COVID-19: Cross country update (June 29, 2020)

June 29, 2020

Federal

The Government of Canada announced the following measures:

Deferral on Sales Tax and Duty Payments Ending

On March 27, 2020, the Federal Government announced that it would allow businesses to defer all Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) payments, as well as customs duty payments owed for imports, until the end of June.  Today, it was confirmed that this deferral will end as planned on June 30.

Businesses that are still facing difficulties can contact the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and Canada Border Services Agency to make a request for the cancellation of penalties and interest, and/or for a flexible payment arrangement with the CRA.

Possible CECRA Extension

Today, Prime Minister Justine Trudeau announced that he is hoping to extend the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for another month and that he is working with the provinces and territories to achieve this.

 

British Columbia

The Government of British Columbia announced the following measures:

Youth Community Partnership

The BC government has begun a new $5 million dollar program which encourages youths to work with community service projects. The goal of this program is to help communities recover from the impacts of COVID-19, while providing job training and work experience for young people. The program will be available for those between 15 and 29 years of age.

The “Build Back Better” program allows communities around B.C. to apply for funding to create a community-service project of their choosing. Some examples given are: “trail building, beach clean-up, invasive species removal, upgrading local parks, or working for a local charity.”

Successful grant applicants can receive a maximum of $10,000 per youth, per project to a maximum of $110,000. The project can run for a maximum of 16 weeks, and the participants receive a training stipend of up to $2,000 per four week period, for a maximum of $8,000.

Participants may also be eligible for other supports such as: “bus passes, child care, work boots, and personal protective equipment.”

For more information, visit the Youth Community Partnership website.

Reduction of Annual Licence Fee for Taxi Industry

In order to help mitigate the effect of COVID-19 on the taxi industry, the province has lowered the annual fee which taxi and limousine operators must pay. The fee to licensees has been halved, from $100 per vehicle with no overall fee cap, to $50 per vehicle with a total cap of $5,000.

Additional measures which have been introduced include:

  • waiving plate fees for all operators during COVID-19;
  • allowing eligible licensees to defer their passenger transportation renewal fee for up to six months; and
  • allowing insurance payments to be temporarily suspended for fleet and non-fleet customers.

 

Alberta

The Government of Alberta announced the following measures:

Launch of Alberta’s Recovery Plan

Today, Premier Jason Kenney announced the launch of Alberta’s Recovery Plan, a long-term economic strategy. The Plan includes the programs put in place to support Albertans through the COVID-19 pandemic and it also builds on strategic investments already underway, including the Keystone XL pipeline and $1 billion in accelerated Capital Maintenance and Renewal funding.

Highlights of the Plan include:

  • $10 billion for infrastructure projects throughout the province, which is expected to create 50,000 jobs;
  • An immediate acceleration of the Job Creation Tax Cut – on July 1, the corporate income tax rate will drop to 8% – a year and a half sooner than promised;
  • A commitment by the Alberta Government to reduce red tape;
  • The introduction of an Innovation Employment Grant targeted to smaller companies and encouraging technology and investment in Alberta, which will provide a refundable tax credit to companies that invest in research and development;
  • Asking the Federal Government to remove most occupational categories under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program for Alberta;
  • Helping employers connect with unemployed Albertans, making job training programs more responsive, and accelerating the Fairness for Newcomers Action Plan to put new Albertans who are already here to work faster in jobs that reward their skills and training;
  • A reduction by at least one-third of this year’s targeted admissions under the Alberta Immigration Nominee Program, while moving ahead with key platform commitments like the Foreign Graduate Startup Visa Program to support growth in the tech and innovation sectors (the plan is to return to previous levels when economic conditions improve and employment rises);
  • The creation of a Cultural Event Relaunch Program to support music, performing arts and landmark events;
  • A commitment to grow Alberta’s cultural industries by 25% to $1.5 billion in the next decade;
  • Increased funding for municipal programs and infrastructure;
  • a focus on sector strategies for diversifying the economy;
  • a commitment to diversification through a re-capitalization of the Alberta Enterprise Corporation (AEC), specifically an investment of $175 million over the next three years in capital funds that support the technology sector; and
  • the creation of a new investment agency, Invest Alberta corporation, which will boost investment attraction efforts in key markets with major partners around the globe, particularly in energy, agriculture, tourism, technology, aviation and aerospace, and financial services.

For more information, see Alberta’s Recovery Plan.

Relaunch Grant to Aid the Recovery of Businesses

Beginning on June 29, eligible small and medium-sized businesses, co-ops and non-profits can apply for funding through the Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant to assist them in re-opening.

The Grant program has a budget of $200 million and specifically offers financial assistance to Alberta job creators that faced restrictions or closures from public health orders, have 500 or fewer employees and experienced a revenue loss of at least 50% due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible job creators can apply for up to $5,000 through the program.

