COVID-19: Cross country update (July 16-17, 2020)

July 17, 2020

Federal

The Government of Canada announced the following measures:

Proposed Expansion to Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

Finance Minister, Bill Morneau, has announced proposed changes to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) to broaden its reach including:

  • Extending the CEWS until December 19, 2020;
  • Making the subsidy accessible to a broader range of employers by including employers with a revenue decline of less than 30% and providing a gradually decreasing base subsidy to all qualifying employers;
  • Introducing a top-up subsidy of up to an additional 25% for employers that have been most adversely affected by the pandemic;
  • Providing certainty to employers that have already made business decisions for July and August by ensuring they would not receive a subsidy rate lower than they would have had under the previous rules; and
  • Addressing certain technical issues identified by stakeholders.

For more information, see: Backgrounder – Adapting the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to Protect Jobs and Promote Growth.

Proposed New Financial Support for Persons with Disabilities

Last month, the Canadian Government announced a one-time, tax-free payment of $600 to assist Canadians with disabilities with additional expenses incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Government has announced that it intends to propose legislation that would make this benefit available to more people by expanding the one-time payment to include approximately 1.7 million Canadians with disabilities, who are recipients of any of the following:

  • A Disability Tax Credit certificate provided by the Canada Revenue Agency;
  • Canada Pension Plan disability benefit or Quebec Pension Plan disability benefit; or
  • Disability supports provided by Veterans Affairs Canada.

If this legislation is enacted, eligible Canadians will receive the payment automatically.

Support for Francophone Organizations in Western Canada

The Government of Canada is investing $2.1 million to support the recovery of Francophone businesses and communities across Western Canada.  An investment of $1.8 million will be made through the Economic Development Initiative for the Francophone Economic Development Organizations (FEDOs) across Western Canada to establish and administer the Pan-West Francophone Economic Development Fund to support small and medium sized businesses, organizations, and communities.

In addition, each of the FEDOs in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba will receive $75,000 through the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund to further enhance supports and services to Francophone businesses impacted by the pandemic.

Safe Restart Agreement

On July 17, Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced a federal investment of more than $19 billion to help provinces and territories safely restart their economies and to make Canada more resilient to possible future waves of COVID-19.

This investment, through the Safe Restart Agreement, will help address seven priority areas for the safe restart of Canada’s economy over the next 6 to 8 months:

  • enhanced capacity for testing, contact tracing, and data management and information sharing to mitigate future outbreaks;
  • investments in health care to respond to the pandemic, including support for Canadians experiencing challenges with substance use, mental health, or homelessness;
  • support for vulnerable Canadians – including those in long-term care, home care, and palliative care – who are at risk of more severe cases of COVID-19;
  • funding to secure a reliable source of personal protective equipment, and to recover some of the costs from previous investments made by provincial and territorial governments;
  • support to ensure that safe and sufficient child care spaces are available to support parents’ gradual return to work;
  • joint funding with the provinces and territories to support municipalities on the front lines of restarting the economy, including by putting in place precautions for public spaces and essential services to reduce the spread of the virus, as well as a dedicated stream of funding for public transit; and
  • a temporary income support program that will provide workers who do not have paid sick leave with access to 10 days of paid sick leave related to COVID-19.

To access the funding, each province and territory will need to outline how they will invest these funds.

Support for Women Entrepreneurs in Western Canada

The Government of Canada will be investing $8.3 million through the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund to support the Women’s Enterprise Initiative organizations across Western Canada.  Each of the Western provinces will receive $2 million in additional loan funds for women entrepreneurs. In addition, $300,000 in operating funding will be divided equally to meet the increased demand for advisory services and business supports.

This investment is meant to remedy the fact that many of the sectors where women entrepreneurs operate, such as retail, accommodation and food services, have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

 

British Columbia

The Government of British Columbia announced the following measures:

Repayment Framework for Tenants and Landlords

The ban on issuing evictions for non-payment of rent will be lifted ahead of September 1, 2020 meaning that landlords will be able to issue a Notice to End Tenancy for unpaid rent or utilities if the tenant fails to pay their full monthly rent on September 1, 2020.

The B.C. Government is introducing a repayment framework to give renters a reasonable time to pay back any rent arrears they owe from the emergency. A tenant cannot be issued a Notice to End Tenancy for unpaid rent during the emergency unless they have defaulted on their repayment plan.

The repayment framework gives tenants until July 2021 to repay any outstanding rent, as long as monthly instalments are paid. The framework also provides flexibility for landlords to work with tenants to further adjustment payment amounts, such as allowing lower payments in the beginning and gradually increasing them or extending the duration of the repayment process past July 2021.

Although a landlord can now issue a Notice of Rent Increase, it cannot come into effect before December 1, 2020.

Landlords continue to have the ability to restrict access to common spaces for COVID-19 related health reasons.

Tenants can apply for support from the Temporary Rent Supplement Program through the end of August. This program provides $500 per month for eligible households with dependents and $300 per month for eligible households with no dependents.

 

Alberta

The Government of Alberta announced the following measures:

Updated Guidelines for Visitors to Long-Term Care and Other Facilities

The Chief Medical Officer of Health has issued Order 29-2020, which outlines conditions for permitting visitors to a long-term care, licensed supportive living facility or any residential facility offering hospice services. The Order includes guidance for safe visiting and comes into effect on July 23, 2020.

