COVID-19:  Cross country update (May 14, 2020)

May 14, 2020

Federal

The Government of Canada announced the following measures:

Reminder of Travel Restrictions

With the upcoming long weekend approaching, the Canada Border Services Agency is reminding people that the travel restrictions announced in March are still in place at all of Canada’s international border crossings.  All travel of an optional or discretionary nature, including tourism, recreation and entertainment, is covered by these measures across all ports of entry in all modes of transportation – land, marine, air and rail.  For more information, see: COVID-19 – Travel restrictions, exemptions and advice.

Pleasure Craft in Northern Communities

Today, new measures were introduced to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in remote and vulnerable Arctic communities.  As of June 1, 2020, pleasure craft will be prohibited from operating within Canada’s Arctic coastal waters (north of the 60th parallel), as well as in the coastal areas of northern Quebec and Labrador.  This includes the territorial sea surrounding Nunatsiavut, Nunavik and the Labrador Coast.

These measures will remain in place until at least October 31, 2020.  Those violating the prohibitions could be subject to a penalty of $5,000 per day for an individual and $25,000 per day for a corporation.

These restrictions do not apply to pleasure craft used by local communities, or used for purposes such as essential transportation or subsistence fishing, harvesting and hunting.

For more information, see: Backgrounder: New measures for pleasure craft operators to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Gradual Reopening of National Parks, Historic Sites, Marine Conservation Areas and Wildlife Areas

Starting June 1, 2020, the Government of Canada will gradually resume some operations at certain national parks, national historic sites, historic waterways, and national marine conservation areas. This will include access to some trails, day use areas, and green spaces, and some access for recreational boating, as well as the gradual resumption of some key field-based ecological and cultural resource protection activities.

Environment and Climate Change Canada will also gradually resume some operations at selected national wildlife areas, including conservation activities and day use access for visitors on June 1, 2020.

All camping facilities remain closed until at least June 21, 2020, while Parks Canada assesses whether and how these services might resume. Group activities and public events are prohibited until further notice.

Detailed information on what locations are open, what visitors can expect, how to prepare for visiting and what services may be available will be available soon at pc.gc.ca.  For more information, see also: Backgrounder: Visitor Access and Services at Parks Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada places.

Farm Credit Canada-Backed Fund

Today, the launch of a $100-million Agriculture and Food Business Solutions Fund (the “Fund”) was announced to support proven, viable companies through unexpected business disruptions, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.  Farm Credit Canada is the sole investor in the fund.

The fund is set up to support a wide range of enterprises in the agribusiness and agri-food sector, including companies involved in primary production, agri-tech, manufacturing, packaging and distribution. The fund will help companies in times of need through innovative solutions such as convertible debt investments and other flexible financing solutions. Applications will be assessed individually on their merit, and will be supported to a maximum of $10 million.

The primary goal of the Fund is to return recipient companies to a sound financial footing. To qualify, companies need to demonstrate an impact from an unexpected business disruption, such as the loss of a key supplier, temporary loss of a facility or permanent loss of critical staff or leadership. Funds cannot be used to repay shareholder loans or purchase shareholder equity positions.

Support for Canada’s Fish Harvesters

Today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced up to $469.4 million in new measures to support Canada’s fish harvesters, who are economically impacted by the pandemic but cannot access existing federal measures, such as the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy or the Canada Emergency Business Account. The Government of Canada will:

  • Launch the Fish Harvester Benefit, a program worth up to $267.6 million, to help provide income support for this year’s fishing seasons to eligible self-employed fish harvesters and sharespersons crew. Support will be provided to those that experience fishing income declines of greater than 25% in the 2020 tax year, compared with a reference period to be identified. This measure covers 75% of fishing income losses beyond a 25% income decline threshold, up to a maximum individual entitlement equivalent to what is provided under the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy ($847 per week for up to 12 weeks).
  • Launch the Fish Harvester Grant, a program worth up to $201.8 million, to provide grants to help fish harvesters impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  This will give them more liquidity to address non-deferrable business costs. The program would provide non-repayable support of up to $10,000 to self-employed fish harvesters with a valid fishing licence. Size of the non-repayable support will vary depending on the level of fish harvesters’ historic revenue.
  • Propose measures or changes to Employment Insurance (EI) that would allow self-employed fish harvesters and sharespersons to access EI benefits on the basis of insurable earnings from previous seasons (winter and summer claims).

