COVID-19: Cross country update (March 22, 2020)

22 mars 2020

( Disponible en anglais seulement )

British Columbia

The Government of British Columbia announced the following measures:

Personal service establishments, such as barbershops, salons, nail estheticians, health spas, massage parlours, tattoo shops, and others have been ordered to close until further notice.

Steps are being taken to support the child care sector to ensure parents who work in critical roles continue to have access to child care.  The Province will give centres that remain open compensation to continue operating with reduced enrolment.  Centres that close will also receive support for fixed operating costs, like rent or lease payments.  In exchange, these centres must agree to reserve space for families that were accessing their services before the pandemic, even if those families choose to temporarily withdraw, so that families can be assured their spot will be there once the pandemic passes.

Effective immediately, the government is making changes to temporarily allow licensed restaurants to deliver liquor products alongside the purchase of a meal.  The hope is that restaurants will hire their out-of-work servers to deliver liquor products as part of their food-delivery service.  The change expires July 15, 2020, but can be amended by government through a regulation change.

The Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch has issued an updated policy directive that allows distillers in British Columbia to temporarily manufacture alcohol-based hand sanitizer to help combat COVID-19.  The hand sanitizers must meet certain federal regulatory requirements and the authorization will be reviewed on an ongoing basis.

 

Alberta

The Government of Alberta announced the following measures:

The Premier’s new Council on Charities and Civil Society will advise government on how to best support civil society organizations working on social issues.  The Council’s current task is to advise government in supporting vulnerable Albertans during COVID-19.  Other key responsibilities include consulting organizations about how government can help build capacity to address social issues, advising government on how to support social enterprises (for-profit ventures dedicated to social good) and developing a framework for government’s partnership with civil society.

Selected licensed child care centres will begin reopening to provide child care for core service workers.  Priority access will be given to healthcare practitioners and critical infrastructure workers, with additional space then being made for first responders (firefighters and police officers) and other essential personnel.  Child care centres are initially being chosen based on proximity to healthcare facilities and will be reopened in a phased approach starting the week of March 23.  All other licensed child care centres must remain closed.  Licensed day homes may remain open but are limited to six children, not including the operators’ own children.

In response to growing offers from individuals and organizations wanting to help with the challenges caused by COVID-19, the Alberta Emergency Management Agency Unsolicited Offers Program has been set up.  Those wishing to help can visit alberta.ca/COVID19offersprogram for more information.

Effective March 23, Alberta Supports is temporarily suspending in-person services and the Alberta Connects Contact Centre will be available seven days a week, from 8am to 9pm.  Albertans can call toll-free 310-4455 for general information about the Government of Alberta and its response to COVID-19, as well as for help contacting individual program areas.

 

Ontario

The Government of Ontario announced the following measures:

On March 21, the government launched Ontario Together, a new website to help businesses work with the province to meet the challenges of COVID-19.  This initiative is meant to remove barriers allowing Ontario’s manufacturing sector to redeploy capacity towards the production of essential medical products such as ventilators, masks, swabs and eye protection.  Through the website, businesses can submit proposals for the government to procure required goods and services.

Effective March 23, 2020, all full-time DriveTest Centres and part-time Travel Point locations will be closed until further notice.  Ontarians are assured they will not lose their current driver’s licences due to this decision and no driver’s licence applicants will lose test fees as a result of the closures.

To support healthcare and frontline workers during the COVID-19 outbreak, Ontario plans to exempt certain child care centres from the order to close all child care centres pursuant to the state of emergency declared earlier this week.  Health care and other frontline workers, including doctors, nurses, paramedics, firefighters, police and correctional officers, will be able to access this child care.

The government announced a new order, under the March 17 declaration of emergency, that would give hospitals the ability to: cancel and postpone services to free up space and valuable staff; identify staffing priorities; and, develop, modify and implement redeployment plans.  The order is valid for 14 days unless revoked or renewed in accordance with the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.  Specifically, under this temporary order, hospitals will be able to:

  • redeploy staff within different locations in (or between) facilities of the hospital;
  • redeploy staff to work in COVID-19 assessment centres;
  • change the assignment of work, including assigning non-bargaining unit employees or contractors to perform bargaining unit work;
  • change the scheduling of work or shift assignments;
  • defer or cancel vacations, absences or other leaves, regardless of whether such vacations, absences or leaves are established by statute, regulation, agreement or otherwise;
  • employ extra part-time or temporary staff or contractors, including for the purpose of performing bargaining unit work;
  • use volunteers to perform work, including to perform bargaining work; and
  • provide appropriate training or education to staff and volunteers to achieve the purposes of a redeployment plan.

These redeployment plans temporarily supersede the provisions of a collective agreement, including lay-off, seniority/service or bumping provisions.

