COVID-19: Cross country update (March 19, 2020)

19 mars 2020

( Disponible en anglais seulement )


The Government of Canada announced the following measures:

On March 19, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said that Canadians who are not covered by the unemployment system can expect emergency funding in 2-3 weeks.

On March 19, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged Canadians to donate blood, ensured supports will be on the way for retirees who have seen a drop in their savings, and spoke of the need to step-up testing for COVID-19.

On March 18, Canada and the United States agreed to temporarily restrict non-essential travel across the Canada-US border. Travellers will no longer be permitted to cross the border for recreation and tourism purposes. Only essential travel will continue in efforts to preserve supply chains between both countries.

As well, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair stated that international students and temporary foreign workers will be able to enter into Canada with the expectation that they will self-isolate for 14 days.  Further details are to follow from the government regarding the specifics of these restrictions.


British Columbia

The Government of British Columbia announced the following measures:

Effective March 19, 2020, regular operations of the Supreme Court of British Columbia have been suspended at all of its locations.  All civil and family matters scheduled for hearing between March 19, 2020 and May 1, 2020 are adjourned, unless otherwise directed by the Court.  The court will only hear essential and urgent matters.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, Provincial Health Officer, has:

  • reminded employers that they must excuse workers for sickness without requiring a doctor’s note;
  • issued an order providing criteria for exemption for essential service workers from self-isolation protocols; and,
  • issued a class order prohibiting the gathering of people in excess of 50 people.

New available resources include:



The Government of Alberta announced the following measures:

Albertans can now access healthcare from physicians through their smartphone using Babylon, a TELUS Health app.

Service Alberta has temporarily closed front counter, in-person access for some services in Edmonton and Calgary.  Although services remain operational and available, Albertans should not visit the physical locations for Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service, Corporate Registry and Land Titles, Consumer Investigations & Programs and Surplus Sales.

The Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta, the Provincial Court of Alberta and the Court of Appeal of Alberta are limiting their services to essential and urgent functions.



The Government of Saskatchewan announced the following measures:

A COVID-19 self-assessment tool is available on the government’s website.



The Government of Ontario announced the following measures:

The Employment Standards Amendment Act (Infectious Disease Emergencies), 2020 was passed on March 19 in an emergency sitting of the legislature.

Under this legislation, an employee is entitled to a leave of absence without pay if the employee will not be performing the duties of his or her position because:

1. Declared Emergency – an emergency has been declared under s. 7.0.1 of the Emergency and Civil Protection Act and because,

      1. of an order that applies to the employee under section 7.0.2 of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act,
      2. of an order that applies to the employee under the Health Protection and Promotion Act,
      3. the employee is needed to provide care or assistance to a specified individual, or
      4. of any other prescribed reason.

As long as these circumstances apply, the leave of absence is on-going until the day the emergency is terminated or disallowed.

2. Infectious Disease Emergency – due to a designated infectious disease, an employee is:

      1. under medical investigation, supervision or treatment for COVID-19;
      2. acting in accordance with an order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act;
      3. in isolation or quarantine in accordance with public health information or direction;
      4. directed by the employer not to work due to a concern that COVID-19 could be spread in the workplace;
      5. needs to provide care to specified individuals for a reason related to COVID-19 such as a school or day-care closure;
      6. prevented from returning to Ontario because of travel restrictions; or
      7. any other prescribed reason.

As long as these circumstances apply, the leave of absence is on-going until the infectious disease is no longer designated by the regulations.

The legislation makes it clear that employees cannot be required to provide a certificate from a qualified health practitioner if they need to take the leave.  However, the employer may require the employee to provide other evidence that is reasonable in the circumstances, at a time that is reasonable in the circumstances, such as a note from the closed daycare, or evidence of a cancelled flight.

