COVID-19:  Cross country update (May 1, 2020)

May 1, 2020

Federal

The Government of Canada announced the following measures:

New Digital Initiatives

The Canadian Government has introduced two new additions to its suite of virtual tools to support the health and wellness of Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  1. Get Updates on COVID-19 is a web-based email service that provides subscribers with critical information related to the pandemic.  Subscribers to the service will get emails directing them to important and authoritative content on the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 website, Canada.ca/coronavirus.
  2. The ArriveCan app allows travellers returning to Canada to easily input their 14-day isolation or quarantine information upon arrival.  The required information includes flight or border crossing details, whether travellers are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, and whether they have quarantine accommodations.

 

British Columbia

The Government of British Columbia announced the following measures:

B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers

British Columbians whose ability to work has been affected because of the COVID-19 pandemic and who are receiving the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) can now apply for the B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers (BCEBW) online.  The BCEBW is a one-time, tax-free payment of $1,000 for eligible British Columbians.

To be eligible for the BCEBW, people must:

  • have been a resident of B.C. on March 15, 2020;
  • meet the eligibility requirements for the CERB;
  • have been approved for the CERB, even if a federal benefit payment has not yet been received;
  • be at least 15 years old on the date of application;
  • have filed, or agree to file, a 2019 B.C. income tax return; and
  • not be receiving provincial income assistance or disability assistance.

To apply, visit: gov.bc.ca/workerbenefit.  As of May 4, agents will be available by phone to assist those without internet access.  General support is available at 778-309-4630 or toll-free within B.C. at 1-855-955-3545, Monday to Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Pacific time).

Liquor Licence Renewal Fees Deferred

The B.C. Government has temporarily deferred renewal fees for those liquor licensees experiencing financial hardship due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  Renewal fees for liquor licences expiring between March 31 and June 30, 2020 will be deferred until September 30, 2020.  It should be noted that this extension is not a licence renewal – extended licences must still be renewed prior to their expiry dates.

The fee deferral will be applicable to most liquor licences, with the exception of licensee retail stores, special wine stores and wine stores with wine on shelf in grocery stores.  Renewal fees will continue to be calculated in accordance with the Liquor Control and Licensing Regulation.  Those needing support may email a deferral request to: LCRB_COVID19@gov.bc.ca.

 

Alberta

The Government of Alberta announced the following measures:

Contact Tracing Application

As part of its relaunch strategy, the Alberta Government has launched a voluntary mobile contact tracing application, ABTraceTogether, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Currently, contact tracing is performed by interviewing COVID-19 patients.  This is resource intensive and has limitations because it relies on a patient’s memory.  Through wireless Bluetooth technology, mobile contact tracing will significantly speed up and complement the current manual tracing process.

To address potential privacy concerns, the government notes:

  • Use of the app is voluntary and users must opt-in;
  • Only the user’s phone number is collected at the time of registering the app;
  • The app does not track the user’s location nor does it use their GPS;
  • Data is only stored on the user’s phone in an encrypted format for 21 days;
  • Users must consent to sharing their data if they have tested positive for COVID-19;
  • The only information shared with contact tracers is a random ID of those identified as close contacts after a user is diagnosed with COVID-19 – nothing identifiable is exchanged between phones; and
  • Users must be within two metres from each other for a total duration of 15 minutes in a 24-hour period in order to be notified as a close contact.

The app can be downloaded for free from the App Store and Google Play.  For more information about the app, see ABTraceTogether.

 

Saskatchewan

The Government of Saskatchewan announced the following measures:

Support for Local Businesses

Today, Trade and Export Development Minister Jeremy Harrison announced that the government is providing $1 million to support a province-wide marketing campaign to encourage Saskatchewan residents to support local businesses and their employees.

The funding will be provided to the Regina and District Chamber of Commerce to work in partnership with other regional chambers to expand its “Together We Stand” campaign across the province.  This campaign will encourage consumers to support local businesses, including through online and phone sales, and curbside pickup and delivery options.

