COVID-19:  Cross country update (May 5, 2020)

5 mai 2020

( Disponible en anglais seulement )

Federal

The Government of Canada announced the following measures:

Supports for Farmers, Food Businesses and Food Processors

Today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced an investment of more than $252 million to support farmers, food businesses, and food processors and an additional $200 million in borrowing capacity for the sector. Specifics of this investment include:

  • Creating a $77.5 million Emergency Processing Fund to help food producers access more personal protective equipment, adapt to health protocols, automate or modernize their facilities, processes, and operations, and respond to emerging pressures from COVID-19;
  • Launching a national AgriRecovery initiative of up to $125 million in funding to help producers faced with additional costs incurred by COVID-19 including set-asides for cattle and hog management programs to manage livestock backed-up on farms, due to the temporary closure of food processing plants;
  • Announcing the intention to increase the Canadian Dairy Commission’s borrowing limit by $200 million to support costs associated with the temporary storage of cheese and butter to avoid food waste;
  • Launching a first-ever Surplus Food Purchase Program with an initial $50 million fund designed to help redistribute existing and unsold inventories, which could include products such as potatoes and poultry, to local food organizations who are serving vulnerable Canadians;
  • Working with provinces and territories to increase interim payments from 50% to 75% through AgriStability, a federal, provincial and territorial program that supports producers who face significant revenue declines (this change has already been enacted in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec and Prince Edward Island); and
  • Working with provinces and territories to explore possibilities for expanding the AgriInsurance program to include labour shortages as an eligible risk for the horticulture sector.

 

Alberta

The Government of Alberta announced the following measures:

Utility Relief

Bill 14, the Utility Payment Deferral Program Act, will be introduced on May 6, when the legislature reconvenes.  If passed, this legislation will allow Albertans to defer electricity and natural gas utility payments.  The program is intended for those experiencing financial hardship as a direct result of COVID-19.  Customers will have to contact their utility directly to sign up and they will have to pay for their deferred electricity and natural gas bills after the program ends on June 18.

Championing the Agriculture Sector

The Alberta Government has announced the establishment of an Industry Advisory Committee to act as champions of agriculture.  This group will meet regularly and provide Agriculture and Forestry with strategic advice and recommendations on emerging issues and priorities related to consumer confidence, and work to debunk myths in the agriculture industry.  The members of the committee are listed in this press release.

Championing the agriculture sector focuses on ensuring continued growth and long-term success for the sector by advocating for Alberta’s world-class sustainable agriculture management practices.  News and success stories will be shared on the Champions of Agriculture and Forests website.

Support for Charities

The Alberta government is reminding people that it has allocated $2 million to match donations to COVID-19 response efforts by designated Alberta-based charities.  The province will match donations made by Albertans to designated organizations between April 15 and May 31, including:

  • United Way of the Capital Region – Local Love in a Global Crisis Campaign;
  • United Way Calgary and Area – COVID-19 Community Response Fund;
  • United Way of Central Alberta – COVID-19 Community Response Fund;
  • Calgary Foundation – COVID-19 Pandemic Recovery Program;
  • Edmonton Community Foundation – COVID Rapid Response Fund;
  • Community Foundation of Southeastern Alberta – COVID Response for Southeast Alberta;
  • Community Foundation of Lethbridge and Southwestern Alberta – COVID Response and Recovery Grants Program; and
  • Community Foundation of Northwestern Alberta – Better Together COVID-19 Response Fund/Community Kitchen and Food Bank Fund.

For more information, see Charitable donation matching program.

New Virus Detecting Equipment and Technology

The Alberta Government has announced a $4.5-million investment in new virus detecting equipment and technology to help strengthen Alberta’s COVID-19 response. The funding includes a $1.7-million donation by Calgary Health Trust, with Alberta Health Services and the Government of Alberta making up the balance.

This investment will increase COVID-19 testing from 7,000 to 16,000 tests per day, more than doubling Alberta’s maximum capacity for testing.  Alberta Precision Laboratories (APL) is also expanding testing capacity by securing additional supplies including swabs and reagents, and taking steps toward achieving 24-7 testing.

