COVID-19: Cross country update (June 8, 2020)

June 8, 2020

Federal

The Government of Canada announced the following measures:

Support for Persons with Disabilities

On June 6, as part of National AccessAbility Week, the Federal Government announced an additional $1.1 million in funding to support national disability organizations through the Social Development Partnership Program – Disability Component to enhance their communications and engagement activities to better address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on persons with disabilities.

On June 5, the Prime Minister announced additional supports in recognition of the extraordinary expenses faced by persons with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. These supports include a one-time payment of up to $600 to certificate holders of the Disability Tax Credit, a new investment of $15 million to create a National Workplace Accessibility Stream through the Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities, as well as new investments through the Accessible Technology Program.

New Border Exemption for Immediate Family Members

The Canada Border Services Agency is announcing that as of June 8, foreign nationals who are immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents, and who do not have COVID-19 or exhibit any signs or symptoms of COVID-19, or who do not have reason to believe they have COVID-19, will be exempt from the prohibition on entry to Canada if entering to be with an immediate family member for a period of at least 15 days.  However, these individuals must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

For more information, please visit the government website.

Information on Possible COVID-19 Exposure

Posted travel information related to COVID-19 exposure is available on the Public Health Agency of Canada’s website.  This website sets out flights (domestic and international), cruise ships and trains that have had confirmed COVID-19 cases.

 

Alberta

The Government of Alberta announced the following measures:

Non-Medical Masks Available to Albertans

As an initiative forming part of Alberta’s Relaunch Strategy to safely reduce public health restrictions and reopen our economy, Albertans can now visit one of almost 600 A&W, McDonald’s Canada, or Tim Hortons drive-thrus in the province in order to receive one package of four non-medical masks. These masks will be distributed on the honour system, are free and no purchase is necessary.

Masks have also been provided to many municipalities, First Nations communities, Metis Settlements, and local agencies. This includes rural and remote communities that do not have access to a partner restaurant drive-thru and are developing their own distribution plans.

This program is intended to supplement an individual’s efforts to acquire non-medical masks. Albertans who wish to use non-medical masks are encouraged to purchase their own supply from local retailers in addition to using those provided by government.

The cities of Edmonton and Calgary have each been supplied 500,000 masks, and will be responsible for distributing them mainly through their transit operations. Planning is underway to supply masks to places of worship across Alberta and plans to distribute another 20 million masks are being developed.

For further information, visit alberta.ca/masks.

Launching Consultations on Child Care

Consultations are being launched in an effort to reduce red tape and to improve quality and safety in child care. To ensure physical distancing, child care operators and industry associations will participate in virtual table talk sessions. An online survey will also be available to parents, early childhood educators and operators, beginning June 15. The survey will be on alberta.ca and will also be sent to parents through their child care center.

The Child Care Licensing Regulation is set to expire on Jan. 31, 2021, and requires revision to modernize provisions and ensure safety and quality.

This consultation will consider all existing categories of licensed child care, including out-of-school care, as well as approved family day homes and preschool.

Virtual Physician Visits to Become Permanent

In March, the Alberta government introduced new and expanded billing codes for virtual care to aid in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. All existing rules for virtual care codes will remain in place for the time being.

 

Saskatchewan

The Government of Saskatchewan announced the following measures:

Phase 3 Begins

Phase 3 of Re-Open Saskatchewan begins today, June 8, 2020.

Effective today, restaurants and licensed establishments are able to open at 50% capacity, personal care services not opened in Phase 2 are now permitted to open, and gyms and other fitness facilities are able to open. Guidelines have been posted to assist the re-opening of places of worship and child care facilities as part of Phase 3.

Limits on public and private gatherings have now been increased to a maximum of 15 indoors and 30 outdoors. The government has also announced that outdoor playgrounds and beaches and associated washrooms can re-open on Friday, June 12. Guidelines for these facilities will be included in the Re-Open Saskatchewan plan later today and will include measures such as maintaining physical distancing, frequent handwashing and enhanced cleaning and disinfection of rental equipment and washrooms.

In addition, effective today travel restrictions in Northwest Saskatchewan have been lifted, and the Northern Village of La Loche has moved into phases 1 and 2 of the Re-Open Saskatchewan plan.

Emergency Rooms Re-Opening

The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) will soon be re-opening eight of the 12 regional emergency rooms temporarily closed as part of the health system readiness plan as hospitals have been converted to alternate level of care sites across the province. This helped build capacity for any potential surge in COVID-19 cases and to protect against outbreaks in the medical facilities.