 

Manitoba

The Government of Manitoba announced the following measures:

Support for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses

Announced on April 22, the government’s online portal to facilitate business applications to the Manitoba Gap Protection Program (MGPP) is now live. The MGPP is available to any small or medium-sized business in Manitoba that has fallen into a gap in failing to qualify for the various federal government assistance programs and wage subsidies created because of COVID-19.

The province will advance each eligible business a non-interest bearing forgivable MGPP loan of $6,000, for a total expenditure of up to $120 million.  The loan will be forgiven on December 31, 2020, if the recipient attests at that time the business has not received any major non-repayable COVID-19 federal supports such as the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and the Canada Emergency Business Account, as well as sector-specific grant federal programs specifically developed in response to the pandemic.  If the applicant has received benefits under a federal COVID program, then the loan will be added to the recipient’s 2020 tax bill.

To be eligible for the MGPP funding, a business must:

  • have been operational on March 20, 2020, the date the Manitoba government declared a province-wide state of emergency under The Emergency Measures Act because of COVID-19;
  • have temporarily ceased or curtailed operations as a result of a COVID-19 public health order and have been harmed by the health order;
  • be registered and in good standing with the Manitoba Business and Corporate Registry;
  • have not qualified for federal government COVID-19 grant support; and
  • have an email address and a bank account.

Support for Municipalities

Premier Brian Pallister announced today that the Province will ensure that critical funding promised to Manitoba municipalities in the 2020 Budget remains intact, despite the financial pressure on the provincial government amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Province provides a total of $172.6 million in operating funding to municipalities as well a total of $137 million in municipal infrastructure funding.

Legislature Resuming on Limited Basis

The Manitoba legislature will reconvene on May 6 to resume the legislative session on a limited schedule after it had been adjourned March 19 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

One sitting day will be held each week throughout May. A reduced number of members will be in the chamber to participate at any given time, in accordance with public health requirements as ordered by Manitoba’s Chief Provincial Public Health Officer.

Campgrounds Reopening

Reservations for Manitoba campgrounds will open May 4 and staggered dates will be offered.  Provincial parks will implement enhanced cleaning procedures and sanitization of public washrooms and shower facilities in the campgrounds. Staff will be monitoring to ensure social distancing is adhered to, especially in public areas like beaches and recreation areas. For more information visit gov.mb.ca/covid19/restoring/phase-one.html#parks.

While the travel ban north of the 53rd parallel is in effect, campers from southern Manitoba are prohibited from travelling to campgrounds in the north. Out-of-province campers and visitors must follow the public health orders related to travel including a requirement to self-isolate for 14 days when entering the province.

 

Ontario

The Government of Ontario announced the following measures:

Some Businesses Permitted to Reopen

The following businesses and workplaces will be allowed to reopen on Monday, May 4 at 12:01 a.m. as long as they comply with strict public health measures and operate safely during the COVID-19 outbreak:

  • Garden centres and nurseries with curbside pick-up and delivery only;
  • Lawn care and landscaping;
  • Additional essential construction projects that include:
    • shipping and logistics;
    • broadband, telecommunications, and digital infrastructure;
    • any other project that supports the improved delivery of goods and services;
    • municipal projects;
    • colleges and universities;
    • child care centres;
    • schools; and
    • site preparation, excavation, and servicing for institutional, commercial, industrial and residential developments;
  • Automatic and self-serve car washes;
  • Auto dealerships, open by appointment only;
  • Golf courses may prepare their courses for the upcoming season, but not open to the public; and
  • Marinas may also begin preparations for the recreational boating season by servicing boats and other watercraft and placing boats in the water, but not open to the public. Boats and watercraft must be secured to a dock in the marina until public access is allowed.

