COVID-19: Cross country update (May 8, 2020)

8 mai 2020

( Disponible en anglais seulement )

Federal

The Government of Canada announced the following measures:

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Extended

During his daily coronavirus update, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) will be extended beyond June to help kick-start Canada’s economic reopening and boost jobs.  More details are expected next week but, in the meantime, the Prime Minister encouraged employers to fill out an application.

Industry Strategy Council

Today, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, Navdeep Bains, announced the creation of the Industry Strategy Council, which will serve as an advisory board to assess the scope and depth of COVID-19’s impact on industries and inform government’s understanding of specific sectoral pressures.  It will bring the private sector to the table to directly share with the government its perspective on the challenges being faced across industries and to provide advice on economic policy.

This approach is meant to build on the Economic Strategy Tables, which are part of the Government’s Innovation and Skills Plan to create well-paying jobs and strengthen the middle class by investing in high-growth sectors where Canada has a globally competitive advantage.  The Tables are chaired by industry leaders in a number of key sectors.

The Council will be chaired by Monique Leroux and other members will be announced in the near future.

Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations

Further details were provided today regarding the Government of Canada’s April 17 announcement of $500 million to establish an Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations to help these sectors manage the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Starting today, partner organizations will be contacted so that funds can begin to flow to cultural and sport organizations.  Canadian Heritage is working closely with its partners – in particular, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Canada Media Fund, FACTOR, Musicaction, and Telefilm Canada – to distribute the funds as quickly as possible using existing channels.

The distribution of funding will include:

  • Up to $326.8 million to be administered by Canadian Heritage and divided among select departmental programs and Portfolio agencies as well as key delivery organizations.  Specifically:
    • $198.3 million will be provided to the beneficiaries of arts and culture funding via existing programs as well as other organizations with demonstrated needs;
    • $72 million will be provided to the sport sector;
    • $53 million will be provided to the heritage sector via the emergency component of the Museums Assistance Program; and
    • $3.5 million will be provided for COVID-related projects under the Digital Citizen Initiative;
  • $55 million to be distributed by the Canada Council for the Arts; and
  • $115.8 million will be used to support the Canadian audiovisual sector, to be distributed by the Canada Media Fund ($88.8 million) and Telefilm Canada ($27 million).

The use of the remaining funds will be assessed based on needs.

For more information, see the Canadian Government’s website and this press release.

 

British Columbia

The Government of British Columbia announced the following measures:

Public Health Reminders

Minister of Health Adrian Dix and Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer, issued a joint statement reminding British Columbians that the province is still in Phase 1 of the B.C. Restart Plan and that British Columbians must continue doing what they have been doing since the orders and restrictions were put in place a few weeks ago.  Phase 2 will commence after the May long weekend.

The statement also reminds businesses that public health and WorkSafeBC will outline the specific requirements for specific business sectors, including template plans and checklists for businesses to follow.  The statement also says that while the individual plans of businesses will not need to be submitted for approval, the plans will have to be publicly posted for everyone to see.

 

Alberta

The Government of Alberta announced the following measures:

Supports for Alberta’s Agriculture Industry

The Government of Alberta is introducing these new supports to help farmers and ranchers through AgriRecovery:

  • Immediately increasing the interim payment under AgriStability from 50% to 75% for the hog sector, which will result in the equivalent of $20 per head for pork producers enrolled in AgriStability;
  • Immediately increasing the advance payment under AgriStability from 50% to 75% for the potato industry, to get cash quickly into the hands of potato producers; and
  • Creating a new fed cattle set-aside program, which will allow beef producers to hold on to slaughter-ready cattle on maintenance feed ration for several weeks, allowing the supply of animals to more evenly match demand and reduced processing capacity.  Cattle producers will be compensated for the extraordinary costs until the backed-up inventory is cleared.

Agriculture Training Support Program

The Alberta Government has created a new Agriculture Training Support Program to help employers in the food supply chain provide necessary training to new employees.  Up to $5 million will be provided to farmers, agri-businesses and food processors, to help offset the cost of training new employees safely in new agri-food roles.  In addition, about $1 million in funding will be targeted for meat processors to provide support for new hires to undertake meat-cutting training.

The program is targeted to agricultural, meat processing and horticultural businesses and services on the Government of Alberta’s essential service list (with the exception of aquaculture).  The program will support training for as many as 2,500 new jobs in Alberta.

The maximum government contribution under the program is $2,000 per new employee, up to a maximum of $50,000 per employer. Grants will be administered on a first-come, first-served basis until available program funding is fully allocated.

This job training support is meant to complement Agriculture Job Connector, a web resource to help agriculture employers looking for workers connect with job seekers.

As more information and applications become available, they will be accessible on the Canadian Agricultural Partnership website.

Guidance for Workplaces

To help support business owners reopening or continuing operations to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 among workers, volunteers and patrons, the Alberta Government has published Guidance for business owners re-opening or continuing operations.  This document includes guidance on:

  • Communication related to COVID-19;
  • Sick staff and volunteers;
  • Prevention (screening, hygiene, cleaning and disinfecting, personal protective equipment, workplace bathrooms and showers, distancing and gatherings in the workplace, retail items, and home delivery, drive through, take-out and curbside pick-up);
  • Isolation and Quarantine; and
  • a COVID-19 Plan for Large Production Facilities.

