COVID-19:  Cross country update (May 4, 2020)

4 mai 2020

( Disponible en anglais seulement )

Federal

The Government of Canada announced the following measures:

COVID-19 Supply Council

On May 3, the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, Anita Anand, announced the creation of the COVID-19 Supply Council, which will provide the government with advice on the procurement of critical goods and services required as part of Canada’s COVID-19 response and recovery.  The Council will provide advice on building innovative and agile supply chains for goods in wide use such as masks, gloves and disinfectants, including production, sourcing, shipping and distribution strategies as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve.  The Council is a partnership with private and non-profit sectors.  Members of the Council are set out in this press release.

Coronavirus Global Response

Canada has joined with other international partners to launch the Coronavirus Global Response.  This is an online pledging event, which aims to raise money to help researchers and innovators develop solutions to test, treat, and protect people, and to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.  Specifically, the initiative seeks to:

  • kick-start an unprecedented global cooperation between scientists and regulators, industry and governments, international organizations, foundations, and health care professionals;
  • raise more than $8 billion (USD) by the end of the pledging period to support the development of rapid coronavirus diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines; and
  • work with the World Health Organization to coordinate and prioritize efforts to vulnerable countries.

Canada Emergency Student Benefit

An Act respecting Canada emergency student benefits (coronavirus disease 2019) has been passed, which provides for the payment of Canada Emergency Student Benefits (CESB) to students who lose work and income opportunities for reasons related to COVID-19.  Highlights of the legislation include the following:

  • Students may apply for any four-week period falling within the period prescribed by regulation (which is expected to be May to August 2020);
  • Students must attest to the fact that they are seeking work;
  • The deadline for students filing an application for CESB is September 30, 2020;
  • Information about employment opportunities will be made available by the Minister of Employment and Social Development to eligible students through a government-managed job posting system;
  • The amount of CESB will be set out in regulation (based on previous government announcements, it is expected that the CESB will be $1,250 per month for students or $2,000 per month for students with disabilities and students with dependants);
  • The maximum number of weeks for which a student may receive CESB is the number of weeks that is determined by regulation (again, based on previous government announcements, CESB is expected to be available from May to August);
  • If it is determined that CESB has been paid to a person who is not entitled to receive it, that person must repay the amount as soon as is feasible; and
  • Students are eligible for CESB if:
    1. for reasons related to COVID-19, they are unable to work, are seeking work and unable to find it, or are working but are paid less than the amount determined under the regulations, during the four-week period for which they apply for the benefit; and
    2. they do not, in respect of any part of that four-week period, receive:
      1. subject to the regulations, income from employment or self-employment;
      2. employment insurance benefits;
      3. allowances, money or other benefits that would be paid to the student under a provincial plan because of pregnancy or in respect of the care by the student of one or more of their newborn children or one or more children placed with them for the purpose of adoption;
      4. an income support payment under the Canada Emergency Response Benefit Act; or
      5. any other income that is prescribed by regulation.

It is expected that students will be able to apply for CESB beginning in mid-May.

Virtual Care and Mental Health Tools

On May 3, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced an investment of $240.5 million to develop, expand, and launch virtual care and mental health tools to support Canadians.  This investment will be used to create digital platforms and applications, improve access to virtual mental health supports, and expand capacity to deliver health care virtually, including projects to reach vulnerable Canadians.  Specifically, this investment is expected to:

  • help Canadians safely engage with their regular health providers and specialist health services through telephone, text, or video-conferencing;
  • support access to mental health supports and reliable health information in a safe and secure manner, which will reduce the pressure on the health system;
  • help governments, public health officials, hospitals, and health care facilities make evidence-based decisions; and
  • support federal, provincial, and territorial initiatives in collaboration with innovators, health stakeholders, and organizations like Canada Health Infoway, to expand virtual health services to Canadians.

This investment will also support Wellness Together Canada, an online portal that provides Canadians with free resources, tools, and professional support services to help with wellness and resilience, as well as mental health and substance use.  It will also support a growing number of digital products that includes the Canada COVID-19 app, which helps people track their symptoms, receive the latest updates, and access trusted resources.