The second bill passed on March 19, 2020 in an emergency sitting of the legislature was the Municipal Emergency Act, 2020, which will allow the Lieutenant Governor in Council to make regulations imposing limits and conditions on the powers of a municipality.  It also provides that members of councils, local boards and committees who participate electronically in open and closed meetings may be counted for purposes of quorum.

The Ontario government reminded employers that they are required to report all occupational illnesses, including COVID-19, to the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development in writing within four days.  They are also required to notify their joint health and safety committee or a health and safety representative and a trade union, if they exist.

Courts in Ontario have been impacted:

  • The Superior Court of Justice has suspended all regular court operations until further notice, while continuing to hear urgent matters.
  • All sittings of the Small Claims Court in Ontario are suspended until further notice.
  • The Ontario Court of Justice has adjourned all non-urgent matters and has established procedures to reduce the number of people who attend court in-person for criminal and family matters.
  • The Court of Appeal has suspended all scheduled appeals until April 3, 2020.  Urgent appeals will be heard based on either written materials or remotely.

The validity period of driving products, services and health cards will be extended.  This includes extensions for driver licences, licence plate validation, Ontario Photo Cards, and Commercial Vehicle Operators Registration certificates, among others.  Expiring and expired health cards will continue to provide access to health services.



The Government of Manitoba announced the following measures:

A COVID-19 emergency supplement will be introduced to the 2020 budget.  For more information, see the province’s Budget 2020.

A COVID-19 self-assessment tool is available on the government’s website.


Newfoundland and Labrador

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced the following measures:

Effective March 21, all Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation stores will close to walk-in orders.

Effective March 23, the provincial legislature will not reopen as planned. Instead, Members of the House of Assembly will meet on Thursday March 26 to deal with “business of urgent public importance.”


New Brunswick

The Government of New Brunswick announced the following measures:

Effective March 19, the province has declared a state of emergency. All businesses in retail sales must stop admitting patrons, except: grocery stores; pharmacies; repair garages; post offices; financial and lending institutions; retailers of fuel, hardware and automotive parts; convenience stores; animal and fish feed providers; and corporate and agency stores of NB Liquor and Cannabis NB. All businesses required to stop admitting patrons are permitted to sell online or over the phone and to arrange delivery or pick-up of purchases.

All food and beverage businesses must be reduced to take-out and delivery service only. All swimming pools, spas, saunas, waterparks, gymnasiums, yoga studios, dance studios, rinks and arenas, tennis courts, soccer and baseball fields, climbing walls, escape rooms, ski hills, golf courses, arcades, amusement centres, pool halls, bowling alleys, casinos, cinemas, libraries, museums, zoos, aquariums, barbers, hair stylists, esthetics service providers, sugar bush operations, and theatres or other live performance venues must stop admitting members of the public. Schools, colleges, universities and private schools must be closed to students. Institutions which have students in residence are permitted to allow them to remain in residence until they can safely return home.

All owners and managers of all workplaces are instructed to reduce to critical functions and will take every reasonable step required to prevent people who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 from entering the workplace, in accordance with advice issued by the Chief Medical Officer of Health or Worksafe New Brunswick. They will also take every reasonable step required to prevent people from entering workplaces who have travelled internationally in the previous 14 days.

Owners and operators of all other premises at which people may gather in large numbers will take all reasonable steps to prevent gatherings of more than 10 people.

All regulated health services providers will cease operations unless the services to be provided are to address essential health care or an emergency health-care situation.

All unregulated health services providers, with the exception of those that are providing direct support to regulated health services providers, shall cease operations immediately.



The Government of Nunavut announced the following measures:

Effective March 20, all bars will be closed. All restaurants will be open for takeout/delivery only, with no more than 10 people in a line-up at a time. Pharmacies, gas stations, and grocery stores will remain open.



Please refer to our COVID-19 Resource Hub for previous updates, as well as additional information to help you identify the pertinent issues, understand the legal implications, minimize risk exposure and manage legal obligations during the pandemic.


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