COVID-19: Cross country update (March 29, 2020)

29 mars 2020

( Disponible en anglais seulement )

Federal

The Government of Canada announced the following measures:

Parks Canada

Parks Canada will work with tourism operators in national parks, historic sites, and marine conservation areas to defer payments on commercial leases and licences of occupation without interest until September 1, 2020.

Domestic Transportation

On March 28, the Government of Canada announced that it is introducing new domestic transportation measures to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 spreading from travel within Canada.  These measures come into effect on March 30, 2020 at noon EDT and include:

Air

  • A requirement for all air operators to conduct a health check of travellers before they board a flight within Canada or departing from Canada, based on guidance from the Public Health Agency of Canada.
  • A requirement for air operators to refuse boarding to a passenger that presents COVID-19 symptoms.
  • A requirement for air operators to notify travellers that they may be subject to provincial or territorial measures at their final destination.

Rail

  • A requirement for intercity passenger rail companies to do a health check to screen passengers for COVID-19 symptoms before they board a train, based on guidance from the Public Health Agency of Canada.
  • A requirement for intercity passenger rail companies to refuse boarding to a passenger that presents COVID-19 symptoms.

These measures do not apply to commuter trains.

Youth and Seniors

On March 29, new measures to help youth and seniors were announced:

  • $7.5 million in funding to Kids Help Phone (call 1-800-668-6868, or text 686868) to provide young people with the mental health support they need during this time.
  • $9 million through United Way Canada for local organizations to support practical services for Canadian seniors including the delivery of groceries, medications, or other needed items, or personal outreach to assess individuals’ needs and connect them to community supports.

 

British Columbia

The Government of British Columbia announced the following measures:

Recently the provincial health officer issued an order prohibiting the gathering of people in excess of 50 people at a place of which a person is the owner, occupier or operator, or for which they are otherwise responsible.  Clarification has now been provided to say that this order does not directly apply to the retail food and grocery industry.  However, the spirit of the order should be followed, which means that in large grocery stores where it is feasible to have more than 50 people present, it is permissible to do so provided that the appropriate physical distancing can be maintained.  Specific guidance has been provided in Guidance to Retail Food and Grocery Stores.  In summary, there should be:

  • enhancement of the premises’ sanitation plan and schedule, and ensuring staff are practising proper hygiene;
  • placement of hand sanitizer with a minimum of 60% ethyl alcohol in dispensers near doors, pay stations and other high-touch locations for customer and staff use;
  • washrooms well stocked with liquid soap, paper towels, and warm running water;
  • clean carry-out bags for purchased food and grocery products (customers cannot use their own reusable bags or containers);
  • cones or tape markers in place every two metres to provide customers with visible queues that support physical distancing;
  • the use of physical queue-line controls, such as crowd control cordons at entrances and in check-out lines outside the stores;
  • no selling of bulk items, except via gravity feed bins or where staff dispense the bulk items; and
  • anyone with COVID-19-like symptoms, such as sore throat, fever, sneezing or coughing, must self-isolate at home for 14 days.

Privacy

British Columbia’s privacy laws require the personal information of its citizens to be stored in and only accessed from within Canada.  A new ministerial order under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act temporarily permits healthcare bodies like the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, and health authorities to use communication and collaboration software that may host information outside of Canada.  The order also enables B.C. schools and post-secondary institutions to provide online learning for students who have been displaced due to the need for physical distancing.  The order is in effect until June 30, 2020, but may be rescinded or renewed depending on the pandemic landscape.

 

Ontario

The Government of Ontario announced the following measures:

Gatherings Restricted to Five People

On March 28, a new emergency order, effective immediately, was issued to prohibit organized public events and social gatherings of more than five people.  The order does not apply to private households with five or more people.  It also does not apply to operating child care centres providing support to frontline health care workers and first responders, as long as the number of persons at each centre does not exceed 50 people.  Funerals are permitted to proceed with up to 10 people at one time.

Price Gouging

To protect against price gouging, effective March 28, the government has issued an emergency order that retail businesses and individuals in Ontario cannot charge unfair prices for necessary goods.  The order will remain in effect for the duration of the declared provincial emergency.  Individual offenders can face a ticket of $750 or, if summoned to court and convicted, a maximum penalty of a $100,000 fine and one year in jail.  If convicted, a company director or officer could face a fine of up to $500,000 and up to a year in jail, and a corporation could face a fine of up to $10 million.  Necessary goods include:

  • Masks and gloves used as personal protective equipment in relation to infections.
  • Non-prescription medications for the treatment of the symptoms of the coronavirus.
  • Disinfecting agents intended for cleaning and disinfecting objects or humans.
  • Personal hygiene products, including soap products and paper products.

Consumers can report an individual who is price gouging by filing a complaint at 1-800-889-9768 between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday, or by reporting it online.

Supply Chain

The Supply Chain Management Act will be proclaimed to help make sure the government can prioritize buying what is needed most and to allocate and deploy critical supplies, equipment and services on a priority basis to support the delivery of essential services to Ontarians.

Long-Term Care Homes

On March 28, a new emergency order was implemented to ensure that staffing and resources are available to help care for and protect long-term care residents during the COVID-19 crisis.  The order provides further flexibility for long-term care homes and allows homes to redirect their staffing and financial resources to essential tasks.  In addition, a new approach to redeploying qualified inspectors will be made so that they can help long-term care homes on the ground with staff supply, care coordination, serving as point-people with Public health, helping homes to prevent and contain infections and other tasks to ensure the safety and security of residents.

Guidance for Construction Sites

On March 29, Ontario’s Chief Prevention Officer announced updated guidance to help employers better understand their responsibilities on the job site in light of COVID-19.  This guidance addresses sector topics including:

  • providing better on-site sanitation, including a focus on high-touch areas like site trailers, door handles and hoists;
  • communicating roles, responsibilities, and health & safety policies, by, for example, posting site sanitization schedules and work schedules;
  • enabling greater distances between workers by staggering shifts, restricting site numbers and limiting elevator usage; and
  • protecting public health by tracking and monitoring workers.

The Government reminded employers that ministry inspectors are inspecting job sites every day and that failure to comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations could result in a stop work order.  More details are provided in the Chief Prevention Officer’s Guidance for Construction Site Health and Safety during COVID-19.

 

New Brunswick

The Government of New Brunswick announced the following measures:

Effective March 28, all Service New Brunswick locations will be closed until April 1; then, only select service centres will open by appointment only. The government has clarified that agriculture, aquaculture, fishing and processing operations are essential services and are permitted to continue; however, workplaces must take measures to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Effective March 30, applications for the previously-announced New Brunswick Workers Emergency Income Benefit will be available online.

 

Yukon

The Government of the Yukon announced the following measures:

Effective March 27, the Yukon government has declared a state of emergency in the territory.

 

Northwest Territories

The Government of the Northwest Territories announced the following measures:

Effective March 27, the territorial government has declared a state of 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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