COVID-19: Cross country update (July 21 – 22, 2020)

July 23, 2020

Federal

The Government of Canada announced the following measures:

Essential Services Contingency Reserve

As part of the Safe Restart Agreement, the Canadian Government is establishing the Essential Services Contingency Reserve to ensure that essential service organizations have access to personal protective equipment (PPE) and other critical supplies, including KN95 respirators, surgical masks, non-medical cloth and disposable masks, gowns, face shields, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and gloves.  The reserve is designed to help essential services organizations bridge urgent, short-term gaps in their supplies.  For more information, including the application process, visit the Essential Services Contingency Reserve web page.

 

British Columbia

The Government of British Columbia announced the following measures:

Online Digital Marketing Training

Alacrity Canada is accepting applications for a Digital Marketing Bootcamp.  This program was developed in partnership with the B.C. Government and Alacrity Canada and is designed to support businesses as they move online during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Bootcamp will cover topics such as search engine optimization, paid advertising, analytics, and content marketing.

The program will accept up to 500 participants and will begin on August 4, 2020. For more information regarding the application process visit the Alacrity website.

State of Emergency Extended

BC’s state of emergency has been formally extended to allow for the use of extraordinary powers under the Emergency Program Act to support the government’s COVID-19 response. The extension will be in place until the end of day on Tuesday, August 4, 2020.

Support for Local Governments and Transit

There will be up to a $1 billion dollar investment in local governments and public transport services aimed at targeting the impacts of COVID-19. The funds are contingent on matching federal contributions under a 50/50 cost-sharing basis. The funding is meant to address some of the COVID-19 related revenue shortfalls in transit services and to ensure local government and transit services remain available.

 

Alberta

The Government of Alberta announced the following measures:

2020-21 School Year

A re-entry tool kit has been created to help parents and students prepare for the new school year.  Schools are preparing to open under scenario 1, which is near-normal daily operations with health measures including:

  • frequent cleaning of surfaces;
  • placing hand sanitizers at school entrances and classrooms;
  • grouping students in cohorts;
  • allowing students and staff to wear a mask if they choose to;
  • planning the school day to allow for physical distancing, which could include staggering start times for classes, recesses and lunches;
  • requiring students, staff, parents and school visitors to use a self-screening questionnaire daily to determine whether they can enter the school; and
  • any other additional public health measures that are established by the Chief Medical Officer of Health in consultation with the education system.

The Minister of Education has approved the use of school board reserves (currently $363 million), if needed, to help cover COVID-19 related costs.  Additionally, $15 million is being provided to support 79 COVID-19 related school projects, including upgrades for enhanced hygiene such as hands-free sinks, automatic flush toilets, touchless soap and paper towel dispensers, automatic doors and water bottle filling stations to replace water fountains.

Additionally, a new Student Learning Hub is now available to provide online learning resources that may be needed during the upcoming school year.

 

Saskatchewan

The Government of Saskatchewan announced the following measures:

State of Emergency Extended

Effective July 22, 2020, the declaration a state of emergency made pursuant to the Emergency Planning Act has been further renewed and continued throughout the province of Saskatchewan to address the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Guidelines Implemented for Yard and Garage Sales and Door-To-Door Activities

Starting July 21, 2020, yard and garage sales along with door-to-door activities are permitted to resume.

With respect to yard and garage sales, all individuals must observe gathering sizes outlined in the current Public Health Order and ensure that physical distancing can be maintained.  Guidelines include:

  • heightened sanitation;
  • using signage that encourages distancing; and
  • sales must be held by a single household as group events are not allowed at this time.

With respect to door-to-door canvassing and sales, physical distancing is to be maintained when visiting a residence and between volunteers and staff.  Guidelines include:

  • frequent hand hygiene; and
  • no sharing of common materials including pens, pencils and promotional materials.

Changes for Drive-In Theatres, Retail Stores, Libraries, Places of Worship, Fitness Facilities and Campgrounds

Starting July 21, 2020, the following modifications come into effect:

  • Drive-in theatres – the distance between vehicles has been reduced to two metres, down from five metres;
  • Retail stores, libraries and places of worship – the length of time that returned or donated items must be held has been reduced to 24 hours, down from 72 hours;
  • Fitness facilities – 24-hour access to fitness facilities is now permitted; and
  • Campgrounds – laundry facilities are now able to open following new guidelines for safe operation.

