COVID-19: Cross country update (May 20, 2020)

May 20, 2020

Federal

The Government of Canada announced the following measures:

COVID-19 Resources

In his daily update today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reminded the public that they can visit the government’s website to find information about all available federal government supports for dealing with the pandemic.

Large Employer Support Program

Today the Government of Canada announced the opening of the application process for the government’s Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF).

The objective of LEEFF is to help protect Canadian jobs, help Canadian businesses weather the current economic challenges, and avoid bankruptcies of otherwise viable firms where possible. This support will not be used to resolve insolvencies or restructure firms, nor will it provide financing to companies that otherwise have the capacity to manage through the crisis.

The LEEFF program is open to large for-profit businesses—with the exception of those in the financial sector—as well as certain not-for-profit businesses, such as airports, with annual revenues generally in the order of $300 million or higher.

To qualify for LEEFF support, eligible businesses must be seeking financing of $60 million or more, have significant operations or workforce in Canada, and not be involved in active insolvency proceedings.  In addition, recipient companies will 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.

Applications can be made through the Canada Development Investment Corporation’s website.

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance

Today, Prime Minster Justin Trudeau announced that application documents and updated criteria for Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses are now available, and that the program will be opened for applications beginning on May 25.  This program is funded jointly by the federal government and the provincial and territorial governments.

CECRA will provide forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners.  The loans will cover 50% of three monthly rent payments that are payable by eligible small business tenants who are experiencing financial hardship during April, May, and June.

The loans will be forgiven if the qualifying property owner agrees to reduce the small business tenants’ rent by at least 75% under a rent reduction agreement, which will include a term not to evict the tenant while the agreement is in place. The small business tenant would cover the remainder, up to 25% of the rent.

Impacted small business tenants are businesses that are paying less than $50,000 per month in gross rent in a given location, with annual revenues of less than $20 million (at the ultimate parent level), and who have experienced at least a 70% drop in pre-COVID-19 revenues.

Applications will be accepted through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation website beginning on May 25, and application documents can be accessed now.

In his daily coronavirus address, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also announced that the government is working on a new support for larger retailers and that details will be available soon.

 

Alberta

The Government of Alberta announced the following measures:

Strengthening Safety Measures for Travellers

Increased public health measures for international travellers will be implemented in phases.  During the first phase, travellers arriving at the Calgary and Edmonton international airports from outside Canada will be required to pass through a provincial checkpoint where they will need to complete an Alberta isolation plan and undergo a thermal scan, as elevated body temperature is a potential symptom of COVID-19.

As part of their isolation plan, travellers must detail if they have an appropriate place to isolate for the required 14 days, how they will travel to their isolation location, and their plans for getting essentials like food and medications. Government officials will follow up with travellers within three days to ensure they are following public health orders and have the information and support they need.

Phase two will involve establishing a similar provincial checkpoint at the Alberta-U.S. border crossing at Coutts, which is the busiest in the province.  Essential economic travel will not be disrupted.

For more information on COVID-19 travel restrictions, visit the Alberta Government’s website.

 

Saskatchewan

The Government of Saskatchewan announced the following measures:

Employment Standards

On filing date, OC 225/2020 – The Employment Standards (Public Emergencies) Amendment Regulations, 2020 (No. 2) will amend The Employment Standards Regulations as follows:

  • it will establish an open-ended period an employer can temporarily lay off employees during a public emergency;
  • it will establish a grace period of two weeks, should the public emergency end while the layoff is in effect, during which the employer can plan and transition employees to work; and
  • it will exempt employers from providing group termination notice to employees and the union during a public emergency; while maintaining the requirement to notify the Minister.

 

Manitoba

The Government of Manitoba announced the following measures:

Investment in Community Projects

Today, Premier Brian Pallister announced that the government is providing $10 million in grants to support 344 projects for community development projects as part of restarting the provincial economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government’s investment will support a wide variety of community projects, ranging from playground upgrades, community building repairs, accessibility upgrades, to sports equipment and outdoor amenities like nature trails.  Specific projects will be announced in the coming days and weeks.

 

Ontario

The Government of Ontario announced the following measures:

Safety Precautions as Province Reopens

Today, the government released specific recommendations on how to choose, wear and care for appropriate face coverings used in public where physical distancing is not possible, along with additional safety measures for provincial transit agencies.

The Ministry of Health released the following face covering recommendations:

  • Wear your face covering safely and snugly to cover your nose and mouth, without any gaps. Ensure your face covering is made of at least two layers of tightly woven material and can be cleaned multiple times without losing its shape;
  • Medical masks, such as surgical and N95 masks, should be reserved for use by health care workers, those providing direct care, first responders and individuals who are ill and must leave their home for essential reasons such as seeking medical care, picking up medication or groceries; and
  • Face coverings should not be placed on or used by children under the age of two; anyone who has trouble breathing; and anyone who is unable to remove it without assistance.

Workers and employers may also consider using face coverings as an additional public health measure in addition to mandatory occupational health and safety measures.

To assist provincial transit agencies in protecting transit staff and riders in this new environment, the Ministry of Health is also recommending the following measures be put in place:

  • Physical distancing of at least two metres by admitting fewer passengers and using physical markers between seats;
  • The use of face coverings, particularly when physical distancing is not feasible;
  • Ensuring the availability of alcohol-based hand rub upon entering and exiting the vehicle;
  • Implementing engineering controls like plexiglass windows between drivers and passengers; and
  • Enhanced cleaning, particularly of high-touch surfaces.

