COVID-19:  Cross country update (May 15, 2020)

15 mai 2020

( Disponible en anglais seulement )

Federal

The Government of Canada announced the following measures:

Extension of Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

Finance Minister Bill Morneau today announced that the Government of Canada will extend the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) by an additional 12 weeks to August 29, 2020.  The CEWS covers 75% of an eligible company’s payroll up to a maximum of $847 per week per employee.

The Government will consult with key business and labour representatives over the next month on potential adjustments to the program to incent jobs and growth, including the 30% revenue decline threshold.

In addition, Minister Morneau announced the approval of regulations to extend eligibility for the CEWS to include the following groups:

  • Partnerships that are up to 50% owned by non-eligible members;
  • Indigenous government-owned corporations that are carrying on a business, as well as partnerships where the partners are Indigenous governments and eligible employers;
  • Registered Canadian Amateur Athletic Associations;
  • Registered Journalism Organizations; and
  • Non-public colleges and schools, including institutions that offer specialized services, such as arts schools, driving schools, language schools or flight schools.

The Government also intends to propose legislative amendments to ensure that the CEWS continues to meet its objectives. These proposed amendments would:

  • Provide flexibility for employers of existing employees who were not regularly employed in early 2020, such as seasonal employees;
  • Ensure that the CEWS applies appropriately to corporations formed on the amalgamation of two predecessor corporations; and
  • Better align the treatment of trusts and corporations for the purpose of determining CEWS eligibility.

For more information, see: Backgrounder: Extending eligibility for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy.

GST/HST Credit and Canada Child Benefit

Today, it was announced that benefit payments will continue for an additional three months for those who are not able to file their 2019 tax returns on time.  Eligible Canadians who are presently receiving the GST/HST credit and/or the Canada Child Benefit will continue to receive these payments until the end of September 2020.

Canada Summer Jobs

The hiring period for Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) 2020 began today.  Thousands of job opportunities are being posted to Jobbank.gc.ca.  All youth are encouraged to search for CSJ-funded jobs in their communities by visiting Jobbank.gc.ca or by downloading the free Job Bank app.

Temporary changes to CSJ were announced by the Prime Minister on April 8, 2020 that were aimed at helping young people who are struggling to find summer work due to the COVID-19 pandemic including:

  • an increase to the wage subsidy, so that private and public sector employers can also receive up to 100% of the provincial or territorial minimum hourly wage for each employee (employers in the not-for-profit sector are already eligible for 100% wage subsidy);
  • an extension to the end date for employment to February 28, 2021;
  • allowing employers to adapt their projects and job activities to support essential services; and
  • allowing employers to hire staff on a part-time basis.

For more information, see: Backgrounder: Canada Summer Jobs 2020.

Support for Research Staff

Today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $450 million in funding to help Canada’s academic research community during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Many researchers were forced to temporarily suspend their work due to COVID-19.  This investment is meant to ensure they can keep their jobs, safeguard their research, and continue their work after this crisis.  The investment will:

  • Provide wage supports to universities and health research institutes, so they can retain research staff who are funded from industry or philanthropic sources and are unable to access some of the government’s existing COVID-19 support measures. This would apply even if their work has been temporarily suspended. The government will provide up to 75% of wages per individual, with a maximum of $847 per week.
  • Support universities and health research institutes to maintain essential research-related activities during the crisis, and to ramp back up to full research operations once physical distancing measures are lifted. This will cover up to 75% of total eligible costs, and will support activities such as the safe storage of dangerous substances, and restarting data sets that were interrupted during the pandemic.

 

British Columbia

The Government of British Columbia announced the following measures:

WorkSafeBC Guidelines

As B.C. prepares to enter Phase 2 of its economic restart plan, an initial set of WorkSafeBC guidelines to help businesses and organizations develop their plans to reopen safely have been released.  WorkSafeBC has released industry-specific guidelines and resources for the following sectors:

  • restaurants, cafes and pubs;
  • salons and personal services;
  • museums, art galleries and libraries, real estate;
  • education;
  • health services;
  • retail;
  • in-person counselling;
  • parks and outdoor spaces; and
  • office space.

Businesses in all sectors are required to use these guidelines and resources to develop their COVID-19 safety plans and post those plans for employees and customers as they resume operations. Additionally, businesses in sectors under health orders limiting service (such as restaurants, pubs, salons and personal services) will not be able to open until those orders are lifted or modified.

