COVID-19: Cross country update (April 27, 2020)

27 avril 2020

( Disponible en anglais seulement )

Federal

The Government of Canada announced the following measures:

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

Today, the application process for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) was launched.  Employers can apply for the CEWS through My Business Account or through the CRA’s online application portal, and their representatives can apply through Represent a Client. The CEWS web page has been expanded to include a Frequently Asked Questions section.  Information about the CEWS can also be obtained by calling 1-833-966-2099, Monday to Friday, from 9:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. local time.

Also beginning today, certain financial institutions will offer CRA direct deposit online enrolment for business payroll accounts. For more information, visit your financial institution’s website or visit Canada.ca/cra-direct-deposit. It is expected that those using direct deposit will be receiving CEWS payments starting May 7.

In his daily press briefing, Prime Minster Justin Trudeau reminded everyone that “… you won’t be able to keep both the wage subsidy and the CERB [Canada Emergency Wage Benefit]. It’s one or the other, not both.”

10% Temporary Wage Subsidy for Employers

The 10% Temporary Wage Subsidy for Employers reduces the amount of income tax source deductions that employers have to remit to CRA on behalf of their employees by up to 10% of their remuneration (to a maximum of $1,375 per employee and up to $25,000 per employer). Many employers that qualify for the CEWS also qualify for the 10% Temporary Wage Subsidy for Employers.

CEWS and the 10% Temporary Wage Subsidy for Employers are intended to provide total support of up to 75% for payroll, not 75% + 10%. If you did not reduce the source deductions you remitted to the CRA, but you were entitled to the 10% Temporary Wage Subsidy for Employers, the CRA will treat you as having over-remitted your employee source deductions (so that normally you will be entitled to a refund).

Additional information is available in the CEWS Application Guide.

Canadian Seafood Stabilization Fund

On April 25, the Government of Canada announced a new Canadian Seafood Stabilization Fund in the amount of $62.5 million to assist the fish and seafood processing sector.  This fund will help businesses:

  • access short-term financing to pay for maintenance and inventory costs;
  • add storage capacity for unsold products;
  • comply with new health and safety measures for workers;
  • support new manufacturing/automated technologies to improve productivity and quality of finished seafood products; and
  • adapt products to respond to changing requirements and new market demands.

Further details on how and when processors can apply for assistance will be confirmed at a later date.

Crisis Texting Service for Children of Military Families

A customized crisis texting service was introduced today for the 78,000 children and youth of Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members.  A parent’s or guardian’s deployment during COVID-19 may add significant stress to their children.  This dedicated texting service will help these children access free, confidential, mental health and wellbeing support in both English and French.  The staff and volunteer crisis responders operating the service have enhanced training and screening to better understand the complexities of military family lifestyle.  Military children with cell phones can access this service by texting the keyword CAFKIDS at 686868 for service in English or the keyword JEUNESFAC at 686868 for support in French.  For more information, visit Crisis Texting Service for Kids of CAF Families.

 

British Columbia

The Government of British Columbia announced the following measures:

Support for Family Caregivers

As part of British Columbia’s emergency COVID-19 response plan, the Province is doubling this year’s funding for Family Caregivers of British Columbia to $1 million.  Family Caregivers of B.C. is a not-for-profit organization that supports people who are caring for elderly loved ones, family or friends.  This funding will allow them to enhance services during the COVID-19 pandemic so caregivers can get the increased support they need to help seniors remain at home, such as expanded toll-free support line hours, emotional supports and health-care navigation.  More information can be found at www.familycaregiversbc.ca or on the support line, which is open Monday to Friday, between 8:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. (Pacific time): 1 877 520-3267.

 

Alberta

The Government of Alberta announced the following measures:

AISH and Income Support Recipients

The Alberta Government has issued orders to allow Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped recipients and Income Support recipients who have lost work and income because of COVID-19 to exempt a portion of the federal government’s Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), if they receive it.  In other words, a portion of the CERB payment will not affect their provincial benefits.

 

Manitoba

The Government of Manitoba announced the following measures:

Virtual Healthcare

On April 25, Health, Seniors and Active Living Minister Cameron Friesen announced that the Province is working to ensure Manitobans can access care virtually as part of the province’s broader plan for delivering medical services during the pandemic response.

In collaboration with medical leadership and Doctors Manitoba, the government has added further time-limited tariffs for additional virtual services, including virtual primary care visits for residents of personal care homes who need routine care for chronic illnesses, ensuring they receive the care they need during the pandemic.

Use of these new tariffs will only be permitted when a virtual appointment is appropriate and demonstrates equal clinical-value to an in-person interaction between a physician and patient.

