COVID-19: Cross country update (August 29 – September 3, 2020)

3 septembre 2020

( Disponible en anglais seulement )

Federal

The Government of Canada announced the following measures:

Deadlines Extended for Canada Emergency Business Account and Business Credit Availability Program

The application deadline for the Canada Emergency Business Account has been extended from August 31 to October 31, 2020.  The Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) has also been extended to June 2021. The BCAP supports the flow of additional credit that businesses need to maintain operations and keep employees on payroll.

For more information on the extension of both programs, see the Government of Canada’s news release.

Support for a Safe Return to School

The Government of Canada announced funding for provinces and territories through the Safe Return to Class Fund. The Fund will help ensure the safety of students and staff by supporting adapted learning spaces, improved air ventilation, increased hand sanitation and hygiene, and purchases of personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies. Funding will be allocated to each province and territory based on the number of children between 4 and 18 years old, with a $2 million base provided to each jurisdiction.  For more information, see this news release.

Travel Restrictions Remain in Place for September Long Weekend

The Canada Border Services Agency is reminding all travellers ahead of the upcoming Labour Day long weekend that travel restrictions are still in place for all travel of an optional or discretionary nature, including tourism, recreation and entertainment. For more information regarding the travel ban, see the Government of Canada’s news release.

Mandatory Isolation Requirements Extended

The 14-day mandatory isolation period following entry into Canada has been extended until September 30, 2020. For more information, visit the Government of Canada’s website.

Prohibition on Entry to Canada from a Foreign Country Other than the U.S.

The Government of Canada has extended the prohibition on foreign nationals entering Canada from a foreign country other than the United States. The prohibition is in effect until September 30, 2020.  For more information and to view the Order, visit the Government of Canada’s website.

Measures to Ensure Supply of Vaccines

On August 31, Prime Minster Justice Trudeau announced that agreements in principle have been reached with Johnson & Johnson and Novavax to procure millions of doses of experimental COVID‑19 vaccines. This is in addition to the agreements already reached with Pfizer and Moderna, which ensures Canada has access to four of the leading vaccine candidates.

The Prime Minister also announced funding to establish a new biomanufacturing facility at the Human Health Therapeutics Research Centre in Montréal through a public-private partnership.  This will increase vaccine manufacturing to up to two million doses per month by next year.

Non-residential Leases and Licences of Occupation under the Administration of the Parks Canada Agency

The Remission Order in Respect of Non-residential Leases and Licences of Occupation Under the Administration of the Parks Canada Agency (P.C. 2020-414) remits 75% of the rent and licence fees from April 1 to June 30, 2020, payable on commercial and municipal properties in national parks, national historic sites, and other program lands administered by the Parks Canada Agency.  The Federal Government has revised this Order to extend the rent relief to August 31, 2020 and to extend the application period to September 14, 2020.

CRA Increases Flat Rate Amount for Meal Claims and Reasonable Amount for Meal Benefits and Allowances

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has increased the amount employers can use to determine whether an overtime meal or allowance, or the meal portion of a travel allowance is taxable, from $17 to $23. The CRA also increased the rate at which transport employees and other individuals can claim expenses, using a flat rate per person, from $17 to $23 per meal. These increases are effective immediately and retroactive to January 1, 2020.

The increase in the amount for meal claims and meal benefits is meant to ensure that all employees, including essential workers, can access meals that meet today’s inflation, as they continue to provide services through the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information on the changes announced by the CRA, see the Government of Canada’s news release.

 

British Columbia

The Government of British Columbia announced the following measures:

State of Emergency Extended

The State of Emergency in British Columbia has been extended through the end of the day on September 15, 2020 to allow the government to continue to use powers under the Emergency Program Act to manage the COVID-19 pandemic.

