COVID-19:  Cross country update (June 18, 2020)

18 juin 2020

( Disponible en anglais seulement )

Federal

The Government of Canada announced the following measures:

New Mobile App Launch for COVID-19 Exposure

Today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the upcoming launch of a new nation-wide mobile app to provide notifications of exposure to COVID-19 across Canada, with beta testing to begin in Ontario.

The voluntary app will help Canadians and public health officials identify and isolate the spread of the virus more quickly. It is anticipated that the app will be available across Canada in the coming weeks and months.

Support for Museums and Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations

The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage, today announced new measures to assist the museum sector as well as the first component of Phase 2 of the COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations.

An emergency investment of $25.7 million will help the following organizations maintain essential services and be ready to reopen:

  • Canadian Museum for Human Rights;
  • Canadian Museum of History;
  • Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21;
  • Canadian Museum of Nature;
  • National Gallery of Canada;
  • Canada Science and Technology Museum; and
  • National Battlefields Commission.

As well, the first component of Phase 2 of the COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations has been implemented.  This $500-million fund is being used to maintain jobs and support the business continuity of organizations impacted by the crisis.

In Phase 1, which is currently underway, funding was provided to existing recipients of Canadian Heritage assistance.  The first component of Phase 2 will provide $53 million in support to organizations with heritage collections through the emergency component of the Museums Assistance Program.  Eligible not-for-profit organizations such as museums, archives, historic sites, Indigenous organizations, official-language minority communities, or municipal and university museums with separate budgets, will now be able to apply for funding on the Canadian Government’s website.

More information about the next component of Phase 2 is expected soon.

 

Alberta

The Government of Alberta announced the following measures:

Helping Overnight Camps for Summer 2021

Assistance will be provided to overnight camps through the Overnight Camps (for Children and Youth) Facility Overhead Funding Program. This program allows eligible non-profit organizations that own or operate overnight camps to apply for a one-time grant to help with ongoing facility costs so that they will be able to open next summer. The online application forum will open soon and applications will be accepted until August 31.  To be eligible, owners or operators must show a loss in revenue equal to or greater than their fixed overhead costs.  They must also demonstrate financial need and that they are planning for their future viability.

More Alberta Historic Sites to Reopen

As a result of the successful reopening of the Royal Alberta Museum and the Royal Tyrrell Museum, the Alberta government announced today that the following facilities will reopen on June 20, 2020:

  • Frank Slide Interpretive Centre;
  • Oil Sands Discovery Centre;
  • Remington Carriage Museum;
  • Reynolds-Alberta Museum; and
  • Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village.

In addition, the Provincial Archives of Alberta will also reopen on June 23, 2020. Each facility will have specific visitor guidelines and visitors are encouraged to review the facility’s individual website to learn more before arrival.

Continued Support for Albertans

Bill 24, the COVID-19 Pandemic Response Statutes Amendment Act, proposes amendments to 15 acts across seven ministries to continue some measures and to introduce new measures supporting the reopening of Alberta’s economy.

The proposed continued measures include:

  • Extending to August 2021 the unpaid COVID-19 job-protected leave, which allows employees to take leave to care for a child due to school or daycare closures or to care for an ill or self-isolating family member;
  • Providing updated guidance for operating child care programs, including increasing the maximum cohort group size from 10 to 30 staff and children, helping operators reopen safely and ensuring parents have access to child care as they return to work;
  • Allowing for remote signing and witnessing of estate and care documents through two-way video conferencing;
  • Extending the maximum time for temporary layoffs related to COVID-19 from 120 days to 180 days;
  • Extending arrangements that support the Chief Medical Officer of Health Order No. 10 that allows a health-care facility to limit employees to working at one site;
  • Extending the use of emergency powers for an additional 60 days now that the state of public health emergency has ended, and extending existing ministerial orders to continue to protect the health of Albertans during relaunch; and
  • Creating a new regulation-making authority to support and empower orders of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, as required.

