COVID-19:  Cross country update (May 11, 2020)

May 11, 2020

Federal

The Government of Canada announced the following measures:

Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility

Today Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced support for large and medium-sized businesses so they can keep their workers on the payroll and survive the COVID-19 pandemic.  The goal is to avoid bankruptcies and protect jobs, not to fund non-viable businesses or allow them to restructure.  Specifically, the Government of Canada plans to:

  • Establish a Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF) to provide bridge financing to Canada’s largest employers, whose needs during the pandemic are not being met through conventional financing, in order to keep their operations going;
  • Use key guiding principles in providing support through the LEEFF, including:
    • Protection of taxpayers and workers: Companies seeking support must demonstrate how they intend to preserve employment and maintain investment activities. Recipients will need to commit to respect collective bargaining agreements and protect workers’ pensions. The LEEFF program will require strict limits to dividends, share buy-backs, and executive pay. In addition, recipient companies would be required to commit to publish annual climate-related disclosure reports consistent with the Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, including how their future operations will support environmental sustainability and national climate goals;
    • Fairness: The financing is intended to be applicable to all eligible sectors in all provinces and territories in a consistent manner; and
    • Timeliness: To ensure timely support, the LEEFF program will apply a standard set of economic terms and conditions;
  • Expand the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) to mid-sized companies with larger financing needs. Support for mid-market businesses will include loans of up to $60 million per company, and guarantees of up to $80 million. Through the BCAP, Export Development Canada (EDC) and the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) will work with private sector lenders to support access to capital for Canadian businesses in all sectors and regions; and
  • Continue to provide financing to businesses through Farm Credit Canada, the BDC, and EDC, including through the Canada Account.

The government’s support for large companies through LEEFF will be delivered by the Canada Development Investment Corporation, in cooperation with Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada and the Department of Finance. The LEEFF program will be open to large for-profit businesses (except those in the financial sector), as well as certain not-for-profit businesses, such as airports, with typical annual revenues of $300 million or higher.

To qualify for LEEFF support, eligible businesses must be seeking financing of about $60 million or more, have significant operations or workforce in Canada, and not be involved in active insolvency proceedings.  The government is in the final stages of establishing the program and further information about the application process is expected shortly.

 

Alberta

The Government of Alberta announced the following measures:

Infrastructure and Transportation Projects Accelerated

The Alberta Government is accelerating infrastructure and transportation projects across the province to help get thousands of Albertans back to work and the economy back on track.  These projects include renovating schools, repaving highways and upgrading bridges and culverts.

In the first week of May, Alberta Infrastructure and Alberta Transportation together announced $426 million in capital maintenance and renewal funding to accelerate repairs and improvements that will support over 3200 jobs.  Government is quadrupling this year’s budget for pothole repairs and other critical safety-related activities by adding $60 million province-wide, which is expected to support another 360 jobs.  For more information on these projects, see the government’s press release.

Online Hub to Help Seniors

A new online hub called CORE (Collaborative Online Resources and Education) will coordinate community services for older Albertans and seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.  The hub will make it easier for organizations to share resources and coordinate services, with a focus on key COVID-19 issues, including transportation, food security, social isolation and home supports.

CORE Alberta will feature:

  • Online forums to access training, share resources and promote best practices;
  • A link to Alberta 211 for seniors seeking direct supports;
  • Information about volunteer safety, protocols and guidelines; and
  • Links to funding opportunities and resources to address challenges related to COVID-19.

Resource for Health and Safety Guidelines

The alberta.ca/bizconnect webpage provides business owners with information on health and safety guidelines for general workplaces and sector-specific guidelines for those able to open in stage one of the relaunch to ensure businesses can reopen safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The website includes guidance documents for sectors currently allowed to operate under public health orders:

  • Disability service providers;
  • Farmers markets;
  • Golf course operators;
  • Health non-essential services;
  • Health sector PPE guidelines;
  • Homeless shelters;
  • Industrial work camps; and
  • Private/municipal campgrounds.

Additionally, planning documents to prepare businesses for stage one relaunch are posted for:

  • Day camps;
  • Daycare and out-of-school care;
  • Hair salons and barbershops;
  • Museums and art galleries;
  • Outdoor recreation;
  • Places of worship;
  • Restaurants; and
  • Retail.