 

Manitoba

The Government of Manitoba announced the following measures:

The province will extend the April and May provincial tax filing deadlines for small and medium-sized businesses with monthly remittances of no more than $10,000.  Businesses will have up to two additional months to remit retail sales taxes and the Health and Post Secondary Education Tax Levy, commonly called the payroll tax.  The Finance Minister noted the department will work with businesses regarding flexible repayment options above the $10,000 cap.  Further information regarding filing requirements are expected to be available March 23 on the Manitoba Tax Publications page.

 

 

Newfoundland and Labrador

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced the following measures:

Effective March 21, the Chief Medical Officer of Health modified the March 18 and March 20 Special Measures Orders to provide the following:

  • Asymptomatic workers in the trade, transportation, mining and oil and gas sectors, including truck drivers and crew on any plane, helicopter, train or marine vessels arriving from another province or territory in Canada, are exempt from the requirement to self-isolate for 14 days;
  • Asymptomatic workers essential to the critical maintenance of the province’s infrastructure in the trade, transportation, mining and oil and gas sectors are exempt from the requirement to self-isolate for 14 days;
  • Workers travelling to and from the province to offshore oil installations off of the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador are considered not to have left the province by travelling offshore; and,
  • Asymptomatic individuals who cross the border for work or healthcare reasons are exempted from the requirement to self-isolate for 14 days when arriving in Newfoundland and Labrador from Quebec.

 

Nova Scotia

The Government of Nova Scotia announced the following measures:

Effective March 21, dentists can no longer practice dentistry in their offices unless they deem it necessary to perform an emergency dental procedure in the best interest of the patient’s health.

Effective March 22, the Government of Nova Scotia has declared a state of emergency in response to COVID-19 and has announced that:

  • Social gatherings of more than five people are prohibited. The gathering limit does not apply to grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies, construction sites, healthcare services, community services like child protection, criminal justice services and law enforcement.
  • Any workplace or business that is not deemed essential can remain open as long as a two-meter or six-foot distance can be maintained. Workspaces must also be cleaned and disinfected at least twice daily or as required, and employees must practice proper hygiene.
  • Provincial parks, beaches, and tourist attractions are closed (though provincial trails remain open).
  • Police will be authorized to enforce orders under the Health Protection Act. If individuals or businesses do not practice social distancing and self-isolation, they will face fines of $1,000 for individuals and $7,500 for businesses. Fines can be given for each day that noncompliance continues. Police can also enforce offences under the Emergency Management Act, for acts such as charging above fair market price for goods and services.

Effective March 23 at 6 a.m., Nova Scotia’s borders will be closely managed. Residents should leave the province only if essential. Anyone entering the province will be stopped, questioned, and told to self-isolate for 14 days. Exemptions apply to healthy workers in the trade and transportation sector, workers (e.g. healthcare workers) travelling to work, and people travelling into the province for essential health services.

 

Prince Edward Island

The Government of Prince Edward Island announced the following measures:

Effective March 21, the Chief Public Health Officer has directed anyone travelling to PEI from another province within Canada to self-isolate for 14 days. New screening points are being put in place for the next 10 days at all entry points into the province. Exceptions will be made for individuals who are considered essential workers (e.g. healthcare workers, truck drivers, airline crews, essential frontline workers in the public or private sector, and workers in “critical sectors.”) Upon their return from domestic travel, essential workers will be screened, asked to self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19, and asked to self-isolate if experiencing symptoms.

 

Northwest Territories

The Government of the Northwest Territories announced the following measures:

Effective March 21, the Government of the Northwest Territories intends to prohibit all travel (by air, land, and port) into the territory, with limited exceptions. Those who have returned to the NWT in the preceding 14 days will be required to self-isolate in their current community. Going forward, any individuals returning to the territory will be required to self-isolate only in Yellowknife, Hay River and Fort Smith. Entry into, or travel through, the Northwest Territories will be prohibited to all travellers except for a list of specific exceptions which includes NWT residents, import/export workers, including those providing important supply chain transportation services for food, equipment, fuel or other goods into the territory; flight crews; persons who support essential services including health care professionals and law enforcement; workers involved in the construction of capital infrastructure projects; southern resident transient workers in the mineral and petroleum resources industry. Failure to comply with this order may result in a fine and/or imprisonment. The order is intended to be issued on March 21.

Effective March 22, the Chief Public Health Officer has advised that all gatherings in the territory should be cancelled, regardless of size or number of participants and whether they are held inside or outside. The Chief Public Health Officer has recommended that the following businesses be closed as the nature of their operation do not allow for suitable distancing measures: tour operators; bottle depots; gyms and fitness centres; museums and art galleries; bars and night clubs; theatres and movie theatres; buffet-style restaurants; personal service establishments (barbers, hair salons, massage, nail and other salons). It is recommended businesses that require clients and staff to have close contact (less than two metres) close at this time, or take steps to limit how close persons may be to one another. Essential service retail stores (groceries, gas bars and convenience stores) should strongly encourage employees and customers to keep a distance of two metres between each other, including in line-ups, and to practice proper hygiene. Other essential businesses should, wherever possible, limit face-to-face meeting and contact of any kind.

 

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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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