Support for Local Food Producers and Farmers’ Markets

The governments of Canada and Manitoba will be providing $160,000 through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership to Direct Farm Manitoba to purchase a software platform that will allow local food producers and farmers’ markets to sell their products online.  The funding will also go toward the development of a network of pick-up and delivery options and the development of COVID-19 safe handling and packaging practices for producers and processors.

 

Ontario

The Government of Ontario announced the following measures:

Plans to Re-Open Province

Today, it was announced that the Ontario Government is planning a three-stage approach to re-opening the Province.  It released A Framework for Reopening our Province, which outlines the criteria Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts will use to advise the government on the loosening of emergency measures, as well as guiding principles for the safe, gradual reopening of businesses, services and public spaces.  The framework also provides details of an outreach strategy, led by the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee, to help inform the restart of the provincial economy.

The stage-by-stage approach to reopening the economy is intended to ensure there are appropriate measures in place so workplaces can open safely.  Public health officials will carefully monitor each stage for two to four weeks as they assess the evolution of the COVID-19 outbreak to determine if it is necessary to change course to maintain public health.

  • Stage 1: For businesses that were ordered to close or restrict operations, opening select workplaces that can immediately modify operations to meet public health guidance.  Opening some outdoor spaces like parks and allowing for a greater number of individuals to attend some events.  Hospitals would also begin to offer some non-urgent and scheduled surgeries, and other health care services.
  • Stage 2: Opening more workplaces, based on risk assessments, which may include some service industries and additional office and retail workplaces.  Some larger public gatherings would be allowed, and more outdoor spaces would open.
  • Stage 3: Opening of all workplaces responsibly and further relaxing of restrictions on public gatherings.

Throughout each stage, continued protections for vulnerable populations must be in place, along with the continued practice of physical distancing, hand washing and respiratory hygiene, and significant mitigation plans to limit health risks.

School Closures

On April 26, Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced that all publicly-funded schools will remain closed until at least May 31, 2020.  The extension was based on expert advice from the Chief Medical Officer of Health and health officials on the COVID-19 Command Table to extend school closures for an additional period of time to permit updated modelling and data to inform next steps.

Ontario Parks

On April 25, it was announced that the closure of Ontario’s provincial parks and conservation reserves will be extended to May 31, 2020.  This includes car camping, backcountry camping, roofed accommodations, day use opportunities, access points and all public buildings.

Reservations for arrivals up to, and including, any further closure extension date will be automatically cancelled and reservation holders will receive a full refund with no penalty.  Penalty-free refunds will be provided to reservation holders who wish to change or cancel their 2020 camping reservation, regardless of arrival date.

For more information, visit OntarioParks.com.

Long-Term Care, Deafblind Community, and Food Security

On April 25, the Ontario government announced that it is introducing new and amending some emergency orders under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act for the redeployment of staff to better support Ontario’s long-term care homes and deafblind community.  The government is also amending an emergency order to help ensure food security for some individuals and families during the pandemic.

The new and amended emergency orders being introduced will:

  • Allow health service providers, including hospitals, to temporarily reassign frontline staff to provide services and supports in long-term care homes.  This will help to quickly provide much-needed staffing support to long-term care homes while they continue to fight outbreaks.
  • Provide staffing flexibility to service providers and employers in the intervenor services sector, which helps people who have a combined loss of hearing and vision.  This will give employers the temporary authority to redirect staff to carry out essential tasks to support and protect people who are deafblind.  It will also ensure staffing measures are in place to allow for physical distancing.
  • Permit the use of allotment gardens and community gardens across the province.  These gardens are an essential source of fresh food for some individuals and families, including those who face food insecurity.  Local medical officers of health will provide advice, recommendations and instructions that the gardens must meet in order to operate, such as physical distancing, and cleaning and disinfecting commonly used equipment and surfaces.

Payments for Frontline Workers

On April 25, it was announced that the Ontario Government will provide frontline staff with a temporary pandemic payment.  This increase will provide four dollars per hour worked on top of existing hourly wages, regardless of the qualified employee’s hourly wage.  In addition, employees working over 100 hours per month would receive lump sum payments of $250 per month for each of the next four months.  This means that eligible employees working an average of 40 hours per week would receive $3,560 in additional compensation.

Those eligible to receive the payment are staff working in long-term care homes, retirement homes, emergency shelters, supportive housing, social services congregate care settings, corrections institutions and youth justice facilities, as well as those providing home and community care and some hospital staff.

The additional compensation is temporary and would begin flowing effective immediately and continue for 16 weeks.

