COVID-19:  Cross country update (April 17, 2020)

17 avril 2020

( Disponible en anglais seulement )

Federal

The Government of Canada announced the following measures:

Small Businesses

The Prime Minister today announced the following new initiatives to help small businesses:

  • $675 million will be provided to the six Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) across Canada and $287 million will be provided to the Community Futures Network to help ensure that more businesses, especially those in more rural parts of the country or those who do not have a relationship with a traditional financial institution, are getting the support that they need.  This will enable the RDAs to provide equivalent bridge financing support to businesses unable to access the government’s broader support measures.
  • $20.1 million will be given to Futurepreneur and $250 million will be given to the Industrial Research Assistance Program to support innovators and other early-stage development firms that do not qualify for the wage subsidy but still need help.

Energy Sector

To help workers in the energy sector, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today announced these initiatives:

Orphan and Inactive Oil and Gas Wells

The government will invest significant funds to clean up orphan and inactive oil and gas wells as follows:

  • Up to $1 billion to the Government of Alberta;
  • Up to $400 million to the Government of Saskatchewan;
  • Up to $120 million to the Government of British Columbia; and
  • $200 million to the Alberta Orphan Wells Association (OWA), although the OWA is expected to fully repay this amount.

Clean-up work is typically carried out by small and medium-sized oil and gas service firms, who employ nearly 60,000 people across the three provinces. Clean-up work would be considered an essential service under the government’s Guidance on Essential Services and Functions in Canada During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Oil and Gas Sector

$750 million will be allocated to Natural Resources Canada over two years, starting in 2020-21, to create a new repayable loan program to work with conventional and offshore oil and gas companies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.  Of this amount, $75 million will be allocated to investments in the offshore sector in Newfoundland and Labrador.  A portion of these loans will be convertible to grants.

This support will help keep workers employed, and will assist firms that are preparing to make changes in order to comply with provincial requirements or federal methane regulations (Regulations Respecting Reduction in the Release of Methane and Certain Volatile Organic Compounds (Upstream Oil and Gas Sector)).

Business Credit Support for the Energy Sector

An expansion to the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) has been announced to expand BCAP credit support to medium-sized businesses with larger financing needs, beginning with companies in Canada’s energy sector.

This support, provided by the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC), will provide viable energy sector companies with rapid access to the financing they need to maintain operations and keep their employees working.  For more information, businesses can contact EDC or BDC.

Cultural, Heritage and Sports Organizations

The government has announced a new COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations, which will provide $500 million to help address the financial needs of affected organizations.  The fund will be administered by Canadian Heritage via contribution agreements.

Canadian Armed Forces

In response to a request from Quebec, Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) medical personnel and resources will be deployed beginning on April 18 to help ease the ongoing situation in Quebec’s long-term care facilities.

AgriStability 2020

The AgriStability enrollment deadline for the 2020 program year has been extended without penalty, from April 30 to July 3, 2020 to allow farmers more time to sign up and benefit from the program.

AgriStability is delivered in Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador and Yukon by the federal government and more information can be found on the federal government’s website.

AgriStability is delivered provincially in the following provinces and for more information, visit the links for each province: British ColumbiaSaskatchewanAlbertaOntarioQuebec, or Prince Edward Island.

Border Crossings in Saskatchewan

Further to the previously announced temporary reduction of service hours at 27 Canada Border Services Agency locations, the new hours of service for four border crossings in Saskatchewan have been updated.

Canada and Ontario Supports for Agri-food Sector Supply Chain

The governments of Canada and Ontario are investing up to $1 million in new funding to connect workers with in-demand jobs in the agri-food sector to keep the nation’s supply chains strong and store shelves stocked during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Through the Partnership’s Place to Grow: Agri-Food Innovation Initiative, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs will immediately accept applications and will expedite the approval process to help address sector labour concerns quickly.  For more information, email: agpartnership@ontario.ca or call: 1-877-424-1300.