The government, in partnership with Ontario’s health and safety associations, has developed more than 60 guidelines in response to COVID-19. These sector-specific measures will help employers prepare their workplaces so they can be reopened safely and ensure workers, customers and the general public are protected.

On April 27, the government released A Framework for Reopening our Province, which outlines the criteria Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts are using to advise the government on the loosening of emergency measures, as well as guiding principles for the safe, gradual reopening of businesses, services and public spaces.

Support for Industrial and Commercial Electricity Consumers

Today, the Ontario government passed an emergency order that defers a portion of Global Adjustment (GA) charges for industrial and commercial electricity consumers that do not participate in the Regulated Price Plan for the period starting from April 2020. This initiative is intended to provide companies with temporary immediate relief on their monthly electricity bills in April, May and possibly June 2020. The government intends to keep this emergency order in place until May 31, 2020, and subsequent regulatory amendments would, if approved, provide for the deferral of these charges for June 2020 as well.

This emergency order will prevent a marked increase in GA charges due to the low electricity demand caused by the COVID-19 outbreak and will hold GA rates in line with pre-COVID-19 levels.

Orders to Improve Health Care Flexibility

Today, the Ontario government issued new temporary emergency orders under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act to support the immediate needs of the province’s hospitals and health care workers so they can better manage critical health care human resources during COVID-19.  The new temporary emergency orders issued today will:

  • Give hospitals the authority and flexibility to more quickly appoint, re-appoint and grant privileges to medical and other professional staff, in order to address potential surge volumes due to COVID-19. This emergency order will allow for the reduction of administrative processes and better enable hospitals to focus operational resources on providing frontline services.
  • Authorize coroners, registered nurses appointed as coroner investigators, and public health units to access provincial electronic health records to help reduce demands on clinicians’ time related to death investigations, reduce exposure to COVID-19 related death investigations, and improve the ability to monitor the spread of the virus.
  • Allow registered nurses appointed as coroner investigators to complete medical certificates of death instead of a physician or nurse practitioner, giving these medical professionals more time to focus on patient care and helping to ensure that medical certificates of death are being completed and sent to funeral directors in a timely manner.

 

Quebec

The Government of Quebec announced the following measures:

On May 1, 2020, public health authorities in Québec announced the implementation of a new diagnostic plan for COVID-19 cases. This strategy is intended to increase access to COVID-19 diagnoses in the general population, in addition to the testing in a healthcare setting that has been advocated to date.

Starting May 4th, anyone with symptoms similar to those of COVID-19 will be asked to call 1-877-644-4545 for an assessment of their condition and a possible appointment at a designated testing clinic.

To date, 6,000 tests are performed daily and the goal is to increase to 14,000 tests daily by the end of next week.

__________

Le gouvernement du Québec a annoncé les mesures suivantes :

Le 1er mai 2020, les autorités de santé publique du Québec a annoncé la mise en place d’un nouveau plan de diagnostic des cas de COVID-19. Cette stratégie vise à augmenter l’accès aux diagnostics de la COVID-19 dans la population en générale, qui viennent s’ajouter au dépistage en milieu de soins préconisé jusqu’à maintenant.

À partir du 4 mai, toute personne qui a des symptômes s’apparentant à ceux de la COVID-19 devra appeler la ligne 1 877 644-4545, où on procédera à une évaluation de sa condition afin de lui octroyer un rendez-vous dans une clinique désignée de dépistage.

Jusqu’à maintenant, 6 000 tests sont effectués par jour et l’objectif est d’augmenter à 14 000 tests quotidiens à la fin de la semaine prochaine.

 

Newfoundland and Labrador

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced the following measures:

Child Care Services

Effective May 11, regulated child care services will move from an Alert Level 5 (care for children of essential workers only) to Alert Level 4 (limited expansion of child care services).