Target timelines in each of the eight communities set to re-open ERs in June are as follows:

  • June 12 – Kerrobert
  • June 16 – Leader and Arcola
  • June 18 – Preeceville
  • June 22 – Biggar and Oxbow
  • June 24 – Davidson
  • June 25 – Herbert

These dates may be subject to the status of active COVID-19 positive cases and ability to meet all required safety criteria and human resourcing requirements for re-opening.  In addition, the SHA continues to work on ER resumption planning for the four community hospitals in Broadview, Radville, Lanigan and Wolseley.

COVID-19 Testing Expanded

Testing for COVID-19 is now available to anyone currently working outside the home, or anyone returning to work as part of the Re-Open Saskatchewan plan.

Testing is also available to immunocompromised individuals and their health care providers and those being admitted to acute care for more than 24 hours, including expectant mothers.

 

Ontario

The Government of Ontario announced the following measures:

Temporary Ban on Commercial Evictions

The Ontario government announced today that it intends to introduce changes to the Commercial Tenancies Act to protect commercial tenants from being locked out or having their assets seized by their landlords due to the negative impacts of COVID-19.

The proposed changes to the Act would, if passed, temporarily halt evictions of businesses that are eligible for federal or provincial rent assistance, reverse evictions that occurred on or after June 3, 2020 and make it illegal to evict a commercial tenant until August 31, 2020.

In partnership with the federal government, Ontario is also committing $241 million to the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses which is providing more than $900 million in support. CECRA for small businesses provides forgivable loans to eligible commercial landlords to help cover 50% of commercial rent for tenants for the months of April, May and June 2020.

The tenant will be responsible for covering up to 25% of rent, so that up to 75% of the rent is covered. Tenants and landlords can learn how much they may be eligible for by visiting Ontario.ca/rentassistance.

Emergency Orders Extended

A number of emergency orders have been extended to June 19, 2020.  For more information, see this press release.

 

Quebec

The Government of Quebec announced the following measures:

Resumption of Activities in the Restaurant Sector

On June 8, the Québec government announced the resumption of activities for the restaurant sector as of June 15 outside the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal, the RCM of Joliette and the city of L’Épiphanie. For these territories, the resumption will take place as of June 22.

Restaurants will be allowed to open dining rooms and terraces, which must be laid out in such a way as to help maintain social distancing between customers. Buffets, cutlery counters and self-service food counters will not be permitted. Common eating areas in shopping centres that are authorized to reopen may be used by customers in compliance with public health rules.

CNESST Support for the Restaurant Sector

On June 8, the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail  (CNESST) published a toolkit to specifically support the stakeholders in the restaurant 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.

Enhancement of Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) Program

On June 8, the Québec government announced an investment of approximately $140 million to compensate 50% of the rent loss of commercial property owners in order to maximize their participation in the CECRA program. The terms and conditions of this measure will be made public in the coming days and commercial property owners throughout Québec are eligible.

Eligibility criteria for the CECRA program as well as the procedure to apply can be found on the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s website.

Montréal – Small Businesses Assistance

On June 8, the Québec government and the Mayor of Montréal announced an additional assistance of $50 million to support Montréal businesses. The federal government plans to grant up to $30 million through the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF), an aid intended for Montréal businesses that are not eligible for the other federal measures related to COVID-19 already in place. The Québec government is contributing $20 million more to the envelope for the City of Montréal under the Aide d’urgence aux petites et moyennes entreprises Program to come to the assistance of the metropolis SMEs facing financial hardship due to COVID-19. The City of Montréal’s business support network, PME MTL, will administer these funds.

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Le gouvernement du Québec a annoncé les mesures suivantes :

Reprise des activités dans le secteur de la restauration

Le 8 juin, le gouvernement du Québec a annoncé la reprise des activités pour le secteur de la restauration à compter du 15 juin à l’extérieur de la Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal, de la MRC de Joliette et de la ville de L’Épiphanie. Pour ces territoires, la reprise se fera à compter du 22 juin.

Les restaurateurs pourront ouvrir les salles à manger et les terrasses, qui devront être aménagées de façon à favoriser le maintien des règles de distanciation sociale entre les clients. Les buffets et les comptoirs de couverts ou d’aliments en libre-service ne seront pas permis. Les aires communes de restauration dans les centres commerciaux qui sont autorisés à ouvrir pourront être utilisées par la clientèle dans le respect des règles de santé publique.