Use of Masks in the Canadian Transportation System

The Minister of Transport, Marc Garneau, has announced new measures with respect to the use of non-medical masks or face coverings during travel.  The Public Health Agency of Canada has published guidelines on how to wear, and if necessary make at home, a non-medical mask or face covering.

Air Travel

Effective noon EDT on April 20, all air passengers will be required to have a non-medical mask or face covering to cover their mouth and nose during travel.  Travellers are encouraged to wear them whenever possible, but at a minimum are required to cover their mouth and nose:

  • at Canadian airport screening checkpoints, where the screeners cannot always keep two metres of separation between themselves and the passenger;
  • during flight when they cannot physically distance from others, or as directed by the airline employees; and
  • when directed to do so by a public health order or public health official.

Passengers on all flights departing or arriving at Canadian airports will be required to demonstrate they have the necessary non-medical mask or face covering during the boarding process, otherwise they could be denied entry into the sterile area of the airport or denied boarding onto the aircraft.

Airlines are responsible for notifying passengers when purchasing their ticket of the requirement to have non-medical masks or face coverings during the voyage, but it is the passenger’s responsibility to have the appropriate face covering.

Marine Travel

Transport Canada is issuing guidelines recommending that operators of ferries and essential passenger vessels, when feasible:

  • Notify passengers when purchasing their ticket of the requirement to have non-medical masks or face coverings during the voyage, when physical distancing is not possible; and
  • Provide public messaging to travellers about the need to have a non-medical mask or face covering to cover their mouth and nose for use at times during their journey when they cannot maintain physical distance from others, and that passengers could be subject to denial of boarding should they fail to comply.

Rail Travel

Transport Canada is issuing guidelines recommending that railway operators:

  • Consider notifying passengers when purchasing their ticket of the requirement to have non-medical masks or face coverings during the voyage, when physical distancing is not possible; and
  • Verify prior to boarding that passengers have a non-medical mask or face covering their mouth and nose, for use at times during their journey when they cannot physically distance from others.

Rail companies are authorized to deny boarding to ensure the safety of their operations.

Road Travel

Transport Canada is recommending a number of voluntary measures for motor carriers and bus operators, including that they:

  • Consider notifying passengers when purchasing their pass/ticket that they should wear non-medical masks or face coverings for the entire duration of their travel, and to follow recommendations from Public Health officials (e.g. stay home, physical distancing, hand-washing);
  • Remind passengers that they should consider wearing non-medical masks or face coverings to avoid putting the safety of others at risk;
  • Where operationally feasible and appropriate, confirm with passengers prior to boarding that they are aware that wearing a non-medical mask or face covering can reduce the spread of infectious respiratory droplets; and
  • If operationally feasible and appropriate, some motor carriers and transit operators may consider denying boarding to passengers who refuse to wear face coverings without a valid justification.

 

British Columbia

The Government of British Columbia announced the following measures:

Online Options to Support Social and Emotional Well-Being

New, free virtual educational programs for students, parents and educators are available to support social and emotional well-being.  The free, virtual WE Well-being program was recently launched as part of the new WE Schools @home program and is aimed at youth in grades K-12 who are experiencing anxiety and social isolation.

Also available is the new EASE (Everyday Anxiety Strategies for Educators) at Home program.  This program has kits for grades K-3 and 4-7 that help younger children talk about difficult emotions and manage their anxiety.

Strata Corporation Meetings

The Province will allow strata corporations to hold meetings electronically, including their annual and special general meetings, during the current provincial state of emergency.  This temporary change under the Emergency Program Act applies to all strata corporations, whether or not they already have a bylaw allowing electronic meetings.

