COVID-19:  Cross country update (August 13-14, 2020)

14 août 2020

( Disponible en anglais seulement )

Federal

The Government of Canada announced the following measures:

Extended Time Limits for Mineral Leases in Nunavut

The Government of Canada is extending certain time limits established by Nunavut Mining Regulations to aid in recovery from the impacts of COVID-19. Time limits to pay rent for mineral leases under the regulations due between March 13, 2020 and October 29, 2020 are extended by up to six months or to October 30, 2020, if that day occurs before the end of the six month period. The extension only applies to mineral leases on Crown lands in Nunavut under the Nunavut Mining Regulations.

The Nunavut Mining Regulations have also been amended to waive for one year, upon written request to the Department, the payment of annual rent on mineral leases due in the one-year period from March 13, 2020 to March 12, 2021. Any rent that has been paid before the amendment comes into force is waived in the following year.

For more information, see this news release.

Canada Healthy Communities Initiative Announced

A new Canada Healthy Communities Initiative has been announced to help local governments and community partners as they adapt to local economic, health and social challenges.

The Initiative will provide up to $31 million in federal funding to support community-led solutions that respond to immediate and ongoing needs arising from COVID-19 over the next two years. The funding is meant for small-scale local projects under three main themes: creating safe and vibrant public spaces, improving mobility options, and digital solutions. The goal is to fund projects that help communities adapt to the new realities of COVID-19.

Examples of projects include:

  • expanding outdoor seating on main streets;
  • remodelling a playground to allow for proper physical distancing; or
  • creating digital apps to allow residents to access municipal services remotely.

Funding will be provided to a non-governmental not-for-profit organization, or group of organizations, selected through an open call-for-applications process.  Further details on the application process will be available soon.

Temporary Pathway to Permanent Residency

A new temporary pathway to permanent residency has been announced that will allow asylum claimants across the country who are working on the front lines in the health-care sector during the COVID-19 pandemic to apply for permanent residency.  Quebec will select those qualifying for this special measure who wish to reside in Quebec.

To qualify, individuals must meet all of the following criteria:

  • have claimed asylum before March 13, 2020;
  • were issued a work permit after they made a claim for asylum;
  • have worked in the health-care sector, in health institutions (for example, hospitals, long-term care homes, home care through an organization or agency, assisted living facilities);
  • have worked in a designated occupation (including orderlies, nurses, nurses’ aides and patient service associates, assistant orderlies and certain home support workers) for no less than 120 hours between March 13, 2020 and August 14, 2020;
  • demonstrate six months of experience in the designated occupation before being granted permanent residence (applicants will have until August 31, 2021 to acquire this experience);
  • have a Certificat de sélection du Québec (CSQ), if wishing to reside in Quebec; and
  • meet existing admissibility requirements, including those related to criminality, security and health.

Flight Plan for Safe Air Travel

On August 14, 2020, Minister of Transport, Marc Garneau, announced Canada’s Flight Plan for Navigating COVID-19, which sets out Canada’s efforts to reduce the public health risks of COVID-19 while travelling by aircraft.  Key changes apply to all aspects of air travel, including in airports and aircraft. Some of the changes include:

  • travel restrictions;
  • mandatory use of face masks for passengers and crew;
  • mandatory health checks by air carriers prior to passenger boarding;
  • temperature screening at the busiest Canadian airports and at points of origin for all incoming flights to Canada;
  • restricted services and passenger movement during flights;
  • enhanced cleaning and sanitation protocols and practices;
  • enhanced air conditioning and filtration systems in airports;
  • new touchless technologies to scan boarding passes; and
  • physical distancing measures.

For more information, see this news release.

 

British Columbia

The Government of British Columbia announced the following measures:

Deadline Approaching for Temporary Layoff Extensions

The deadline for employees and employers who need to extend temporary layoffs beyond August 30, 2020 is August 25, 2020. Businesses requiring an extension should apply for a variance using the online application.

Renters Given Until July 2021 to Repay Arrears

As previously announced, the moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent will end on August 18, 2020, with renters expected to pay rent in full on September 1.  However, a renter cannot be evicted for a missed or late rent payment from March 18 to August 17, 2020, unless the renter defaults on their repayment plan.

