COVID-19:  Cross country update (August 11-12, 2020)

August 12, 2020

Federal

The Government of Canada announced the following measures:

Updated Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Calculator

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) is designed to help employers who have been impacted by COVID-19 to keep workers on their payroll or bring back laid off employees.  Recent enhancements for Period 5 include expanded eligibility criteria, the introduction of a sliding revenue-decline test to determine the subsidy amount and a top-up subsidy for the most impacted employers.

The Government of Canada has launched an updated CEWS online calculator, with the goal of helping employers prepare to apply for the next period of the CEWS program (Period 5), which opens to applications on August 17, 2020.

The CEWS calculator can be found on the CRA’s Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy web page, which includes detailed information to help employers understand how the CEWS can support their employees and operations, who is eligible to apply, and how claim periods are structured. The calculator allows employers to enter their information to get an estimate of the subsidy they can expect to receive.

Support for Indigenous Peoples Living in Urban Centres

As part of a previously announced $1.7 billion in support to Indigenous and northern communities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian Government has announced $24.6 million in funding to help Indigenous Peoples living in urban centres.  This funding will be allocated to the National Association of Friendship Centres, the 2 Spirits in Motion Society, and the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples to support national projects addressing critical needs, including food security, mental health support services, housing needs, emergency supplies, and the development of a COVID-19 Pandemic Response for 2 Spirited People in Canada.  The funding may also be used for support for Elders, transportation, and educational materials for Indigenous children and youth.

Support for Farmers and Agri-Food Producers

To help Canada’s farmers and agri-food producers cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian Government has announced a number of supports:

  • $2.6 million in funding for the Food Processing Development Centre in Leduc, Alberta to support the installation of equipment focused on supporting companies to develop new plant-based foods and products (for more information, see this news release);
  • $3 million in funding for Northern Ontario’s agri-food sector to help the sector innovate, grow and create jobs (for more information, see this news release);
  • $2.5 million in funding for two food manufacturers in southern Ontario, Florentina Foods and Terra Cotta Foods Ltd. (for more information, see this news release); and
  • $10 million in funding to support 27 projects in the agri-food industry in Quebec to help businesses enhance their productivity through the acquisition of digital and automated equipment, the diversification of their products and services, and the modernization of facilities (for more information, see this news release).

Additional Funding for the Indigenous Community Support Fund

The Indigenous Community Support Fund (the “Fund”) was first announced on March 18, 2020 and has so far allocated $380 million in funding to Indigenous communities and organizations.  On August 12, 2020, the Minister of Indigenous Services, Marc Miller, announced an additional $305 million for this Fund to support Indigenous Peoples during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Fund will be distributed through a combination of First Nations, Inuit and Métis leadership and will be available to First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities, as well as Indigenous communities and organizations serving Indigenous peoples, including First Nations living off-reserve as well as Inuit and Métis living in urban centres, on an application basis. Further details are expected soon.

The Fund can be used to support Elders and vulnerable community members, address food insecurity, provide educational and other supports for children, provide mental health assistance and emergency response services, implement measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and more.

 

British Columbia

The Government of British Columbia announced the following measures:

Orientation Week Implemented to Ensure Safe Return to School

The Government of British Columbia announced an orientation week to welcome staff and students back into classrooms. The week of September 8 -11 will be used as a gradual restart to give students and staff extra time to orient themselves to the new health and safety measures in place.

On September 8, all staff will meet with their school’s joint health and safety committees to receive instructions on how the updated guidelines will work with their schools. Students will be returning to school by September 10.

For more information on British Columbia’s Return to School plan, visit the Government of British Columbia’s website.

Hundreds of Contact Tracers to be Hired

The Province will hire approximately 500 additional temporary health professionals to increase contact tracing around British Columbia. Contact tracing involves following up with individuals who test positive for COVID-19 to determine who their contacts may have been and providing appropriate follow up. Some of these positions will also support public health services, including providing education in communities and possibly immunizing for influenza.

BC Ferries Eligible for Safe Restart Funding

The federal and provincial governments have confirmed that the transit funding envelope of the Safe Restart Agreement will include eligibility for BC Ferries. Funding will be based on considerations that put the public’s interest first. This is to ensure fares remain affordable and essential ferry service is maintained.

