COVID-19: Cross country update (July 30-31, 2020)

July 31, 2020

Federal

The Government of Canada announced the following measures:

Measures to Protect Temporary Foreign Workers and Farms

There have been a number of outbreaks on Canadian farms that have significantly impacted the health and safety of workers. To address this, the Federal Government is investing $58.6 million to strengthen the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and safety on farms by:

  • increasing supports to temporary foreign workers, including for direct outreach to workers through migrant support organizations;
  • strengthening the employer inspections regime; and
  • improving health and safety improvements to farms and employee living spaces to prevent and respond to the spread of COVID-19.

For more information, the Federal Government’s News Release.

Extensions to Rent Relief for Small Businesses

The Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program will be extended by one month to help businesses pay rent through August. The program has so far helped 63,000 small business and cost $613 million.

New Mobile App

A new national mobile app called COVID Alert is now available for free to Canadians. The use of this tool will be voluntary and is designed to help limit the spread of COVID-19. The app will function by allowing users who have tested positive to enter a ‘Key’ provided by the health authority. Other users who have been in contact with that person for at least 15 minutes will then be notified, and told to seek guidance from their local public health authority. The app can be downloaded at the Apple App Store or Google Play.  For more information, see the Federal Government’s website.

Investment in Local Pulp Product

The Minister of Natural Resources announced $300,000 in funding for a project by Pulp Moulded Product Incorporated. The project will help the company create a prototype for a low-cost, non-surgical disposable mask, made from wood fibre.  Funding is provided by the Investments in Forest Industry Transformation program.

Stricter Rules for Travel to Alaska Through Canada

Travel restrictions are still in place for all travellers at Canadian international border crossings until at least August 21, 2020. As of July 31, 2020, stricter rules will be in place for travellers passing through Canada to Alaska for non-discretionary purposes. Specifically, in-transit foreign nationals:

  • must enter at one of five identified Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) ports of entry:
    • Abbotsford-Huntingdon (British Columbia);
    • Coutts (Alberta);
    • Kingsgate (British Columbia);
    • North Portal (Saskatchewan); or
    • Osoyoos (British Columbia);
  • will be allowed a reasonable period of stay to carry out the transit;
  • will be limited to travel within Canada using the most direct route, while avoiding national parks, leisure sites and tourism activities; and
  • will have to report to the nearest CBSA port of entry before exiting Canada to confirm their exit.

Travellers will be issued with a vehicle ‘hang-tag’ that they must attach to their rear view mirror for the duration of their trip to or from Alaska, and they must follow strict social distancing guidelines.

For more information see the government’s news release.

Funding to Companies for COVID-19 Solutions and Products

$2 million dollars in funding has been provided by the Department of National Defence to two Canadian companies to help with diagnostics and testing for COVID-19:

  • Diagnostics Biochem Canada Inc. will receive $1,014,000 for the development of kits for the detection of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 that can diagnose current or previous COVID-19 infection; and
  • Custom Biologics will receive $1,000,000 for the development of a rapid point-of-care diagnostic test for COVID-19.

Passport Services

Starting July 31, 2020, Canadians can apply for a passport by mail. If Canadians have an immediate need for a passport or are travelling in less than 30 days with proof of travel, they can request in-person appointments. For more information, visit the Canadian Government’s website.

Canadians who do not have travel plans are being asked to wait before applying due to high demand.  Applicants will be able to use the simplified renewal process within two years after the expiry date rather than one, if their passport expired on or after February 1, 2019.

 

British Columbia

The Government of British Columbia announced the following measures:

Guidelines for Post-Secondary Institutions

Go Forward Guidelines for post-secondary institutions have been released after being reviewed by the provincial health officer and WorkSafeBC.  The guidelines were developed by the post-secondary sector, with representatives from Indigenous educational groups, key student associations and major post-secondary labour organizations.  They are meant to provide a minimum standard for post-secondary institutions as they develop their own COVID-19 safety plans.

Medical Assured Loading on Ferries

Extraordinary powers allowed under the provincial state of emergency are being used to ensure BC Ferries can implement the procedures necessary to allow priority medical-assured loading on the first available vessel. The priority loading will be available for any eligible individual, their vehicle and an escort.

