COVID-19:  Cross country update (September 4-10, 2020)

10 septembre 2020

( Disponible en anglais seulement )

Federal

The Government of Canada announced the following measures:

Extension of Rent Relief for Small Businesses

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) has been extended by one month to help small businesses pay rent for September.  Application deadlines have been extended accordingly and the government is continuing to process the applications they have received.

For more information, see the Government of Canada’s news release.

Support for Black Entrepreneurs and Business Owners

To help address systemic racism and the impact of COVID-19, on September 9, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced investments of up to nearly $221 million in partnership with Canadian financial institutions – including up to nearly $93 million from the Government of Canada over the next four years – to launch Canada’s first-ever Black Entrepreneurship Program. This program is meant to help Black business owners and entrepreneurs across the country recover from the COVID-19 crisis and grow their businesses.

The program will include:

  • up to $53 million to develop and implement a new National Ecosystem Fund to support Black-led business organizations across the country, which will help Black business owners and entrepreneurs access funding and capital, mentorship, financial planning services, and business training;
  • up to $33.3 million in support through the new Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund that will provide loans of between $25,000 and $250,000 for Black business owners and entrepreneurs, as well the Government of Canada partnering with financial institutions to make up to $128 million available in additional lending support; and
  • up to $6.5 million to create and sustain a new Black Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub that will collect data on the state of Black entrepreneurship in Canada and help identify Black entrepreneurs’ barriers to success as well as opportunities for growth.

More details, including eligibility criteria and how to apply, are expected in the coming weeks.

Transport Canada Issues First Fines for Refusing to Wear a Mask on a Flight

Transport Canada has issued the first fines in Canada relating to the refusal to follow direction from an air crew and wear a mask while on a flight. Two individuals were fined $1000 each for refusing to wear a face mask on domestic flights within Canada. The individuals were told repeatedly by the air crew that masks were a requirement, and the individuals refused to follow the instructions of the crew.

New Funding for the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety

The Government of Canada announced new funding of $2.5 million over two years for the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. This funding will ensure that employees and employers have resources like sector-specific guidance and e-learning courses to safely return to work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

British Columbia

The Government of British Columbia announced the following measures:

Fall/Winter Pandemic Plan Released

On September 9, the Government of British announced an investment of $1.6 billion to support a Health Sector Plan for Fall/Winter 2020/21 to deal with the health-care requirements of COVID-19.  The plan has three key aspects:

  1. $374 million to bolster public health measures, including a strong emphasis on the fall flu immunization campaign with additional influenza vaccine doses being made available;
  2. $42.3 million for the Hospital at Home program, which allows eligible patients to be offered 24/7 care at home rather than being admitted to hospital, thereby easing the pressures off B.C. hospitals and reducing the chance of COVID-19 transmission in the hospitals; and
  3. $44.1 million to launch the Health Career Access Program and recruit an estimated 7,000 health-care workers in long-term care homes and assisted-living facilities.  This program provides a path for approximately 3,000 applicants who may not previously have had health-care experience to receive on-the-job training.  New hires in the program will start in a health-care support worker position and receive paid training that leads to full qualification as a health-care assistant.  In this regard, Premier Horgan states:  “We’re looking to people who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19, particularly those who were employed in the hospitality industry.”

Eviction Protection

As the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program has been extended through September, British Columbia’s emergency order protecting eligible businesses from being evicted continues and will remain in place for the duration of the federal rent assistance program.

Restrictions for Bars, Nightclubs, Pubs, Restaurants and Banquet Halls

Effective September 8, the Provincial Health Officer’s Order on restaurants, nightclubs and banquet halls has been amended as follows:

  • all nightclubs and stand-alone banquet halls are ordered closed until further notice;
  • liquor sales in all bars, pubs and restaurants must cease at 10 p.m. and they must close at 11 p.m., unless providing a full meal service, in which case they may stay open, but may not serve liquor until 11 a.m. the following day; and
  • music or other background sounds, such as from televisions in bars, lounges, pubs and restaurants, must be no louder than the volume of normal conversation.

 

Alberta

The Government of Alberta announced the following measures:

Job-Creating Conservation Projects

The Alberta Government announced that as part of the province’s Recovery Plan, up to 125 jobs will be supported in conservation-related activities, including seed gathering and tree planting to restore seismic lines in caribou management areas, culvert and bridge replacement, and repairs to water crossings to help protect habitat and at-risk species. These projects will be funded by a $9.7 million investment from the Land Stewardship Fund. This measure is being made in response to the economic downturn from the COVID-19 pandemic to stimulate the economy and create new jobs, while achieving important conservation outcomes.