 

Alberta

The Government of Alberta announced the following measures:

Support for physicians

Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services (AHS) have collaborated on a unique Clinical Alternative Relationship Plan (ARP) that will pay AHS physicians who are adjusting their practice to provide care for Albertans during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The COVID-19 Assessment Centre Clinical ARP provides compensation options, other than fee-for-service, for AHS physicians who volunteer to change their practice during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Camping

Alberta Parks is suspending and refunding camping reservations up to and including May 19.  Dispersed random camping on public land is currently permitted, but campers must follow the directions of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, including physical distancing and no mass gatherings.  Campers should also be aware that a fire and recreational off-highway vehicle ban is currently in place in the Forest Protection Area.

Applications for Emergency Social Services Funding

Effective April 21, the Government of Alberta will be temporarily suspending applications for emergency social services funding to charities, not-for-profits and civil society organizations to support their COVID-19 response.  More than 600 applications for the $30 million fund have been received.  Before reopening application intake, the government intends to review current applications and provide approvals to urgent requests.

 

Manitoba

The Government of Manitoba announced the following measures:

On April 17, Central Services Minister Reg Helwer announced that the Province is investing an additional $300 million to ensure the government can respond quickly to frontline health care needs.  This investment will support outbreak planning, prevention and mitigation efforts, and allow the province to secure the supplies and resources needed to deliver essential care to patients in Manitoba.

 

Ontario

The Government of Ontario announced the following measures:

Support for Agri-Food Sector

The governments of Canada and Ontario are investing up to $1 million in new funding to connect workers with in-demand jobs in the agri-food sector to keep the nation’s supply chains strong and store shelves stocked during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Through the Partnership’s Place to Grow: Agri-Food Innovation Initiative, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs will immediately accept applications and will expedite the approval process to help address sector labour concerns quickly.  For more information, email: agpartnership@ontario.ca or call: 1-877-424-1300.

Child Care

On April 17, Premier Doug Ford and Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, announced that the Province is expanding the list of essential workers eligible to receive emergency child care to include the following:

  • Staff working in developmental services, victim services, violence against women services, anti-human trafficking services and child welfare services (children’s aid societies) and in children’s residential settings;
  • Additional staff identified by the Ministry of the Solicitor General, including:
    • First Nations constables;
    • Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management fire investigators;
    • Select critical staff in community corrections, such as probation and parole officers;
    • Contractors in institutional corrections services;
    • Frontline staff at the Provincial Forensic Pathology Unit;
    • Critical staff at the Centre of Forensic Sciences; and
    • Critical staff operating the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre;
  • Staff working in shelters (e.g., serving homeless populations);
  • Power workers;
  • Pharmaceutical and medical supplies and device manufacturing workers;
  • Non-municipal water and waste-water employees; and
  • Federally employed staff including Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada Border Services Agency officers and Canada Post employees.

New Temporary Emergency Measures

On April 16, the Ontario government issued the following temporary emergency orders under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act:

  • An order restricting retirement home employees from working in more than one retirement home, long-term care home or health care setting, with compliance required by April 22, 2020;
  • An order providing Local Health Integration Networks with the ability to direct home care service provider organizations to safely reassign frontline staff to needed areas, including home and community care settings, long-term care homes, supportive housing, retirement homes and hospitals;
  • Orders providing municipalities and District Social Service Administration Boards with the ability to offer reassignments to certain staff to where there is local need during the outbreak, including child care, by-law enforcement, and public health services.

 

Quebec

The Government of Quebec announced the following measures:

On April 17, the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, André Lamontagne, and the Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Solidarity, Jean Boulet, announced a $45 million investment to mitigate the expected labour shortage in the agricultural sector. This investment is intended to primarily finance four measures:

  • a bonus of $100 for seasonal agricultural workers who offer a minimum of 25 hours per week;
  • the establishment of a program for the transportation of workers that respects the rule of social distancing;
  • the establishment of squads to help agricultural producers in the integration and training of new workers; and
  • financial support granted to the 12 agricultural employment centres, to meet the needs of agricultural businesses paired with the new workers.

