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

1 avril 2020

( Disponible en anglais seulement )

Federal

The Government of Canada announced the following measures:

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

The Government has announced a wage subsidy of 75% of employee wages, to reimburse employers with qualifying businesses, for up to 12 weeks, retroactive to March 15, 2020.  The following details were announced today:

  • The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (Subsidy) would apply at a rate of 75% of the first $58,700 normally earned by employees (or a benefit of up to $847 per week).
    • Eligible remuneration may include salary, wages, and other remuneration. These are amounts for which employers would generally be required to withhold or deduct amounts to remit to the Receiver General on account of the employee’s income tax obligation. It does not include severance pay, or items such as stock option benefits or the personal use of a corporate vehicle.
  • The program would be in place for a 12-week period, from March 15 to June 6, 2020.
  • The aim of the Subsidy is to prevent further job losses, encourage employers to re-hire workers previously laid off as a result of COVID-19, and help better position Canadian companies and other employers to more easily resume normal operations following the crisis.
  • Eligible employers who suffer a drop in gross revenues of at least 30 per cent in March, April or May, when compared to the same month in 2019, would be able to access the subsidy.
    • Note: An employer’s revenue for this purpose would be its revenue from its business carried on in Canada earned from arm’s-length sources calculated using the employer’s normal accounting method, and would exclude revenues from extraordinary items and amounts on account of capital.
  • Employers of all sizes and across all sectors are eligible, with the exception of public sector entities.
  • Definitions of revenue will be developed for non-profit organizations and registered charities. The government is also considering additional support for non-profits and charities, particularly those involved in the front line response to COVID-19.
  • Employers will be able to apply through an online portal (more details to come).
  • Employers must make their best effort to top-up employees’ salaries by the other 25% to bring them to 100% of pre-crisis level wages.
  • Employers would be required to repay amounts paid if they do not meet the eligibility requirements and pay their employees accordingly. The government is considering creating new offences that will apply to those who provide false or misleading information to obtain access to this benefit or who misuse any funds obtained under the program. Penalties may include fines or imprisonment.
  • Organizations that do not qualify for the Subsidy may continue to qualify for the previously announced wage subsidy of 10% of remuneration paid from March 18 to before June 20, up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer.
    • For Employers who are eligible for both the Subsidy and the 10% wage subsidy, any benefit from the 10% wage subsidy for remuneration paid in a specific period would generally reduce the amount available to be claimed under the Subsidy in that same period.
  • An employer would not be eligible to claim the Subsidy for remuneration paid to an employee in a week that falls within a 4-week period for which the employee is paid the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit.
  • Finance Minister Bill Morneau estimates funds will be available in about six weeks.  The estimated cost of this program is $71 billion.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) provides temporary emergency income support to workers who have stopped working and are without employment or self-employment income for reasons related to COVID-19.  The CERB replaces the Emergency Care Benefit and the Emergency Support Benefit announced on March 18, 2020.

The CERB will be paid in blocks of four weeks in the amount of $2,000.  If an individual’s situation continues, they can re-apply for a payment for multiple 4-week periods, to a maximum of 16 weeks (4 periods).  The benefit is available from March 15, 2020, to October 3, 2020 and the last day to apply is December 2, 2020.  There is no waiting period; direct deposit payments will be delivered into accounts within three business days, and cheques delivered within 10 days, of applicants’ eligibility to receive the benefit.

The CERB is available to workers who:

  • reside in Canada and are at least 15 years old;
  • have stopped working because of COVID-19;
  • had income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application (the $5,000 may be from any or a combination of employment, self-employment, maternity and parental benefits under the Employment Insurance Program and/or similar benefits paid in Quebec under the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan); and
  • are, or expect to be, without employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days in the initial four-week period.  For subsequent benefit periods, they expect to have no employment income.

Some examples of eligible workers include workers:

  • who must stop working (including self-employed workers) due to COVID-19 and do not have access to paid leave or other income support;
  • who lost their employment, as well as workers who are sick, quarantined or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19;
  • who must stay home without pay to care for children that are sick or need additional care because of school and daycare closures; and
  • workers who still have their employment but are not being paid because there is currently not sufficient work and their employer has asked them not to come to work.

The CERB is also available to workers who, after March 15, are eligible for Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits.

The Benefit is only available to individuals who stopped work as a result of reasons related to COVID-19.  If an individual has not stopped working because of COVID-19, they are not eligible for the Benefit.