Additional details on these measures are expected soon.

 

Alberta

The Government of Alberta announced the following measures:

Getting Buildings Ready for Relaunch

A new Guidance for flushing water systems provides building operators and managers information and instruction on how to flush stagnant water out of pipes and water systems in buildings that have sat vacant or underutilized during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Building operators are advised to do this work while they continue to be partially closed and as they prepare to reopen their doors to employees, businesses and the public.

 

Saskatchewan

The Government of Saskatchewan announced the following measures:

Re-Open Saskatchewan

Under the guidelines contained in the Re-Open Saskatchewan plan, several businesses are permitted to begin operations as follows:

Beginning Friday, May 15 (as part of Phase 1 of Re-Open Saskatchewan):

  • Golf courses and drive-in theatres will be able to begin operations;
  • Owners and employees of outfitting operations are allowed to travel to outfitting camps, including those in the Northern Saskatchewan Administration District (NSAD), to prepare for the season and secure the premises.  These operators must comply with the requirements of the public health order, including the travel restrictions within the NSAD; and
  • Outfitters operating south of the NSAD that are not impacted by northern travel restrictions may begin operations starting on May 15 subject to the guidelines in the Re-Open Saskatchewan plan.

Beginning Tuesday, May 19 (the start of Phase 2), the following may re-open:

  • Retail businesses;
  • Shopping malls;
  • Select personal services (hairstylists/barbers, registered massage therapists, acupuncturists and acupressurists); and
  • Public markets and farmers markets.

All businesses that are eligible to re-open are reminded that they must be in compliance with the Re-Open Saskatchewan guidelines.

Saskatchewan residents are reminded that the Re-Open Saskatchewan plan does not change the need to comply with the current public health orders and to take the necessary precautionary measures, including:

  • Limiting public and private gatherings – inside and outside – to no more than 10 people;
  • Maintaining physical distancing by keeping two metres away from others;
  • Avoiding unnecessary travel;
  • Staying home when sick or symptomatic; and
  • Exercising caution when forming an extended household group and being aware of who you have been in contact with over the past two weeks.  If you test positive for COVID-19, these are the people who will need to be contacted by public health.

Support for Livestock Producers

Today, Agriculture Minister David Marit announced $10 million in additional funding to help livestock producers manage the impacts of COVID-19 related market disruptions. The support includes $5 million for Saskatchewan’s share of the costs associated with participation in the national AgriRecovery set-aside program and $5 million to partially offset higher premium costs under the Western Livestock Price Insurance Program (WLPIP).

The Saskatchewan government will fund the 40% provincial contribution to the AgriRecovery set-aside program and the federal government will contribute 60%. Saskatchewan livestock producers will now be able to access a total of $12.5 million under the set-aside program.

Saskatchewan will work closely with industry, the federal government and other western provinces to finalize the details of the set-aside program.  The Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation will deliver the program to Saskatchewan producers.

Saskatchewan is also taking action to temporarily reduce the cost of purchasing livestock price insurance through the WLPIP. The provincial government will provide 40% of the increased premium costs, dating back to February 25, 2020.

Additionally, the deadline for obtaining calf price insurance though the WLPIP is being extended from May 28, 2020 to June 18, 2020.

These premium adjustments will be in place until September 1, 2020, at which time the provincial government will review and reassess.

Support for Northwestern Saskatchewan

Today, support in the amount of $2.3 million was announced for the ongoing effort to combat COVID-19 in northwestern Saskatchewan.  This funding supports the North West Saskatchewan Pandemic Response Plan, a collective effort between First Nation, Métis, municipal, provincial, and federal partners to coordinate the response to the growing numbers of COVID-19 cases in northwestern Saskatchewan.

The funds will be jointly administered and will complement the ongoing community-based efforts to conquer COVID-19 in the region, including supporting security checkpoints in impacted communities, measures to address food security, provision of homecare supplies, and enhancement of regional and community capacity, including youth engagement.

