COVID-19:  Cross country update (April 23, 2020)

23 avril 2020

( Disponible en anglais seulement )

Federal

The Government of Canada announced the following measures:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today announced more than $1 billion in support of a national medical research strategy to fight COVID-19 that includes vaccine development, the production of treatments, and tracking of the virus including:

  • The establishment of the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force that will set priorities and oversee the coordination of country-wide blood test surveys to see how widely the virus has spread in Canada and provide reliable estimates of potential immunity and vulnerabilities in Canadian populations.
  • $40 million for the Canadian COVID-19 Genomics Network, led by Genome Canada, to coordinate a COVID-19 viral and host genome sequencing effort across Canada.
  • $23 million for the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Centre to accelerate development of a vaccine against COVID-19.
  • $29 million for the National Research Council of Canada to begin the second phase of critical upgrades to its Human Health Therapeutics facility in Montréal to support operations to maintain the facility, as well as provide infrastructure to prepare vials for individual doses as soon as a vaccine becomes available.
  • $600 million, through the Strategic Innovation Fund, over two years to support COVID-19 vaccine and therapy clinical trials led by the private sector, and Canadian biomanufacturing opportunities.
  • $10 million for a Canadian data monitoring initiative so the government can coordinate and share pandemic-related data across the country.
  • $10.3 million over two years, and $5 million ongoing, to support the Canadian Immunization Research Network in conducting vaccine-related research and clinical trials, and to enhance Canada’s capacity to monitor vaccine safety and effectiveness.
  • $114.9 million through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research for research projects that will accelerate the development, testing, and implementation of medical and social countermeasures to mitigate the rapid spread of COVID-19, as well as its social and health impacts.

Additionally, the Government of Canada is providing over $675,000 through the Stem Cell Network to support two new research projects and one clinical trial. The clinical trial will evaluate the safety of a potential cell therapy to reduce the impacts and severity of acute respiratory distress associated with COVID-19, and the two projects will generate critical information about how cells in the airway and brain are affected by the virus.

 

British Columbia

The Government of British Columbia announced the following measures:

Emergency Benefit for Workers

Applications for the B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers (BCEBW) can be made online starting May 1.  A link to the application portal will be available at: gov.bc.ca/workerbenefit.  Also starting May 1, people can call 778 309-4630 or toll-free within B.C. at 1 855 955-3545, Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Pacific time) for general support or questions.  Applications over the phone will begin on May 4.

The BCEBW is a one-time, tax-free $1,000 payment for British Columbians whose ability to work has been affected by COVID-19.  Most people who are eligible for the new federal Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) are also eligible for the BCEBW, including those who have run out of employment insurance benefits and subsequently qualify for the CERB.  Specifically, to be eligible for the BCEBW, people must:

  • have been a resident of British Columbia on March 15, 2020;
  • meet the eligibility requirements for the CERB;
  • have been approved for the CERB, even if they have not received a benefit yet;
  • be at least 15 years old on the date of application;
  • have filed, or agree to file, a 2019 B.C. income tax return; and
  • not be receiving provincial income assistance or disability assistance.

Child Care

The Province’s new child care matching process has referred more than 2,500 essential service workers with children up to five years of age to a licensed child care provider.  Spaces are prioritized for children whose parents work in public health and health services, social services and law enforcement, first responders and emergency response sectors.  Additional spaces are going to families working in other essential roles.  Essential workers looking for child care can fill out a form online at gov.bc.ca/essential-service-child-care or call (toll-free) 1 888 338-6622 and select option 4.

As of April 16, 2020, 2,530 child care centres are receiving funding through the Temporary Emergency Funding Program to remain open.  Child care centres receiving this funding continue to be eligible for the Child Care Fee Reduction Initiative and the Early Childhood Educator (ECE) Wage Enhancement. The wage enhancement has provided nearly 12,000 ECEs with a $1-per-hour wage enhancement, which increased to $2 per hour on April 1, 2020.  In addition, families accessing care from these providers may be eligible for the Affordable Child Care Benefit.  Child care providers who have closed due to COVID-19 are also receiving support to help ensure they are able to pay their fixed costs, such as rent, lease and mortgage payments.