Workers can apply for the CERB commencing April 6, 2020 at Canada.ca/coronavirus.  They will be directed to one of two service options:

  • Those who would generally be eligible for EI benefits will be directed to apply for the CERB through Service Canada through Appliweb; or
  • Those who would generally not be eligible for EI benefits will be directed to apply for the CERB through the CRA’s MyAccount or CRA’s automated toll-free line at 1-800-959-2019.

The government recommends that Canadians get ready to apply for the CERB by signing up to My Account or My Service Canada Account. They should also make sure their direct deposit and mailing information is up to date with the CRA.

Due to the expected large influx of applications, the government has asked that people apply according to their birthday month as follows:

  • January to March – apply on April 6
  • April to June – apply on April 7
  • July to September – apply April 8
  • October to December – apply April 9

 

British Columbia

The Government of British Columbia announced the following measures:

State of Emergency

The provincial state of emergency under the Emergency Program Act has been extended through the end of the day on April 14, 2020.

COVID-19 Supply Hub

An online platform, COVID-19 Supply Hub, has been created to co-ordinate, source and expedite medical supplies and personal protective equipment for provincial health authorities to support front-line health workers.  This hub will prioritize the thousands of offers and donations of essential supplies from business and other organizations since the onset of the COVID-19 response.  The COVID-19 Supply Hub’s initial focus is on sourcing supplies for the healthcare system and front-line workers, though government is also accepting offers for other essentials, like cleaning supplies.  Companies interested in offering support or supplies can access the hub at gov.bc.ca/supplyhub.

Zoom for K-12 Learning

The Ministry of Education has secured and funded licences for the application Zoom for all K-12 public and independent schools in BC.  This application will provide educators a way to communicate with students and parents while in-class learning is suspended.

Sport Sector

Beginning in April 2020, the Province, through viaSport, will provide provincial, disability and multi-sport organizations with the ability to access $5 million, which represents 50% of their annual 2020-21 provincial funding allocation, to provide organizations in BC’s amateur sport sector with access to cashflow sooner.

Electricity Bills

BC Hydro will offer new, targeted bill relief to provide help to those most in need:

  • Residential customers who have lost their jobs or are unable to work as a result of COVID-19 will receive a credit to help cover the cost of their electricity bills. The credit will be three times their average monthly bill over the past year at their home and does not have to be repaid.
  • Small businesses that have been forced to close due to COVID-19 will have their power bills forgiven for three months, from April to June 2020.
  • Major industries, like pulp and paper mills and mines, will have the opportunity to defer 50% of their bill payments for three months.

Additionally, BC Hydro rates will be reduced by 1% on April 1, 2020, after the B.C. Utilities Commission provided interim approval of the application BC Hydro submitted last August.

BC Hydro has also halted all service disconnections for non-payment during COVID-19 and cancelled all non-emergency planned power outages affecting its customers.

 

Alberta

The Government of Alberta announced the following measures:

Child Care for Essential Workers

In addition to the previously eligible front-line healthcare workers, critical infrastructure workers and first responders, child care is now available to anyone who works in the critical areas outlined as essential by government.  Parents who qualify for the subsidy will receive it and centres will charge their typical rate, within reason. Parents who are eligible should only access this child care if it is the only way they will be able to go to their work in a core service sector. Child care centres will be financially compensated for reopened spaces that are not filled. They will also receive up to $500 for the purchase of cleaning supplies.

Food Inspectors

COVID-19 has resulted in an increased demand in the food processing industry.  To ensure this demand is met, the government is partnering with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to increase food inspector capacity.  After training, provincial meat inspectors will be able to be deployed into high-priority federally licensed plants in Alberta.

Special Event Licences

AGLC has temporarily suspended the special event licensing application process.  People who have already purchased special event licences for events that can no longer occur due to the prohibition against mass gatherings of more than 15 people may apply for refunds by emailing sel@aglc.ca or visiting aglc.ca for more information.

 

Saskatchewan

The Government of Saskatchewan announced the following measures:

Saskatchewan Provincial Parks will delay the campsite reservation launch and the start of the camping season until further notice.  Group campers with reservations in May will have their reservations automatically cancelled and fees refunded.

 

Manitoba

The Government of Manitoba announced the following measures:

Former Registered Nurses

Health, Seniors and Active Living Minister Cameron Friesen is using an order under the Regulated Health Professions Act to enable the registrar of the College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba to waive or modify registration requirements for former registered nurses, allowing them to apply for temporary registration during the pandemic on an expedited basis.  Application and registration fees will be waived for former registrants.  This order will remain in place until there is no longer a serious and immediate threat to public health.  Former registrants will be able to apply at crnm.mb.ca/about/covid-19.