Support de la CNESST au secteur de la restauration

Le 8 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 de la restauration 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.

Bonification du programme Aide d’urgence du Canada pour le loyer commercial (AUCLC)

Le 8 juin, le gouvernement du Québec a annoncé un investissement d’environ 140M$ afin de compenser 50% de la perte de loyer des propriétaires d’immeubles commerciaux dans le but de maximiser leur participation au programme AUCLC. Les modalités d’application de cette mesure seront rendues publiques dans les prochains jours et les propriétaires d’immeubles commerciaux de partout au Québec y sont admissibles.

Les critères d’admissibilité au programme AUCLC ainsi que la procédure pour formuler une demande se trouvent sur le site Web de la Société canadienne d’hypothèques et de logement.

Montréal – Aide aux petites entreprises

Le 8 juin, le gouvernement du Québec et la mairesse de Montréal ont annoncé une aide supplémentaire de 50M$ pour soutenir les entreprises de la Ville de Montréal. Le gouvernement fédéral compte octroyer un montant pouvant aller jusqu’à 30M$ via le Fonds d’aide et de relance régionale (FARR), une aide destinée aux entreprises montréalaises qui ne sont pas admissibles aux autres mesures fédérales déjà en place reliées à la COVID-19. Le gouvernement du Québec bonifie de 20M$ l’enveloppe réservée à la Ville de Montréal dans le cadre du programme Aide d’urgence aux petites et aux moyennes entreprises afin de venir en aide aux PME de la métropole qui éprouvent des difficultés financières en raison de la COVID-19. C’est le réseau de soutien aux entreprises de la Ville de Montréal, PME MTL, qui administra ces fonds.

 

Newfoundland and Labrador

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced the following measures:

Re-Opening

Effective June 8, 2020, Newfoundland and Labrador will enter Alert Level 3. The focus of Alert Level 3 is to control the transmission of COVID-19, while further relaxing public health measures.

Gatherings and Public Spaces

Gatherings for funerals, burials and weddings are expanded to 20 people in Alert Level 3, as long as physical distancing can be maintained. Wakes remain prohibited.

The expansion to outdoor gatherings with 20 people means individuals who are not symptomatic can now hold activities like backyard get-togethers or family barbecues, as long as physical distancing can be maintained.

At all gatherings, individuals are reminded that:

  • The maximum number of people allowed is 20;
  • Those 20 people must be able to maintain physical distancing;
  • Those people who are not in the same bubble should be six feet apart;
  • Providing and sharing food is not recommended;
  • People should practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette and good hand hygiene; and
  • If you are sick and invited to a gathering, you must stay home.

The rules for extended bubbles announced on May 29 continue to apply in Alert Level 3. People are reminded that if there is anyone self-isolating in a particular household, people living in that household cannot join bubbles with anyone else until the isolation period is over.

Outdoor and Recreational Activities

Provided people are well and not required to self-isolate for any reason, outdoor activities such as walking, hiking or bike riding are encouraged, as long as physical distancing can be maintained.

Responsible travel within the province is permitted in Alert Level 3. People can go to their vacation or summer homes, cabins or cottages, hotel or commercial accommodations, and visit national and provincial parks. People are reminded that intra-provincial travel is only permitted for those who are already in the province. Non-essential travel outside of the province is not recommended at this time.

Provincial, municipal, and private campgrounds are permitted to open for limited overnight camping with restrictions. Overnight camping access will be limited to self-contained units, including RVs or cabins that have a water supply, holding tanks, and personal washroom facilities. Except for pit privies, toilets, and laundry facilities, all shared facilities, such as showers, cookhouses, clubhouses, communal fire pits, and firewood distribution centres must remain closed. Laundry facilities can only be used by one household at a time.

Summer day camps can operate with restrictions.

Medium-risk outdoor recreational activities can resume in Alert Level 3. This means outdoor sports activities like soccer, baseball, and volleyball can take place with restrictions. These activities are for groups of 20 people or less, including coaches and athletes. Spectators must maintain physical distancing.

Outdoor pools can operate with a limit of 20 people in the pool/deck area, including staff, and they must be able to maintain physical distancing. Licensed outdoor pools have chemical treatment that provides protection against the potential spread of COVID-19 from pool water.

Gym and fitness facilities, yoga studios, indoor tennis and squash facilities, arenas, indoor pools, indoor gymnasium and court facilities, dance studios, and performance spaces remain closed in Alert Level 3.

