COVID-19:  Cross country update (May 12, 2020)

May 12, 2020

Federal

The Government of Canada announced the following measures:

NRC Vaccine Collaborations

The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) today announced two collaborations.  The first is with CanSino Biologics Inc. (CanSinoBIO) to advance bioprocessing and clinical development in Canada of a candidate vaccine against COVID-19.  CanSinoBIO’s vaccine candidate received Chinese regulatory approval earlier this year to move ahead with human clinical trials in China.  CanSinoBIO is in the process of filing a Clinical Trial Application with Health Canada.

The second collaboration is with the University of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Centre (USask’s VIDO-InterVac) to accelerate the development and production of a candidate COVID-19 antigen in mammalian cells.

Temporary Foreign Workers

Effective immediately, the Canadian Government is announcing a new, temporary policy that will significantly reduce the time it takes for a temporary foreign worker to start a new job.  Under existing rules, to change jobs, temporary foreign workers must apply and wait for a new work permit to be issued before starting to work at their new job, which can take 10 weeks or more.

Right now, many employers who provide critical goods and services to Canadians, such as agriculture, agri-food and health care, find themselves with urgent needs for additional employees.

With this new policy, a worker who is already in Canada and has secured a new job offer, typically backed by a labour market test, can get approval to start working in their new job, even while their work permit application is being fully processed. This will reduce wait times to 10 days or fewer.

To be eligible, workers must:

  • be in Canada with valid status;
  • have an employer-specific work permit or have been working under a work permit exemption; and
  • have submitted an application for a new work permit with a valid job offer under either the Temporary Foreign Worker Program or the International Mobility Program.

The work permit applicant must submit a request to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. The request will be reviewed within 10 days and, if approved, authorization for the worker to start working in their new job will be sent to them by email.

The employer’s role remains the same.  An employer needs to have, or obtain, a valid positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from Employment and Social Development Canada, name the worker in a position on the LMIA, and notify Service Canada. For an employer-specific, LMIA-exempt situation, the employer needs to submit an offer of employment through the International Mobility Program Employer Portal.

For more information, see: Instructions for work permit applicants for changing jobs quickly.

Support for Canadian Seniors

Today Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a series of additional measures to help Canadian seniors including:

  • Providing additional financial support of $2.5 billion for a one-time tax-free payment of $300 for seniors eligible for the Old Age Security pension, with an additional $200 for seniors eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS);
  • Expanding the New Horizons for Seniors Program with an additional investment of $20 million to support organizations that offer community-based projects that reduce isolation, improve the quality of life of seniors, and help them maintain a social support network; and
  • Temporarily extending GIS and Allowance payments if seniors’ 2019 income information has not been assessed.  To avoid an interruption in benefits, seniors are encouraged to submit their 2019 income information as soon as possible and no later than October 1, 2020.

Temporary Suspension of Select Border Services Locations

Today, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) announced the temporary suspension of service at certain small vessel reporting sites, small airports of entry, ferry terminals and to the Remote Area Border Crossing program. These COVID-19 related measures are temporary, and in effect as of May 12, 2020, at 11:59 pm EDT until further notice.

The CBSA will proceed with the temporary suspension of service at a total of 342 small vessel reporting sites and 126 small airports. Air and marine traffic will be redirected as appropriate.  For more information, see Fact Sheet: COVID-19 – List of CBSA locations that remain open during temporary service suspension at Canadian airports and private boat reporting sites.

 

British Columbia

The Government of British Columbia announced the following measures:

Buy BC e-commerce

New Buy BC e-commerce funding is available to help the province’s farmers and food and beverage processors move their products online.  The B.C. government is providing $300,000 of financial support to help develop websites that accommodate online sales and to help cover the costs of marketing and shipping products to consumers throughout the province.

The funding is available to B.C. farmers, and food and beverage processors of all sizes.  To be eligible, an applicant must have at least two years of business revenues, be licensed to do business in B.C. and be growing or processing one or more products in the province.  Each successful applicant is eligible to receive up to $5,000.