Supports for Liquor Industry

To assist the province’s beverage industry, a number of measures have been announced:

  • Effective May 1, the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation (NLC) will waive liquor license fees for the 2020-2021 fiscal year;
  • The NLC will work with the licensee community to return general list product in an effort to help with working capital;
  • The NLC is temporarily waiving warehousing service fees for microbrewers with an annual production of 1,000 hectoliters or less for those who use the NLC’s distribution network;
  • The NLC has been approved to implement a wholesale pricing discount for licensees, by providing a 5% discount for wines and spirits, and ready to drink beverages;
  • The government has approved an increase in product commission discounts for craft breweries, wineries, distilleries and cideries producing 1,000 hectoliters or less to 55% for non-NLC distributed products;
  • A temporary regulatory change has been approved to permit ferment-on premise operations (U-Brew) to bottle beverages for their customers that started batches of wine or beer prior to the COVID-19 health restrictions; and
  • The government has committed to bringing legislation forward that will allow for the temporary direct sale of alcohol to customers by restaurants and other licensed establishments that sell prepared meals for takeout/curbside pick-up and delivery. This legislation will also include changes to allow brewers, wineries and distilleries the ability to offer home delivery.

 

Nova Scotia

The Government of Nova Scotia announced the following measures:

Effective May 1, the government has announced the easing of some public health restrictions. The initial steps, effective immediately, are:

  • provincial and municipal parks can reopen, but playground equipment will continue to be off limits;
  • trails are allowed to open;
  • people are allowed to use and visit community gardens;
  • garden centres, nurseries and similar businesses can open;
  • sportfishing is permitted from shore or boat, but fishing derbies are not allowed;
  • people can attend boating, yacht or sailing clubs for the purpose of preparing boats for use;
  • golf driving ranges can open, including those at golf clubs, but the course must remain closed; golf clubs can perform necessary maintenance and preparations for opening;
  • people can use their cottages but use is restricted to one household unit at a time, travel must be directly to the cottage and back, and travelling back and forth frequently from cottage and primary residence is discouraged;
  • provincial and private campgrounds remain closed, but they can perform necessary maintenance and preparations for opening (an exception is recreational vehicles parked year-round at private campgrounds, which can be used but must follow the same rules as cottages); and
  • drive-in religious services will be allowed, as long as people stay in their cars, they are parked two metres apart and there are no interactions between people in cars or between people in cars and others.

 

Yukon

The Government of the Yukon announced the following measures:

Effective May 1, three new Ministerial Orders under the Civil Emergency Measures Act are now in force that will allow government to be responsive to the evolving state of emergency in Yukon.  The orders:

  • Provide authority for deputy ministers to alter the terms of Government of Yukon contracts in light of the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Provide deputy ministers the authority to extend leases, licences, certificates, permits and other approvals issued under Yukon law for up to 90 days after the state of emergency ends;
  • Enable deputy ministers to extend legislative timelines set out in Yukon laws for up to 90 days after the state of emergency ends;
  • Suspend limitation periods, under Yukon law, for civil and family actions that would have expired during the state of emergency or within the 30 days after the state of emergency ends – the limitation periods will now expire 90 days after the state of emergency ends and the same extension will apply to the initiation of prosecutions under Yukon law;
  • Allow judges and other statutory decision-makers, operating under Yukon law, to waive, suspend or extend the time periods as they deem necessary for up to 90 days after the state of emergency; and
  • Provide a 30-day extension on affidavits or statutory declarations required under Yukon law, where an affidavit or statutory declaration would have normally been due during or up to 10 days after the state of emergency ends. Deputy ministers will have authority to specify circumstances where the extension to affidavits or statutory declarations will not apply.

 

Nunavut

The Government of Nunavut announced the following measures:

Beginning May 7, any Nunavut resident who has voluntarily left the territory and wants to return will need to pay for their 14-day isolation stay. Medical travel patients will continue to be covered and are not expected to pay. The fee for a single individual in a room is $2,100 for the 14-day period, and each additional family member in the room will pay $1,050. Those fees will need to be paid in advance of arriving into the isolation hub.

 

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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