The province is also rescinding some emergency measures enacted in March 2020, including priority access for passengers sailing to their primary residence.  However, the government has indicated that it expects BC Ferries to continue to monitor demand and ensure adequate capacity is in place.

For more information on the Travel Assistance Program, see the B.C. Government’s website.

Temporary Change Allows Direct Delivery of Liquor

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the B.C. Government is temporarily authorizing liquor manufacturers to deliver products directly to individual consumers from their registered off-site storage facilities, in addition to their on-site stores.  Previously, this was only permitted for hospitality customers, such as restaurants and pubs.  This is a temporary measure, which will expire on October 31, 2020.  For more information, see Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch Policy Directive No. 20-21.

Travel Restricted to Haida Gwaii

Due to a community outbreak on Haida Gwaii, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth is using extraordinary powers under the current state of provincial emergency to restrict non-resident travel to Haida Gwaii.  Travel will continue to be permitted, subject to the approval of the collective Haida Gwaii communities, for the delivery of essential goods and supplies, medical appointments, urgent or emergency family matters, and for the provision of essential services as defined by the unified command structure comprised of the Council of the Haida Nation, village councils and local governments.

Helping Farmers Maintain Farm Status

To help support farmers cope with the financial impact of COVID-19, the Government of British Columbia is waiving minimum income requirements for existing B.C. farm operations, allowing them to maintain their current property tax farm status for 2021.  Losing farm status would significantly increase the property tax burden on farmers.

New Child Care Spaces

In addition to the previously announced new child care spaces (see our July 23-24 Update, July 25-27 Update and July 28-29 Update), the B.C. Government has announced the following new spaces as part of its commitment to increasing child care through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond:

  • 100 new spaces in Terrace;
  • 76 new spaces in Fort St. John and Rose Prairie;
  • 28 new spaces in Tsay Keh Dene; and
  • 48 news spaces in Houston.

 

Alberta

The Government of Alberta announced the following measures:

Expanding Testing at Pharmacies

Pharmacies in Alberta are now able to offer testing to asymptomatic Albertans as long as mandatory safety requirements can be met.

 

Saskatchewan

The Government of Saskatchewan announced the following measures:

Extension of Temporary Wage Supplement Program

On July 30, 2020, the Government of Saskatchewan announced that the Saskatchewan Temporary Wage Supplement Program will be expanded to include all workers, regardless of income level, at integrated healthcare facilities which provide both short-term and long-term health care. Previously, workers at integrated facilities were eligible if they had a gross salary of less than $2,500 a month and earned less than $24.00 an hour. However, that income threshold has now been modified to include all workers at licensed personal care homes and special care homes. Successful applicants will receive $400 for each four-week period, up to 16 weeks, for the period from March 15, 2020 to July 4, 2020. Applications will be accepted until September 1, 2020.

 

Manitoba

The Government of Manitoba announced the following measures:

Classroom Learning to Resume in September

Today, the Government of Manitoba announced that classroom learning will resume on September 8, 2020 for all kindergarten to Grade 12 students across Manitoba. Learning in classrooms will be full-time for students in kindergarten through Grade 8 and for special-needs students in all grades. Some remote learning may be required for students in grades 9 to 12.

For more information, see the Manitoba Government’s new release.

 

Ontario

The Government of Ontario announced the following measures:

Reopening of Childcare

Child care centres across Ontario will open at full capacity beginning September 1, 2020. Further, EarlyON Child and Family Centres, as well as before-and after-school programs for school aged children, will be permitted to operate with standard ratios and maximum group size requirements.

To learn more about the enhanced health and safety procedures put in place as part of the re-opening plan, see the Ontario Government’s news release.

Reopening of Schools

On July 30, the Ontario Government unveiled a plan for the reopening of schools for in-class instruction beginning September 2020. Kindergarten to Grade 8 will reopen with in-class instruction five days a week. Secondary schools in lower risk communities will reopen with a normal daily schedule, while most secondary schools will start with an adapted part-time model with class cohorts of up to 15 students alternating between in-person and online. Additionally, students from Grades 4-12 and school staff will be required to wear masks.