 

Ontario

The Government of Ontario announced the following measures:

Extension of Emergency Orders

The Ontario Government has extended most of the emergency orders currently in force under the Ontario Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act until July 29, 2020. A full list of the extended orders can be found in this news release.

Intellectual Property Action Plan

The Ontario Government announced an Intellectual Property Action Plan to strengthen Ontario’s intellectual property and drive the province’s long-term economic competitiveness by prioritizing IP generation, protection and commercialization.

A Special Implementation Team on Intellectual Property will be created and will consist of the IP experts who previously served on Ontario’s Expert Panel on Intellectual Property. The team will provide advice on the implementation of the Intellectual Property Action Plan, including the commercialization of research and IP in the province’s postsecondary institutions and innovation centres.  For more information, see this Backgrounder.

COVID-19 Research Projects

The Ontario Government unveiled the second round of research projects approved through the $20 million Ontario COVID-19 Rapid Research Fund. These projects will focus on finding ways to prevent, detect and treat COVID-19.  For more information, see this Backgrounder.

 

Quebec

The Government of Quebec announced the following measures:

Gradual Return of Government Personnel in Government Buildings

On July 16, the Québec government announced that government employees will be able to return to work in office buildings as of July 18. As for private companies, the maximum occupancy rate is 25% of the capacity of the workplaces.

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 meters.

State of Emergency Renewal

On July 15, the Québec government adopted an Order to renew the state of public health emergency throughout the Quebec territory and extend the measures provided for by Orders in Council until July 22, 2020.

Montréal – State of Emergency Renewal

On July 15, the Montréal agglomeration extended the state of emergency on its territory until July 20.

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Le gouvernement du Québec a annoncé les mesures suivantes :

Retour progressif du personnel de l’État dans les édifices gouvernementaux

Le 16 juillet, le gouvernement du Québec a annoncé que le personnel de l’État pourra retourner au travail dans les édifices à bureaux à compter du 18 juillet. Comme pour les entreprises privées, le taux d’occupation maximal est de 25% de la capacité des milieux de travail.

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.

Renouvellement de l’état d’urgence

Le 15 juillet, le gouvernement du Québec a adopté un décret pour renouveler l’état d’urgence sanitaire sur tout le territoire québécois et prolongé les mesures prises par arrêtés ministériels jusqu’au 22 juillet 2020.

Montréal – Renouvellement de l’état d’urgence

Le 15 juillet, l’agglomération de Montréal a renouvelé l’état d’urgence jusqu’au 20 juillet sur l’ensemble de son territoire.

 

Newfoundland and Labrador

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced the following measures:

Essential Worker Support Program

The application deadline for the Essential Worker Support Program has been extended to August 20, 2020.

Public Health Emergency Extended

Pursuant to the Public Health Protection and Promotion Act, the Public Health Emergency has been extended for a period of 14 days effective July 16, 2020.

 

Nova Scotia

The Government of Nova Scotia announced the following measures:

Long-Term Care Homes

Effective July 22, visitor restrictions in long-term care homes have been eased as follows:

  • Both indoor and outdoor visits will be allowed with limited numbers of visitors and scheduled appointments;
  • Residents and staff can gather in groups of 10 or less for dining, recreation, or socializing without physical distancing, although groups should remain consistent and visitors cannot join;
  • Sightseeing bus trips for groups of up to 10 people (including residents, staff and driver) are allowed, but residents and staff cannot get off the bus; and
  • Licensed hair salons within long-term care homes can reopen to serve residents only.

Face Coverings

Starting July 24, it will be mandatory for drivers and passengers to wear non-medical masks on public transportation. Children under two and people with a valid medical reason for not wearing a mask are exempt.  Public transportation includes municipal transit buses and ferries, school buses, community transit vehicles, and private taxis and shuttles.

 

Prince Edward Island

The Government of Prince Edward Island announced the following measures:

Public Libraries

On July 20, 2020, all 26 public libraries in PEI will reopen to the public. Some services will be unavailable to the public, such as public seating and room rentals, children’s toys, puzzles and games, and in-person library programming.

Public Health Emergency Extended

Pursuant to the Public Health Act, the Public Health Emergency in PEI has been extended effective July 15, 2020 for a period of 30 days, unless it is sooner terminated or continued.

 

Yukon

The Government of the Yukon announced the following measures:

Whitehorse Public Library

On July 21, 2020, the Whitehorse Public Library will reopen. There will be limited access to the library’s public computers, printing and reference desk services.

 

Northwest Territories

The Government of the Northwest Territories announced the following measures:

Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre

On July 16, 2020, the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre will reopen to the public. The centre will be open Wednesday to Sunday, 1p.m. to 5p.m. The Museum Café and all water fountains will remain closed at this time. All interactive exhibits will remain closed.

Amendments to Travel Restrictions and Self-Isolation Protocols

The previously announced amendments to the territory’s travel restrictions and self-isolation protocols came into effect at noon on July 16.  These amendments apply to resident supply-chain workers and resident flight crews and airline employees to codify the precautions they must take during the course of their work to mitigate public health risks.

All amendments can be found on this table created by the Government of the Northwest Territories.

 

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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