 

Quebec

The Government of Quebec announced the following measures:

On April 26, 2020, the Government of Québec adopted a ministerial order (number 2020-029) providing that a parent who works in an abattoir or is a member of the Canadian Armed Forces can have access to the emergency childcare services.

On April 27, 2020, the Government of Québec announced that, if the current situation continues as is, elementary schools and educational childcare services outside of the Greater Montreal area will be able to gradually reopen their doors as of May 11.  As for the Greater Montreal area, elementary schools and educational childcare services in the Montreal Metropolitan Community will be able to reopen as of May 19.

The Québec government has confirmed that high schools, CEGEPs, adult general education institutions and universities will remain closed until the next school year, at the end of August. As for adult vocational education institutions, some classes will resume when technical practise is required for training purposes.

The return to school will be gradual. School attendance will not be mandatory until the end of the school year. In order to prepare for the return, parents will have to inform the school one week in advance if they intend to send their child back to school.  Social distancing measures will have to be respected and there will be a maximum of fifteen students per class.  There will also be very strict health measures that will be implemented.  School transportation services will also have to comply with new hygiene standards.

The Government of Québec reminded people that, despite the reopening of schools, children or parents who have symptoms or who are at risk must stay at home.

The Government of Québec has also announced a strengthening of distance learning programs for students who will not be returning to school.  To this end, the Government of Québec has reached an agreement between Télus and Apple to make iPads with wireless network available to students who do not have access to technological tools or an Internet connection in order for them to follow their distance learning program at home.

As of May 4, 2020, the schools will be accessible to all school personnel so they can prepare for the return of classes.  School personnel will have access to emergency childcare services as of May 4.

With respect to educational childcare services, the Government of Québec has announced that it will end emergency childcare services located outside the territory of the Montreal Metropolitan Community as of May 11, and on May 19 for those located within the territory of the Montreal Metropolitan Community.  Parents who wish to do so and who are employed by a business that appears on the list of priority services and activities will therefore be able to return their child to their usual daycare service.  Thus, the level of occupation of daycare services will gradually increase as the various sectors of the Québec economy are reopened in the various regions of Québec.

In order to comply with public health recommendations, the groups will have to remain at 50% of the normal capacity.  Parents who do not wish to return their child to their daycare centre will keep their place until September, at no charge.  Personal protective equipment will be required for certain actions required by the educators, such as changing a diaper.

The Government of Québec has announced that it will provide financial compensation to child care facilities so that a gradual return is viable.

The Government of Québec reminded people that children, parents or educators who have symptoms, who are immunodeficient, who are pregnant or who are over sixty years old should stay at home.

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Le gouvernement du Québec a annoncé les mesures suivantes :

Le 26 avril 2020, le gouvernement du Québec a adopté un arrêté ministériel (numéro 2020-029) prévoyant qu’un parent à l’emploi d’un abattoir ou est membre des Forces armées canadiennes ait accès à des services de garde d’urgence.

Le 27 avril 2020, le gouvernement du Québec a annoncé que, si la situation actuelle se maintient, les écoles primaires et les services de garde éducatifs à l’enfance à l’extérieur de la région du Grand Montréal pourront rouvrir graduellement leurs portes à compter du 11 mai prochain. Quant à la région du Grand Montréal, les écoles primaires et les services de garde éducatifs à l’enfance de la Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal pourront rouvrir à partir du 19 mai.

Le gouvernement du Québec a confirmé que les écoles secondaires, les CÉGEPS, les établissements pour la formation générale aux adultes ainsi que les universités resteront fermés jusqu’à la prochaine rentrée scolaire, soit à la fin du mois d’août. Pour ce qui est des établissements pour la formation professionnelle aux adultes, certaines formations reprendront lorsqu’il est nécessaire qu’il y ait des manipulations techniques pour les fins de la formation.

Ce retour en classe se fera de façon progressive. La fréquentation scolaire d’ici la fin de l’année scolaire ne sera pas obligatoire. Les parents devront annoncer à l’établissement scolaire une semaine à l’avance s’ils ont l’intention d’envoyer leur enfant à l’école pour que les établissements scolaires puissent préparer le retour. Les mesures de distanciation sociale devront être respectées et il devra y avoir un maximum de quinze élèves par classe. Il y aura également des mesures sanitaires très strictes qui seront instaurées. Les services de transport scolaire seront également touchés par de nouvelles normes qui seront appliquées dans les autobus scolaires.

Le gouvernement du Québec rappelle que les enfants ou les parents qui présentent des symptômes ou qui sont des personnes à risques doivent rester à la maison, malgré la réouverture des écoles.