Online Map for School Outbreaks

A new online map will list every school where there are two or more confirmed COVID-19 cases and an outbreak is declared. The map will also list schools that have shifted into scenario 2 or 3 to protect the health of students and staff.  Work is underway to expand the map to include all schools where one confirmed case has been identified and alerts have been issued.

 

Saskatchewan

The Government of Saskatchewan announced the following measures:

Safe Schools Plan

The Government of Saskatchewan announced $51 million in approved funding for emergency one-time expenses dedicated to a safe return to school.  This funding is from the over $150 million in the COVID-19 contingency fund for education from provincial, federal and school division savings.  The funding includes:

  • $19.1 million for sanitization;
  • $6.0 million for equipment and furniture;
  • $13.2 million for supports for immunocompromised students;
  • $9.5 million for additional distance learning capacity; and
  • $4.0 million for technology upgrades.

As a result of this funding, 443 custodial support, teachers and staff are expected to be hired. This is in addition to the more than 200 projected hires resulting from increased funding in the provincial budget this year already.

There is $64 million remaining in the COVID-19 contingency fund for education.  The next intake for funding applications will be on December 1, 2020.

Reporting of School COVID-19 Cases

If two or more people test positive for COVID-19 and are all linked to a specific school within a specified time period, an outbreak will be declared at that school.  All parents of that school will receive notification and the declaration will be posted to saskatchewan.ca/COVID19-Latest-Updates.  However, the Government notes that the declaration of an outbreak does not automatically result in school closure or indicate a risk to others.  Instead, an outbreak declaration may simply be used by public health to mobilize and coordinate a response to the infection.

Starting September 17, there will also be a weekly report posted at saskatchewan.ca/COVID19-Safe-Schools-Plan, which will provide additional information about the trends of COVID-19 cases in schools with testing numbers and cases for children aged 0-19.

 

Manitoba

The Government of Manitoba announced the following measures:

Order Prohibiting Travel to Northern Manitoba and Remote Communities

The Chief Provincial Public Health Officer has issued an Order under The Public Health Act prohibiting travel into Northern Manitoba or a Remote Community.  “Northern Manitoba” means the area of Manitoba located north of the 53rd parallel of latitude and “Remote Community” means a community that is not connected to the provincial highway system by a year-round all-weather road.

This Order provides some exceptions to the prohibition for the following people (as long as they are not displaying any symptoms of COVID-19):

  • residents of Northern Manitoba or a Remote Community;
  • persons travelling to establish their permanent residence in Northern Manitoba or a Remote Community;
  • persons travelling to perform their duties on behalf of the Governments of Canada or Manitoba, or a Crown corporation or other government agency;
  • health care providers travelling to provide health care services;
  • professors, teachers or other educational professionals travelling to work;
  • persons who own, operate or are employed by a business who are travelling to deliver goods or provide services normally provided by that business or to engage in activities that the business normally conducts;
  • persons travelling to attend classes or obtain instruction or training at a post-secondary educational institution or a school;
  • persons travelling to facilitate shared parenting arrangements under a custody order or agreement, or in the course of their duties with a child and family services authority;
  • persons travelling for emergency medical purposes;
  • persons travelling for the purpose of participating in a trial or other judicial proceeding;
  • players, coaches, managers, training and technical and medical personnel employed by or affiliated with sports teams as well as participants in individual athletic competition who are travelling for a purpose related to athletic competition or training; and
  • non-Manitoba residents who reside in areas that are close to northern Manitoba and who regularly travel into northern Manitoba to shop, access health services or for other essential purposes as long as they restrict their travel to the minimum required for the purpose of their visit and limit their use of local services to the minimum required given the circumstances of their visit.

For a full list of the exceptions, along with the details, see Order prohibiting travel to northern Manitoba and remote communities.

State Of Emergency Extension

The province-wide state of emergency under The Emergency Measures Act has been extended effective September 10, for a period of 30 days.  Additionally, a number of orders under The Emergency Measures Act were renewed to help with the challenges presented by the pandemic and to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, including allowing video conferences to witness the signing of documents, requiring staff in care homes to only work in one care home to avoid spread, and allowing electronic meetings for school boards.  For a full list of renewed orders, see the Manitoba Government’s press release.