Health Care Services

The four regional health authorities will continue to allow some health care services to resume during Alert Level 3. Information on these services will be made available to the public through the regional health authorities in the coming days.

Private health care clinics can reopen in accordance with public health guidelines.

Virtual care options continue to be available. It is encouraged that virtual care be provided, as much as possible.

People are reminded that all visitor restrictions for health care facilities throughout the province remain in place. Public health orders related to long-term care homes, personal care homes, and assisted living facilities remain in effect. These are expected to change during Alert Level 3. Information on these changes will be provided in the coming days.

Businesses and Services

Retail stores, including those in shopping malls, can open in Alert Level 3 with restrictions. These retail stores can still continue to offer online or telephone sales with delivery or curbside pick-up options.  Retail stores are also allowed to sell scratch and break open lotto tickets in-store.

Personal service establishments including spas, esthetic services, hair salons, body piercing and tattooing salons, and tanning salons can open with restrictions.

Alert Level 3 will see the further expansion of daycare operations.

Restaurants can open at reduced occupancy. Buffets remain prohibited. Take-out, delivery, and drive-thru options are still permitted.

Bars, lounges, and cinemas remain closed.

Public or Private Transit Services

Transit users are encouraged to practice physical distancing from other passengers, where possible. When physical distancing is not possible, it is strongly recommended that passengers wear a non-medical mask or face covering that covers the nose and mouth.

Public transit buses may allow a maximum of 19 passengers on board a full-sized bus at any time and 50% capacity for other sized transit buses or vans.

Public Health Measures

To be successful in Alert Level 3 and for the foreseeable future, public health measures must continue to be adhered to including:

  • Stay informed, be prepared, and follow public health advice;
  • Wash your hands frequently with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds;
  • Use an alcohol based hand sanitizer in the absence of soap and water;
  • Do not touch your face;
  • Practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette;
  • Maintain physical distancing;
  • Wear a non-medical mask or face covering when you are in public and unable to maintain physical distancing;
  • Increase cleanliness and ventilation of public spaces and worksites;
  • Stay home if you are sick and avoid contact with others;
  • Work from home, where possible; and
  • Shop online and use curb side pick-up, where possible.

Mining, Mineral Exploration and Quarry Industries

On June 8, 2020, the Minister of Natural Resources announced measures to assist the mining, mineral exploration and quarry industries in Newfoundland and Labrador during the COVID-19 global pandemic, including deferring rental and fee payments and waiving mineral expenditure requirements for 2020.

Effective immediately, the following measures are in place:

  • Waiver of water use charge payments for 2019 related to mineral exploration;
  • Waiver of mineral assessment expenditure requirements for mineral licences for one year from March 18, 2020 to March 17, 2021; and
  • Deferral of rental and fee payments associated with land tenure issued under the Mineral Act and Quarry Materials Act until December 31, 2020. The date range to be qualified for deferral is March 18, 2020 to December 31, 2020. Items being deferred include mining and surface lease rentals, mineral licence renewal fees, application and reapplication fees and rentals for quarry permits, quarry lease rental, and hectarage fees for quarry materials exploration licence applications.

At this time, government has also launched a new Mineral Lands Administration Portal (MinLAP) to help ensure a seamless regulatory process for mineral exploration companies and prospectors.

Extension of Tax Return Filing Deadlines

To provide continued support to businesses dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, a further two-month extension of tax return filing deadlines is being provided to August 20, 2020.

All tax returns, with the exception of tax returns required from interjurisdictional carriers, falling under the purview of the Revenue Administration Act and Regulations, which would otherwise be due March 20, 2020 to July 31, 2020, are now due August 20, 2020. The tax returns applicable to this extension include:

  • Gasoline Tax;
  • Carbon Tax;
  • Health and Post-Secondary Education Tax;
  • Insurance Companies Tax;
  • Mining and Mineral Rights Tax;
  • Tax on Insurance Premiums; and
  • Tobacco Tax.

For monthly filers, this means you will have the option to extend the filing and remittance of tax amounts for the February to June 2020 reporting periods to August 20, 2020.

If a taxpayer is prevented from making a payment when due, filing a return on time, or otherwise complying with a tax obligation, they can submit a written request to the Department of Finance, Tax Administration Division, to seek a remission of interest and penalties. Requests should validate how the taxpayer was prevented from complying with these requirements as a result of COVID-19. These requests should be submitted by e-mail to taxadmin@gov.nl.ca with the subject being “Remission Request (COVID-19).”