The proposed new measures include:

  • Changing requirements for temporary pandemic-related health facilities, including permitting exemptions for temporary facilities such as drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites;
  • Extending the deadline for the public release of Alberta’s annual report and financial statements to Aug. 31;
  • Ensuring Albertans retain their rights to appeal claims related to private career colleges in the courts or for the Government of Alberta to make claims related to student financial assistance; and
  • Extending the grace period of expired board member appointments to the Apprenticeship and Industry Training Board from three to five months after the term expires to allow time for a safe recruitment process.

We will continue to track and provide updates on the progress of this legislation.

 

Saskatchewan

The Government of Saskatchewan announced the following measures:

Guidelines for the Safe Return to School

Today, the Primary and Secondary Institution Guidelines for the return to school in September 2020 were released.  The guidelines have been developed to help plan for the delivery of in-classroom learning as early as September 1.  The guidelines may be adjusted depending on the impact of COVID-19 and the feedback of education partners.

Temporary Training Program Announced to Support Saskatchewan Employer

On June 18, 2020, the Saskatchewan government announced the Re-Open Saskatchewan Training Subsidy (RSTS) program to assist businesses in training employees to comply with enhanced safety protocols and adapted business models as the province’s economy reopens. RSTS will reimburse eligible private-sector employers 100% cent of employee training costs to a maximum of $10,000 per business. The program will focus on supporting the short-term training of employees in areas such as health and safety requirements and the implementation of innovative practices to help businesses adapt to appropriate physical distancing. The application deadline for RSTS is July 31, 2020.

 

Manitoba

The Government of Manitoba announced the following measures:

Manitoba Back to Work This Summer

Today, the Manitoba government announced a new “Manitoba Back to Work This Summer” initiative which involves a hiring program to help Manitoba-based businesses rebound from the shutdown caused by COVID-19. The initiative allows employers to apply and receive funding for up to five employees hired or rehired after June 18, 2020. The program will reimburse 50% of the total wages paid from June 18 until August 30, 2020 to a maximum of $5,000 per worker and $25,000 per business. The application form will be available next week with a deadline of August 30, 2020.

Employers can learn more about this and other available government programs on the government’s website.

 

Ontario

The Government of Ontario announced the following measures:

Enhanced COVID-19 Case and Contact Management

With the gradual reopening of the province, the Ontario government has created additional measures to increase case and contact management and to quickly test, trace and isolate cases of COVID-19. These additional measures include the launch of a comprehensive management strategy, Protecting Ontarians through Enhanced Case and Contact Management, providing additional contact tracing staff, and a partnership with the federal government to launch an Ontario based national app called COVID Alert.

DriveTest Centres Reopening

The province’s driver testing services provider, DriveTest, will begin offering limited services with restrictions on June 22, 2020, with the expectation of restoring full services by September 2020. DriveTest centres will begin offering services to customers based on their birthdates in order to support physical distancing measures, health checks and sanitation. Individuals born between January to June will be permitted to visit a centre the first week of reopening, and those with birthdays between July to December will be eligible the following week. Customers will be required to wear face masks, sanitize their hands and undergo temperature checks before road tests.

Details regarding which driver testing services are available and which customers are being served each week will be updated every Monday on drivetest.ca.

Commercial Evictions Paused

On June 17, 2020, the Ontario Government passed the Protecting Small Business Act, which temporarily stops or reverses evictions of commercial tenants and protects them from being locked out or having their assets seized during COVID-19. However, the pause on evictions does not apply to those participating in the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance for small business, as the program requires landlords to enter into a rent reduction agreement with their affected small business tenants and commits them to a moratorium on evictions for three months.

Ontario Invests in Mental Health and Technology to Support Students

Today, the Ontario Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce, announced that the Ontario Government will purchase $15 million worth of classroom computers and $10 million to hire additional mental health workers in response to the impact COVID-19 has had on the mental health of students. This funding will be in addition to the government’s commitment of $25 million in permanent funding to hire approximately 180 front-line mental health workers in secondary schools across the province.