The guidelines can be accessed on WorkSafeBC’s website.

Help for B.C.’s Agriculture and Food Businesses

The latest intake of the B.C. Agri-Business Planning Program is open to applications and has been expanded to include aquaculture and seafood companies in developing COVID-19 business recovery plans.

B.C. agriculture, seafood and food processing business owners are encouraged to apply if their revenues have decreased by at least 30% as a result of COVID-19. The funding available includes up to $5,000 in business planning services and coaching for individuals, and up to $20,000 for groups, from a qualified business consultant, to develop an immediate and long-term recovery plan. Eligible applicants may also apply to the specialized business planning stream of the program to further strengthen their business.

Information and application details for the program are available at: B.C. Agri-Business Planning Program.

B.C. Schools

Beginning June 1, parents will have the choice of bringing their children back to school on a part-time basis.

Each school district will determine scheduling for classes and transportation, but generally the number of students in school each day will be reduced and most students will receive in-class instruction part-time.  For kindergarten to Grade 5, most students will go to school half-time (such as alternating days), while grades 6 to 12 will go to school about one day a week.

Children of essential service workers and students needing additional supports will continue to have the option of attending school full-time. Families that decide not to send their children to class may continue learning from home.

All boards of education and independent school authorities will be required to implement strict Provincial Health Officer and WorkSafeBC health and safety measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, including:

  • desks spaced apart and avoiding groups or gatherings of students in hallways or other common areas;
  • regular cleaning of high-contact surfaces like door knobs, toilet seats, keyboards and desks at least twice a day, and cleaning the school building at least once a day;
  • students, educators and staff will be required to clean their hands before entering school property, and there will be more hand-sanitizing and cleaning stations available, with well-stocked supplies;
  • staggered drop-offs, lunch and recess breaks, with increased outside time;
  • staff and students (or their parents/guardians) must assess themselves daily for symptoms of COVID-19 and not attend school if they have even mild symptoms;
  • one student per seat on school buses, unless children are from the same house, with plexiglass separating the bus driver from students; and
  • students or employees should not share food or personal items like phones, pens or pencils.

The Ministry of Education has developed a five-stage approach for the operation of schools, depending on the risk of transmission.  Schools will also have plans in place for each stage, ensuring they are ready to make changes if there is a risk of transmission, a second wave or a community outbreak.

Each school district and independent school must have its return-to-class and safety plans approved by the ministry before moving to the next stage. The plans will be posted on each district’s website for families to access.  The 5 stages are:

Stage 5

  • Suspend all in-class instruction for all grades and students; and
  • Remote and online learning for all students.

Stage 4 (current stage)

  • In-class learning for children of essential service workers, students with disabilities and students who require additional support, five days a week; and
  • Remote and online learning continues for most students.

Stage 3

  • In-class learning for children of essential service workers, students with disabilities and students who require additional support, five days a week;
  • Kindergarten to Grade 5 – part time, two to three days a week, with 50% of students at a time in schools;
  • Grades 6-12 – one day per week, with 20% of students at a time in schools;
  • Remote and online learning continues to be available for students; and
  • Parent/caregiver choice to return to in-class instruction.

Stage 2

  • In-class learning for children of essential service workers, students with disabilities and students who require additional support, five days a week;
  • In-class learning for all students in elementary school (kindergarten to Grade 7) on a full-time basis;
  • In-class learning for secondary students (grades 8 to 12) on a part-time basis, with 40% of students at a time in schools; and
  • Remote and online learning continues to be available for secondary students.

Stage 1

  • A return to full in-class instruction five days a week, while continuing to follow strict health and safety guidelines.

The aim is to begin school in September at Stage 1, if the risk of transmission is low and with the support of the provincial health officer. If there is an outbreak or a second wave in the 2020-21 school year, schools can move in and out of each of the stages to ensure the safety of students, their families and employees, while maintaining continuity of learning.

For more information, visit: gov.bc.ca/SafeSchools.