Additional Measures Implemented at Bars and Restaurants

On July 31, 2020, the Ontario Government amended previous Orders under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 implementing additional measures for restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments. These measures include requiring patrons to be seated at all times and keeping client logs for a period of 30 days to support contract tracing.  For more information, visit this news release.

Safe Re-opening of DriveTest Centres

On July 31, 2020, the Government of Ontario announced DriveTest’s second phase of its reopening plan. The plan provides that beginning August 4, 2020, road testing for class G2 and all motorcycle licenses will resume and the number of locations offering commercial driver road tests will increase.  For more information, see this news release.

COVID Alert App Available for Download

Today, the new free COVID Alert app became available on Apple and Google Play app stores. The Ontario Government is encouraging everyone to download it, as it lets users know if they may have been exposed to the virus and the more users, the more effective it will be in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19. For more information, see this news release.

 

Quebec

The Government of Quebec announced the following measures:

Montréal – State of Emergency Renewal

On July 30, the Montréal agglomeration extended the state of emergency on its territory until August 4.

__________

Le gouvernement du Québec a annoncé les mesures suivantes :

Montréal – Renouvellement de l’état d’urgence

Le 30 juillet, l’agglomération de Montréal a renouvelé l’état d’urgence jusqu’au 4 août sur l’ensemble de son territoire.

 

Newfoundland and Labrador

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced the following measures:

Seafood Marketing and Innovation Fund

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced a $400,000 seafood marketing and innovation fund that will support the marketing of seafood products for retail and establish other markets for seafood sales in light of the impact of COVID-19 on restaurant sales. The funding will help create jobs in the province’s fisheries and aquaculture sectors. It will also help processors and aquaculture operators expand their product lines and markets.

This initiative is part of a plan to support renewable resource-based businesses and employment in rural communities during the COVID-19 global pandemic through investments in the forestry, agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture sectors.

Applications and additional information can be found on the Department of Fisheries and Land Resources website.

Public Health Emergency Extended

The public health emergency has been extended for a period of 14 days effective July 31, 2020.

 

New Brunswick

The Government of New Brunswick announced the following measures:

New Brunswick Twinning with Quebec Border Communities

Residents of the following communities along the New Brunswick border who travel to New Brunswick for same-day travel with no overnight stay will not have to self-isolate when they enter the province, as long as they pre-register:

  • Avignon Municipal Regional County;
  • Listuguj First Nation; and
  • Témiscouata Municipal Regional County.

Pre-registration cannot be done at the border.  To pre-register, visit the New Brunswick Government’s website.

Additionally, New Brunswick residents who travel into, but not beyond these communities as part of same-day travel with no overnight stays, will not need to self-isolate when they return to New Brunswick, as long as they pre-register.

 

Nova Scotia

The Government of Nova Scotia announced the following measures:

Free Reusable Masks

Free, reusable cloth masks are now available at all public libraries and 23 provincial museums. Masks are available in both adult and youth sizes and are adjustable. Each person can request up to two masks for each member of their immediate family.

For a limited time, the Government of Nova Scotia is also making reusable cloth masks available in packages of 50 for small businesses.

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

 

Yukon

The Government of the Yukon announced the following measures:

Joint Initiative Reaches Out to Families and Children in Crisis

The Council of Yukon First Nations (“CYFN”) and the Government of Yukon have co-developed a campaign that addresses some of the indirect and unforeseen consequences to children and families of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Family violence, substance abuse, and child maltreatment may have increased due to factors such as the reduction in child care, social isolation and general anxiety surrounding the pandemic.

To support families who may be overwhelmed by these new demands, CYFN and the Government of Yukon are promoting their services in a joint advertising and social marketing campaign. The advertisements provide information on the resources and supports available to families.

Yukon Offers Internships to Study Impact of COVID-19

Starting immediately, Yukon businesses, not-for-profit organizations and municipalities can apply to be matched with post-secondary students who will research COVID-19 impacts on their operations and help develop plans to overcome those challenges.