Providers receiving these extra payments must not charge parents fees for any periods of closure or for any vacant spaces while they are open, including when a parent chooses to temporarily withdraw a child due to COVID-19.

 

Saskatchewan

The Government of Saskatchewan announced the following measures:

Today, Premier Scott Moe and Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab announced the Re-Open Saskatchewan plan.  The plan has five phases to gradually and carefully re-open businesses and services across Saskatchewan beginning May 4.  Physical distancing measures and restrictions will remain in place throughout the five phases.  The plan provides for continuous assessment of transmission patterns and other factors, which will guide the timing of each phase.  The plan is meant to provide clear guidance to the public so they can continue to follow current public health orders and prepare accordingly for the lifting of restrictions.  For more information on the five phases of the plan, visit saskatchewan.ca/government/news-and-media/2020/april/23/reopen-saskatchewan-plan.

 

Manitoba

The Government of Manitoba announced the following measures:

Personal Protective Equipment for Frontline Healthcare Workers

Today, Central Services Minister Reg Helwer announced that the Province received a large order of personal protective equipment (PPE) to help in the fight against COVID-19.  The order was delivered further to the government’s $400 million COVID-19 Procurement Fund.

The Manitoba government continues to call on manufacturers, businesses and other organizations to assist in procurement efforts.  The province is asking manufacturers or businesses to visit the COVID-19 portal at gov.mb.ca/covid19/business/index.html if:

  • they can rapidly scale up production or retool manufacturing lines to develop products made in Manitoba to help in the fight against COVID-19; or
  • they have a stock of personal protective equipment that is not being used due to closures and physical distancing.

In addition, Manitoba businesses can donate unused personal protective equipment supplies in original packaging, clean and in useable condition.  More information can be found at sharedhealthmb.ca/covid19/supply-donations.

Public Insurance Rebates

Today, Crown Services Minister Jeff Wharton announced that Manitoba Public Insurance is returning up to $110 million in rebates to its policyholders.  Rebates will be based on what policyholders paid last year and are expected to be approximately 11%, or between $140 to $160, per average policyholder.  Policyholders can expect a rebate cheque at the end of May to early June.

 

Ontario

The Government of Ontario announced the following measures:

Extension of Emergency Orders

The Ontario government is extending all emergency orders that have been put in place to-date under s.7.0.2 (4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act until May 6, 2020, including:

Mental Health and Addictions Support

On April 22, the government issued an order that enables mental health and addictions agencies to redeploy staff within different locations or between programs, and employ extra part-time staff, temporary staff or contractors.  Agencies would be required to provide appropriate training and education to achieve the purposes of a redeployment plan.

Support for Vulnerable Populations

Today, the government announced a COVID-19 Action Plan for Vulnerable People to better protect vulnerable populations during the outbreak of COVID-19.  This plan builds on the government’s previous actions to protect people living in high-risk settings, including homes serving those with developmental disabilities, shelters for survivors of gender-based violence and human trafficking, children’s residential settings, and those residential settings supporting vulnerable Indigenous individuals and families both on and off reserve.

The COVID-19 Action Plan for Vulnerable People focuses on three specific areas:

  • Enhanced Screening and Reduced Exposure to Prevent Spread
    • Enhancing screening of visitors, staff, and residents on sites, as well as restricting non-essential visitors.
    • Providing masks to staff working in congregate care settings and providing training on the use of personal protective equipment in the event of an outbreak.
  • Infection Control: Managing Outbreaks and Limiting Spread
    • Enhancing testing of symptomatic staff and clients to identify the need for isolation and additional infection control measures on-site.
    • Planning to limit staff from working at more than one congregate care setting during an outbreak, specifically in developmental services, intervenor services, violence against women and anti-human trafficking settings.
    • Providing additional training and support for high-risk settings dealing with an outbreak, including guidance on how to isolate clients.
  • Sustaining Staffing and Managing Staff Shortages
    • Working with organizations to promote workforce stability and capacity in high-risk settings.

 

Quebec

The Government of Quebec announced the following measures:

On April 23, Premier Legault announced that the various bonuses offered to the health and social services workers would be extended until May 31.  These bonuses were originally scheduled to end on April 30.