Investment in Antibody Discovery Technology

The Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, Navdeep Bains, has announced a contribution of $175.6 million to AbCellera Biologics, a Canadian biotechnology company that researches and discovers next-generation antibody drugs to fight infection and disease.  This contribution is part of Canada’s Plan to Mobilize Science to fight COVID-19, which includes significant investments in Canada’s research community to develop vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 and to diagnose the disease.

This project will leverage AbCellera’s drug discovery technology, which searches and analyzes blood samples of recovered patients to rapidly find naturally produced antibodies that can be used to fight and prevent viral infections.  AbCellera and its partners expect clinical trials to begin in July 2020 or earlier.  Antibodies found during AbCellera’s research may also be used to create tests for COVID-19.

This funding will also support AbCellera in establishing a Good Manufacturing Practice facility in Vancouver, B.C., which will be the first of this scale in Canada capable of going from a patient sample to manufacturing antibodies for clinical testing.

Increased Canada Child Benefit

Families receiving the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) will get $300 extra per child in May to help with COVID-19 impacts.  Eligible families will automatically receive this one-time increase as part of their scheduled CCB payment in May. Those who already receive the CCB do not need to re-apply for this one-time increase.

In addition, individuals and families with low and modest incomes have been provided with a special top-up payment through the Goods and Services Tax credit amounting on average to close to $400 for single individuals and close to $600 for couples.

 

British Columbia

The Government of British Columbia announced the following measures:

Temporary Layoff Period Extended

The temporary layoff period under the Employment Standards Act has been extended to 16 weeks for COVID-19 related reasons.  Previously, a temporary layoff longer than 13 weeks in any 20-week period was considered a permanent layoff.  Now, temporary layoffs relating to the COVID-19 pandemic can be extended to 16 weeks, if the employee agrees.  This change will be repealed when no longer needed.

Public Hearings Held Electronically

A new Ministerial Order, M139 will help local governments, improvement districts and the Islands Trust continue to make important decisions for their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, including allowing local governments to hold public hearings electronically.  Local governments are still expected to find ways to encourage public participation during this time.  For more information, see: COVID-19 Updates for Local Governments & Improvement Districts.

 

Alberta

The Government of Alberta announced the following measures:

Nurse Practitioners

Current nursing home regulations do not allow nurse practitioners and other regulated health professionals to work to their full scopes in nursing homes.  A new Ministerial Order under the Public Health Act has been issued that modifies nursing home regulations to enable nurse practitioners and other regulated health professionals to work to their full scopes of practice in nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.  During this time, they will be allowed to act as primary care providers in nursing homes, admitting and assessing residents, as well as offering follow-up care.  The changes also enable them to prescribe medication and order treatments in nursing homes, according to their scopes of practice.  These changes will remain in effect until August 14, 2020, unless the Ministerial Order is terminated earlier or the public health emergency is reduced or extended.

Resuming Non-Urgent Surgeries and Allied Health Services

As part of its relaunch strategy, some of the restrictions on non-urgent scheduled day surgeries will be lifted in regions where hospital and clinic capacity and the rate of new COVID-19 infections does not present a significant risk.  The first priority will be to treat patients who would be at the highest risk if their surgery was further delayed and those who have been waiting the longest.  Alberta Health Services has created a centralized booking system, and will contact patients on wait-lists to reschedule procedures.

In addition, independent regulated health professionals, such as chiropractors, physiotherapists, psychologists and other community providers, including optometrists, audiologists and dieticians, are permitted to resume operations as long as they are able to follow Alberta Health guidance to limit transmission in these settings.

The Government of Alberta is working closely with the professional colleges that govern allied health professionals in Alberta to develop guidelines for their members who choose to resume operations. This includes guidelines related to physical distancing, patient screening, care of patients with COVID-19, use of personal protective equipment and cleaning procedures.  In the meantime, as these guidelines are being developed, health professionals should follow Alberta Health guidelines on safe practices.

For more information, see Chief Medical Officer of Health Order 16-2020.

 

Saskatchewan

The Government of Saskatchewan announced the following measures:

Province Re-Opening

As previously reported, Saskatchewan begins Phase 1 of the Re-Open Saskatchewan plan today, gradually and slowly lifting selected restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  For more information on the five phases of the plan, see: Province Announces Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan.

 

Manitoba

The Government of Manitoba announced the following measures:

Education

Today, Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen announced that the Province is expanding its partnership with InformNet to increase access to summer school programming for grade 9 to 12 students in Manitoba.  InformNet is an online high school learning management system operated by the Pembina Trails and St. James-Assiniboia school divisions.