A new repayment framework for renters is now available on the Residential Tenancy Branch website.  Under the framework, renters will have until at least July 2021 to pay back any outstanding rent, with the first repayments not starting until October 2020 at the earliest.  The terms of the repayment plan must include:

  • amount of outstanding rent;
  • start date of the repayment plan;
  • amount of each instalment; and
  • dates for each instalment.

Repayment instalments must begin at least 30 days after the date the plan is given by the landlord to the renter.  Each monthly instalment is due on the same date that the rent is due.

Landlords remain prohibited from charging rent increases until December 2020.

For more information, see this news release, which includes a repayment plan template.

 

Saskatchewan

The Government of Saskatchewan announced the following measures:

Saskatchewan Invests $15 Million in Agtech

The Government of Saskatchewan has announced that it will provide $15 million to develop new technologies in agriculture in hopes that the investment will help accelerate the province’s economic recovery from COVID-19. The funds will be invested through Innovation Saskatchewan for agtech companies requiring venture capital to develop past the start-up phase and scale up their business operations and manufacturing. Innovation Saskatchewan will issue a Request for Proposal in the coming weeks to begin exploring fund options with the private sector.  For more information, see this news release.

 

Manitoba

The Government of Manitoba announced the following measures:

Province Releases Practices and Protocols for Return to Schools

The Manitoba Government is releasing practice guidance and protocols which will be implemented by all school divisions. Protocols include additional Public Health advice regarding the use of masks at schools whereby it is strongly recommended that students in grades 5 to 12, staff and others wear non-medical masks in common areas and where distancing of two metres is not possible. Younger students can also wear masks if they or their parents or caregivers so choose. All students in grades 5 and up will also be required to wear non-medical masks on school buses, as will the bus drivers.

School divisions will post their individual plans during the week of August 17 and the plans will be linked to the Manitoba Education website. The EngageMB website is a forum for parents, caregivers and students to post questions regarding the return to classroom learning. In addition, a telephone town hall for parents, caregivers and students has been scheduled for August 18.

COVID-19 Information by Health Districts

In order to increase confidence and help Manitobans feel more empowered to make decisions in their daily lives, the province will now be providing case numbers and other important information based on 68 health districts rather than the 5 regional health authorities. To learn more about the new reporting system and see the detailed breakdown of health districts, see the Government of Manitoba website.

 

Ontario

The Government of Ontario announced the following measures:

Additional Steps Taken to Ensure a Safe Return to School

The Ontario Government will be providing more than half a billion dollars in supports to school boards as schools across the province reopen in September. The province is also allowing boards to make necessary adaptations in consultation with their local health units, such as reducing class sizes and leasing additional space.

Some additional measures undertaken by the province as part of its broader initiative include:

  • Enabling boards to access up to 2% of their operating budget from their prior year accumulated surplus. For boards without sufficient reserves, the province will provide up to $11 million in additional funding;
  • Providing $50 million in one-time funding to support improved ventilation, air quality and HVAC system effectiveness in schools; and
  • Investing an additional $18 million to help school boards hire principal and administrative support to better deliver and oversee synchronous, live learning.  In addition, the Ontario Government has released a Policy/Program Memorandum (PPM) outlining the requirements for a high quality and consistent teacher-led remote learning experience.

For more information, see this news release.

Increased Capacity in Recreation Facilities

Beginning on August 15, 2020, many sport, fitness and recreation facilities will be able to have up to 50 patrons for each indoor sport or fitness room, while ensuring that physical distancing of at least two metres is maintained. The revised capacity limits are on a per room basis and will apply to gymnasiums, health clubs, community centres, multi-purpose facilities, arenas, exercise studios, yoga and dance studios and other fitness facilities that are able to follow the new guidance.

To help amateur sports in Ontario deal with the financial impact of COVID-19, the Ontario Government is investing $8 million through the Ontario Amateur Sport Fund.  The funding will help with the delivery of high-quality programming and competitions to develop athletes, coaches and officials, and to promote health and wellness in communities across the province.

