COVID-19: Cross country update (April 2, 2020)

2 avril 2020

( Disponible en anglais seulement )

Federal

The Government of Canada announced the following measures:

The Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, has released the “Guidance on Essential Services and Functions in Canada During the COVID-19 Pandemic” to help governments in various jurisdictions and businesses make decisions around the types of employees who should be considered essential to maintain the health, safety, security and economic well-being of Canadians.  This guidance is non-binding and advisory in nature, and should not be considered to be a federal directive or standard.  The list of essential services was developed in consultation with industry and labour representatives and provinces and territories and may be modified in the future as needed.

 

British Columbia

The Government of British Columbia announced the following measures:

Compliance and Enforcement

To strengthen compliance and enforcement measures, the province will redeploy provincial compliance staff from other ministries to support local governments under the direction of the Public Health Officer (PHO).  As well, the PHO has issued new guidelines to give clear instruction on warnings, public education and fines and on which of these can be issued by whom.  For example, bylaw enforcement officers do not have the ability to detain an individual or issue a fine or penalty for violations of a public health order.  They can, however, provide enforcement assistance by:

  • monitoring facilities and areas closed to the public by a public health order;
  • providing warnings, information and advice on public health orders; and
  • providing information on potential contraventions of a public health order for follow-up by health authorities, who do have the power to issues fines and penalties.

Economic Recovery Task Force

A new Economic Recovery Task Force will bring together leaders from business, labour, First Nations and not-for-profits to help ensure the Province’s economic response to COVID-19 is effective and responsive to the needs of British Columbians.  More specifically, the task force will:

  • help ensure the benefits of provincial programs are reaching their intended targets and complement federal programs;
  • explore issues around the designation of essential and critical services, child care and other supports for essential workers, and safe workplace operations; and
  • begin to discuss long-term economic recovery following COVID-19.

Emergency Funding for Students

The government is providing $3.5 million in emergency financial assistance for students attending one of BC’s 25 public post-secondary institutions, who are experiencing emergency financial pressures.  This non-repayable emergency assistance can be used to help with a broad range of costs, including living expenses, food, travel, and portable computers.  Students can access the funds by contacting their school’s financial aid office.

Liability Protection

The government is taking steps to ensure that those providing essential services cannot be held liable for damages caused by exposure to COVID-19 while continuing to operate, so long as they are complying with orders from the provincial health officer and other authorities.  Essential service providers who are not compliant with respective authorities or who are grossly negligent will not receive protection under the order and will be held liable for damages. The order only applies to situations related to COVID-19 and will remain in effect for as long as the state of emergency remains in place.

New Emergency Supports for the Vulnerable

The government is implementing a series of temporary supports:

  • For those currently receiving income assistance or disability assistance, the province will temporarily exempt federal employment insurance benefits, including the new $2,000 Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), for the next three months, so there will be no corresponding reductions to monthly assistance payments.
  • For those on income assistance or disability assistance who are not eligible for the emergency federal support programs, including the CERB, the province will provide an automatic $300-monthly COVID-19 crisis supplement for the next three months.  This will also be provided to seniors who receive the B.C. Senior’s Supplement and to recipients of income assistance or disability assistance who reside in special care facilities.
  • Given the current suspension of bus fares, the province will also provide all BC Bus Pass Program users receiving income assistance and disability assistance with the $52 Transportation Supplement for the duration of the fare suspension.

A $3 million emergency grant has been provided to Food Banks BC to distribute among food banks province-wide.

 

Alberta

The Government of Alberta announced the following measures:

Student Nutrition Program

Approximately 40,000 students in 450 schools received a daily nutritious meal through the school nutrition program in the first part of the current school year.  School boards are being encouraged to find innovative ways to provide meals to students while in-school classes are cancelled.  The province will be providing an additional $3 million to nine non-profit organizations who will help to provide additional food assistance for vulnerable K-12 students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Saskatchewan

The Government of Saskatchewan announced the following measures:

A number of tools have been added or optimized to provide residents with COVID-19 information:

  • HealthLine 811 – the system has been replaced, increasing the capacity of 32 concurrent callers to over 900 concurrent callers.  More than 250 additional staff have been trained to receive calls on the expanded system.
  • Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency Toll Free Line – this toll free line (1-855-559-5502) is now being offered 24 hours, 7 days a week.  This line is for non-health specific questions about the COVID-19 pandemic.  It also deals with alleged violations of mandatory public health orders, which can also be reported online under the Public Health Orders section at saskatchewan.ca/COVID19.
  • COVID-19 Health System Information – the saskatchewan.ca/COVID19 website is an online source for all COVID-19 information in Saskatchewan.
  • COVID-19 public inquiry email – inquiries about COVID-19 can be made by email to COVID19@health.gov.sk.ca.
  • Business Response Team – works with businesses to identify program supports available to them both provincially and federally and answers questions about allowable businesses.  Businesses can contact the Team by calling 1-844-800-8688, emailing supportforbusiness@gov.sk.ca or by visiting saskatchewan.ca/covid19-businesses.
  • Single Point of Contact for Donations and Supplies – those offering to donate or manufacture supplies should contact: procurement@gov.sk.ca.