Restrictions on Rent Increases and Evictions Ending

On October 1, 2020, provisions related to non-urgent evictions, the suspension of hearings for non-urgent orders of possession, late fees for non-payment of rent and freezing rent increases will be repealed.  This means that landlords will be able to begin proceedings for evictions against tenants for non-payment of rent and other non-urgent issues. They will also be able to charge late fees on rent that is not paid on time on October 1 or later, but cannot charge fees on rent that was overdue while the suspension was in place. Rent increases cannot be applied or charged retroactively for the period that the rent freeze was in place.

Suspension of Student Aid Loan Repayments Ending

On September 30, the suspension of Manitoba Student Aid loans repayments will end.

 

Ontario

The Government of Ontario announced the following measures:

Apprenticeship and Trade-Related Exam Centres Reopen

On September 8, 2020, the Ontario Government announced that all 24 provincial centres for apprenticeship and trade-related certifications are now open for final exams. Exam centres have implemented safety measures such as wearing a mask, spacing desks at least two metres apart and limiting the number of examinees at exam sittings to ensure student safety.

Steps to Reopen Schools Safely

To help reopen schools safely, the Ontario Government has provided up to $1.3 billion in critical supports and has delivered more than 37 million pieces of personal protective equipment to schools across the province. Additionally, the government has provided funding to support hiring of up to 1,300 custodians to enhance cleaning protocols and 625 school-focused nurses to facilitate public health measures including screening, surveillance testing, tracing and mitigation strategies.

To learn more about the public health protocols and procedures that will be implemented to help protect students, teachers, staff and visitors, see the Ontario Government’s news release.

 

Quebec

The Government of Quebec announced the following measures:

Protection for Employees who must Isolate due to COVID-19

On September 9th, 2020, Government of Québec issued a new order in council preventing an employer from dismissing, suspending or transferring an employee, practising discrimination or taking reprisals against or imposing any other sanction on the employee if he/she is absent from work for a maximum period of 14 continuous days and the absence is due to the fact that the employee has to self-isolate pursuant to a guidance or order issued by a public health authority and the employee is not able to work.

This is the first time the Government of Québec has issued a formal rule regarding the protection of employment due to the COVID-19 situation. The Act respecting labour standards already provides certain provisions governing the right of an employee to be absent from work and having his/her employment relationship be maintained, in addition to protecting him/her against any disciplinary measure related to the exercise of such a right. Therefore, this order in council complements and further reiterates the protections provided in the Act respecting labour standards.

Second Phase of Prevention Campaign in Workplaces

On September 7, the Committee on Standards, Equity, Health and Safety at Work (CNESST) launched the second phase of its prevention advertising campaign in workplaces, in the context of COVID-19.  The goal of the second phase is to remind employers and workers of the importance of taking responsibility for health and safety in their workplace, while not lowering their guard regarding the risks of contamination linked to COVID- 19. This campaign will be broadcast on radio, television, the Internet and social media until October 26.

For more information on COVID-19 related occupational health and safety, visit the CNESST website.

Reporting of COVID-19 Cases in Schools

The Government of Quebec has published a list of reported cases of COVID-19 in Quebec schools.  For the sake of transparency, this list will be updated regularly.  For the week of August 26 to September 3, 45 of 3100 schools reported at least one COVID-19 case.  To review the list, visit the Quebec Government’s website.

The Government of Quebec also issued a reminder that the Toolkit issued by the CNESST for the school network last spring remains and still applies in full.  The kit includes a guide to health standards for the school network, a daily checklist and a poster summarizing the preventive measures to be implemented.

COVID-19 Alerts and Regional Interventions

On September 8, in anticipation of a potential second wave of COVID-19, a new alert system was unveiled which will specify, for each region of Quebec, the additional measures to be deployed to ensure health and safety.  The measures put in place will depend on the level of alert for each region.  The four possible levels of alert and intervention are:

  • Vigilance (green);
  • Early warning (yellow);
  • Moderate alert (orange); and
  • Maximum alert (red).

Alert levels will be based on three main criteria:

  • the epidemiological situation;
  • transmission control; and
  • the capacity of the healthcare system.

Alert levels will be revised weekly and made public on the Québec.ca / coronavirus website.  As of September 5, all regions are in the green level except these four that are in the yellow level:

  • Capitale-Nationale;
  • Estrie;
  • Outaouais; and
  • Laval.

For more information on the regional alert and intervention system, see Ministry of Health and Social Services’ website.

State of Emergency Renewed

On September 9, the State of Emergency under the Civil Protection Act was renewed for a period of 5 days with regard to the territory of the agglomeration of Montreal.