 

New Brunswick

The Government of New Brunswick announced the following measures:

Face Coverings

The direction on June 5, 2020 regarding wearing face coverings when entering businesses open to the general public has been clarified. There was no intent to change the order that has been in place since May 14, namely, that anyone who is in a public area, where physical distancing of two metres cannot be maintained, must wear a face covering that covers their nose and mouth unless they are a child under the age of two or if they cannot wear one for medical reasons.

People are strongly encouraged to have a mask with them at all times when in a public area so they can put it on if physical distancing cannot be maintained.

 

Yukon

The Government of the Yukon announced the following measures:

Employment Standards COVID-19 Leave

The Employment Standards Act was amended in respect to leave related to COVID-19. An employee is entitled to a leave of absence from employment without pay for a period of up to 14 days if the employee requires the leave because the employee is subject to a health protection measure, or to care for the employee’s child or an eligible person. If an employee must take a leave of absence for this period of time, they must take it over a continuous period and give their employer as much notice as possible.

Employees are exempted from the requirement to produce, if requested to do so by their employer, a certificate of a qualified medical practitioner or a qualified nurse practitioner as a condition of the employee’s entitlement to sick leave.

This provision is in effect from June 3, 2020 to 14 days after the end of the state of emergency.

Essential Workers

The Government of Yukon’s guidance for critical and essential workers has been updated to provide greater clarity to workers delivering critical and essential services in the territory between now and July 1, 2020. After July 1, 2020, restrictions will be eased for critical and essential workers entering Yukon from BC.

The updated guidance document clarifies that the restrictions of gatherings to 10 people does not apply to workplaces, that people who need to do urgent repairs or maintenance on infrastructure are considered critical workers, as are judges, witnesses and other individuals necessary to carry out the rule of law. The updated document also clarifies that all of Yukon’s communities – whether Whitehorse or rural – should be treated similarly by people who need to come to Yukon to work from outside the territory.

Faith-Based Services

Beginning June 7, 2020, places of worship will be permitted to open. Service organizers and attendees are required to adopt steps to ensure physical distancing, even adapting the nature of their services where necessary.  This means, for example, that the seating capacity of indoor venues will be limited to one third of the building capacity up to a maximum of 50 people including service leaders and organizers.

Leaders and organizers must also increase the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting common, high-touch areas such as seating, railings, switches and ceremonial objects. Organizers are required to complete an operational plan that must be produced if requested. It does not need to be approved in advance. The guidance for faith-based services and activities is now online at Yukon.ca.

Mental Health Resources

Yukon has a wide range of mental health supports provided by the Yukon government, First Nations governments, the federal government and the non-governmental organization community. The majority of these supports remain available during the COVID-19 pandemic, although some services have been altered to comply with the orders and recommendations of the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

Opioid Treatment Services

Opioid Treatment Services and support are available to anyone who feels a need to discuss or address their opioid use, especially considering the increased stressors many are under due to COVID-19.  Opioid Treatment Services operate out of the Referred Care Clinic at 210 Elliott Street in Whitehorse. Normally these are drop-in services but because of COVID-19, the public is being asked to call first and make an appointment. The clinic operates Monday through Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. and can be reached at 867-668-2552.

 

Nunavut

The Government of Nunavut announced the following measures:

Isolation Reservation Request Form

In March, Nunavut issued a travel ban into Nunavut and implemented a 14 day isolation requirement for returning Nunavummiut.

Moving forward, all Nunavummiut who must travel outside of the territory should contact the email address NUisolationreservations@nunavutcare.ca and submit an Isolation Reservation Request Form as soon as they know their plans for travel. From there, the travel team will work to identify room availability and reserve their stay in one of the designated isolation facilities.

Duty Travel

As of June 8, the Government of Nunavut will resume in-territory duty travel for employees, according to regular practices. Both essential and non-essential duty travel may be approved within the territory.

Duty travel to and from the Kitikmeot region may be approved as long as the flight paths do not require that travellers’ stopover and go through the isolation hub in Yellowknife. Departments may also consider booking a charter to or from the Kitikmeot region.

Duty travel to and from Sanikiluaq may be approved on charter flights only, as long as the flight paths do not require that travellers’ stopover outside the territory and stay in isolation hubs.

Non-essential duty travel outside of Nunavut remains suspended.

 

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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