 

Manitoba

The Government of Manitoba announced the following measures:

Expanded Enforcement of Emergency Orders

Today Premier Brian Pallister announced that the government has enacted the Additional Enforcement Personnel Regulation under The Public Health Act, which provides the following government officials with the authority to enforce public health emergency orders and emergency health hazard orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • safety and health officers under The Workplace Safety and Health Act;
  • inspectors under The Liquor Gaming and Cannabis Control Act;
  • public health officers appointed under The Public Health Act;
  • park patrol officers under The Provincial Parks Act; and
  • public health officers within Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development including food safety inspectors, animal health inspectors and animal protection officers.

In addition, with the assistance of Manitoba Conservation officers, who already have the ability to enforce these orders, provincial park patrol officers will be able to enforce public health emergency orders related to public travel, social distancing and gathering size.

Other agencies that are able to enforce these orders include:

  • RCMP, Winnipeg Police Service, Brandon Police Service and other municipal police agencies;
  • community safety officers;
  • First Nations safety officers; and
  • bylaw enforcement officers.

In all, more than 3,000 provincial and municipal personnel can be deployed to enforce COVID-related orders. These officials will operate in their regular roles and provide education and warnings to businesses in their sectors as required. As with other enforcement agencies, tickets will be issued as a last resort.

New Temporary Orders under Provincial State of Emergency

Today Premier Brian Pallister announced the introduction of additional temporary orders under The Emergency Measures Act that will:

  • extend deadlines to apply for the 2019 farmland school tax rebate and to appeal tax assessments to the earlier of Sept. 21, 2020, or the end of the state of emergency associated with COVID-19;
  • provide exemptions to current license requirements for child care so that early childhood educators can offer child care in their homes and in the community for families who need it during the current state of emergency;
  • suspend municipal by-elections during the current state of emergency, as well as reduce municipal council meeting quorum requirements to provide greater flexibility for local governments;
  • temporarily suspend meeting provisions for condominium corporations, co-operatives, corporations and credit unions and introduce measures to allow electronic attendance, delivery of notices and voting by other means;
  • introduce temporary suspensions for in-person commissioning and witnessing provisions related to oaths, affirmation, statutory declarations, health-care directives, powers of attorney, land titles documents and wills; and
  • temporarily suspend fees for marriage fees, licences and marriage commissioners if the person has an expired licence issued after Dec. 19, 2019.

The province has the ability to revoke any of the above orders sooner than stated if it deems necessary. To review the new orders, visit manitoba.ca/covid19/soe.html.

 

Ontario

The Government of Ontario announced the following measures:

Steps to Further Protect Farm Workers

The governments of Canada and Ontario are investing up to $2.25 million to help farmers better protect employees and ensure the continued supply of healthy food products for consumers during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, the federal and provincial governments are launching the second intake of the Agri-food Workplace Protection Program to help farmers enhance health and safety measures to prevent the spread of the virus. The funding will be used for initiatives like purchasing personal protective equipment, enhanced cleaning and disinfection, and redesigning workstations.

Support is also available for farmers who experience unexpected costs for housing and transportation as a result of a COVID-19 outbreak among on-farm employees.

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs is now accepting applications.  Eligible applications will be received and assessed on a continuous basis, while funding is available.  More information can be found online at: omafra.gov.on.ca/english/cap/index.htm or by calling 1-877-424-1300.

Businesses Reopening

Today, the government announced the imminent reopening or expansion of services for several types of business. As soon as 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, May 16, 2020:

  • Golf courses will be able to open, with clubhouses open only for washrooms and restaurants open only for take-out;
  • Marinas, boat clubs and public boat launches may open for recreational use;
  • Private parks and campgrounds may open to enable preparation for the season and to allow access for trailers and recreational vehicles whose owners have a full season contract; and
  • Businesses that board animals, such as stables, may allow boarders to visit, care for or ride their animals.