 

Alberta

The Government of Alberta announced the following measures:

COVID-19 Testing Before 2020-21 School Year

Asymptomatic testing is recommended for all teachers and staff in the Early Childhood Services to Grade 12 education system prior to the start of the 2020-21 school year.  Tests should be booked as soon as possible through Alberta Health Services using the online self-assessment tool or by contacting a participating local community pharmacy.

To ensure availability for teachers and staff, Albertans who are asymptomatic and have no known exposure to COVID are asked to wait until after September 1 to access asymptomatic testing.

 

Saskatchewan

The Government of Saskatchewan announced the following measures:

Safe Schools Plan: Safe Attendance Procedures for Illness in Care

To ensure the safety of all members of Saskatchewan’s school community this fall, local administrative procedures have been developed for students who exhibit signs and symptoms consistent with COVID-19. All schools must identify a designated isolation area for any staff or student presenting with COVID-19 symptoms. Parents or caregivers will be called immediately to come and pick up the student.  School officials must also contact Public Health to provide notification of the student being removed from the school.  Public Health will then conduct an initial assessment and provide direction to the school.

Teachers who develop such symptoms must inform their designated school official to provide alternative arrangements for in-class instruction, and must also notify Public Health. For more details, see this news release.

Safe Schools Plan: Level 2 Guidance Released

Guidance for school divisions moving to Level 2 has been released and includes students in grades 4 to 12 wearing a mask in high traffic areas, and students in grades 9 to 12 wearing masks in the classroom when it is not possible to maintain physical distancing or when students are outside of their classroom cohort. The masking and physical distancing requirements also apply to all teachers and staff.

The Government of Saskatchewan has procured six million disposable masks for schools, which will be made available to students, teachers and staff at the beginning of the school year and on a daily basis.

 

Manitoba

The Government of Manitoba announced the following measures:

Official Launch of #RestartMB Campaign

The Manitoba Government has formally launched its #RestartMB campaign as a roadmap to recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The campaign’s tagline is “Ready. Safe. Grow.” and focuses on both public safety and economic recovery reinforcing these messages:

  • Manitoba is ready for what lies ahead – ready to live with COVID-19, ready to return to school, ready to restart services, create jobs and grow the economy;
  • Staying safe is the first step to growth – the province must continue to act and follow public health advice to keep COVID-19 test positivity cases low and learn to live with the virus; and
  • Manitoba will grow its way out of this economic challenge and take action to ensure the province is in a stronger place after COVID-19 passes.

The campaign will solicit feedback through the EngageMB.ca portal and will drive awareness of government programs and supports.

National Paid Sick Leave Program

The Manitoba government is calling on the Federal Government to finalize details of the Pan-Canadian Sick Leave Program so that Manitobans and all Canadians can stay home from work when needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 without financial hardship.  This program was announced as part of the Safe Restart Agreement between Canada and all provinces and territories.

Enhancements Made to PPE App

The B2B Manitoba App was launched in May to help connect Manitoba businesses with non-medical grade personal protective equipment and other supplies needed to operate safely.  Recent enhancements have been made to the App to allow businesses to contract health and safety services, such as product installation, laundry, cleaning and disinfection. In addition, the enhanced tool now includes:

  • a helpful home page explanation video;
  • the ability to save search queries, page places and filters for an improved user experience;
  • manufacturing location, shipping time and ships-from data; and
  • encouragement for vendors to list smaller lot sizes, which will help small businesses operate on a just-in-time basis and manage inventory.

The tool is available for all businesses, including not for profits, schools and daycares.

State of Emergency Extended

The province-wide state of emergency under The Emergency Measures Act will be extended effective 4 p.m. August 12, for a period of 30 days, to allow for the continued support of COVID-19 pandemic work.

 

Ontario

The Government of Ontario announced the following measures:

2020-21 First Quarter Finances and Additional Investments

The Ontario Government recently released its 2020-21 First Quarter Finances as well as an update to Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19. With respect to the latter, the government is making additional investments in the ongoing fight against COVID-19, which include:

  • an increase of $4.4 billion to provide ongoing support for health care services, including those in long-term care homes; and
  • an increase of $7.3 billion to support people and jobs.