Report on Hotel Sector

On August 31, 2020, the Minister of Labour, Harry Bains, issued a statement regarding the release of a report reviewing B.C.’s unionized hotel sector as a result of COVID-19, specifically a review of the layoff and recall rights in the sector.  He stated that the “analysis leaves no doubt that the current situation is serious and unprecedented for both workers and employers.”  To support hotel workers by getting them back to work or into alternative employment as soon as possible, Minister Bains will:

  • Ask his colleague ministers to ensure that any government economic recovery package, particularly for the tourism and hotel industry, contains a pledge for employers to offer a right of first refusal to existing employees when work resumes; and
  • Advocate that access to jobs in the public sector is provided to workers impacted by tourism closures, in positions where their skills are transferrable.

He also reminded the sector that there is a simplified variance application process for employers who need to extend temporary layoffs beyond the August 30 deadline.

Finally, Minister Bains stated that he is committed to providing extra support through access to Section 54 of the Labour Relations Code, or other third-party assistance, to ensure quick solutions at the existing bargaining tables where disputes are arising due to recall issues.  However, he has decided to refrain from interfering in the collective bargaining process and has stated that the B.C. Government will not be overriding existing collective agreements and the bargaining now under way in the hotel sector.

Delay of Tax Measure Implementation Dates

To help with the COVID-19 recovery, implementation dates are being delayed to April 2021 for changes to provincial sales tax (PST) and B.C.’s carbon tax.

The carbon tax rate had been scheduled to increase from $40 to $45 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) in April 2020.  This was delayed until October and has now been further delayed until April 2021.  The carbon tax will further increase to $50 per tCO2e in April 2022.

Two other planned tax changes are also being delayed until April 2021:

  • the elimination of the PST exemption for carbonated beverages that contain sugar, natural sweeteners or artificial sweeteners; and
  • the addition of new PST registration and collection requirements for e-commerce businesses located outside B.C.

To further support businesses, the employer health tax (EHT) 2020 quarterly instalment dates are being extended as follows:

  • Dec. 31, 2020 (original instalment date was June 15, 2020);
  • Jan. 31, 2021 (original instalment date was Sept. 15, 2020); and
  • Feb. 28, 2021 (original instalment date was Dec. 15, 2020).

The 2020 EHT filing and balance due date will remain March 31, 2021.

 

Alberta

The Government of Alberta announced the following measures:

Mandatory Face Masks for Schools

On August 29, 2020, the Chief Medical Officer of Health issued CMOH order 33-2020, which provides that when two metres of distance cannot be maintained, all students in grades 4 – 12, staff members and visitors must wear a non-medical face mask while attending an indoor location in a school unless the person is:

  • unable to place, use or remove the mask without assistance;
  • unable to wear a mask due to a mental or physical limitation;
  • consuming food or drink in a designated area;
  • engaging in physical exercise;
  • seated at a desk where the desks are arranged to prevent people from facing each other and to allow the greatest possible distance between seated people;
  • providing or receiving assistance where a mask would hinder that assistance or
  • separated from every other person by a physical barrier.

Updated Operational and Outbreak Standards

On September 3, the Chief Medical Officer of Health issued CMOH order 32-2020, which provides updated operational and outbreak standards for licensed supportive living, long-term care and hospice settings.  The purpose of the update is to lessen the impact of the public health emergency caused by the prevalence of COVID-19 in Alberta.

 

Saskatchewan

The Government of Saskatchewan announced the following measures:

Extension of State of Emergency

Effective September 2, 2020, the declaration of a state of emergency is further renewed and continued throughout the province of Saskatchewan to address the COVID-19 public health emergency.

 

Manitoba

The Government of Manitoba announced the following measures:

Restoring Safe Schools Information Package

The Manitoba Government has prepared information materials for students, parents and teachers to enable a safe and informed return to classrooms.  The information package will focus on the fundamentals of learning and working around COVID-19 and will include a mask use guide, parent guide, an easy reference for parents to the pandemic response notification system, COVID-19 screening questions, and a guide on COVD-19 in schools and in early learning and child care centres. The materials can be found on the Manitoba Government’s website, and printed versions will be available for distribution where appropriate.

Travel Restrictions

Effective September 4, public health is re-implementing travel restrictions to northern Manitoba and remote communities.  In addition, travelers are asked to respect any restrictions that First Nation communities have in place.  Details of the order are expected to be posted online shortly.