Non-Exempt Businesses

The chief provincial public health officer has clarified a public health order to explain how non-critical business may continue to operate:

  • they can continue to operate where customers can order goods online or by telephone; however, customers cannot attend the businesses’ premises or property to order goods;
  • they can continue to sell goods to customers where those goods can be picked up ‘curbside’ or delivered to customers; however, customers cannot pick up goods at businesses’ premises or on its property;
  • they can allow staff to attend the businesses’ premises, without a limitation on the number of staff, as long as staff take measures to keep social distancing of one to two metres apart from each other; and
  • they can accept delivery of goods and may allow services, such as construction, repairs, maintenance and cleaning to occur at their premises and on their property.

Additional details are available at engagemb.ca.

 

Ontario

The Government of Ontario announced the following measures:

Ontario Together

A new $50 million Ontario Together Fund is being launched to help businesses across the province adjust their operations to manufacture essential medical supplies and equipment, including gowns, coveralls, masks, face shields, testing equipment and ventilators.

This new Fund will support the development of proposals submitted by businesses and individuals through the Ontario Together web portal. The government will be seeking the most viable, innovative proposals that can quickly provide critical goods and services and the greatest benefit to Ontarians.

Identification

On March 31, 2020, the Ontario government approved, through an emergency order, a temporary power requiring people charged with an offence under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act to identify themselves if asked by a provincial offences officer, which includes police officers, First Nations constables, special constables and municipal by-law enforcement officers.  Refusing to correctly identify oneself carries a fine of $750 or $1,000 for obstructing any person in exercising a power if a provincial offences officer issues a ticket.

 

Quebec

The Government of Quebec announced the following measures:

From April 5 to May 1, 2020, the Quebec government will allow commercial establishments to extend their business hours and days beyond the legal periods, from Monday to Saturday, in order to better meet the needs of the population.

On April 1, the Quebec government announced an assistance program to maintain essential regional air services. The additional budget of $ 40M has been allocated to provide transportation of critical goods, of essential services personnel assigned to remote areas and transportation of patients requiring transfer to obtain certain medical care.

As of April 1, the government added, by ministerial order, restrictions on travel and access to new regions and territories:

  • Outaouais;
  • Territories of the regional county municipalities of Antoine-Labelle, Argenteuil, Les-Pays d´en-Haut and Les Laurentides for the Laurentides region;
  • Territories of the municipalities of the county municipalities of Autray, Joliette, Matawinie and Montcalm for the region of Lanaudière; and
  • Territory of the urban agglomeration of La Tuque for the Mauricie and Centre-du-Québec region.

On April 1, the government announced the allocation of an additional $10 million to the Volunteer Support program. This investment will allow deputies to offer more support to community organizations that provide services to vulnerable clients.

On April 1, a ministerial decree stated that if it is impossible to file a pleading in a judicial district, it can be filed in any other judicial district. This ministerial decree also provides for a suspension of a party’s obligation to disburse the judicial fees payable to file a pleading in certain specific circumstances.

On April 1, Premier François Legault indicated that staff working in seniors’ residences could now live in the hotel at government expense.

On April 1, the Tribunal administratif du travail extended the cancellations of all hearings and conciliation sessions, with the exception of urgent cases, until May 1. Additional information can be found on their website.

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Le gouvernement du Québec a annoncé les mesures suivantes:

À compter du 5 avril et jusqu’au 1er mai 2020, le gouvernement du Québec permettra aux établissements commerciaux d’étendre les heures et les jours d’activité au-delà des périodes légales, du lundi au samedi, afin de mieux répondre aux besoins de la population.

Le 1er avril, le gouvernement du Québec a annoncé la mise sur pied d’un programme d’aide pour le maintien des services aériens régionaux essentiels. Le budget supplémentaire de 40M$ a été accordé dans le but d’assurer le transport des marchandises d’importance critique, du personnel aux services essentiels affecté à des régions éloignées et le transport de patients nécessitant un transfert pour obtenir certains soins médicaux.