The alberta.ca/bizconnect webpage also includes a red tape reduction submission form so business owners can share their ideas on modernizing regulations and reducing red tape, especially as they respond to COVID-19.

Expanded Testing

Effective May 11, 2020, expanded testing will be available for one week to Calgary Zone residents who work outside of their homes and are not symptomatic. A maximum of 1,000 individuals who qualify for this expanded testing will be tested per day in order to ensure that there is still capacity to test those who are symptomatic. As a result, booking for testing will occur on a first come, first serve basis. Individuals who qualify for this expanded testing should use the AHS online assessment tool and register for testing this week. They should not, however, call 811 unless they are symptomatic.

 

Ontario

The Government of Ontario announced the following measures:

Retail Partial Reopening

Starting today, retail stores with a street entrance are permitted to offer curbside pickup and delivery. Over the weekend, garden centres, nurseries, hardware stores and safety supply stores began offering in-store purchasing. All retailers should follow available safety guidelines in order to protect staff, consumers and the general public during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Over 80 sector-specific health and safety guidelines have been released, including guidelines for curbside pickup and delivery services. The Ministry of Health has also released a Guidance Document for Essential Workplaces.  As the province prepares for the gradual reopening of the economy, business owners should use these guidelines to develop reopening plans that are appropriate for their business to protect workers, customers and the general public.

Support for Working Parents

Today, Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, announced Ontario’s plan, with federal and municipal backing, to protect child care spaces to assist parents who will be returning to work. The government’s plan will ensure child care centres remain sustainable, accessible and safe to re-open.  The plan’s time-limited approach includes:

  • support for fixed operating costs for eligible child care and EarlyON Centres, while providers are prohibited from charging parent fees while the Emergency Order is in effect;
  • direct and rapid funding delivery through municipal service managers for centres that currently receive funding;
  • a straightforward application process for child care centres that do not currently receive provincial funding by allowing them to apply directly to the Ministry of Education;
  • direction that all child care centres will be required to maximize all available support under Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, including staffing costs retroactively to March 15, 2020, in addition to federal-provincial rental subsidy supports;
  • red tape reduction and cost savings by waiving all child care licensing applications, renewals and revision fees;
  • automatic extension of child care licenses set to expire during the emergency period; and
  • protecting existing base funding for licensed home child care agencies, and regular funding and wage enhancement grant funding for licensed home child care providers who have remained active during the emergency closure.

Voluntary Redeployment for School Board Employees

The Ontario government has approved an emergency order that enables available school board employees to be voluntarily redeployed to congregate care settings during the COVID-19 pandemic, including hospitals, long-term care homes, retirement homes, and women’s shelters, many of which are in need of staff such as custodial and maintenance workers.

Under the emergency order, school boards would be authorized to develop and implement staff redeployment plans. Voluntarily redeployed staff would maintain their employment relationship with the school board and would continue to receive their compensation and other employment benefits. They would also be eligible for the provincial government’s pandemic pay and emergency child care.

Training and appropriate safety equipment will be provided to any educational worker who volunteers to be redeployed in a congregate setting.

Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Opening

Provincial parks and conservation reserves will be opened for limited day-use access.  Today, the first 520 provincial parks and conservation reserves were opened and the remaining 115 areas will be opened on May 15.  Until further notice, recreational activities will be limited to walking, hiking, biking and birdwatching. Day visitors will also be able to access all parks and conservation reserves for free until the end of the month.

At this time, camping and other activities are not permitted at any provincial park or conservation reserve. All buildings and facilities including washrooms, water taps, campgrounds, backcountry campsites, roofed accommodations, playgrounds, and beaches continue to be closed.

Before planning your trip, please visit ontarioparks.com/park-locator to check the status of your local provincial park.

 

Quebec

The Government of Quebec announced the following measures:

Revenu Québec – Incentive Program to Retain Essential Workers

On May 11, Revenu Québec announced that workers eligible for the Incentive Program to Retain Essential Workers (IPREW) could apply according to a predetermined schedule starting May 19. As a reminder, IPREW is financial assistance of $100 per week intended for workers in the designated essential services sectors who earn from $5,000 to $28,600 per year. Financial assistance will be paid retroactively to March 15 for a maximum of 16 weeks.