Fines for Refusals to Wear Masks

On September 10, Premier François Legault announced that starting on Saturday (September 12, 2020), people who refuse to wear a mask without a reason where it is mandatory will be subject to a fine. This measure will apply all over Quebec, but the police will be particularly active in yellow zones.

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Le gouvernement du Québec a annoncé les mesures suivantes :

Protection des employés qui doivent s’isoler en raison du COVID-19

En date du 9 septembre 2020, le gouvernement du Québec a adopté un nouveau décret empêchant tout employeur de congédier, de suspendre ou de déplacer un salarié, d’exercer à son endroit des mesures discriminatoires ou des représailles ou de lui imposer toute autre sanction s’il/si elle s’absente du travail du fait qu’il/elle doit s’isoler selon une recommandation ou une ordonnance d’une autorité de santé publique et qu’il/elle n’est pas en mesure de travailler.

Il s’agit de la première fois où le gouvernement du Québec adopte une règle formelle à cet effet dans le cadre de la situation de la COVID-19. En effet, la Loi sur les normes du travail prévoit déjà certaines normes qui prévoient le droit de l’employé à l’absence et le maintien du lien d’emploi, en plus de protéger l’employé contre toute mesure disciplinaire en lien avec l’exercice d’un droit découlant de l’application de la Loi sur les normes du travail. En conséquence, ce décret vient formellement compléter et confirmer les règles édictées dans la Loi sur les normes du travail.

Deuxième phase de la campagne de prévention sur les lieux de travail

Le 7 septembre, la Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité au travail (CNESST) a lancé la deuxième phase de sa campagne publicitaire de prévention de la COVID-19 dans les milieux de travail. L’objectif de cette campagne est de rappeler aux employeurs et aux travailleurs l’importance de mettre en place des mesures pour assurer la santé et de la sécurité sur leur lieu de travail et de ne pas baisser la garde quant aux risques de contamination. Cette campagne sera diffusée à la radio, la télévision, sur Internet et sur les médias sociaux jusqu’au 26 octobre.

Pour plus d’informations sur la santé et la sécurité au travail liées au COVID-19, visitez le site Web du CNESST.

Signalement des cas de COVID-19 dans les écoles

Le gouvernement du Québec a publié une liste des cas de COVID-19 dans les écoles du Québec. Par souci de transparence, cette liste sera mise à jour régulièrement. Pour la semaine du 26 août au 3 septembre, 45 écoles sur 3100 ont signalé au moins un cas de COVID-19. Pour consulter la liste, visitez le site Web du gouvernement du Québec.

Le gouvernement du Québec a également rappelé que la trousse à outils émise par la CNESST pour le réseau scolaire au printemps dernier s’applique toujours intégralement. La trousse comprend un guide des normes sanitaires pour le réseau scolaire, une liste de vérifications quotidiennes et une affiche résumant les mesures préventives à mettre en œuvre.

Système d’alertes COVID-19 et interventions régionales

Le 8 septembre, en prévision d’une éventuelle deuxième vague de COVID-19, un nouveau système d’alertes a été annoncé qui précisera, pour chaque région du Québec, les mesures supplémentaires à déployer pour assurer la santé et la sécurité. Autrement dit, les mesures à mettre en place dépendront du niveau d’alerte de chaque région. Les quatre niveaux d’alerte et d’intervention possibles sont:

  • Vigilance (vert);
  • Préalerte (jaune);
  • Alerte modérée (orange); et
  • Alerte maximale (rouge).

L’évaluation des niveaux d’alertes sera basée sur trois critères principaux:

  • la situation épidémiologique;
  • le contrôle de la transmission; et
  • la capacité du système de santé.

Les niveaux d’alerte seront réévalués sur une base hebdomadaire et publiés sur le site Web Québec.ca/coronavirus. Depuis le 5 septembre, toutes les régions sont catégorisées « vert » sauf ces quatre régions qui ont été évaluées comme étant « jaune »:

  • Capitale-Nationale;
  • Estrie;
  • Outaouais; et
  • Laval.

Pour plus d’informations sur le système d’alertes et d’interventions régionales, consultez le site Web du ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux.

État d’urgence renouvelé

Le 9 septembre, l’état d’urgence sur le territoire de l’agglomération de Montréal a été renouvelé pour une période de 5 jours en vertu de la Loi sur la sécurité civile.