Assuming trends in key public health indicators continue to improve, Ontario’s first stage of reopening will begin on Tuesday, May 19, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. and will include:

  • Retail services that are not in shopping malls and have separate street-front entrances with measures in place that can enable physical distancing, such as limiting the number of customers in the store at any one time and booking appointments beforehand or on the spot;
  • Seasonal businesses and recreational activities for individual or single competitors, including training and sport competitions conducted by a recognized national or provincial sport organization. This includes indoor and outdoor non-team sport competitions that can be played while maintaining physical distancing and without spectators, such as tennis, track and field, and horse racing;
  • Animal services, specifically pet care services, such as grooming and training, and regular veterinary appointments;
  • Indoor and outdoor household services that can follow public health guidelines, such as housekeepers, cooks, cleaning and maintenance;
  • Lifting essential workplace limits on construction; and
  • Allowing certain health and medical services to resume, such as in-person counselling and scheduled surgeries based on the ability to meet pre-specified conditions as outlined in A Measured Approach to Planning for Surgeries and Procedures During the COVID-19 Pandemic, as well as resuming professional services such as shifting Children’s Treatment Centres from virtual to in-person.

The government and health and safety associations have released more than 90 safety guidance documents to assist employers in multiple sectors, including construction, retail, facilities maintenance and manufacturing. As new sectors of the economy begin to reopen, additional resources will be made available to help protect the safety of workers and the general public.

The government has launched a website to provide businesses with information on personal protective equipment (PPE) suppliers. The Workplace PPE Supplier Directory has an up-to-date list of Ontario companies and business associations that are ready to supply PPE.

To ensure that these first actions to reopen the province are a success, the public should continue to adhere to public health measures, including practising physical distancing or wearing a face covering when physical distancing is difficult or not possible, as well as regular handwashing and staying home when ill.

 

Quebec

The Government of Quebec announced the following measures:

Metropolitan Community of Montreal

On May 14, Premier François Legault announced that he was extending the closure of schools in Montreal until September. In addition, in the Montreal Metropolitan Community, childcare services will not open until June 1. Regarding the gradual reopening of businesses so far scheduled for May 25, the Premier said that no final decision has been made at this time for the metropolitan area.

State of Emergency Renewal

On May 13, the Quebec government adopted an Order to renew the state of public health emergency throughout the Quebec territory and extend the measures provided for by Orders-in-Council until May 20, 2020.

Access to Health Services

As of May 13, new provisions of An Act to amend the Nurses Act and other provisions in order to facilitate access to health services came into force and increase the autonomy of specialized nurse practitioners. More specifically, the new provisions allow specialized nurse practitioners to complete the formalities necessary to allow for the preventive withdrawal from work for safety reasons of employees, such as a pregnant or breastfeeding worker, a worker exposed to a contaminant or to an environment that puts their health condition at risk, or the preventive withdrawal of certain home childcare providers who are pregnant or breastfeeding.  In the current context of the pandemic, this order is aimed at freeing doctors from having to perform this task.

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Le gouvernement du Québec a annoncé les mesures suivantes :

Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal

Le 14 mai, le premier ministre François Legault a annoncé qu’il prolongeait la fermeture des écoles de Montréal jusqu’en septembre. De plus, dans la communauté métropolitaine de Montréal, les services de garde n’ouvriront pas avant le 1er juin. En ce qui concerne la réouverture graduelle des commerces, jusqu’à maintenant prévue pour le 25 mai, le premier ministre a précisé qu’aucune décision finale n’a été prise à ce moment-ci pour la région métropolitaine.

Renouvellement de l’état d’urgence

Le 13 mai, le gouvernement a adopté un décret pour renouveler l’état d’urgence sanitaire sur tout le territoire québécois et prolongé les mesures prises par arrêtés ministériels jusqu’au 20 mai 2020.

Accès aux services de la santé

À compter du 13 mai, de nouvelles dispositions de la Loi modifiant la Loi sur les infirmières et les infirmiers et d’autres dispositions afin de favoriser l’accès aux services de santé sont entrées en vigueur pour augmenter l’autonomie des infirmières praticiennes spécialisées (IPS). Plus précisément, les nouvelles dispositions permettent aux IPS de remplir les formalités nécessaires au retrait préventif d’une travailleuse enceinte ou qui allaite, au retrait préventif d’un travailleur exposé à un contaminant ou à un milieu qui vient mettre à risque sa condition de santé, et au retrait préventif de certaines responsables de services de garde en milieu familial enceintes ou qui allaitent. En effet, dans le contexte actuel de la pandémie, le décret libére les médecins de certaines tâches et par conséquent améliore l’accès aux services de santé.