Child Care

The provincial health officer has released updated health and safety guidelines for child care settings to support child care centres that were closed to reopen safely.  The new guidelines include:

  • maintaining the physical space requirements set out in the Child Care Licensing Regulation;
  • organizing children into smaller groups and/or spreading children out to minimize direct physical contact;
  • cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces at least twice a day;
  • general cleaning of the centre at least once a day with common cleaning and disinfectant products;
  • setting up hand-hygiene stations at the entrance, so children can clean their hands when they enter (if a sink with soap and water is not available, provide hand sanitizer);
  • providing additional hand-hygiene opportunities throughout the day;
  • staggering the timings of pickup and drop-off;
  • having children outside often, including for learning activities, snack time and play time;
  • ensuring each child has their own individual meal or snack;
  • cleaning and sanitizing reusable utensils after each use; and
  • asking parents and caregivers to only bring personal comfort items (e.g., stuffies) if they are clean and can be laundered at the end of each day.

These guidelines will be complemented by WorkSafeBC guidelines for child care providers, which will be released next week.  More information is available at: gov.bc.ca/ChildCareCovid-19Response.

 

Alberta

The Government of Alberta announced the following measures:

Workplace Plans

The Alberta Government has reminded all workplaces that they are expected to develop and implement policies and procedures to address COVID-19, including a plan to reduce the risk of transmission among staff and customers.  The completed plan must be posted in places of business or online within seven days of the public being able to attend the business. Information and the plan template is available at alberta.ca/BizConnect.

Mask Use Guidance

Where physical distancing isn’t possible, wearing non-medical masks can help limit the risk of exposure to COVID-19.  For information on face masks, including when and how to use them and what to consider when making or buying them, see: Guidance for wearing of non-medical face masks for the general public.

 

Saskatchewan

The Government of Saskatchewan announced the following measures:

Temporary Wage Supplement Program

Eligible lower-income workers helping vulnerable citizens through the pandemic at eligible essential care facilities can now apply to the Saskatchewan Temporary Wage Supplement Program. The temporary wage supplement is $400 for each four-week period, up to 16 weeks, for the period from March 15, 2020 to July 4, 2020.

To be eligible, a worker must earn less than $24 per hour at an eligible essential care facility (listed below), in the four-week period for which the worker has applied for the supplement. An eligible worker’s total earnings must be less than $2,500, including earnings from work outside an eligible essential care facility, in the four-week period for which the worker has applied for the supplement.

Eligible essential care facilities include:

  • public and private senior care homes;
  • community-based group and personal care homes;
  • licensed childcare facilities;
  • emergency shelters;
  • transition shelters (short stay/emergency, transition housing);
  • integrated healthcare facilities; and
  • home-care workers providing care to seniors in their own homes.

The wage supplement is available to full-time, part-time and casual essential workers, and includes anyone employed by an eligible facility, such as care workers, cooks, housekeepers, janitors and administrative staff, but does not include third-party contract service providers working at those facilities.

For more information about or to apply for the wage supplement, visit saskatchewan.ca/wage-supplement-program.  People with questions about the supplement may also email stwsp@gov.sk.ca or call 1-800-667-6102.

 

Manitoba

The Government of Manitoba announced the following measures:

State of Emergency Extended

The government has extended the province-wide state of emergency under The Emergency Measures Act to enable the province to continue responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The extension takes effect at 4 p.m. Sunday, May 17 for a period of 30 days.

For additional information and to view the current state of emergency and public health orders, visit manitoba.ca/covid19/soe.html.

 

Quebec

The Government of Quebec announced the following measures:

Support for Montreal

On May 15, Premier François Legault announced a $6 million budget for the various transportation companies in the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal to provide face masks to users. The government will also donate 1 million face masks to the City of Montreal to help stop the spread of the virus.

Investments in Quebec Infrastructure

On May 14, the government announced that it will advance the investments planned in the 2020-2030 Quebec Infrastructure Plan in several sectors, to accelerate the economic upturn. For the 2020-2021 fiscal year, an additional $2.9 billion will be available. The additional investment will be used to carry out priority infrastructure projects, particularly in the fields of health, education and higher education, and road and collective transport. This brings the total investment to $13.9 billion for 2020-2021.

Measure for the Midwives and Screening Tests

On May 14, the government adopted a ministerial order authorizing midwives to complete, on the same conditions as specialized nurse practitioners, the formalities relating to the protective re-assignment of pregnant or breastfeeding workers whose working conditions involves risks described by the Act respecting occupational health and safety.

By this order, respiratory therapists are also authorized to perform the COVID-19 screening test, even without a prescription.

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Le gouvernement du Québec a annoncé les mesures suivantes :

Support pour Montréal

Le 15 mai, le premier ministre, François Legault, a annoncé l’octroi d’un budget de 6M$ aux différentes sociétés de transport de la Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal pour permettre d’offrir des masques aux usagers. Le gouvernement donnera également 1 million de masques à la Ville de Montréal pour l’aider à freiner la propagation du virus.