Including these measures, the Ontario Government is now projecting a deficit of $38.5 billion in 2020-21, with total revenue projected to be $150.6 billion.  The Province’s next fiscal update will be a multi-year provincial Budget, to be delivered no later than November 15, 2020.

$1.6 Billion in First Round of Emergency Funding for Municipalities

As previously announced, the Safe Restart Agreement provides a total of up to $4 billion in funding to Ontario’s 444 municipalities and 110 public transit providers.  This includes up to $2 billion to relieve municipal financial pressures created by COVID-19 ($777 million from the Federal Government and $1.22 billion from the Ontario Government) and up to $2 billion for public transit, which will be cost-shared equally between Ontario and the Federal Governments.

On August 12, it was announced that municipalities will be provided with up to $1.6 billion as part of the first round of emergency funding under the Safe Restart Agreement to help municipalities protect the health and well-being of Ontarians, while continuing to deliver critical public services, such as public transit and shelters.  Additional funding will be available in Phase 2 after municipalities provide the province with information on their estimated COVID-19 financial pressures.  For more information, see this news release.

 

Quebec

The Government of Quebec announced the following measures:

Montréal – State of Emergency Renewal

On August 12, the Montréal agglomeration extended the state of emergency on its territory until August 17.

__________

Le gouvernement du Québec a annoncé les mesures suivantes :

Montréal – Renouvellement de l’état d’urgence

Le 12 août, l’agglomération de Montréal a renouvelé l’état d’urgence jusqu’au 17 août sur l’ensemble de son territoire.

 

Newfoundland and Labrador

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced the following measures:

Essential Worker Support Program

Employers are reminded to submit applications under the Newfoundland and Labrador COVID-19 Essential Worker Support Program by August 20, 2020.  This program provides a temporary wage top-up to essential workers employed during Alert level 4 and 5 of the COVID-19 pandemic and who have a maximum gross monthly income of $3,000.

 

New Brunswick

The Government of New Brunswick announced the following measures:

New Public Health Recovery Alert Levels Announced

New triggers and revised public health recovery alert levels have been unveiled that take into consideration new scientific knowledge and the effectiveness of previous control measures in Canada and other countries.  The revised phases and key highlights are:

  • Yellow Alert Level (current level):
    • Virus is considered controlled but there remains a risk of community transmission;
    • Physical distancing and standard public health measures continue; and
    • Public venues with seating can reduce physical distancing to one metre with the use of a mask and under the condition there is no food and drink being consumed. This measure already applies to public transit and will apply starting August 17 to theatres or recreational facilities.
  • Orange Alert Level:
    • There is a significant risk that COVID-19 is no longer under control;
    • Restrictions will be placed on non-essential contact activities, including some work activities;
    • Public venues with seating can reduce physical distancing to one metre with the use of a mask and under the condition there is no food and drink being consumed;
    • Allows unregulated health professionals to operate;
    • Close contact services remain closed (barbers, hair stylists, spas, etc.); and
    • Residents may have a two-household bubble and are able to add formal or informal caregivers and members of their immediate family (parents, children, siblings and grandparents).
  • Red Alert Level:
    • COVID-19 is no longer under control;
    • Implementation of strong restrictions to ensure unnecessary movement is limited;
    • Many businesses allowed to continue to operate under the condition that they have the appropriate health measures in place;
    • Residents have a one-household bubble and are able to add formal or informal caregivers and members of their immediate family;
    • Daycares remain open under appropriate guidance;
    • Kindergarten to Grade 12 are limited to virtual instruction only; and
    • All primary care providers and regulated health professionals can continue to offer their services utilizing virtual means whenever possible.
  • Green Alert Level:
    • End of the pandemic; and
    • All directives specific to COVID-19 are lifted.

For more details on the phases, New Brunswick’s Recovery Plan.

 

Miller Thomson is closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation to ensure that we provide our clients with appropriate support in this rapidly changing environment. For articles, information updates and firm developments, please visit our COVID-19 Resources page.

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