To avoid customer service congestion, Revenu Québec has set up a specific sequence for the first four days following the official opening of registrations. From May 19 to 22, it will accept applications from eligible workers based on their month of birth:

  • May 19: January, February and March;
  • May 20: April, May and June;
  • May 21: July, August and September; and
  • May 22: October, November and December.

In addition, from May 19 to 22, customer service hours will be extended; it will be accessible from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., and will be additionally open on Saturday, May 23, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. After May 22, all citizens will be able to submit their application, regardless of their date of birth. Applications will be accepted until November 15.

Resumption of Services Related to Real Estate Transactions

As of May 11, real estate brokers working in the residential and commercial sector, land surveyors, building inspectors and appraisers as well as chartered appraisers can resume their activities. On April 20, the government authorized the resumption of activities related to residential real estate transactions whose possession was scheduled for July 31. However, the government has now authorized all activities relating to residential and commercial real estate transactions regardless of the date of possession.

Montreal – State of Emergency Renewal

On May 11, the Montreal agglomeration extended the state of emergency on its territory until May 16.

Construction Work in Private Seniors’ Residences

On May 9, the government ordered that only emergency maintenance and repair work or work required for safety purposes could be carried out in private seniors’ residences.

Professionals Authorized to Take Samples

On May 9, the government authorized the following professionals, under certain conditions, to take the necessary samples for the COVID-19 screening test:

  • Audiologists;
  • Dentists;
  • Dietitians-nutritionists;
  • Dental hygienists;
  • Speech therapists; and
  • Physiotherapists.

Extension of Exceptional Measures

On May 9, the government subjected Joliette to the same exceptions made for the territory of the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal.

Easing of Travel Bans

As of May 9, the access restrictions to the following territories are repealed:

  • The urban agglomeration of La Tuque for the Mauricie and Centre-du-Québec region;
  • The Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region;
  • The Abitibi-Témiscamingue region; and
  • The Outaouais region (including the revocation of the limitation specific to the residents of Gatineau and the regional county municipality of Les Collines-de-L’Outaouais).

__________

Le gouvernement du Québec a annoncé les mesures suivantes :

Revenu Québec – Programme incitatif pour la rétention des travailleurs essentiels

Le 11 mai, Revenu Québec a annoncé que les travailleurs admissibles au Programme incitatif pour la rétention des travailleurs essentiels (PIRTE) pourraient effectuer leur demande selon un calendrier prédéterminé à compter du 19 mai prochain. À titre de rappel, le PIRTE est une aide financière de 100 $ par semaine destinée aux travailleurs des secteurs désignés essentiels qui gagnent de 5 000 $ à 28 600 $ par année. L’aide financière sera versée rétroactivement au 15 mars pour un maximum de 16 semaines.

Pour éviter l’engorgement du service à la clientèle, Revenu Québec a mis sur pied une séquence déterminée pour les 4 premières journées suite à l’ouverture officielle des inscriptions. Ainsi, du 19 au 22 mai, elle acceptera les demandes des travailleurs admissibles en fonction de leur mois de naissance :

  • 19 mai : janvier, février et mars;
  • 20 mai : avril, mai et juin;
  • 21 mai : juillet, août et septembre;
  • 22 mai : octobre, novembre et décembre.

De plus, du 19 au 22 mai, les heures d’ouverture du service à la clientèle seront prolongées. En effet, il sera accessible de 8 h à 21 h, et il sera exceptionnellement ouvert le samedi 23 mai, de 9 h à 16 h. Après le 22 mai, tous les citoyens pourront soumettre leur demande, peu importe leur date de naissance. Les demandes seront acceptées jusqu’au 15 novembre.

Reprise des services entourant les transactions immobilières

À compter du 11 mai, les courtiers immobiliers œuvrant dans le secteur résidentiel et commercial, les arpenteurs-géomètres, les inspecteurs et les évaluateurs en bâtiments ainsi que les évaluateurs agréés peuvent reprendre leurs activités. Le 20 avril dernier, le gouvernement a autorisé la reprise des activités liées aux transactions immobilières en matière résidentielle dont la prise de possession était prévue au plus tard le 31 juillet. Cependant, le gouvernement a maintenant autorisé toutes les activités entourant les transactions immobilières résidentielles et commerciales sans égard à la date de prise de possession.