Investissements en infrastructure

Le 14 mai, le gouvernement a annoncé qu’il devancera les investissements prévus au Plan québécois des infrastructures 2020-2030 dans plusieurs secteurs, et ce, pour accélérer la relance économique. Ainsi, pour l’année financière 2020-2021, une somme additionnelle de 2,9 milliards de dollars sera disponible. Ce montant servira à la réalisation de projets d’infrastructures prioritaires notamment dans les domaines de la santé, de l’éducation, de l’enseignement supérieur et des transports routiers et collectifs. Le total des investissements s’élève donc à 13,9 milliards de dollars pour l’année 2020-2021.

Mesure pour les sages-femmes et Tests de dépistage

Le 14 mai, le gouvernement a adopté un arrêté ministériel autorisant les sages-femmes à accomplir, aux mêmes conditions que les infirmières praticiennes spécialisées, les formalités relatives au retrait préventif des travailleuses enceintes ou qui allaitent et qui travaillent dans des conditions de travail comportant certains dangers prescrits par la Loi sur la santé et la sécurité du travail.

Par cet arrêté, les inhalothérapeutes sont également autorisés à dorénavant effectuer le test de dépistage de la COVID-19, même sans ordonnance.

 

Newfoundland and Labrador

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced the following measures:

Schools

On May 15, the government confirmed that schools will remain closed for the remainder of the current school year.

Students Supporting Communities

The government announced $300,000 in funding to launch a new Students Supporting Communities program, which provides a $3,500 grant to organizations that enables them to hire students to help seniors and other vulnerable groups facing social isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes:

  • $2,880 to hire a 30-hour per week position for eight weeks at $12.00/hour (this can be one position at 30 hours or two part-time);
  • $432 for mandatory employment related costs; and,
  • $188 for incidentals related to position (e.g., gas allowance; long distance charges).

The call for applications from employers, including community organizations, will open Friday, May 15, 2020. Eligibility details are available in this news release.

 

New Brunswick

The Government of New Brunswick announced the following measures:

Libraries

On May 15, the government announced that it is planning to reopen libraries in the coming weeks.  However, each library must have standards in place to protect staff and patrons.

 

Nova Scotia

The Government of Nova Scotia announced the following measures:

Easing of Restrictions

On May 15, the government announced the easing of some public health restrictions:

  • Two-household bubbles of immediate family members may come together without physical distancing;
  • Public beaches may reopen on May 16 at 8:00 a.m. local time; and
  • Archery, equestrian, golf, paddling, sailing, boating and tennis can also resume at outdoor facilities on May 16 at 8:00 a.m. local time, provided that public health measures can be maintained.

 

Prince Edward Island

The Government of Prince Edward Island announced the following measures:

Child Care

As the province prepares to enter Phase 2 of Renew PEI, Together on May 22, the provincial government released its plan for expanded child care, which includes:

  • increasing the number of licensed child care centres operating from 22 to 155;
  • providing child care at licensed centres in groups of 5 people, with no more than 20 people in a centre;
  • allowing private home-based child care centres to re-open to their full capacity (up to 7 children); and,
  • providing a new childcare allowance to support families using either licensed or private child care services.

Families returning to work will receive $75 per child, per week until June 26 to help with child care costs. Licensed centres will receive the payment directly. For parents using private child care services, they will need to complete an application form. The form will be available on the government’s website beginning May 22.

 

Yukon

The Government of the Yukon announced the following measures:

Travel Restrictions

Starting Friday, May 15, a new roadside information station outside of Whitehorse will ensure travellers in transit through Yukon understand their mandated route through the territory and the restrictions in place under the Civil Emergency Measures Act (CEMA).

CEMA enforcement officers are now in place in Carmacks, Mayo, Dawson, Ross River, Faro, Haines Junction, Old Crow, Teslin and Watson Lake.  RCMP remain available to support enforcement in all communities, and may issue fines or make arrests of those found violating the CEMA orders.

 

Northwest Territories

The Government of the Northwest Territories announced the following measures:

Phase One

Effective May 15, the first phase of the territory’s previously-announced reopening measures are in effect. Specific details about Phase One and the restrictions in place are available on the Government of Northwest Territories’ 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.

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