COVID-19:  Cross country update (June 10, 2020)

June 10, 2020

Federal

The Government of Canada announced the following measures:

Support for Businesses to Open Safely

Today, the Canadian Government announced that it has partnered with the People Outside Safely Together (POST) Promise program, an initiative launched by Canadian private sector organizations to help businesses across the country reopen safely.

The “POST Promise” is a voluntary commitment that business owners and managers can make by following five key public health actions that will help prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  1. Maintaining physical distance;
  2. Washing and sanitizing hands;
  3. Cleaning and disinfecting regularly;
  4. Staying home if unwell and self-monitoring for symptoms; and
  5. Practicing respiratory etiquette (including wearing a mask when physical distancing is difficult).

By displaying the “POST Promise” logo, participating businesses can reassure customers that they are doing their part to help protect Canadians’ health and safety.

 

British Columbia

The Government of British Columbia announced the following measures:

Protection from Liability for Sport Organizations

The B.C. Government has issued a ministerial order that protects amateur sport organizations, their employees and volunteers from damages resulting, directly or indirectly, from COVID-19, provided they are complying with public health orders and provincial sport guidelines.

This means, for example, that a sports organization or its representatives will not be liable for a participant in their sports program being exposed to COVID-19 as a result of participation. This liability protection would be in place as long as they follow applicable guidance, such as viaSport’s Return to Sport Guidelines and public-health guidance on how to prevent the spread of the virus. This guidance includes encouraging proper handwashing, regular disinfecting, limiting shared equipment, physical distancing measures and the use of wellness questionnaires and health self-assessment tools.

For more information, see Ministerial Order No. M183.

 State of Emergency Extended

The B.C. government has formally extended the provincial state of emergency, allowing Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, to continue to use extraordinary powers under the Emergency Program Act to support the Province’s COVID-19 pandemic response.  The state of emergency is extended through the end of the day on June 23, 2020.

 

Alberta

The Government of Alberta announced the following measures:

Relaxing the 30-day Limit for Prescription Drugs

As of June 15, pharmacists in Alberta can begin to give out larger quantities of prescriptions again, up to a 100-day supply, and are encouraged to begin filling prescriptions as they normally would.

However, while supply levels appear to be returning to normal, some drugs are still in limited supply. Pharmacists should use their professional judgment and dispense a 30-day supply when necessary for specific drugs that continue to have shortages or supply chain issues. Pharmacists can use the drug shortage list posted on the Alberta Blue Cross website as a reference.  Albertans can access information on specific drug shortages at the Drug Shortages Canada website.

Preparations for the 2020-21 School Year

Alberta’s re-entry plan for the upcoming school year offers guidance on a wide range of operational issues including hygiene and health requirements, student learning, transportation and diploma exams. It also addresses mental health and psychological supports for students and staff.

School authorities will plan for the following three scenarios for the upcoming school year:

  1. In-school classes resume (near normal operations with health measures);
  2. In-school classes partially resume with additional health measures; and
  3. At home learning continues (in-school classes are cancelled).

The preferred and likely scenario is that students will return to daily in-school classes at the beginning of the year. The government will share its final decision on which scenario will be in place at the beginning of the school year by August 1. However, school authorities are asked to prepare for implementing any of the three possibilities during the upcoming school year, including on short notice.

The measures to reduce risk with respect to the two scenarios involving the resumption of in-school learning are as follows:

Scenario 1 (in-school classes resume – near normal operations with health measures)

Cleaning:

  • Enhanced cleaning and disinfecting, including daily cleaning for all areas of the school;
  • Washrooms and high-touch surfaces cleaned several times a day or more as needed; and
  • Regularly scheduled deep cleaning when students are not present.

Student/staff hygiene and illness:

  • Routine screening for all staff and students;
  • Strict stay-at-home policy for any students or staff exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19;
  • Hand hygiene expectations when entering and exiting the school and classrooms, before and after eating;
  • Continual reminders of the importance of respiratory etiquette (e.g., cover coughs and sneezes, avoid touching the face and disposal of used tissues promptly, followed by hand hygiene); and
  • Students who develop symptoms at school may be asked to wear a mask and isolate in a separate room until a parent arrives for pickup. If a separate room is not available, the student must be kept at least two meters away from other individuals.