Those interested can register on the emploiagricole.com website or contact the agricultural employment centre in their region or with Agrijob (for people in the Montreal region).

On April 17, the government announced a $1.3 million investment in the business Ferme d’hiver, through Investissement Québec, to support the development of an innovative solution that will contribute to food self-sufficiency in Quebec. The technology behind the proposed new eco-responsible agricultural model will allow local agricultural producers to grow fruits and vegetables year-round.

On April 17, considering the difficulties currently experienced in various living environments, including residential and long-term care centres (CHSLD), and at home, the Cooperation Network of Social Economy Enterprises in Home (EÉSAD) asked its members who are not already mobilized to come as reinforcements. To support this request, the government has announced the following measures, with a total investment of $15.7 million:

  • $8.3 million to keep approximately 800 EESAD employees employed in the CHSLDs (for 11 weeks);
  • $3 million for hours of services not rendered due to the refusal of some users to give home care workers access to their homes;
  • $1.3 million to allow the EESAD employees who work in CHSLDs to benefit from the bonus of $4 per hour;
  • $0.9 million to allow the EESAD employees who offer services in private residences for seniors or at home to benefit from the 8% bonus; and
  • $2.2 million to benefit from the 8% bonus for workers in the service employment paycheck program who already offer home assistance.

On April 16, in addition to allowing presidents of professional orders to authorize certain students to temporarily practice protected professions, the government announced other measures to encourage the recruitment of labour in the health and social services sector. In fact, the government invites students to join the collective effort and to enroll as beneficiary attendants. The working conditions offered will be those which apply to temporary employees and they will be entitled to the same bonuses. In addition, it is specified that the income earned will not be counted in the calculation of student financial assistance for next year.

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Le gouvernement du Québec a annoncé les mesures suivantes :

Le 17 avril, le ministre de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation, M. André Lamontagne, et le ministre du Travail, de l’Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale, M. Jean Boulet, ont annoncé un investissement important pour pallier à la pénurie de main-d’œuvre attendue dans le milieu agricole. Cet investissement de 45M$ pour attirer les travailleurs québécois dans les champs pour la période de plantation et de récolte va notamment financer quatre mesures :

  • une prime de 100$ pour les travailleurs agricoles saisonniers qui offrent une prestation de travail minimale de 25 heures par semaine;
  • la mise en place d’un programme pour le déplacement de la main-d’œuvre qui respecte la distanciation sociale en vigueur;
  • la mise en place d’escouades qui aideront les producteurs agricoles dans l’intégration et la formation des nouveaux travailleurs;
  • un soutien financier accordé aux 12 centres d’emploi agricole, pour répondre aux besoins de jumelage des entreprises agricoles avec les nouveaux travailleurs.

Les personnes intéressées peuvent s’inscrire sur le site Web emploiagricole.com ou communiquer avec le centre d’emploi agricole de leur région ou avec Agrijob (pour les gens de la région de Montréal).

Le 17 avril, le gouvernement a annoncé un investissement de 1,3M$ dans l’entreprise Ferme d’hiver, par le biais d’Investissement Québec, afin de soutenir le développement d’une solution innovante qui contribuera à l’autonomie alimentaire du Québec. La technologie derrière le nouveau modèle agricole écoresponsable proposé permettra aux producteurs agricoles locaux de cultiver des fruits et légumes toute l’année.

