbia announced the following measures:

Proposed Changes to Workers Compensation Act

The B.C. Government has proposed changes to the Workers Compensation Act designed to provide better support to injured workers and to enhance WorkSafeBC’s ability to investigate workplace incidents, while keeping premiums low.

The changes include:

  • raising the maximum annual salary amount on which workers’ compensation benefits are based;
  • authorizing WorkSafeBC to provide preventative medical treatment before a claim is accepted;
  • giving powers to the court to issue WorkSafeBC search and seizure warrants that are appropriate for investigating workplace safety infractions; and
  • using victim impact statements in serious workplace prosecutions and trials.

The proposed amendments also include a change that would simplify compensation claims for workers who contract viruses on the job.

For more information, see this news release.

New Supports for Post-Secondary Students

Applications for StudentAid BC, along with the new non-repayable B.C. Access Grant, are now open.  Students who apply for StudentAid BC will be automatically assessed for the new B.C. Access Grant, which will provide students up to $4,000 a year to help with the up-front cost of programs leading to a certificate, diploma or degree.

Additional supports for students include:

  • $1.5 million to be shared by 20 public post-secondary institutions throughout B.C. to develop or build upon supports for students with cognitive, mental health or physical disabilities;
  • $275,000 to BCcampus to develop online resources and tools on well-being for students, staff and faculty;
  • $3 million to be invested in new open educational resources (OER) to allow for free access to textbooks and other materials; and
  • $400,000 to allow BCcampus to create fully developed OER courses and support services for a broad range of the most popular courses.



The Government of Manitoba announced the following measures:

Extension of State of Emergency

The province-wide state of emergency previously effected under The Emergency Measures Act will continue for an additional period of 30 days in order to help reduce and manage the spread of COVID-19.  Information regarding the state of emergency and public health orders can be found on the Manitoba Government’s website.

Premier Calls for Changes to Canada Emergency Response Benefit

Manitoba’s Premier, Brian Pallister, has called on the Federal Government to make changes to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) so as to not provide a disincentive for Canadians who want to return to work.  The Premier expressed concern about the CERB rules that disqualify all workers who earn more than $1,000 a month from receiving the CERB and instead suggested a phased reduction of the CERB as workers return to work, whether in previous or new employment.

The Premier has also written to the other Canadian premiers, urging them to join his call for changes to the CERB and for the expansion of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to provide an incentive for Canadians to return to work.

Extensions to COVID-19 Supports

Premier Brian Pallister has announced the expansion of the Back to Work in Manitoba Wage Subsidy Program.  The expanded program provides for the reimbursement to employers of 50% of wage costs between July 16 and October 31, to a maximum of $5,000 per employee and a maximum of 10 employees.  Applications for the wage subsidy can made starting on July 16 at noon and ending on October 1, 2020.

Additionally, the deadline for applications for the Manitoba Gap Protection Program has been extended from July 31 to August 31.  Businesses that are ineligible for federal support can apply for $6,000 under this program.



The Government of Ontario announced the following measures:

Made-in-Ontario N95 Masks

The Ontario Government is providing Eclipse Innovations Inc. with $1,408,475 from the Ontario Together Fund to scale up its operations to manufacture made-in-Ontario N95 masks, an important piece of personal protective equipment (PPE) used to protect workers in healthcare and industrial settings. This investment will enable Eclipse Innovations Inc. to make one million N95 masks per week.  Employers are reminded that the Workplace PPE Supplier Directory provides information on PPE suppliers.

Increasing PPE and Supporting Youth Employment

FedDev Ontario contribution of up to $2.9 million will be given to Molded Precision Components to support the company’s expanded use of its cube injection molding system technology, which is used to create protective face shields.  It will also enable the company to employ 65 co-op students.



The Government of Quebec announced the following measures:

Gradual Return to Office Buildings

On July 15, the Québec government announced that private employers will be able to allow their employees to return to work in office buildings as of July 18. The maximum occupancy rate is 25% per company; the government indicated that this maximum is not an objective to be reached and that teleworking is still strongly encouraged. This occupancy rate could be gradually increased in the coming months.

Wearing of masks will be mandatory in all common areas of establishments, including those in office buildings, such as lobbies, elevators and corridors, where it is not possible to respect the physical distance of two metres.


Le gouvernement du Québec a annoncé les mesures suivantes :

Retour progressif du personnel des entreprises du secteur privé dans les édifices à bureaux

Le 15 juillet, le gouvernement du Québec a annoncé que les employeurs privés pourront permettre le retour au travail de leur personnel dans les édifices à bureaux à compter du 18 juillet. Le taux d’occupation maximal est de 25% par entreprise; le gouvernement précise que ce maximum n’est pas un objectif à atteindre et que le télétravail est toujours fortement encouragé. Ce taux d’occupation pourrait être augmenté graduellement dans les prochains mois.

Le port du masque sera obligatoire dans toutes les aires communes d’établissement, notamment ceux d’édifices à bureaux, comme les halls d’entrée, les ascenseurs et les corridors, où il n’est pas possible de respecter la distanciation physique de deux mètres.


New Brunswick

The Government of New Brunswick announced the following measures:

Essential Worker Wage Top-Up Program

On July 14, amendments were made to the essential worker wage top-up program to include:

  1. Enhanced support workers in early learning and childcare facilities, who will receive monthly payments of approximately $500 over 16 weeks retroactive to May 19; and
  2. Private care home and family support workers providing direct personal care to social development clients living at home, who will receive monthly payments over 16 weeks between March 19 to July 9, 2020 up to:
    • $500 for hours at or above 30 hours per week;
    • $250 for hours of at least 20 but less than 30 per week; and
    • $100 for hours of at least 10 but less than 20 per week.

More information can be found in an FAQ created by the New Brunswick Government.

Explore NB Travel Incentive

The Explore NB Travel Incentive program allows residents of New Brunswick to apply for a 20% rebate (up to $1,000) on eligible expenses made while taking a vacation that includes a paid overnight stay in the province between July 15 and September 30.  There are four categories of eligible expenses in New Brunswick:

  • accommodations (i.e. hotels, motels, inns, B&Bs and campsites);
  • food and drink (i.e. restaurants and food trucks);
  • activities (i.e. entrance fees to attractions, museums, art galleries, cultural events and outdoor adventure activities); and
  • travel (i.e. vehicle rentals, ferries and parking).

To qualify, the applicant must be:

  • a permanent resident of New Brunswick;
  • have valid and detailed receipts from registered New Brunswick businesses; and
  • have a paid overnight stay at a New Brunswick accommodation.



The Government of Nunavut announced the following measures:

Re-Opening of Licensed Establishments

On July 20, 2020, the territory is allowing all licensed establishments to open with regular hours.

Travel to Churchill, Manitoba

The Government of Nunavut announced that it will be extending its common travel area to include Churchill, Manitoba.  The common travel area applies to air, land and water travel and exempts travellers from isolation requirements in either Nunavut or Churchill if certain conditions are met:

  • Travel must originate from Nunavut to Churchill or from Churchill to Nunavut;
  • Travellers must not have been outside either Churchill or Nunavut for 2 weeks prior to travelling; and
  • Travellers must remain in either Nunavut or Churchill for the duration of their stay.

Prior to travelling outside of Nunavut, travellers must contact the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer for Nunavut and provide:

  • Contact information, such as an address and phone number, at the person’s regular place of residence; and
  • A written declaration that can be obtained by emailing or by going to the Department of Health’s website.


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