Physical distancing and grouping:

  • When possible, practice physical distancing;
  • In classrooms, buses and during activities when physical distancing may not be possible, extra emphasis is put on other hygiene practices;
  • Reorganization of rooms to allow for more physical space;
  • Cohorting of students by class where possible;
  • Guiding foot traffic flow through entrances and hallways by using markers on the floor or pylons/barriers; and
  • Avoiding large gatherings such as assemblies.

Masks:

  • Staff and students will not be mandated to wear masks;
  • Masks may be considered in circumstances where there is prolonged close contact (greater than 15 minutes) and distance of two meters cannot be maintained; and
  • Masking is generally not recommended for younger students.

Shared items:

  • A no-sharing policy – all students should have their own supplies; and
  • Where sharing of equipment is required, the equipment should be cleaned between uses.

Scenario 2 (in-school classes partially resume with additional health measures)

Scenario 2 involves the same considerations as scenario 1, with the following differences:

  • A recommended maximum of 15 people in a classroom to allow for more consistent physical distancing; and
  • Students will attend school less regularly as school authorities will need to adjust their class schedule and configuration to meet the physical distancing requirement.

Other measures:

  • Any summer programming will follow scenario 2 of the re-entry plan and the associated public health measures;
  • August diploma exams will proceed for students taking diploma courses this summer;
  • For the 2020-21 school year, diploma exams will be held if the first or second scenarios are in place but may be cancelled in scenario 3;
  • Provincial achievement tests (PATs) for Grades 6 and 9 can be held in the first and second scenarios, but will be optional for school authorities to participate;
  • If scenario 3 is in place at the beginning of the school year, the January PATs will be cancelled and May/June PATs may be cancelled based on the duration of at-home learning;
  • School authorities can, as deemed appropriate at the local level, reduce time spent teaching non-core subjects to allow for additional instruction time on core subjects;
  • School authorities must enable the full participation and inclusion of students with disabilities under each scenario and address any learning gaps from the 2019-20 school year; and
  • Mental health supports should be in place for students and staff.

 

Saskatchewan

The Government of Saskatchewan announced the following measures:

Next Phase of SHA Service Resumption to Start June 16

Beginning on June 16, Saskatchewan will implement Phase 2 of its plan to resume the everyday health services provided by the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA).

In Phase 2, surgical capacity will increase to 65-70% provincially, with the inclusion of urgent, emergent and also some elective procedures.  This will vary significantly by site, as some locations like Yorkton Regional Health Centre are already up to 75% of regular volumes as of June 10.

Medical imaging capacity will also continue to increase in Phase 2, targeting 90% of pre-COVID-19 volumes across all services, including MRI and CT scans.  Current service levels reached in Phase 1 for MRIs and CT scans are up to 83% from approximately 50% at the start of Phase 1.

In all service areas, including surgical programs and medical imaging, new required COVID-19 related precautions around physical distancing, cohorting staff, personal protective equipment usage, and infection prevention and control necessitate gradual service resumption.

Virtual care appointments continue to be offered where possible, with some face-to-face services being offered, where needed.

Throughout the month of June, further service resumptions will continue at SHA operated specialty clinics, including such services as sleep disorder testing, cardiac stress testing, eye centre testing and operations, and additional cast clinics, with service levels varying by location and program.

All services are listed on the Saskatchewan Health Authority website, with new services being added each day.

Renewal of Declaration of a State of Emergency

By Order in Council effective June 10, 2020, the declaration of a state of emergency made pursuant to Order in Council 102/2020, dated March 18, 2020, is further renewed and continued throughout the province of Saskatchewan to address the COVID-19 public health emergency.

 

Manitoba

The Government of Manitoba announced the following measures:

Manitoba Restart Program

Today Manitoba Premier Pallister revealed which projects will be funded through the $500-million Manitoba Restart Program, which was announced May 7 to help boost the provincial economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Projects selected include pre-existing provincial and municipal priorities, and waste and water projects. The $500 million will be allocated over two years as follows:

  • $230 million earmarked for the provincial share of projects under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP), a cost-sharing, application-based program with the federal government;
  • $150 million for asphalt highway resurfacing;
  • $50 million for the Water Services Board to address the significant backlog of water and sewer projects across Manitoba;
  • $65 million for major projects that will improve the safety of Manitoba’s highways; and
  • $5 million on municipal law enforcement priorities including local jails to alleviate pressure on the Winnipeg Remand Centre.

The province will reveal further details of its prioritized ICIP project applications in the weeks and months ahead as it works with other levels of government and Indigenous partners, and it will use the $230 million set aside for ICIP to leverage additional dollars through federal and municipal government sharing.