 

Quebec

The Government of Quebec announced the following measures:

State of Emergency Renewal

On June 17, 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 June 23, 2020.

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Le gouvernement du Québec a annoncé les mesures suivantes :

Renouvellement de l’état d’urgence

Le 17 juin, 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 23 juin 2020.

 

Nova Scotia

The Government of Nova Scotia announced the following measures:

Gatherings

People can now gather in groups of up to ten without physical distancing. People who wish to gather in groups are encouraged to maintain a consistent group.

Gatherings of up to 50 will now be allowed but people must observe physical distancing of two metres. The 50 person gathering limit applies to social events, faith gatherings, sports and physical activity, weddings and funerals, and arts and culture events (i.e. theatre performances, dance recitals, festivals, and concerts).

Businesses that are too small to facilitate physical distancing must not have more than ten people on their premise at a time.

Effective June 18, 2020, playgrounds can begin reopening. However, playgrounds are not expected to reopen immediately, as municipalities and other playground owners need time to prepare the playgrounds so they can reopen safely.

 

Prince Edward Island

The Government of Prince Edward Island announced the following measures:

2020-21 Operating Budget

On June 18, the Premier and Finance Minster announced the provincial 2020-21 Operating Budget (Budget).  The core priorities for the $2.2 billion Budget are health, education, environment, and the social and economic needs of Islanders.

In addition to the Budget, the following initiatives are being introduced by the province to stimulate Prince Edward Island’s development:

  • a Small Business Tax Reduction;
  • an increase to the Island Advantage Bursary to make post-secondary education in Prince Edward Island more affordable;
  • a School Lunch Program, offered in partnership with local providers, that will provide healthy food to more Island schoolchildren;
  • a Pathway to Net Zero and Sustainable Communities that will set the province on a path to full energy sustainability; and
  • the creation of:
    • a Social Sector Community Partners Fund that will provide more secure core support to key partners and advance special projects;
    • a Telework Adaptation Fund to incentivize smart work remotely; and
    • a Climate Challenge Fund to build better solutions for Prince Edward Island.

For more information visit the 2020-21 Operating Budget website.

 

Yukon

The Government of the Yukon announced the following measures:

Outdoor Gatherings

As of July 1, outdoor gatherings in Yukon may have up to 50 people in attendance, subject to the territory’s physical distancing guidelines. No buffets or potlucks are allowed at this time, and no other food may be shared at outdoor gatherings.

Restaurants

Beginning July 1, restaurants can increase their operating capacity from 50% to 100%. Restaurants still must follow Yukon’s reopening food premises guidelines.

Dental Services

Full dental services in Yukon will resume on July 1, 2020.

Gyms and Recreation Centres

The territory has released guidelines for the operation of fitness centres and gyms. These guidelines do not apply to recreation centres with swimming pools, sports fields, arenas, or large indoor spaces for gatherings.

The territory has also released guidelines for the operation of public recreation centres. Recreation centres include, but are not limited to, large indoor spaces, swimming pools, running tracks, and curling and ice rinks.

Both guidelines require the incorporation of the 6 steps to staying safe as recommended by the Chief Medical Officer of Health:

  • Physical distancing of 2 metres (6 feet);
  • Regular hand washing;
  • Staying home when sick;
  • Not gathering in groups of more than 10;
  • Limiting travel to rural communities; and
  • Self-isolating when required by orders and recommendations.

 

Northwest Territories

The Government of the Northwest Territories announced the following measures:

Extension of Payment Deferral/Reduction Initiative

The NWT Business Development and Investment Corporation (BDIC) is extending its three month payment deferral/reduction initiative. The option of deferring or reducing loan payments was provided to all BDIC clients including those who applied for and received low-interest Working Capital Loans as part of the GNWT’s initial COVID-19 relief efforts.

The BDIC is now extending the option of loan deferrals and reduced payments until March 31, 2021.  Businesses must formally request the extension. More information is available on BDIC’s 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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