 

Manitoba

The Government of Manitoba announced the following measures:

Public Feedback for Phase 4 of Restoring Safe Services

The Manitoba Government is looking for feedback from the public to further ease restrictions to public health orders as the province continues to restart the economy.

Proposed measures could be implemented by July 25, 2020 and may include:

  • Increasing gathering sizes to 75 people indoors and 250 outdoors, where members of the public are reasonably able to maintain a separation of at least two metres from others, except for brief exchanges. Larger group sizes would be allowed where distinct groups of 75 or 250 can be separated to prevent contact with other groups.
  • Increasing visitation at personal care and long-term care facilities by allowing each resident to identify two support people who would be able to visit the resident’s room indoors. Outdoor visits would be allowed for a reasonable number of visitors (up to four people) per resident, depending on availability of space. Each site will need to develop specific plans for enabling outdoor/indoor visitation by visitors to ensure the safety of residents within the facilities.
  • Adjusting restrictions for faith-based gatherings, pow wows and other cultural and spiritual events, as well as resuming live theatrical performances and movie theatres. No cohorts will be required and capacity will increase to 50% of the site’s capacity or 500 people, whichever is lower. Adequate physical distancing between individuals and households must continue to be provided.
  • Opening casinos, with a maximum occupancy of 50% of the site’s capacity. Physical distancing, and frequent and enhanced cleaning and wiping of surfaces are required.
  • Lifting occupancy restrictions in all retail settings and indoor recreation sites except for gyms, fitness centers, martial arts, gymnastic clubs and yoga studios. These sites must remain at occupancy levels of 50% or one person per 10 square meters, whichever is lower.
  • Allowing closer distancing at therapeutic health businesses and personal service businesses such as hair and nail salons where a non-permeable barrier is installed.
  • Allowing counter walk-up service in bars, beverage rooms and brew pubs provided non-permeable barriers and hand sanitizer is available for patrons, along with more frequent cleaning and wiping of surfaces.

To provide feedback, fill out the survey on the Manitoba Government’s website.

 

Ontario

The Government of Ontario announced the following measures:

Emergency Measures Passed

After reconvening in February and engaging in extended emergency sittings since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ontario Legislature has now adjourned until September 14, 2020.  During this time, the Legislature passed 18 pieces of legislation, including emergency measures needed to protect public health and prepare for economic recovery, such as:

  • Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 – this Act will ensure that critical measures remain in place to address the threat of COVID-19 once the provincial declaration of emergency has ended. The Act will come into force on July 24, 2020, which coincides with the termination of the declared provincial emergency.
  • COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, 2020 – this Act is intended to create jobs and generate development by having key infrastructure projects built faster. It will also assist communities by ensuring municipalities have the tools they need to continue to provide critical services.

For a summary of the 18 pieces of legislation passed by the Ontario Government during this time, see this press release.

Improved Protection for Tenants

On July 22, 2020, the Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act received Royal Assent. Due to difficulties caused by COVID-19, this legislation is designed to provide stability to Ontario’s rental market by increasing fines for unlawful evictions and reinforcing the necessity for landlords to explore repayment agreements before considering evictions.  The legislation is meant to make it easier to resolve disputes while protecting tenants from unlawful evictions by:

  • Requiring tenant compensation of one month’s rent for “no fault” evictions;
  • Allowing the Landlord and Tenant Board to order up to 12 months’ rent in compensation for eviction notices issued in bad faith or where the landlord does not allow the tenant to move back in after renovations or repairs; and
  • Doubling the maximum fine amounts for offences under the Act to $50,000 for an individual and $250,000 for a corporation.

Alternatives to the use of formal hearings will also be implemented. The Landlord and Tenant Board must now consider whether a landlord attempted to negotiate a repayment agreement with a tenant before the Board can issue an eviction order for non-payment of rent related to COVID-19.

For more information, see this Backgrounder.

 

Quebec

The Government of Quebec announced the following measures:

Assistance Programs for the Music Industry

On July 22, the Québec government announced $33.5 million in assistance to the music industry, artists, musicians and broadcasters, as well as programs and measures specific to the industry. The various programs are available on the websites of the Société de développement des entreprises culturelles (SODEC), the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (CALQ) and the ministère de la Culture et des Communications.