Online applications will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis, from May 15 to May 29, or when the funding is fully subscribed.  For Buy BC application details, visit: iafbc.ca/buy-bc.

 

Alberta

The Government of Alberta announced the following measures:

Prioritizing Funding for Front-Line Non-Profits

The Alberta Government will reallocate money from the Community Initiatives Program Project-based grant to the Community Initiatives Program Operating grant to help struggling front-line charities and non-profits maintain their core operations and provide services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The May and September intakes of the Community Initiatives Program Operating grant will be combined into one intake in June to help flow much-needed dollars to front-line organizations faster. Funding for this one-time intake will be prioritized for small and medium-sized organizations that focus on food security, shelter and housing, and addictions and mental health supports so they can continue to care for vulnerable Albertans.

The Community Initiatives Program will provide $8 million in funding and the limit for grant requests will be increased from $60,000 to $75,000.  The three-year eligibility period will be waived to allow all organizations in need of operational funding to apply for this one-time intake.

 

Ontario

The Government of Ontario announced the following measures:

Emergency Orders Extended

The Province is extending the Declaration of Emergency under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act until June 2 to enable it to gradually reopen businesses, services, and amenities safely. In the interim, Ontario continues to enforce current emergency orders. A full list of emergency orders under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act can be found on the e-Laws website.

Legislation to Facilitate Conducting Business

Today, the House passed the COVID-19 Response and Reforms to Modernize Ontario Act, 2020, which will help people conduct business while practising physical distancing by:

  • Providing authority to address in-person attendance rules for school board trustees’ meetings in regulation. This would provide the flexibility in certain emergency situations to allow trustees to meet virtually during school closures;
  • Enabling corporations to call and hold meetings virtually, as applicable, and extending the time period in which annual meetings must be held in specific circumstances;
  • Allowing designations of a beneficiary to be provided electronically for Retirement Savings Plans, Retirement Income Funds, Locked-in Retirement Accounts, Life Income Funds and Tax-Free Savings Accounts;
  • Allowing electronic filing of business registration documents, and the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services to accept copies of business registration documents and e-signatures;
  • Allowing for regulations to set out the parameters for remotely commissioning or notarizing a document; and
  • Extending, on a one-time basis for 2020, the legislated four-year period during which a Métis Nation of Ontario election is mandated to be held to give more time to support remote voting.

 

Quebec

The Government of Quebec announced the following measures:

Investment for Scientific and Technological Projects

On May 12, the government announced an investment of more than $10 million to support scientific and technological projects related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the many projects already submitted, five of them, valued in all at nearly $3 million, were selected:

  • Development of specific serological analysis for COVID-19 – Research center of the Center hospitalier universitaire de Montréal;
  • Safe handling platform for COVID-19 for research – Research center of the Center hospitalier universitaire de Québec;
  • Personalization of reusable masks with a rapid permutation filter – ShapeShift 3D company;
  • Telehealth platform to support pharmacy teams and patients – Ask Your Pharmacist; and
  • Biometric clothing: continuous monitoring of the condition of patients at risk or who tested positive for COVID-19 with intelligent clothing – Carré Technologies.

Gradual Resumption of Deposit Activities

On May 11, the government announced that the various stakeholders of the bottle deposit industry had agreed on a plan to gradually resume the deposit operations. Since it is difficult to retrieve the returned containers inside stores in the current context, it was agreed to allow the return of containers outside. The new procedures for retrieving returnable containers will come into full effect during the week of May 18. More details on this subject will be communicated by RECYC-QUÉBEC in the coming days.

Travel Ban

On May 10, the government cancelled its repeal of access restrictions for the residents of the City of Gatineau and Les Collines-de-L’Outaouais, which was granted the day before, on May 9. Thus, access restrictions to the Outaouais region remain in effect only for the city of Gatineau and Les Collines-de-L’Outaouais.