Application intake will open at 10 a.m. on June 29, and will remain open until August 31, or for four weeks following the start of Stage 3 of Alberta’s Relaunch Strategy, whichever is later.

To manage the expected volume of applications, during the first week of application intake (June 29 to July 3), a specific application day has been designated for specific regions of the province. During this time, applicants are encouraged to apply on the application day that is specified for their region. Beginning on July 4, applicants from all regions may apply at any time until application intake closes.

Full program details, including additional eligibility criteria, application days by region, and how to apply, are outlined in the program guidelines.  A program web page and online application portal can be accessed through MyAlberta Digital ID.

Physical Distancing Order

On June 26, 2020, the Chief Medical Officer of Health signed Order 26-2020 into effect. The Order provides that, effective immediately, every person attending an indoor or outdoor location must maintain a minimum of 2 meters’ distance from every other person who is not a member of the same household or cohort.

The Order also clarifies that an individual does not contravene the requirement to maintain 2 meters’ distance if they act in compliance with any guidance established by Alberta Health regarding physical distancing, as set out in an applicable guidance document.

The Order is subject to future amendment and will remain in effect until rescinded by the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

 

Saskatchewan

The Government of Saskatchewan announced the following measures:

Supports for Youth Transitioning Out of Care Extended

The Government of Saskatchewan is further extending support services to youth in care who would normally be transitioning to independence during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The extension, which was set to end on June 30, 2020, will now be extended up to January 5, 2021.

 

Ontario

The Government of Ontario announced the following measures:

Extension of Emergency Orders

The Ontario government has extended all emergency orders currently in force that were made pursuant to the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act until July 10, 2020, while also removing restrictions that were limiting access to certain sport training facilities.

The aim of the extension is to allow key measures to continue, including allowing frontline health care providers and public health units to redeploy staff where they are needed most, while providing the government with the tools it needs to successfully steer the province through the next stage of reopening and beyond.

The government has also removed certain restrictions for Stage 2 indoor sports and recreational fitness activities facilities. The operation of these facilities remains subject to public health requirements but aims to enable many sports and recreational organizations around the province to resume sport training programs.

 

Newfoundland and Labrador

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced the following measures:

Intra-Provincial Ferry Routes

New summer schedules for some provincial ferry routes will begin July 1, 2020. For more information on the new schedules, see the government’s website.  Due to COVID-19, the following restrictions for ferry travel remain in place:

  • All passengers are required to remain in their vehicles during crossings;
  • The number of passengers on each ferry is limited to a maximum of 50% of its regular capacity;
  • Passengers without vehicles, who travel in the passenger lounges, are required to practice physical distancing of at least six feet from other passengers; and
  • Passengers without vehicles are not permitted to travel in passenger lounges when physical distancing is not possible.

 

New Brunswick

The Government of New Brunswick announced the following measures:

COVID-19 Dashboard

A COVID-19 dashboard is now online at the following links to provide residents with quick access to more information about the pandemic in the province:

The site will be updated daily with data about COVID-19 in New Brunswick.

 

Northwest Territories

The Government of the Northwest Territories announced the following measures:

Fred Henne Territorial Park

Restrictions have been imposed at Fred Henne Territorial Park to ensure that physical distancing measures are being followed. In an attempt to reduce crowding in the day use and beach areas, access to the upper day use parking lot will be restricted and the number of vehicles and boat trailers in the day use area will be limited.

 

Nunavut

The Government of Nunavut announced the following measures:

Essential Workers Wage Premium

The Government of Nunavut (GN) is expanding the Nunavut Essential Workers Wage Premium. Through this program, the GN funds employers in eligible sectors so they can pay their employees more for the work they do. Employees who earn less than $25 per hour may be eligible to receive an extra top-up of up to $5 per hour.

Originally, the program included essential workers in health and social services, as well as licensed day cares. As of June 29, 2020, the program has been expanded to include more sectors, including essential infrastructure, transportation, food, accommodation, retail, and professional services.

For more information, visit the GN’s website.

Outdoor Gatherings

New gathering limits are in effect as of June 29, 2020:

  • The limit for outdoor gatherings has been increased to 50 people;
  • The limit for indoor gatherings has been increased to 10 people (in private dwellings, this means 10 people in addition to those who reside there);
  • The limit for gatherings at places of worship, conference facilities, community halls, rental meeting spaces, and gatherings organized by the Government of Canada, Government of Nunavut, municipal corporation, or Regional Inuit Organizations has been set at 50 people or 50% of capacity for the facility, whichever is less; and
  • In all facilities and gatherings, social distancing must still be maintained.

 

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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