For more information on these measures, see this news release.

 

Quebec

The Government of Quebec announced the following measures:

State of Emergency Renewal

On August 12, the Québec government adopted an Order to renew the state of public health emergency throughout the Québec territory and extend the measures provided for by Orders in Council until August 19, 2020.

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Le gouvernement du Québec a annoncé les mesures suivantes :

Renouvellement de l’état d’urgence

Le 12 août, le gouvernement du Québec 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 19 août 2020.

 

Newfoundland and Labrador

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced the following measures:

Public Health Emergency Extended

Pursuant to the Public Health Protection and Promotion Act, the Public Health Emergency has been extended for a period of 14 days effective August 15, 2020.

 

New Brunswick

The Government of New Brunswick announced the following measures:

Update to Return to School Plan

The Government of New Brunswick has released a detailed guide to ensure parents and students are informed of COVID-19 protocols for the 2020-2021 school year. The guide includes protocols for:

  • Facemasks;
  • Transportation;
  • Personal Safety and Screening; and
  • Enhanced Cleaning.

For details, see this news release and the Return to School: Guide for Parents and the Public.

 

Nova Scotia

The Government of Nova Scotia announced the following measures:

Mandatory Masks for Schools

In response to COVID-19, the Government of Nova Scotia has mandated the use of non-medical masks for students in grades 4 to 12. Masks are required to be worn inside the schools, except if the students are seated at their desks, while at least two metres apart and facing the same direction. Masks must also be worn in hallways and common areas, unless a distance of two metres between individuals can be maintained.  For more information, see this news release.

 

Prince Edward Island

The Government of Prince Edward Island announced the following measures:

Public Health Emergency Extended

Pursuant to the Public Health Act, the Public Health Emergency has been extended for a period of 30 days effective August 14, 2020.

Schools Release Individual Plans for September

In response to COVID-19, and in anticipation of the fall, all schools in Prince Edward Island have now posted their individual school safety plans.  Each plan outlines protocols to maximize the safety of students and staff in these areas:

  • pre-screening of students and staff;
  • promotion of physical distancing;
  • enhanced cleaning protocols;
  • methods to support contact tracing;
  • students and staff in cohorts with reduced interactions between cohorts; and
  • staggering of transitions and movement inside and outside the school.

Plans are subject to change based on the recommendations of the Chief Public Health Officer.  For more information, see this news release.

 

Yukon

The Government of the Yukon announced the following measures:

Back-to-School Measures

In response to COVID-19, and to ensure that the children who will be heading back to school in the fall are able to do so safely, the Government of Yukon has released its school operational plans and school busing plans. Highlights include:

School Operational Plans

  • Each school must develop its own operational plan which outlines how the school will meet the health and safety guidelines determined by Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health; and
  • These plans will be distributed through each school to keep all students, parents and staff updated. They will also be shared on each school’s website.

School Busing Plans

  • There will be fewer students allowed on school buses;
  • A student qualifies to take a school bus if they live more than 3.2 kilometres from their school;
  • All students eligible to ride the school bus will be able to do so, which may mean that more school buses will be required for the duration of the school year;
  • Families that do not require transportation to school via school bus have been asked by the Government of Yukon to de-register; and
  • If a student is not eligible to ride a school bus, the Government of Yukon is considering requests of students to ride the school bus on a priority basis.  Families will be notified if such requests can be accommodated at the beginning of the school year.

For more information, see this news release.

 

Northwest Territories

The Government of the Northwest Territories announced the following measures:

Funding for Tourism Industry

As part of the Government of Northwest Territories COVID-19 economic relief plan, a $1.5 million Growth and Recovery by Investing in Tourism (GRIT) Fund has been announced, which will be cost-shared equally by the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment (ITI) and CanNor.  Applications for funding can be made through ITI regional offices.

The GRIT Fund is meant to address COVID-19 impacts on tourism businesses by encouraging product development and marketing and contributing to certain operational costs.  Tourism businesses will be required to contribute 10% cash equity and use Northwest Territories suppliers to help stimulate the economy.  Projects must be completed by March 31, 2021.  For more information, see this news release.

 

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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