On April 22, the Quebec government adopted an Order to renew the state of public health emergency throughout the Quebec territory and extend the measures provided for by Orders-in-Council until April 29, 2020.

On April 22, the government authorized, by ministerial decree, the Commission de la Construction du Québec to exercise its powers of verification to ensure that certain preventive measures related to COVID-19 are applied on construction sites.  When a breach of one of these measures is noted, the Commission de la construction du Québec may notify a person responsible for the application of the measures on-site and may inform, depending on the circumstances, the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail which may intervene pursuant to its powers.

On April 22, Montreal extended the state of emergency on its territory until April 26.

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Le gouvernement du Québec a annoncé les mesures suivantes :

Le 23 avril, le premier ministre François Legault a annoncé dans sa conférence de presse que toutes les primes offertes aux travailleurs de la santé et des services sociaux étaient reconduites jusqu’au 31 mai. Initialement, ces primes devaient se terminer le 30 avril.

Le 22 avril, le gouvernement du Québec a adopté un décret pour renouveler l’état d’urgence sanitaire sur tout le territoire québécois et prolonger les mesures prévues par arrêtés ministériels jusqu’au 29 avril 2020.

Le 22 avril, le gouvernement a autorisé, par arrêté ministériel, la Commission de la construction du Québec à exercer ses pouvoirs de vérifications pour voir à l’application de certaines mesures de prévention liées au COVID-19 sur les chantiers de construction. Lorsqu’un manquement à l’une de ces mesures est constaté, la Commission de la construction du Québec peut aviser l’une des personnes responsables de l’application des mesures sur le chantier et peut informer, selon les circonstances, la CNESST laquelle pourra intervenir en vertu de ses pouvoirs.

Le 22 avril, l’agglomération de Montréal a renouvelé l’état d’urgence jusqu’au 26 avril sur l’ensemble de son territoire.

 

Newfoundland and Labrador

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced the following measures:

As of April 27 at noon, all travelers arriving in the province will be required to submit a 14-day self-isolation plan upon entry.

Effective April 24 at noon, all travelers arriving in the province must complete a health declaration form at their point of entry.

Effective April 23, the government announced that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the deadline for Expressions of Interest to establish Cooperative Vegetable Cold Storage Facilities is extended from April 30 to June 30.

 

New Brunswick

The Government of New Brunswick announced the following measures:

On April 23, the government announced that it would present a recovery plan in the “coming days.”  Additionally, the government has announced that it will eliminate the 30-day limit on prescription drugs where shortages do not exist.

 

Nova Scotia

The Government of Nova Scotia announced the following measures:

Effective April 17, the government clarified that the order requiring any organization carrying on business in Nova Scotia that cannot, due to its physical size, maintain social distancing to limit the number of customers or clients on its premises to no more than 5 persons at a time does not apply to registered farms as defined by the Farm Registration Act.  Additionally, the province added ocularists to the list of medical practitioners that may provide in-person emergency or urgent care services.

 

Prince Edward Island

The Government of Prince Edward Island announced the following measures:

Effective April 23, the province announced the following measures to support the agriculture industry:

  • In order to support the potato industry, the province is working with producers and processors to provide $4.7 million towards shipping and storage costs of potatoes for processing. This investment will help mitigate a potato surplus resulting from market conditions related to COVID-19.
  • Through the Department of Agriculture and Land’s Business Risk Management (BRM) Programs, the province will help farmers manage risks that threaten the viability of their farm operations by providing $8.8 million in support for farmers through the BRM programs for the next two years.
  • The government will pay the provincial portion of the costs to increase the coverage level for producers enrolled in the AgriStability program from 70% to 85%, and remove the reference margin limit, which will have a positive impact on the livestock industry. In addition, the province is offering interim payments of up to 75% to get funding into producers’ hands in a timely manner.  When combined, this will provide an estimated $5.6 million in support for farmers over two years.
  • The AgriInsurance Program will offer a 10% discount on the producer’s share of insurance premiums, saving farmers an estimated $3.2 million over two years.

Additionally, the government has announced that the spring lobster fishery will open on May 15.

 

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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