The program will support research to improve Yukon’s understanding of the social, cultural, economic, environmental and health impacts of the pandemic, including direct and indirect impacts on businesses, communities or individuals. The research will help support eligible operations with their recovery planning and decision making, and better equip them to manage for the future.

For more information, see this news release.

Phase 3 Begins August 1

The Government of Yukon has confirmed that Phase 3 of Yukon’s plan for safely lifting COVID-19 public health measures will begin on August 1. This phase will last until a vaccine is developed.

Some of the easing of restrictions include:

  • Yukoners can increase their household bubble from one additional family by adding three to five families depending on family size. The maximum number of individuals in the bubble should be 15.
  • Indoor social gatherings remain limited to 10 people with social distancing unless the people are part of your social bubble. Outdoor gatherings remain at 50 people.
  • Planned, seated events in rented spaces with a maximum of 50 people will be allowed. Seated outdoor events with 100 people, such as weddings, will also be allowed.
  • Yukon athletes will be able to return to play.

For more information, see the Government of Yukon’s website.

 

Northwest Territories

The Government of the Northwest Territories announced the following measures:

Extension on Driver’s Licences, General Identification Cards and Motor Vehicle Certificates of Registration

Following the reopening of the Driver and Motor Vehicle offices, the following expiration dates have been extended:

  • Any NWT driver’s license or general identification card that expires during the period of March 31, 2020, to August 31, 2020, will remain valid until September 1, 2020;
  • Private motor vehicle certificates of registration that expire during the period of March 31, 2020, to August 31, 2020, will remain valid until September 1, 2020; and
  • Motor vehicle certificates of registration for construction vehicles, dealer inventory vehicles, government vehicles, rental vehicles, school buses, and society vehicles that expired on March 31, 2020, will remain valid until September 1, 2020.

Virtual Tourism Business Mentorship

Due to COVID-19, the Tourism Business Mentorship Program will be delivered virtually this year.  The program provides opportunities and resources for interested Northwest Territories tourism operators to learn and benefit from experienced industry professionals. Mentees will receive 49 hours of mentorship on a schedule developed to meet their availability and using a wide variety of virtual tools and platforms.  Applications are open and being accepted until August 17, 2020.

Getting Activities Going Earlier and Safely

As Emerging Wisely moves forward, public health officials are working closely with businesses and organizations to see if their standard practices can be altered to allow for an Exceptional Circumstances Exemption, which would allow them to move to the next phase towards normal activities.  The following organizations have received approvals:

  • Yellowknife Gymnastics Club – all programming for those 19-and-under;
  • Yellowknife Amateur Speed-Skating Association – all programming for those 19-and-under; and
  • Yellowknife Sporting Club Hockey Skills Camp – all programming for those 19-and-under.

As well, minor hockey associations have been invited to submit their plans for return-to-play in preparation for the upcoming season.

Businesses and organizations that believe they can alter their activities to make them safer while moving closer to normal can apply for an exemption on the Government of Northwest Territories’ website.

Wage Top-Up Program for Low Income Workers Extended

The wage top-up program for low income workers will be extended for an additional eight weeks to October 3, 2020 in order to match the extension of the Canada Emergency Relief Benefit.

Under this program, businesses can apply for temporary funding to increase the wages of their employees who make less than $18 per hour and who are over 15 years old. Businesses can apply immediately for funding to top-up employees’ wages from April.

For more information or to apply, visit the Government of the Northwest Territories’ website.

 

Nunavut

The Government of Nunavut announced the following measures:

Public Art Initiative

The Government of Nunavut launched the Nunavut Public Art Initiative to support local artists during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Artists can apply to access between $5,000 and $50,000 to cover the costs related to the creation and installation of their artwork. Artists should draw on the theme of Inuuqatigiitsiarniq – respecting others, relationships and caring for people.

There will be two funding intakes. The first deadline is August 17, 2020 and the second is September 1, 2020. For more information and to find the application package, visit the Government of Nunavut’s website.

 

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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