 

Newfoundland and Labrador

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced the following measures:

On May 14, the government announced financial measures for electricity customers.  Residential and general service customers including businesses and other organizations whose rates are based on fuel costs at the Holyrood Thermal Generating Facility will receive a one-time credit on their bills as early as July. This credit is expected to vary based on customers’ usage.

As well, for customers who require flexible bill payments, government is providing up to $2.5 million to waive the interest on overdue accounts for residential and general service customers throughout the province. This includes residents, businesses and other organizations that are struggling as a result of COVID-19 and will be for a period of 15 months commencing June 1, 2020. Customers will still be required to continue to make agreed upon monthly payments to their accounts.

 

New Brunswick

The Government of New Brunswick announced the following measures:

State of Emergency Extended

On May 14, the government announced that the state of emergency under the Emergency Measures Act has been extended for another 14 days. The renewed declaration contains a clause to allow drivers who need to renew their Class 5 permit to do it online starting May 21. The current photograph on a valid Class 5 driver’s license will be used so that the license can be renewed.

Return to Early Learning and Child Care and Daycamps

An online guide for parents has been launched to help them understand what to expect when their children return to regulated early learning and child care facilities, beginning May 19.

 

Prince Edward Island

The Government of Prince Edward Island announced the following measures:

Lobster Season

As part of the province’s re-opening measures, the Island lobster season opens tomorrow, May 15.

Support for Essential Workers

On May 14, the COVID-19 Support for Essential Workers income support for essential workers earning $3,000 per month or less is now open for applications. The payment is administered via employers. More information can be found on the government’s website.

Workspace Adaption Assistance Fund

Employers can now apply for the previously-announced COVID-19 Workspace Adaption Assistance Fund to help small businesses purchase and install protective measures to safeguard employees and customers.  More information is available on the government’s website.

 

Yukon

The Government of the Yukon announced the following measures:

Prescriptions

On May 14, the Government of Yukon announced that it has introduced temporary changes for pharmacists to ensure Yukoners can continue to safely access needed prescriptions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Under these temporary changes, pharmacists will have new options for extending prescriptions and also a limited ability to initiate prescriptions. The temporary changes support Health Canada’s March 2020 exemption under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to maintain Yukoners’ access to controlled substances for medical treatments. Minor changes to pharmacists’ licensing requirements ensure pharmacists are supported in their work and Yukoners have better access to pharmacy services.

Annual General Meetings

A Ministerial Order under the Civil Emergency Measures Act (CEMA) issued on May 13 provides additional flexibility for groups wishing to hold annual general meetings (AGMs). This order broadens the options for organizations to hold AGMs, regardless of specific provisions in their bylaws or partnership agreements. This order is effective retroactively to March 17, 2020. It continues for 90 days past the end of the COVID-19 state of emergency for organizations governed by the Societies Act and Cooperative Associations Act. The order extends for 30 days after the end of the emergency for organizations governed by the Partnership and Business Names Act and the Business Corporations Act.

Deadlines Extended

Under the authority of Ministerial Order (2020/24), the Deputy Minister of Community Services directed that, effective March 17, 2020, deadlines under the Cooperative Associations Act and Societies Act are extended for 90 days until after the end of the COVID-19 state of emergency. The deadline is extended for 30 days for the Partnership and Business Names Act and Business Corporations Act.

Grants for Rent

The government also announced that tenants living in private non-subsidized market rental housing in Yukon who have lost 30% or more of their income due to COVID-19 are eligible for a grant to help cover rent from April to June 2020. Eligible households can receive 50% of median market rent based on unit size using the Whitehorse median market rent:

  • $415 per month for a bachelor, or room in a house;
  • $500 per month for a 1 bedroom;
  • $600 per month for a 2 bedroom; and
  • $800 per month for a 3 bedroom or larger.

The grant will be paid directly to landlords on behalf of tenants. This will ensure that landlords, who may also be experiencing lower income as a result of the pandemic, continue receiving partial income from their rental properties, and tenants who have had to defer paying rent will have less owing.

 

Northwest Territories

The Government of the Northwest Territories announced the following measures:

School Closures

Effective May 14, the government announced that schools will remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year.

 

Nunavut

The Government of Nunavut announced the following measures:

Public Health Emergency Extended

Effective May 14, the government has extended the state of public health emergency until May 28.

 

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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