Amendes pour refus de porter des masques

Le 10 septembre, le premier ministre François Legault a annoncé qu’à compter de samedi (12 septembre 2020), les personnes refusant de porter un masque sans raison dans les lieux publics intérieurs seront passibles d’une amende. Cette mesure s’appliquera partout au Québec, mais la police sera particulièrement vigilante dans les zones jaunes.

 

Newfoundland and Labrador

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced the following measures:

Changes to Self-Isolation and Testing Requirements for Rotational Workers

Rotational workers who are returning from work outside Atlantic Canada, but within Canada, can call 811 as early as the fifth day of their 14-day self-isolation period to arrange for COVID-19 testing. If the individual receives a negative test result, they will no longer be required to self-isolate after seven days of isolation. These individuals will be required to wear a non-medical mask when interacting with people outside their “household bubble” and to avoid large crowds and gatherings.

These changes are part of a trial run by Public Health and will be reviewed after four weeks to determine if further changes should be made.

For details, see Special Measures Order (Self-Isolation Exemption Order) (Rotational Workers).

Changes to One Worker One Home Special Measures Orders

Due to the low prevalence of COVID-19 in Newfoundland and Labrador, the One Worker One Home Special Measures Orders are being relaxed.  Effective September 10, operators of personal care homes, long-term care facilities, community care homes, and assisted living facilities will be able to allow their staff to work across multiple health care locations.  Operators will also be able to allow their staff to work a second job, while simultaneously being employed in one of these health care settings.

 

Nova Scotia

The Government of Nova Scotia announced the following measures:

State of Emergency Renewed

The State of Emergency declared under the Emergency Management Act has been renewed effective at noon on September 6 until noon on September 20, 2020, unless the government terminates or extends it.

Updated List of COVID-19 Symptoms

As of September 4, the list of symptoms being screened for COVID-19 was narrowed. Individuals should visit the 811 website for assistance in determining if they should call 811 if they have experienced a fever or cough in the past 48 hours, or if they have experienced two or more of the following symptoms: sore throat, runny nose, headache, shortness of breath.

 

Prince Edward Island

The Government of Prince Edward Island announced the following measures:

New Drop-in Testing Sites

New drop-in, no-appointment screening clinics have been opened across the Province.  Testing is offered on a first-come, first serve basis, with no referral necessary for symptomatic people, as well as essential workers and any of their symptomatic household members.  For more information, see the PEI Government’s News Release.

Public Health Emergency Extended

The state of public health emergency under the Public Health Act has been continued effective September 13, for a period of 30 days, unless it is sooner terminated or continued by Council.

 

Yukon

The Government of the Yukon announced the following measures:

State of Emergency Extended

The State of Emergency under the Civil Emergency Measures Act (CEMA) has been extended for an additional 90 days as of September 9, 2020 to allow the Ministerial Orders issued under CEMA to remain in place to continue to support and protect Yukoners.

Feedback on COVID-19 Impacts to Non-profit Societies

Throughout September, the Yukon Government will be conducting a survey of non-profit societies to gain a better understanding of economic and operational pressures related to the pandemic.  Results of the survey will be released later this year.  For more information, or to obtain a copy of the survey, societies are encouraged to contact the Yukon Bureau of Statistics.

 

Northwest Territories

The Government of the Northwest Territories announced the following measures:

Transitional Rent Supplement Program Extended

The Transitional Rent Supplement Program has been extended to November 30, 2020 to help those residents struggling to pay their rent.  For more details, or to apply, visit the NWT Housing Corporation’s website.

Creation of COVID-19 Coordinating Secretariat

On September 3, the creation of a COVID-19 Coordinating Secretariat was formally announced.  The Secretariat will be responsible for managing the Government of the Northwest Territories’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic and their objectives will include:

  • establishing a clear accountability and responsibility framework;
  • providing dedicated resources to managing the GNWT’s COVID activities while retaining resources for managing the government’s ongoing operations;
  • ensuring consideration of health, economic, and legal impacts in future actions, while maintaining Chief Public Health Officer independence; and
  • supporting clear and coordinated communications pertaining to COVID-19.

It is expected that the Secretariat will remain in place for up to two years.

Wastewater Sampling for COVID-19

The Government of the Northwest Territories is implementing a wastewater testing program designed to identify the presence or absence of COVID-19.  Collecting this information can serve as an early warning system, as it uncovers trends of COVID-19 in the community four to ten days earlier than clinical data would by detecting the presence of the virus in asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic populations.

 

Nunavut

The Government of Nunavut announced the following measures:

Public Health Emergency Extended

The Public Health Emergency under the Public Health Act has been extended until the end of the day on September 17, 2020.

 

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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