 

Manitoba

The Government of Manitoba announced the following measures:

Support for Seniors

Premier Brian Pallister announced today that the province is expanding the Manitoba Protection Plan for the public health crisis to provide $45 million in direct financial support to Manitoba seniors.  The Seniors Economic Recovery Credit will provide every Manitoban aged 65 and older with a one-time, refundable tax credit of $200. The Department of Finance will proactively mail a payment cheque as a credit advance to each senior who filed a 2018 income tax return prior to April 1, 2020.

Seniors who have changed mailing addresses since the time of their 2018 tax filings will have an opportunity to update the Department of Finance on their address changes through a government web portal at manitoba.ca/seniorseconomicrecoverycredit. Those who do not receive a cheque, have not updated their addresses or are new residents of Manitoba will be able to receive the $200 credit when they file their 2020 income tax return.

The Premier noted that the $200 credit will not be counted as taxable income and will not be used to claw back income-tested benefits to seniors.

 

Ontario

The Government of Ontario announced the following measures:

Mental Health

Starting today, the Ontario government is expanding virtual mental health services to help Ontarians experiencing anxiety and depression, including frontline health care workers, during the COVID-19 outbreak. These Internet-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (iCBT) programs will be provided at no out-of-pocket cost to Ontarians.

As part of the Province’s previously announced $12 million commitment to mental health during COVID-19, the emergency funding is helping mental health agencies hire and train more staff, purchase the necessary equipment and technology they need to help patients, and support the creation and enhancement of virtual and online supports for mental health services including:

  • Internet-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy:  Clients can self-refer to programs through the service providers listed and be guided through their client journey to find the appropriate supports they need (available in English and French);
  • Virtual mental health support services: These include BounceBack telephone coaching and workbooks, and Kids Help Phone for children and youth; and
  • Supports for frontline health care workers:  Online iCBT is available to frontline health care workers experiencing anxiety, burnout or post-traumatic stress disorder. Those requiring intensive levels of care may be referred to virtual face-to-face care, as well as weekly online peer discussion groups and access to confidential support from a clinician.

Visit Ontario.ca/coronavirus to find more information about the different virtual mental health and wellness options available, including online therapy.

 

Newfoundland and Labrador

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced the following measures:

On May 5, the government announced that it is amending the Public Health Protection and Promotion Act to provide for the following measures:

  • Allowing the Minister of Justice and Public Safety, upon the request of and following consultation with the Minister of Health and Community Services, to authorize peace officers to enforce measures taken by the Chief Medical Officer of Health during a public health emergency, including the authority to detain individuals and to convey individuals to a point of entry in the province.
  • Inspectors may require an individual to stop a motor vehicle and may, without a warrant, inspect or enter any premises, and take samples or conduct tests as necessary.  In these circumstances, the peace officer must inform the individual of the reasons for the detention or conveyance, the individual’s right to retain and instruct counsel without delay, and the location to which the individual is being taken.
  • The Minister of Justice and Public Safety and peace officers are included in the protection of liability provision in the Act.

Additionally, the government announced amendments to the Pharmacy Act, 2012 to allow the Newfoundland and Labrador Pharmacy Board to issue emergency registrations to pharmacists and pharmacy technicians where there is an immediate need for services due to an actual or potential threat to public safety, health or welfare or where the minister or the federal Minister of Health makes a request.

Further, the government announced the amendment of the Temporary Variation of Statutory Deadlines Act so that the Act will expire on September 30, 2020.

Finally, the government announced amendments to the Liquor Control Act to permit the sale and delivery of alcohol to a person who purchases a meal from a licensed premises.

 

Nova Scotia

The Government of Nova Scotia announced the following measures:

On May 5, the Cape Breton Regional Municipality announced that individuals whose income has been affected by COVID-19 will be able to apply to defer their property taxes.

 

Northwest Territories

The Government of the Northwest Territories announced the following measures:

On May 5, the government announced that it is preparing to ease public health restrictions in the near future.

 

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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