À compter du 1er avril, un arrêté ministériel a ajouté des restrictions de déplacement et d’accès à de nouvelles régions et territoires, soit :

  • Outaouais
  • Les territoires des municipalités régionales de comté d’Antoine-Labelle, d’Argenteuil, de Les-Pays d’en-Haut et de Les Laurentides pour la région des Laurentides
  • Territoires des municipalités du comté d’Autray, de Joliette, de Matawinie et de Montcalm pour la région de Lanaudière
  • Territoire de l’agglomération de La Tuque pour la région de la Mauricie et du Centre-du-Québec

Le 1er avril, le gouvernement a annoncé l’octroi de 10M$ supplémentaires au programme Soutien l’action bénévole. Cet investissement permettra aux députés d’offrir un soutien accru aux organismes communautaires qui dispensent des services aux clientèles vulnérables.

Le 1er avril, un arrêté ministériel a statué que s’il est impossible de déposer un acte de procédure dans un district judiciaire, ce dernier peut être déposé dans tout autre district judiciaire. Cet arrêté ministériel prévoit également une suspension de l’obligation d’une partie de payer les frais judiciaires exigibles pour le dépôt d’un acte de procédure, et ce, dans certaines circonstances précises.

Le 1er avril, le premier ministre François Legault a annoncé que le personnel qui travaille dans les résidences de personnes âgées pouvait dorénavant habiter à l’hôtel, et ce, aux frais du gouvernement.

Le 1er avril, le Tribunal administratif du travail a prolongé les annulations de toutes les audiences et séances de conciliations à l’exception des cas urgents jusqu’au 1er mai. Consultez la page suivante pour plus d’information.

 

Newfoundland and Labrador

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced the following measures:

Effective April 1, the public health state of emergency has been extended an additional 14 days.

Effective March 31, all individuals who are required to self-isolate must remain on their own property, stay in their own unit where they are living, and not go for a drive unless it is to receive medical attention.

The government has asked retailers selling milk, chicken and eggs not to limit quantities available to customers, as healthy supplies of these products are produced in Newfoundland and Labrador, are continuously available, and no shortages or service disruptions are anticipated. Customers should be permitted to purchase these products in required amounts to ensure sufficient quantities without the need for multiple store visits.

Additionally, the Department of Health and Community Services is extending the validity period of Medical Care Plan (MCP) cards to June 30, 2020. This will cover all individuals whose MCP eligibility otherwise expired as of March 1, 2020 onward, excluding those who have permanently moved out of Newfoundland and Labrador.

 

New Brunswick

The Government of New Brunswick announced the following measures:

Effective April 1, the state of emergency issued on March 19 has been extended for another 14 days. It will be reassessed after two weeks and extended as needed. The government has clarified that failing to obey the emergency order has serious consequences, with fines ranging from $292.50 to $10,200.

 

Prince Edward Island

The Government of Prince Edward Island announced the following measures:

Income Support Fund

Effective April 1, the government announced an Income Support Fund to provide a one-time lump sum of $750 to the following individuals, provided they have applied or plan to apply for federal supports (EI or the Canada Emergency Response Benefit):

  • an individual who has lost their job/been laid off on or after March 13, 2020 due to the public health state of emergency in PEI;
  • an individual whose Employment Insurance (EI) benefits have expired and they have no job to return to due to the public health state of emergency in PEI; or
  • a self-employed individual who has lost all revenues through self-employment on or after March 13, 2020 due to the public health state of emergency in PEI and has not already accessed the Emergency Income Relief for the Self-Employed.

Construction Permits

The government clarified that new construction permits are not being issued at this time. If a construction site is currently operating and work can safely be paused, it should be paused. Emergency construction repair services will continue.

Banking

The government also clarified that if Islanders are self-isolating, they are not permitted to visit banks. Individuals are encouraged to use online or telephone banking options, or delay their visit. Anyone visiting banks should be doing so for essential transactions only.

Travellers

Additionally, travellers who are not essential workers, returning students, people returning from off-Island medical appointments or travelling to PEI on compassionate grounds will be refused entry into the province.

 

Yukon

The Government of the Yukon announced the following measures:

Effective April 1, the Government of Yukon announced details of supports available to address the economic impacts of event cancellations related to COVID-19. Minister Pillai announced the Temporary Support for Events Funding Program, which will help businesses recover certain costs from the cancellation of major events due to COVID-19. Major events are those which would have had gatherings of more than 50 people, such as the Arctic Winter Games or Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. These costs relate specifically to perishable goods and the cancellation of accommodation and services. All eligible Yukon businesses and NGOs may apply.

 

Northwest Territories

The Government of the Northwest Territories announced the following measures:

Effective April 1, the territorial government extended the state of public health emergency.

 

Nunavut

The Government of Nunavut announced the following measures:

Effective April 1, Nunavut schools and daycares will stay closed until at least April 20.

 

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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