Montréal – Renouvellement de l’état d’urgence

Le 11 mai, l’agglomération de Montréal a renouvelé l’état d’urgence jusqu’au 16 mai sur l’ensemble de son territoire.

Travaux dans les résidences privées pour aînés

Le 9 mai, le gouvernement a permis, par arrêté, que seuls soient exécutés, dans les résidences privées pour aînés, les travaux d’entretien et de réparation d’urgence ou ceux qui sont requis à des fins de sécurité.

Professionnels autorisés à effectuer les prélèvements

Le 9 mai, le gouvernement a autorisé à certaines conditions les professionnels suivants à effectuer les prélèvements nécessaires au test de dépistage de la COVID-19 :

  • Les audiologistes;
  • Les dentistes;
  • Les diététistes-nutritionnistes;
  • Les hygiénistes dentaires;
  • Les orthophonistes;
  • Les physiothérapeutes.

Élargissement des mesures exceptionnelles

Le 9 mai, le gouvernement a soumis Joliette aux mêmes exceptions visant le territoire de la Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal.

Assouplissement des restrictions de déplacements

À compter du 9 mai, les limitations d’accès aux territoires suivants sont abrogées :

  • L’agglomération de La Tuque pour la région de la Mauricie et Centre-du-Québec;
  • La région du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean;
  • La région Abitibi-Témiscamingue;
  • La région de l’Outaouais (incluant une abrogation de la limitation spécifique aux résidents de Gatineau et de la municipalité régionale de comté de Les Collines-de-L’Outaouais).

 

Newfoundland and Labrador

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced the following measures:

Effective May 11, the province has entered Alert Level 4, which permits the gradual resumption of some activities and business operations, while maintaining certain public health measures to stop the spread of COVID-19. Details about the applicable changes are available in this press release.

 

New Brunswick

The Government of New Brunswick announced the following measures:

On May 11, the government announced new rules for visiting patients nearing the end of their lives in hospitals, nursing homes and hospices. Patients will be permitted to designate two visitors to provide comfort and support. The two individuals selected will be the only visitors permitted and only one visitor is permitted at a time. No substitutions will be permitted. If a designated visitor, such as a frail, elderly spouse or person with a disability, requires a second person to support them, this person would count as the second chosen visitor.

 

Yukon

The Government of the Yukon announced the following measures:

Allied Health Factilities

Guidelines for Personal Protective Equipment for allied health professionals were updated on May 8. These guidelines are designed to help allied health facilities reopen their businesses in ways that will keep their clients safe.

Non-Medical COVID-19 Information

The government has launched a non-medical COVID-19 information line to provide Yukon-specific information about travel and borders, self-isolation and physical distancing, enforcement, and the various social and economic supports available for businesses and families. Yukoners can reach the COVID-19 InfoLine at 877-374-0425 between 7:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. seven days a week. Non-medical COVID-19 information is also available online at Yukon.ca/covid-19 and by email: covid19info@gov.yk.ca.

 

Northwest Territories

The Government of the Northwest Territories announced the following measures:

Rent Relief

On May 11, the government announced that it intends to waive rent on existing surface dispositions on public land, for the fiscal year 2020-21. Rent relief is available to all holders of existing recreational, residential, and commercial and mining surface dispositions on public land. Surface dispositions are usually leases, but there are a small number of other types of dispositions such as easements or licences of occupation, that will also be eligible for relief. The rent relief applies retroactively from April 1, 2020 until March 31, 2021. This will allow all leaseholders to receive the same rent relief as those who received it at the beginning of the pandemic. The rent relief does not apply to new applications received after April 1, 2020. For those who have already paid rent and whose account is in good standing, the payment will be automatically refunded.

NWT Airlines

On May 8, the government announced that it will allocate $8.7 million in funding to support Northwest Territories’ (NWT) passenger-based airlines who offer scheduled service during the COVID-19 pandemic. This support is part of the $130 million announced by the federal government on April 14 to help the territories and northern businesses during the pandemic. The Government of the Northwest Territories will flow through $8.7 million to NWT airlines to ensure that these companies can continue to provide scheduled connections into communities, providing essential goods, like food and medical supplies.

Unified COVID-19 Response Website

The government has launched a unified online COVID-19 hub, available at gov.nt.ca/covid-19/.

 

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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