Student fees for summer school courses will be waived for 2020 and there will be no cap on enrolment.  InformNet summer school is available for grade 9 to 12 students who have not successfully completed a course(s) during the regular academic year or wish to improve their grade(s).  A certified teacher with experience and expertise in the subject area facilitates all online courses.  In addition, French language and print-based strategies are under development.

InformNet summer school runs from July 3 to 29 and registration begins today.  Students can register for summer school courses at informnet.mb.ca.

Support for Frontline Workers

Today, Finance Minister Scott Fielding announced that the Province will have the financial capacity to continue increased spending to support critical frontline services in the ongoing fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.  4.9% of non-essential operating expenses and 2.2% of non-essential workforce expenditures will be redirected to the front-line COVID response.

 

Quebec

The Government of Quebec announced the following measures:

Reopening of Local Storefront Businesses

On May 4, the government announced a one-week deferral of the reopening of storefront businesses in the Montreal Metropolitan Community.  Instead of reopening on May 11, the targeted businesses will be able to reopen as of May 18.  However, the government is maintaining the initial calendar for the manufacturing and construction sectors, throughout Quebec.

Child Care and Education

On May 4, the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST) published a guide of health standards, a poster and a daily checklist to support the education sector in the gradual reopening of schools scheduled to start on May 11.  To download the toolkit, please consult the following website: https://www.cnesst.gouv.qc.ca/salle-de-presse/covid-19/Pages/outils-secteur-education.aspx.

As of May 4, emergency child care services will be organized and provided for children who have one parent employed by a school board, La Place 0-5 or a private educational institution.

In addition, today, the CNESST launched the Guide to health standards in the workplace for child care services, and one for childcare services in a family environment.  To download these two guides, please consult the following website (for now only available in French): https://www.cnesst.gouv.qc.ca/salle-de-presse/covid-19/Pages/outils-secteur-services-garde-milieu-familial.aspx.

Local Travel

Effective May 4, the access restrictions to the following territories of regional county municipalities and city are revoked:

  • Autray, Joliette, Matawinie and Montcalm for the Lanaudière region;
  • Antoine-Labelle, Argenteuil, Les-Pays-d´en-Haut and Les Laurentides for the Laurentides region;
  • Bellechasse, L’Islet and Mongmagny for the Chaudières-Appalaches region; and
  • Rouyn-Noranda for the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region.

__________

Le gouvernement du Québec a annoncé les mesures suivantes :

La reprise des activités des commerces de la région

Le 4 mai, le gouvernement a repoussé d’une semaine la réouverture des commerces ayant pignon sur rue pour la Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal. En effet, au lieu de rouvrir le 11 mai, les commerces visés pourront reprendre leurs activités à compter du 18 mai prochain. Le gouvernement maintient toutefois le calendrier initialement annoncé pour le secteur manufacturier et celui de la construction, partout au Québec.

Services de garde et éducation

Le 4 mai, la Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST) a publié un guide de normes sanitaires, une affiche et une liste de vérifications quotidiennes pour soutenir le milieu scolaire dans leur réouverture graduelle prévue à compter du 11 mai prochain. Pour télécharger la trousse d’outils, veuillez consulter le site internet suivant : https://www.cnesst.gouv.qc.ca/salle-de-presse/covid-19/Pages/outils-secteur-education.aspx.

À compter du 4 mai, des services de garde d’urgence seront organisés et fournis aux enfants dont l’un des parents est à l’emploi d’une commission scolaire, de La Place 0-5 ou d’un établissement d’enseignement privé.

Le 4 mai, la CNESST a lancé le Guide de normes sanitaires en milieu de travail pour les services de garde, et celui pour les services de garde en milieu familial. Pour télécharger ces deux guides, veuillez consulter le site internet suivant : https://www.cnesst.gouv.qc.ca/salle-de-presse/covid-19/Pages/outils-secteur-services-garde-milieu-familial.aspx.

Déplacements entre les régions et les villes

À compter du 4 mai, les limitations d’accès aux territoires des municipalités régionales de comté et de la ville suivantes sont abrogées :

  • Autray, Joliette, Matawinie et Montcalm pour la région de Lanaudière;
  • Antoine-Labelle, Argenteuil, Les-Pays-d’en-Haut et Les Laurentides pour la région des Laurentides;
  • Bellechasse, L’Islet et Mongmagny pour la région de Chaudières-Appalaches; et
  • Rouyn-Noranda pour la région de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue.