 

Manitoba

The Government of Manitoba announced the following measures:

As previously announced, the government is providing operating grants to licensed child-care centres that are re-opening to care for the children of healthcare and other emergency services workers.  Licensed child care facilities that want to help by re-opening or continuing to have spaces available should notify the province by emailing cdcinfo@gov.mb.ca.

The government has also announced an $18 million grant program to help early childhood educators begin independently offering child care services at their homes or in the community.  Early childhood educators can apply for the grant by filling out the Temporary Child Care Service Grant Form at https://forms.gov.mb.ca/temporary-child-care-service-grant/.

Healthcare and other emergency service wohttps://forms.gov.mb.ca/temporary-child-care-service-grant/rkers are being asked to apply for child care space by April 8 by filling out the request form at https://forms.gov.mb.ca/temporary-child-care-service-grant/.  These parents include healthcare providers, emergency service providers, corrections workers, law enforcement workers, fire and paramedic workers, and direct social services and child protection workers.

On April 14, parents who work in critical services, as defined by the Chief Provincial Public Health Officer, will be able to access child care spaces available in licensed facilities.  This includes support staff at hospitals and clinics, grocery store staff, farmers and farm workers, construction workers, bank or credit union employees.  These parents will be able to check which facilities have available spaces at manitoba.ca/covid19 and work directly with them to receive a spot.

 

Ontario

The Government of Ontario announced the following measures:

Crime

The Ontario government is providing an emergency payment of more than $2.7 million to support services for victims of domestic violence and other violent crimes during the COVID-19 crisis, including victim crisis assistance organizations (VCAOs), Indigenous organizations and those based in rural areas. The funding is intended to help more than 50 community agencies across Ontario stay operational and accessible during the public health crisis. Funds will help front-line staff respond to challenges caused by the crisis and enhance access to immediate support for victims, including extended hotel stays, and transportation and meal vouchers available through the Victim Quick Response Program Plus (VQRP+).

Trucking Industry

On April 2, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation, issued a statement indicating that the Ontario government is addressing issues truck drivers are facing on the road by providing more safe places for truck drivers to stop and rest across the province, including keeping all 23 ONroute travel plazas open for take-out, grab and go and drive-through services, and providing enhanced washroom cleaning. The government is also providing portable washrooms at 32 truck inspection stations so truck drivers have a place to stop and rest safely.

Mental Health

To make it easier for everyone, especially those on the front lines, to access mental health support during the COVID-19 outbreak, the Ontario government is providing emergency funding of up to $12 million to immediately expand online and virtual mental health supports and $2.6 million to hire new psychologists and other mental health workers to support Ontario Provincial Police personnel.

This emergency funding will allow mental health agencies to hire and train more staff and purchase necessary equipment, appropriate technology and additional licenses. The emergency funding will immediately expand services, based on evidence-informed cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), on a range of platforms including:

  • Bounce Back – A guided self-help program for adults and youth aged 15 and over using workbooks with online videos and phone coaching support;
  • Kids Help Phone – 24/7 virtual support service offering professional counselling, information and referrals as well as volunteer-led, text-based support to young people in both English and French at 1-800-668-6868;
  • Internet-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (iCBT) – Online CBT, supported by therapists and available in English and French;
  • iCBT for frontline health care workers – Online CBT targeted at frontline health care workers experiencing anxiety, burnout or PTSD, with the option of virtual face-to-face care for those requiring intensive levels of care; and
  • Training for Brief CBT-based interventions: Training will be provided to frontline workers in organizations such as Telehealth and emergency departments in order to better support individuals experiencing acute anxiety due to the pandemic.

 

Quebec

The Government of Quebec announced the following measures:

On April 2, the Chairman of the Treasury Board, Mr. Christian Dubé, announced two new measures to reward healthcare workers.  First, the government will pay to the front-line workers a wage premium of 8%.  The professionals who will benefit from this measure include those working in emergencies, intensive care, containment centres, screening clinics or CHSLDs.

Secondly, the government granted a bonus of 4% to all other health and social service workers.  This includes laboratory and specialist technicians, maintenance workers and staff who answer calls from the 8-1-1 line.  These two measures are retroactive to March 13.

On April 2, the Minister of Health and Social Services, Ms. Danielle McCann, announced a temporary premium of $4 per hour for all beneficiaries attendants, retroactive to March 13. This is in addition to the investment of $133M which was announced a few days ago to finance the additional expenses necessary for the acquisition of protective and disinfection equipment, the addition of personnel and the general operation of these environments.

In total, the three new measures represent an investment of $287M.