 

Ontario

The Government of Ontario announced the following measures:

Reopening Postsecondary Education

The Ontario Government has developed a plan, developed in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, for the gradual and safe resumption of in-person instruction at postsecondary institutions across the province for the summer term.

Starting in July 2020, limited in-person education and training may restart for students who were not able to graduate due to COVID-19 closures. This first phase will allow institutions to reopen to provide in-person instruction to students in essential, frontline, and high labour market demand areas, such as nursing, personal support workers, engineering, and other critical professions.

In September, all students will have the opportunity to attend postsecondary education through virtual learning, in-class instruction, or hybrid formats.

Publicly assisted colleges and universities, Indigenous Institutes, private career colleges and other postsecondary education institutions may participate in this voluntary reopening. Institutions that choose to participate will be responsible for establishing their own plans for this limited reopening in accordance with public health advice and any ministry guidance.

Beaches and Campsites to Open at Ontario Parks

As part of the Ontario Government’s Stage 2 reopening plan, more facilities and services will be available at provincial parks in certain regions, beginning on June 12, 2020. Gradually over the next several weeks, Ontario Parks will start opening campgrounds, providing more washrooms and drinking water, along with roofed accommodations, park store and rental operations, visitor centres, and sports fields.  More specifically:

  • On June 12, beaches at Ontario Parks will begin opening to the public as maintenance and water testing are completed;
  • On June 15, campers enrolled in this year’s Ontario Parks’ Seasonal Campsite Program will have access to their campsites at the majority of participating provincial parks;
  • Beginning the week of June 22, all other campgrounds in regions entering Stage 2 will gradually open at provincial parks, along with washrooms, water taps and trailer sanitation stations; and
  • Roofed accommodations (e.g., yurts, cabins and lodges, where available), park store and rental operations, visitor centers, and sports fields will be phased in over the next several weeks.

Facilities such as showers, laundry, group camping, picnic shelter rentals and swimming pools will remain closed for the rest of the 2020 season.  It is recommended that visitors check the Ontario Parks website to see what facilities and services are available before visiting a provincial park.

Ministry officers will be present in provincial parks to provide information, assist with emergencies and enforce provincial park rules and regulations. Additionally, these areas may be patrolled by local police or other enforcement agencies.

 

Quebec

The Government of Quebec announced the following measures:

Bill 61

Last week, the Québec government introduced Bill 61, An Act to restart Québec’s economy and to mitigate the consequences of the public health emergency declared on 13 March 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This bill provides, among other things, for the indefinite extension of the provincial state of public health emergency and contains economic stimulus measures to accelerate 202 ongoing or future infrastructure projects in the health, education, transportation and road sectors.

Amendments have already been made to Bill 61, with the effect of:

  • Prohibiting the termination of non-residential real estate leases, prohibiting the seizure of property on the premises, and prohibiting the registering of hypothec prior notices for unpaid rent from March 13, 2020, to August 1, 2020; and
  • Providing for a set of measures to support the Québec restaurant industry by allowing restaurant owners to sell alcoholic beverages for take-out and home orders through third-party companies offering a delivery service. Alcoholic beverages for take-out or delivery may be sold at a different price than in dining rooms. The cost of the seasonal liquor permit would also be reduced.

Bill 61 has not yet been adopted by the National Assembly, and further amendments could be made.

CNESST Support for the Wholesale Sector

On June 10, the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail published a toolkit to specifically support the stakeholders in the wholesale sector in their management of occupational health and safety. More specifically, a guide to health standards, a poster and a daily checklist are now available on the CNESST website.

Montréal – State of Emergency Renewal

On June 9, the Montréal agglomeration extended the state of emergency on its territory until June 14.

___________

Le gouvernement du Québec a annoncé les mesures suivantes :

Projet de loi 61

La semaine dernière, le gouvernement du Québec a présenté le projet de loi 61 intitulé Loi visant la relance de l’économie du Québec et l’atténuation des conséquences de l’état d’urgence sanitaire déclaré le 13 mars 2020 en raison de la pandémie de la COVID-19. Ce projet de loi prévoit notamment la prolongation indéfinie de l’état d’urgence sanitaire provincial, et contient des mesures de relance économique visant l’accélération de 202 projets d’infrastructures dans les secteurs de la santé, de l’éducation, des transports et des routes, en cours ou à venir.