Le 17 avril, dans le contexte des difficultés actuellement vécues dans les différents milieux de vie, dont les centres d’hébergement et de soins de longue durée (CHSLD), et à domicile, le Réseau de coopération des entreprises d’économie sociale en aide à domicile (EÉSAD) a demandé à ses membres qui ne sont pas déjà mobilisés de venir en renfort. Pour appuyer cette demande, le gouvernement a annoncé les mesures suivantes dont l’investissement total s’élève à 15,7 M$ :

  • 8,3 M$ pour maintenir en emploi environ 800 employés des EÉSAD qui offriront des services en CHSLD  (pendant 11 semaines);
  • 3 M$ pour les heures de services non rendues en raison du refus de certains usagers de donner accès à leur domicile aux préposés d’aide à domicile;
  • 1,3 M$ pour faire bénéficier de la prime de 4$ de l’heure aux employés des EÉSAD qui travailleront en CHSLD;
  • 0,9 M$ pour faire bénéficier de la prime de 8 % les employés des EÉSAD qui offriront des services en résidence privée pour aînés ou à domicile;
  • 2,2 M$ pour faire bénéficier de la prime de 8 % les travailleurs du programme chèque emploi-service qui offrent déjà des services à domicile.

Le 16 avril, en plus de permettre aux présidents d’ordres professionnels d’autoriser certains étudiants à exercer temporairement des professions protégées, le gouvernement a annoncé d’autres mesures pour encourager le recrutement de main d’œuvre dans le réseau de la santé et des services sociaux. En effet, le gouvernement invite les étudiants à se joindre à l’effort collectif et à s’enrôler comme préposés aux bénéficiaires. Les conditions de travail offertes seront celles qui s’appliquent aux employés temporaires et ils auront droit aux mêmes bonifications. De plus, on précise que les revenus gagnés ne seront pas comptabilisés dans le calcul de l’aide financière aux études pour l’année prochaine.

 

Newfoundland and Labrador

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced the following measures:

Effective April 17, the government has announced that some road construction work will be delayed, and, for work which is proceeding, all contractors will be required to follow guidelines to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.  Work will only proceed where contractors are able to demonstrate they are able to provide safe working environments for crews.

 

New Brunswick

The Government of New Brunswick announced the following measures:

Effective April 17, the province amended the Employment Standards Act to allow for the granting of a leave of absence in any of the following circumstances, where it is necessary in the opinion of the Lieutenant-Governor in Council:

  1. when the Minister of Public Safety declares a state of emergency under the Emergency Measures Act in respect to all or any area of the Province;
  2. when the Governor in Council declares a public welfare emergency, a public order emergency, an international emergency or a war emergency under the Emergencies Act (Canada);
  3. when the Governor in Council makes an order under section 58 of the Quarantine Act (Canada); and
  4. in any circumstance relating to:
    1. a notifiable disease prescribed by regulation under the Public Health Act or declared to be a notifiable disease in an order of the Minister of Health or the chief medical officer of health, as the case may be,
    2. a notifiable event prescribed by regulation under the Public Health Act, or
    3. any other threat to public health.

This emergency leave will be granted in accordance with regulations, which have not been released yet.

The government also amended the Emergency Measures Act to permit the Minister to authorize or require the provision of emergency childcare services and to suspend the operation of various limitation periods and other procedural time periods.

 

Nova Scotia

The Government of Nova Scotia announced the following measures:

Effective April 19 at noon, the ongoing state of emergency will be renewed until May 3.

Effective April 17, Nova Scotia Power, EfficiencyOne and the province are redirecting $3 million from the HomeWarming program (which normally provides free home energy assessments) to fund organizations that deliver prepared meals, operate soup kitchens, help the homeless and provide other services.

 

Prince Edward Island

The Government of Prince Edward Island announced the following measures:

As previously noted, the provincial government has declared a state of emergency, which took effect on April 17 at 8:00 a.m.  The government has also renewed the state of public health emergency.  Both declarations will remain in effect until the end of April.

 

Northwest Territories

The Government of the Northwest Territories announced the following measures:

Effective April 17, the government has developed a COVID-19 support hotline for residents, which can be reached at 811 within the Northwest Territories.

 

Nunavut

The Government of Nunavut announced the following measures:

Effective April 17, the government announced that schools will be closed to students for the remainder of the school year, although learning will continue and teachers will be expected to continue with lessons.

 

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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