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Le gouvernement du Québec a annoncé les mesures suivantes:

Le 2 avril, le président du Conseil du trésor, M. Christian Dubé a annoncé deux nouvelles mesures pour récompenser les travailleurs de la santé. D’une part, le gouvernement accorde une prime de 8% au salaire des travailleurs de premières lignes. Ceci inclut notamment les professionnels œuvrant aux urgences, aux soins intensifs, dans les centres de confinement, les cliniques de dépistage ou les CHSLD.

D’autre part, une prime de 4% a été octroyée à tous les autres travailleurs de la santé et des services sociaux. Ceci inclut notamment les techniciens en laboratoire et spécialisés, les préposés à l’entretien ménager, le personnel qui répond aux appels de la ligne 8-1-1. Ces deux mesures sont rétroactives au 13 mars dernier.

Le 2 avril, la ministre de la Santé et des Services sociaux, Mme Danielle McCann, a quant à elle annoncé une prime temporaire de 4$ par heure rétroactive au 13 mars dernier pour tous les préposés aux bénéficiaires. Ceci s’ajoute à l’investissement de 133M$ qui a été annoncé il y a quelques jours pour financer les dépenses additionnelles nécessaires pour l’acquisition d’équipement de protection et de désinfection, d’ajout de personnel et le fonctionnement de ces milieux de vie.

Au total, les trois nouvelles mesures représentent un investissement de 287M$.

 

Newfoundland and Labrador

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced the following measures:

Effective April 2, the Minister of Education announced that public exams are cancelled for this school year.

 

New Brunswick

The Government of New Brunswick announced the following measures:

Effective April 2, schools in New Brunswick will remain closed for the remainder of the school year.

The provincial government revised the mandatory order under the Emergency Measures Act. The new sections include:

  • Campgrounds have been added to the list of business operations that are prohibited from admitting patrons for a two-week period.
  • The owners and managers of premises that permit the seasonal docking of multiple recreational vessels must either prohibit docking or take steps to ensure minimal interaction of people.
  • Owners and occupiers of land are now responsible to take all reasonable steps to prevent social or recreational gatherings.
  • Open fires are prohibited until May 1.
  • Adjustments have been made at the new border control points to allow people to get to work, to see their children, and to access necessities.
  • Everyone is prohibited from knowingly approaching within two meters of another person, except members of their household or as needed for work.

 

Nova Scotia

The Government of Nova Scotia announced the following measures:

Effective April 2, Nova Scotia has extended its state of emergency until April 19.

The government announced a $20 million Worker Emergency Bridge Fund to help the self-employed and those laid-off workers who do not qualify for Employment Insurance.  The government will provide a one-time, $1,000 payment, to bridge the gap between layoffs and closures and the federal government’s Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

The government also announced $20 million to fund a new program — the Small Business Impact Grant.  Eligible small businesses and social enterprises will receive a grant of 15 per cent of their revenue from sales — either from April 2019 or February 2020, up to a maximum of $5,000.  This flexible, one-time, upfront grant can be used for any purpose necessary.  An announcement about how to apply for these programs will be made next week.

A new extended hours phone line has been set up for people wanting information on income assistance eligibility from the Department of Community Services.  Call toll-free 1-833-722-1417 from Monday to Friday 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  During regular business hours, Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. call the regular toll-free line at 1-877-424-1177.

 

Prince Edward Island

The Government of Prince Edward Island announced the following measures:

Effective April 2, the province announced the COVID-19 Special Situations Fund to provide up to $1,000 to Islanders who have experienced urgent income loss as a result of COVID-19 and are not eligible for other federal and provincial funding support.  Islanders can call 1-833-533-9333 to apply for support under the fund, which will be available until June 16, 2020.  The province has confirmed that eviction orders will not be enforced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Yukon

The Government of the Yukon announced the following measures:

Effective April 1, guidelines have been issued for work camps during the pandemic, including how to help staff who have symptoms or who are required to self-isolate, how to practice safe spacing and enhanced hygiene, and how to handle food. It is recommended that employers pay staff who need to self-isolate as this will help ensure that staff report any COVID-19 symptoms and follow isolation protocols. Mining camp workers arriving in Yukon are reminded that they are required to self-isolate for 14 days before they start work.

 

Northwest Territories

The Government of the Northwest Territories announced the following measures:

Due to the evolving COVID-19 situation, the Government of the Northwest Territories’ Driver and Vehicle Services has extended expiration dates on Northwest Territories (NWT) driver’s licenses, general identification cards and motor vehicle certificate of registrations.

  • Any NWT driver’s license or general identification card that expires during the period of March 31, 2020, to May 31, 2020, will remain valid until June 1, 2020.
  • Private motor vehicle certificates of registration that expire on March 31, April 30, or May 31, 2020, will remain valid until June 1, 2020.
  • Motor vehicle certificates of registration for construction vehicles, dealer inventory vehicles, government vehicles, rental vehicles,  school buses, and society vehicles that expired on March 31, 2020, will remain valid until June 1, 2020.

 

Nunavut

The Government of Nunavut announced the following measures:

Effective April 2, the Minister of Health has extended the public health emergency in the territory.

 

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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