 

Ontario

The Government of Ontario announced the following measures:

Extension to Temporary Layoff Provisions

On September 3, the Ontario Government announced further amendments to extend the maximum periods of temporary layoffs to January 2, 2021, before they could be deemed to be terminations under the Employment Standards Act, 2000.

Under the normal rules, a temporary layoff will be deemed a termination after:

  • 13 weeks, if no payments or benefits are continued;
  • 35 weeks, if certain payments or benefits are continued; or
  • for such longer period that an employee retains recall rights under any applicable collective agreement.

The Ontario Government has also announced the extension of the job protected Infectious Disease Emergency Leave to parents who feel it is unsafe to return their children to school.

New Protections for Transit Riders and Workers

The Ontario Government has announced that it will be partnering with public transit operators across the province to implement measures aimed at ensuring the safety of both transit workers and passengers. Metrolinx, the crown agency that manages transportation in the greater Toronto and Hamilton area, has implemented more than 40 of these measures, including installing seat dividers on GO trains and buses, making face coverings mandatory for staff and passengers, providing hand sanitizer dispensers on every GO bus and at every GO Transit and UP Express station, and installing health kiosks at dozens of stations to provide safety information.

Metrolinx has also announced that it will be increasing GO train and bus services beginning on September 5, 2020.

The Ontario and Federal Governments are providing up to $2 billion to 110 municipalities with transit systems in the province as part of the national Safe Restart Agreement. The province is also providing Ontario municipalities with $15 million to fund enhanced cleaning for their transit systems.

Driver Testing Services Expanded

Beginning September 8, all full-time DriveTest centres will be offering 100% of their services, including the booking of class G road tests.  Additionally, restrictions will be removed, such as knowledge tests being accessible only by birth month.

 

Quebec

The Government of Quebec announced the following measures:

Lifting the Suspension of Time Limits for Civil Proceedings

On September 1, Order 2020-43 lifting the suspension of time limits in civil matters as of September 1 was signed. An automatic extension of 45 days for certain time limits in civil matters is also provided for. The Order and further details can be found on the Justice Québec website.

State of Emergency Renewal

On September 2, the Québec government adopted an Order to renew the state of public health emergency throughout the Québec territory and extend the measures provided for by Orders in Council until September 9.

Montréal – State of Emergency Renewal

On September 1, the Montréal agglomeration extended the state of emergency on its territory until September 5.

__________

Le gouvernement du Québec a annoncé les mesures suivantes :

Levée de la suspension des délais en matière civile

Le 1er septembre, l’arrêté 2020-43 levant la suspension des délais en matière civile dès le 1er septembre a été signé. Une prolongation automatique de 45 jours pour certains délais en matière civile est également prévue. L’arrêté 2020-43 ainsi que des précisions se trouvent sur le site Web de Justice Québec.

Renouvellement de l’état d’urgence

Le 2 septembre, le gouvernement du Québec a adopté un décret pour renouveler l’état d’urgence sanitaire sur tout le territoire québécois et prolongé les mesures prises par arrêtés ministériels jusqu’au 9 septembre.

Montréal – Renouvellement de l’état d’urgence

Le 1er septembre, l’agglomération de Montréal a renouvelé l’état d’urgence jusqu’au 5 septembre sur l’ensemble de son territoire.

 

Newfoundland and Labrador

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced the following measures:

Return to School

Several initiatives have been announced to support a successful reopening of school including:

  • Masks must be worn by students who are in grades 7 – 12 when physical distancing of one metre is not possible;
  • Additional busing is being provided;
  • 70 substitute teachers have been hired on term contracts;
  • New virtual teaching positions have been created;
  • School custodian hours have been increased and additional custodians have been hired;
  • 15 additional principals and 25 additional guidance counsellors have been hired;
  • Student assistant hours have been increased to provide additional support to students and reduce their interaction with multiple classes;
  • Additional nursing positions have been added;
  • Additional cleaning supplies have been provided to busing contractors; and
  • Increased ventilation is being contemplated.

For more information, see the September 1 news release and the September 3 news release.