 

Newfoundland and Labrador

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced the following measures:

State of Emergency

Effective May 2, the state of emergency has been extended for a period of 14 days.

Assisted Living Facilities

Effective April 29, operators of assisted living facilities are prohibited from permitting staff to work across multiple assisted living facility locations, and are prohibited from permitting staff to engage in any other employment while simultaneously employed at an assisted living facility, unless an exemption is granted due to exceptional circumstances.

Additionally, all routine and short-term admissions for convalescent care are prohibited unless required in urgent circumstances.  Screening provisions have been introduced for new and existing residents returning to an assisted living facility after a stay in an acute health care facility.  All visitation to assisted living facilities is prohibited except for exceptional circumstances.  All staff must be screened, and staff must use PPE as appropriate.

Travel Ban

As noted, effective April 29, all individuals are prohibited from entering Newfoundland and Labrador except for the following:

  • Residents of Newfoundland and Labrador;
  • Asymptomatic workers and individuals who are subject to the applicable exemption order; and
  • Individuals who have been permitted entry by the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

Additional guidance on the travel ban can be found on the government’s website.

 

New Brunswick

The Government of New Brunswick announced the following measures:

On May 4, the government announced that a virtual job matching platform called JobMatchNB has been launched to connect New Brunswickers with available positions.  Employers can add jobs into the system and they will appear on the site within a few days.

 

Nova Scotia

The Government of Nova Scotia announced the following measures:

On April 30, the government extended the state of emergency to May 17, 2020.

 

Prince Edward Island

The Government of Prince Edward Island announced the following measures:

State of Emergency Extended

On April 30, the government extended the state of emergency to May 31 and extended a variety of limitations periods under the Municipal Government Act.

Travel Restrictions

The government renewed its travel restrictions as follows:

  • Every person arriving in PEI shall stop when instructed to do so by a peace officer, and answer any such questions and undergo such examinations as required;
  • All non-essential travel into Prince Edward Island is prohibited; and
  • Every person who enters the Province must comply with all orders and directions issued by the Chief Public Health Officer.

Public Health Orders

On April 30, the Chief Public Health Officer issued a renewed public health order, which will remain in effect until 8:00 a.m. on May 22.  The order includes the following new provisions:

  • Indoor gatherings of any number of persons are prohibited, except in the following circumstances:
    • facilities where health care or social services are provided;
    • businesses or workplaces that are permitted to operate under, and to the extent of, the order or any specific direction provided by the Chief Public Health Officer; and
    • groups of persons living in the same household.
  • Outdoor gatherings of more than 5 persons from different households are prohibited.  Any person who is gathering outdoors in a group of 5 persons or less from different households shall maintain a distance of two metres from other persons in the group.  This prohibition does not apply to:
    • businesses or workplaces that are permitted to operate under, and to the extent of, the order or any specific direction issued to the business or workplace by the Chief Public Health Officer; or
    • groups of persons living in the same household.

 

Yukon

The Government of the Yukon announced the following measures:

Supports for Aviation Businesses

Yukon’s aviation sector will receive funding from the Government of Canada (announced April 14), along with $3.56 million from the Yukon government, to support critical and essential routes and the transportation of vital supplies and to help compensate for lost revenues as a result of COVID-19.

Yukon aviation businesses will also benefit from the waiving of commercial fees. When coupled with the previously announced waiver of aviation landing, parking and loading fees, these changes will save aviation businesses approximately $780,000. The new fee waivers include:

  • land lease and licence fees;
  • building lease and licence fees;
  • air terminal building concession fees;
  • aircraft fuel lease and licence fees;
  • aircraft fuel concession fees;
  • parking stall fees; and
  • service recoveries like charges for electricity.

These fees are waived from April 1 until December 31, 2020.

 

Nunavut

The Government of Nunavut announced the following measures:

On May 4, the government announced that the territory’s one case of COVID-19 has been determined to be a false positive.  Accordingly, the travel restrictions and additional measures specific to Pond Inlet have been lifted.

On April 29, the government extended the state of emergency to May 14, 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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