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Le gouvernement du Québec a annoncé les mesures suivantes :

Investissement pour des projets scientifiques et technologiques

Le 12 mai, le gouvernement a annoncé un investissement de plus de 10M$ pour soutenir des projets scientifiques et technologiques en lien avec la pandémie de la COVID-19. Parmi les nombreux projets déjà soumis, cinq d’entre eux, évalués en tout à près de 3M$, ont été sélectionnés :

  • Développement d’analyses sérologiques spécifiques pour la COVID-19 – Centre de recherche du Centre hospitalier universitaire de Montréal;
  • Plateforme de manipulation sécuritaire de la COVID-19 pour la recherche – Centre de recherche du Centre hospitalier universitaire de Québec;
  • Personnalisation de masques réutilisables avec un filtre de permutation rapide – entreprise ShapeShift 3D;
  • Plateforme de télésanté pour soutenir les équipes de pharmacie et les patients – entreprise Question pour un pharmacien; et
  • Vêtement biométrique : suivi en continu de la condition des patients à risque ou testés positifs à la COVID-19 avec un vêtement intelligent – entreprise Carré Technologies.

Reprise progressive des activités de consigne

Le 11 mai, le gouvernement a annoncé que les différents acteurs du réseau de la consigne s’étaient entendus sur un plan de reprise progressive des activités de consigne. Dans le contexte actuel, puisqu’il est difficile de récupérer des contenants consignés à l’intérieur des magasins, il a été convenu de permettre la reprise des contenants consignés à l’extérieur. Les nouvelles modalités de récupération des contenants consignés entreront pleinement en vigueur dans la semaine du 18 mai. Plus de détails à ce sujet seront communiqués par RECYC-QUÉBEC dans les prochains jours.

Restrictions de déplacements

Le 10 mai, le gouvernement a annulé son abrogation des limitations d’accès pour les résidents de la Ville de Gatineau et de Les Collines-de-L’Outaouais qu’il avait adopté la veille, le 9 mai. Ainsi, les limitations d’accès à la région de l’Outaouais demeurent uniquement en vigueur pour la ville de Gatineau et de Les Collines-de-L’Outaouais.

 

Newfoundland and Labrador

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced the following measures:

On May 12, the provincial government announced protocols for the 2020 angling season to lower the risks associated with COVID-19.

 

New Brunswick

The Government of New Brunswick announced the following measures:

Farmers Markets

On May 12, the government announced that farmers markets are permitted to reopen if they can enforce physical distancing measures and other recommendations of the Chief Medical Officer of Health. Farmers markets need to develop an overall COVID-19 Operation Plan. In addition, each vendor must develop an individual operational plan. More information on how to establish these operational plans is available online.

Parks and Tourist Attractions

The government has also announced that provincial parks and other major tourism attractions will reopen in the coming weeks. For more information, see the detailed reopening schedule.

 

Prince Edward Island

The Government of Prince Edward Island announced the following measures:

On May 12, the provincial government announced additional supports to help Islanders address the challenges of separation, divorce and parenting from multiple homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Northwest Territories

The Government of the Northwest Territories announced the following measures:

Reopening Plan

On May 12, the government announced its plan for reopening the territory. The first phase of reopening is scheduled to begin in mid-to-late May and will allow some schools and businesses to resume, while also easing restrictions related to gatherings. Provided that the public health situation remains stable and expanded community testing is available, the following measures will be implemented:

  • Elementary, middle, and high schools may reopen;
  • Each household can have up to five visitors from outside of the household, with a maximum of 10 people inside a household at any time;
  • Outdoor gatherings of up to 25 people are allowed, providing that individuals engage in physical distancing;
  • Some businesses may reopen, including personal services businesses, museums, art galleries, bottle depots, gyms and fitness centres (for personal training and outdoor activities); and
  • Farmers markets, libraries, recreational facilities and playgrounds will be allowed to open with restrictions in place.

Support for Entrepreneurs and Economic Development

The government has also announced that the Support for Entrepreneurs and Economic Development program is open for applications, and will prioritize applications from NWT businesses whose proposals focus on economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

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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