Le gouvernement du Québec a également annoncé un renforcement des programmes d’enseignement à distance pour les élèves qui ne retourneront pas en classe. À cet effet, le gouvernement du Québec a conclu une entente entre Telus et Apple afin de mettre à la disposition des élèves qui n’ont pas d’outils technologiques ou de connexion Internet des iPad, avec un accès au réseau sans fil, de pouvoir suivre leur programme pédagogique à la maison.

Dès le 4 mai 2020, les établissements scolaires seront accessibles à l’ensemble du personnel des établissements scolaires, pour que celui-ci puisse préparer le retour en classe. Le personnel aura accès aux services de garde d’urgence dès le 4 mai afin d’optimiser leur prestation de travail.

Pour ce qui est des services de garde éducatifs à l’enfance, le gouvernement du Québec a annoncé qu’il mettra fin aux services de garde d’urgence situés à l’extérieur du territoire de la Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal à partir du 11 mai, puis le 19 mai pour ceux situés dans le territoire de la Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal. Les parents qui le souhaitent et qui occupent un emploi figurant sur la liste des services et activités prioritaires pourront conséquemment retourner leur enfant à leur service de garde habituel. Ainsi, le niveau d’occupation des services de garde augmentera graduellement, au fur et à mesure que les différents secteurs de l’économie québécoise seront rouverts dans les différentes régions du Québec.

Afin de respecter les règles en matière de santé publique, les groupes devront rester à 50% des effectifs normaux. Les parents qui ne souhaitent pas retourner leur enfant à leur service de garde conserveront leur place jusqu’en septembre, et ce, sans frais. Le port des équipements de protection individuelle sera demandé pour certaines manipulations par les éducatrices.

Le gouvernement du Québec a annoncé qu’il compensera financièrement les établissements de services de garde pour qu’une reprise graduelle soit viable.

Le gouvernement du Québec a rappelé que les enfants, les parents ou les éducateurs qui présentent des symptômes, qui sont immunodéficients, qui sont enceintes ou qui ont plus de soixante ans devraient rester à la maison.

 

New Brunswick

The Government of New Brunswick announced the following measures:

Effective April 27, the government reminded New Brunswickers that, while the province has entered a recovery phase, restrictions remain in place.  It is now possible for families and neighbours to visit another household unit, or “bubble.”  Both households must mutually agree to only get together with one another.  Individuals must limit their gatherings to these two households only.

Golf courses, driving ranges, beaches and parks can now open, as long as physical distancing and safety measures are in place.  All public playgrounds are still off limits, including those in municipal parks, provincial parks and at schools.  Team sports, motorcycle gatherings and any gatherings of vehicles are still not allowed at this time. Driving ATVs is permitted, however, trails are not yet open.

 

Yukon

The Government of the Yukon announced the following measures:

Effective April 27, the government announced that forthcoming changes under the Civil Emergency Measures Act will ensure that Yukoners receiving Social Assistance benefits will not experience a reduction in those benefits if they receive the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

 

Nunavut

The Government of Nunavut announced the following measures:

Social Distancing and Gatherings

On April 27, the government clarified the new Order Respective Social Distancing and Gatherings, which came into effect on April 24 and replaced the mass gathering order issued on March 23. The government outlined the following aspects of the new order:

  • Food service establishments and licensed premises remain closed. Restaurants can still provide options for take-out or delivery, as long as they abide by the rules of social distancing while doing so.
  • All businesses deemed as Personal Service Providers must also remain closed. These include hair dressing, barbering, massage therapy, and other similar establishments.  Additionally, dentists, veterinarians, and psychologists must remain closed, except for emergencies.  Public playgrounds, municipal parks, and day-use areas of territorial parks also remain closed.
  • Though still subject to closures and limitations, the following businesses are permitted to remain open: any business large enough to maintain a two-meter social distance within the workplace, or businesses that limit customers to no more than five at a time.  The five-at-a-time rule does not apply to businesses that are large enough to maintain social distancing throughout the entire premise, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, and similar facilities.
  • All organized public gatherings of more than five people remain prohibited.  This includes concerts, community events, sporting events, and ceremonies such as marriages, funerals, or memorial services.
  • Finally, all social gatherings, including social gatherings in private dwellings, shall be restricted to five persons or fewer.  This includes play groups, club meetings, and meals with individuals who do not reside together.

Electricity Bills

The Minister responsible for the Qulliq Energy Corporation (QEC) clarified that the QEC is offering flexible payment options to residential and commercial customers who are unable to pay their monthly electricity bills in full.  Late payment fees will also be waived for customers under this program.  The corporation will not disconnect service or install load limiters until further notice.  The QEC has also removed all previously installed load limiters.

 

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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