Administrative Labour Tribunal

On July 21, the Tribunal administrative du travail announced the rescheduling of the cancelled hearings of the Occupational Health and Safety Division. Hearings cancelled between March 16 and June 12 will be rescheduled between September 1, 2020, and March 1, 2021. Parties and representatives are invited to contact the regional office responsible for their file to find out their new hearing date.

Montréal – State of Emergency Renewal

On July 20, the Montréal agglomeration extended the state of emergency on its territory until July 25.

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Le gouvernement du Québec a annoncé les mesures suivantes :

Programmes d’aide pour l’industrie musicale

Le 22 juillet, le gouvernement du Québec a annoncé une aide de 33,5M$ à l’industrie musicale, aux artistes, musiciens et diffuseurs, ainsi que des programmes et mesures spécifiques à cette industrie. Il est possible de consulter les différents programmes sur les sites Internet de la Société de développement des entreprises culturelles (SODEC), du Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (CALQ) et du ministère de la Culture et des Communications.

Tribunal administratif du travail

Le 21 juillet, le Tribunal administratif du travail a annoncé la remise au rôle des audiences annulées à la Division de la santé et de la sécurité du travail. Les audiences annulées entre le 16 mars et le 12 juin seront reportées entre le 1er septembre 2020 et le 1er mars 2021. Les parties et les représentants sont invités à communiquer avec le bureau régional responsable de leur dossier afin de connaître leur nouvelle date d’audience.

Montréal – Renouvellement de l’état d’urgence

Le 20 juillet, l’agglomération de Montréal a renouvelé l’état d’urgence jusqu’au 25 juillet sur l’ensemble de son territoire.

 

New Brunswick

The Government of New Brunswick announced the following measures:

State of Emergency Extended

The state of emergency under the Emergency Measures Act has been renewed for a 14-day period beginning July 23, 2020.

Program to Support Purchase of Laptops for Students

High school students will be expected to use their own electronic devices for learning beginning in September. The purpose of the change is to shift to a more personalized, collaborative and technology based learning model. The model also enables the continuation of learning of high schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A subsidy program will be available for students from low and middle income families who do not currently own a device. Families can receive up to $600 per high school student to purchase a laptop, depending on their eligibility:

  • households with an annual income of up to $40,000 will receive a voucher of $600 per student;
  • households with an annual income between $40,000 and $55,000 will receive a maximum voucher amount of $400 for their first student and $600 for each additional student;
  • households with an annual income between $55,000 and $70,000 will receive a maximum voucher amount of $200 for the first student, $400 for the second student and $600 for each additional student; and
  • households with an annual income between $70,000 and $85,000 will receive a maximum voucher amount of $200 for the second student, $400 for the third student and $600 for each additional student.

Applications for the subsidy open on the Parent Portal online on July 31, 2020.

 

Nova Scotia

The Government of Nova Scotia announced the following measures:

Students Return to School in September

Public school students will return to class on Tuesday, September 8, 2020. The plan is supported by public health, the IWK Health Centre and education partners. Students, families, and staff can expect increased safety protocols to limit the spread of COVID-19 including increased spacing in classrooms and enhanced cleaning in schools and on school buses.

The government has invested $4 million to secure 14,000 computers to support student learning for those with limited or no access to technology.

For more information on the reopening of schools, visit the Government of Nova Scotia’s website.

 

Northwest Territories

The Government of the Northwest Territories announced the following measures:

Visual COVID-19 Data Dashboard

Residents are now able to view COVID-19 data through the Northwest Territories COVID-19 dashboard. The dashboard will be updated every weekday, excluding holidays. The dashboard will include:

  • new and confirmed cases with daily statistics;
  • interactive chart showing active and recovered cases including daily and cumulative statistics;
  • interactive chart showing positive, negative, and pending test results including daily and cumulative statistics;
  • interactive map breaking down by health region completed tests, people tested, percentage of population tested, and positive cases;
  • breakdown of symptoms for confirmed cases;
  • travel history of confirmed cases; and
  • regional breakdown of confirmed cases.

 

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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