Public Health Emergency Extended

Pursuant to the Public Health Protection and Promotion Act, the Public Health Emergency has been extended for a period of 14 days effective August 30, 2020.

COVID-19 Exposure Notification App Now Available

The COVID Alert app is now available in Newfoundland and Labrador and can be downloaded for free from the Apple or Google Play app stores.  This voluntary app helps notify users if they may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.  Users who test positive will receive a one-time key from their health authority that they can enter into the app. When the key is entered, COVID Alert will notify other users who may have come in close contact with that person for at least 15 minutes and will direct them to the next public health steps.

 

New Brunswick

The Government of New Brunswick announced the following measures:

Return to School

On September 3, the Government of New Brunswick released operational plans for each of the schools across the province.  Pursuant to these plans, full time learning is mandatory for all students, regardless of whether they are at home or in school. Virtual attendance will be taken for all high school students working from home.

Students from kindergarten to grade 8 will be placed into classroom groupings where no physical distancing will be required.  For students in kindergarten to Grade 2, the group size will be reduced to as close to 15 as possible, grades 3 to 5 will aim for 22 students and grades 6 to 8 will be regular class size.  Any equipment used by multiple groupings will be cleaned after each use.

Students and staff will be required to bring two face masks to school every day, as well as two plastic bags or containers to store unused and used facemasks in, unless they have been advised by a medical professional not to wear a mask.  Students and staff will not be required to wear face masks in their classroom grouping, but staff and students in Grades 6 to 8 will be required to wear one in common areas and students in Grade 5 and under will be encouraged to do so.  Specialty teachers (i.e. gym and music teachers) are required to wear a face mask when physical distancing is not possible.

With additional health and safety measures, students of all ages will be able to sing and use instruments throughout the year. Details on these measures can be found in this news release.

If students are sick, they must stay home.  Schools will have staggered start times between September 8 and September 11, with schools communicating drop-off and pick-up procedures directly to families.

For more information, visit the Government of New Brunswick website.

 

Nova Scotia

The Government of Nova Scotia announced the following measures:

Return to School

The Nova Scotia Government has invested $40 million to support a safe return to school on September 8.  Plans have now been released for managing a case or cases of COVID-19 in a school.  These plans depend on the level of exposure and the risk to students, staff or essential visitors.  For more details on the plans, see this news release.

 

Prince Edward Island

The Government of Prince Edward Island announced the following measures:

School Sports

Regardless of COVID-19, students will be able to participate in certain school sports this term provided specific guidelines are followed.  These sports include field hockey, soccer, senior baseball, and golf.  Indoor sports and cross-country are still prohibited.  Specific guidelines are set out in this news release.

Negative Results Available Online

Individuals who are tested for COVID-19 in Prince Edward Island are now able to check their negative results online within 72 hours. The Chief Public Health Officer will contact those who test positive for COVID-19. Individuals are still required to self-isolate until their COVID-19 test results are confirmed.

 

Yukon

The Government of the Yukon announced the following measures:

Funding for Sport and Recreation Groups

To help local not-for-profit sport and recreation organizations negatively impacted by COVID-19, the Government of Yukon’s Sport and Recreation branch is distributing $1,687,000 in federal relief funds.  This funding is part of the previously announced $500 million in COVID-19 relief funding that the Federal Government is providing for cultural, heritage and sport organizations across the country.  For more details, see this news release.

 

Northwest Territories

The Government of the Northwest Territories announced the following measures:

Public Health Emergency Extended

The Public Health Emergency has been extended through September 15, 2020, in order to allow for a continued response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Self-Isolation

Everyone entering the Northwest Territories and those returning, regardless of how long they have been away, is required to self-isolate for 14 days in Yellowknife, Inuvik, Hay River or Fort Smith with few exceptions.

 

Nunavut

The Government of Nunavut announced the following measures:

Clarification for Fitness Facilities

A revised Order came into effect on August 31 to clarify that while gymnasia, athletics facilities, recreation centres, and fitness centres may open for individual workouts, they must not offer group workouts such as fitness classes.

Public Health Emergency Extended

The Government of Nunavut has extended the Public Health Emergency until September 17, 2020.

 

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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