Student Loans

The Ontario government is reducing financial barriers for full-time students attending postsecondary education. Starting today, those most in need can apply to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) for the 2020-21 school year. During this unprecedented period, the government is providing a six-month temporary deferral of OSAP loan payments and interest accrual on OSAP loans from March 30 to September 30, 2020 to support OSAP borrowers in good standing.

 

Quebec

The Government of Quebec announced the following measures:

Authorization for Outdoor Gatherings

As of May 22, outdoor gatherings have been authorized by the government, but only if certain specific conditions are respected. First, the gatherings should be limited to a maximum of 10 people and only include people from up to 3 different households.  Second, the minimum distance of 2 meters must be maintained between people who do not come from the same household. Finally, wearing a mask is strongly encouraged. The prohibition against indoor gatherings remains in place.

Resumption of Private Health Care and Body and Beauty Care

On May 20, the government announced a recovery plan for private health care and personal and cosmetic care. This notably includes dental care, optometry, physiotherapy, osteopathy and hairdressing and esthetic services.  The plan provides that:

  • Outside the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal (CMM), all these services will be allowed from June 1, 2020;
  • In the CMM and in the regional county municipality of Joliette, dental care, therapeutic care and animal grooming care may also resume on June 1; and
  • in regards to personal care and aesthetics in the CMM and the regional county municipality of Joliette, the date of recovery has not been announced.

CNESST Support

Businesses in the above-mentioned sectors can, therefore, gradually resume their activities. However, they will have to take all the measures required to ensure a safe environment for their staff and customers.

To this end, the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail  (CNESST) has published toolkits specific to the dental, therapeutic and personal care sectors in order to adequately support them. More specifically, a guide to health standards, a poster and a daily checklist are now available on the CNESST website.

__________

Le gouvernement du Québec a annoncé les mesures suivantes :

Autorisation des rassemblements extérieurs

À compter du 22 mai prochain, le gouvernement a autorisé les rassemblements extérieurs, mais à condition de respecter certaines mesures précises. D’abord, les rassemblements devront se limiter à un maximum de 10 personnes. Ensuite, ils devront inclure des personnes d’un maximum de 3 foyers différents. La règle de la distance minimale de 2 mètres est maintenue entre les personnes qui ne proviennent pas du même ménage. De plus, le port du masque est fortement encouragé. Les rassemblements intérieurs demeurent quant à eux interdits.

Reprise des soins de santé privés et des soins corporels et esthétiques

Le 20 mai, le gouvernement a annoncé un plan de reprise en ce qui concerne les soins de santé privés ainsi que les soins corporels et esthétiques. Ceci inclut notamment les soins dentaires, d’optométrie, de physiothérapie, d’ostéopathie et les services de coiffure et d’esthétique.

  • En dehors de la Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal (CMM), tous ces services seront permis à compter du 1er juin 2020.
  • Dans la CMM et dans la MRC de Joliette, les soins dentaires, les soins thérapeutiques et les soins de toilettage pour animaux pourront également reprendre le 1er juin.
  • Cependant, en ce qui concerne les soins personnels et l’esthétique dans la CMM et la MRC de Joliette, la date de reprise n’a pas été dévoilée.

Support de la CNESST

Les entreprises des secteurs mentionnés ci-haut pourront donc reprendre graduellement leurs activités . Elles devront toutefois prendre toutes les mesures requises pour assurer un environnement sécuritaire à leur personnel et leurs clients.

À cet effet, la Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST) a publié des trousses d’outils spécifiques aux secteurs des soins buccodentaires, des soins thérapeutiques et des soins personnels, et ce, afin d’accompagner adéquatement les entreprises ciblées. Plus spécifiquement, un guide de normes sanitaires, une affiche de même qu’une liste de vérifications quotidiennes sont disponibles dès maintenant sur le site Web de la CNESST.

 

New Brunswick

The Government of New Brunswick announced the following measures:

Top-Up for Front-Line Workers

On May 20, the government announced plans to provide a monthly wage top-up of approximately $500 for 16 weeks for front-line workers. Those eligible for the funding include employees making $18 per hour or less and those working in:

  • early learning and child care facilities;
  • home support;
  • special care homes, community residences and group homes;
  • homeless shelters and food banks; and
  • domestic violence outreach and transition homes.

The top-up will be paid by employers every four weeks. The exception will be child care facilities, which will split the first and last payments to align with existing payment schedules. Workers at early learning and child care facilities will receive their top-up retroactive to May 19 and it will continue for 16 weeks. This is in recognition of their return to work as the child care sector reopened. All other sectors will be paid retroactively from March 19 to July 9. Employers will be reimbursed by the departments of Education and Early Childhood Development or Social Development.

Schools

The government announced that while teachers will begin to return to schools on June 1, schools will not reopen to students and the school calendar year will not be extended.

 

Yukon

The Government of the Yukon announced the following measures:

On May 19, the government announced that families with children in Kindergarten to Grade 12 who have been impacted by COVID-19 are eligible for $250 per student from the Government of Yukon. More information is available on the government’s website.

 

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.

Disclaimer

This publication is provided as an information service and may include items reported from other sources. We do not warrant its accuracy. This information is not meant as legal opinion or advice.

Miller Thomson LLP uses your contact information to send you information electronically on legal topics, seminars, and firm events that may be of interest to you. If you have any questions about our information practices or obligations under Canada's anti-spam laws, please contact us at privacy@millerthomson.com.

© 2020 Miller Thomson LLP. This publication may be reproduced and distributed in its entirety provided no alterations are made to the form or content. Any other form of reproduction or distribution requires the prior written consent of Miller Thomson LLP which may be requested by contacting newsletters@millerthomson.com.