Des amendements ont déjà été apportés au projet de loi, ayant pour effet :

  • de proscrire la résiliation de baux immobiliers autres que résidentiels, de proscrire toute saisie de biens dans les lieux, ainsi que de proscrire la remise ou l’inscription de préavis hypothécaires pour cause de loyer impayé depuis le 13 mars 2020, et ce jusqu’au 1er août 2020; et
  • de prévoir un ensemble de mesures destinées à soutenir l’industrie de la restauration québécoise, en permettant aux restaurateurs de vendre des boissons alcoolisées pour emporter et pour des commandes à domicile via des entreprises tiers offrant un service de livraison. Les alcools vendus pour emporter ou en livraison pourront l’être à un prix différent que celui en salle à manger. Le coût du permis d’alcool saisonnier serait également allégé.

Le projet de loi 61 n’a pas encore été adopté par l’Assemblée nationale, et d’autres amendements pourraient y être apportés.

Support de la CNESST au secteur du commerce de gros

Le 10 juin, la Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST) a publié une trousse à outils pour appuyer spécifiquement les acteurs du secteur du commerce de gros dans leur prise en charge de la santé et la sécurité du travail. Plus spécifiquement, il s’agit d’un guide virtuel de normes sanitaires, une affiche de même qu’une liste de vérifications quotidiennes qui sont disponibles dès maintenant sur le site Web de la CNESST.

Montréal – Renouvellement de l’état d’urgence

Le 9 juin, l’agglomération de Montréal a renouvelé l’état d’urgence jusqu’au 14 juin sur l’ensemble de son territoire.

 

Nova Scotia

The Government of Nova Scotia announced the following measures:

Easing Visitor Restrictions in Long-Term Care

On June 10, the province announced that it is easing some visitor restrictions in long-term care homes and homes for persons with disabilities. Effective Monday, June 15, visits can resume at long-term care facilities provided the following measures are in place:

  • visits will only take place outdoors, in designated areas on the facility’s grounds;
  • a maximum of two visitors may attend at one time;
  • visitors must maintain physical distance of two metres or six feet;
  • visitors must be screened for COVID-19 upon entry and wear a non-medical mask;
  • anyone with symptoms will not be permitted to enter;
  • visitor information must be logged, including date and time of visit to the facility;
  • visitors who are self-isolating are not permitted to enter the facility or grounds; and
  • visits will be monitored by staff, who will escort visitors to the designated area and provide personal protective equipment if needed.

Facilities will be provided with materials to support this change, including screening guidelines and staff education materials.

This change also applies to homes funded by the Department of Community Services under the Homes for Special Care Act.  Individual long-term care facilities and homes for persons with disabilities will communicate directly with residents and their families to arrange visits.

 

Yukon

The Government of the Yukon announced the following measures:

2020-21 School Year

The Government of Yukon is planning for Kindergarten to Grade 12 students to return to classes in school at the start of the 2020–21 school year.

As part of A Path Forward: Yukon’s plan for lifting COVID-19 restrictions, initial health and safety guidance for Kindergarten to Grade 12 schools has been developed with Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health to start planning for changes to the operations of Yukon schools for the 2020–21 school year.

Each school will determine how it will adjust its operations to meet the health and safety guidelines while meeting the unique needs and context of school communities. School principals and staff will share this information before the start of the school year.

 

Northwest Territories

The Government of the Northwest Territories announced the following measures:

State of Emergency Extended

The territory-wide Public Health Emergency and State of Emergency have been extended in the Northwest Territories. Both extensions will expire on June 23, 2020.

Campsite Reservations

The Department of Industry, Tourism, and Investment will be opening its Northwest Territories (NWT) Parks Reservation system on Wednesday, June 10, 2020 for campsite bookings.  Campsites will open on Friday, June 12, 2020 at 5pm.

Reservations for the Fred Henne Park campground will open at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday June 11, 2020.  Visit Northwest Territories Parks to make a reservation.

Commercial Fisheries Industry Safety Support Program

The Department of Industry, Tourism, and Investment is providing increased safety funding to commercial fishers working on the Great Slave Lake, Tathlina Lake, or Kakisa Lake.

Up to $10,000 (based on 2019 production) will be made available to individual fishers under the Commercial Fisheries Industry Safety Support Program to equip their fishing vessels with the safety equipment needed to meet both COVID-19 protection measures and Transport Canada’s Fishing Vessel Safety Regulations.

The program will provide fishers up to $1,000 to purchase cleaning supplies and equipment necessary to meet COVID-19 health orders issued by the Northwest Territories Chief Medical Officer.

 

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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