Sector specific guidance is available on the Alberta Government’s Website.

Non-essential Summer Travel

Travel to summer homes, cabins and cottages within Alberta is now permitted, but travellers should consider local community guidelines and the health and safety of small communities.  Travellers should also prepare for minimal stops by packing food and stopping only if necessary.

Albertans are advised to avoid travel to summer homes outside the province.

Water testing at Alberta lakes and beaches will be delayed this summer, as staff and lab capacity are focused on the COVID-19 response.  Those using the lakes and beaches do so at their own risk and should take precautions if they choose to enter the water, including checking for signs of blue-green algae and following any posted advice.

Outdoor Gun Ranges

Starting May 8, outdoor gun ranges in Alberta are allowed to open with restrictions to ensure adequate physical distancing and increased sanitization and limited contact with high-touch objects and surfaces.  Operators can go to the government’s website for guidance documents.

 

Saskatchewan

The Government of Saskatchewan announced the following measures:

Support for Small Businesses

The Saskatchewan Small Business Emergency Payment (SSBEP) program will be extended to the month of May for businesses that are required to remain closed or substantially curtail operations after May 19, 2020.

The SSBEP is a $50-million fund that was launched on April 13.  Eligible applicants receive a payment comprising 15% of their sales revenue from April of 2019 or February of 2020, to a maximum of $5,000.

More information, along with the SSBEP application, can be found on the government’s website.

 

Manitoba

The Government of Manitoba announced the following measures:

Procurement of Personal Protective Equipment

The Manitoba Government plans to order up to one million made-in-Manitoba N95 reusable silicone masks, further to the Expression of Interest issued by the Province in April to determine the interest and capability of manufacturers to produce reusable masks.

The reusable mask design was made open source so that others can more quickly access and manufacture this mask.

The Manitoba government continues to call on manufacturers, businesses and other organizations to assist in procurement efforts.  The province is asking manufacturers or businesses to visit the COVID-19 portal at gov.mb.ca/covid19/business/index.html if:

  • they can rapidly scale up production or retool manufacturing lines to develop products made in Manitoba to help in the fight against COVID-19; or
  • they have a stock of personal protective equipment that is not being used due to closures and physical distancing.

Prescription Refill Limits Lifted

Previously, on March 19, the government restricted prescription fills to one month to minimize potential distribution shortages and prevent people from stockpiling medication.  Effective May 11, Manitobans who have prescriptions for long-term medications will be able to fill them as per their prescriber’s directions up to a three-month supply, if the drug is not affected by shortages.

 

Ontario

The Government of Ontario announced the following measures:

Easing Restrictions on Workplaces

As reported in our May 6 COVID-19 update, over the past week, the Ontario Government has begun easing restrictions on workplaces that can operate safely by following public health and safety guidelines. This was done pursuant to an order issued under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.  The latest easements include:

  • Today, garden centres and nurseries will be able to open for in-store payment and purchases;
  • As soon as 12:01 a.m. on May 9, hardware stores and safety supply stores will be permitted to open for in-store payment and purchases; and
  • On May 11 at 12:01 a.m., non-essential retail stores with a street entrance can begin offering curbside pickup and delivery.

Protection for Agri-Food Workers

The Governments of Canada and Ontario are investing $2.25 million in provincially licensed meat processing plants to better protect employees and ensure the continued supply of healthy products for consumers during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, the first stream of the Agri-food Workplace Protection Program will provide funding to implement COVID-19 health and safety measures in provincially licensed meat plants, including purchasing additional personal protective equipment, redesigning workstations, supporting employees who require mandatory isolation, and work-site mobility and transportation.

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) will begin accepting applications on May 12, 2020.  Eligible applications will be received and assessed on a continuous basis, while funding is available.  More information can be found on OMAFRA’s website or by calling: 1-877-424-1300.

 

Quebec

The Government of Quebec announced the following measures:

Financial Support for Daycares

On May 8, the government announced additional financial support of $22 million for unsubsidized day cares.  The initial funding of $30.5 million had been granted to cover part of the fixed costs, representing $5.95 per day per day care space, for the period from March 16 to May 1.  Retroactive to May 4 and until June 19, this amount will increase to $10.10 per day per day care space.

In addition, financial assistance of $370,000 will be distributed among the 48 childcare providers recognized as non-subsidized so that they too can reopen their businesses.

Mental Health Support for the Health and Social Services Workers

On May 8, the government announced additional funding of $14 million to protect the psychological health of the health and social services workers.  This assistance will be used to strengthen the Employee Assistance Program and to meet increased needs.  All 273,795 employees and managers of the network can benefit from three psychological support sessions in addition to the five or six sessions already scheduled per twelve-month period.

Incentive Bonus for Full-time Healthcare Workers

In terms of the incentive bonuses offered to full-time health workers announced on May 7, they will take a more concrete form as follows:

  • All employees working full time in CHSLDs will receive $100 per week.
  • Additional bonuses will be paid to those who work full time in an infected CHSLD: $200 more after two consecutive weeks of work and $400 more after four consecutive weeks. Premiums can therefore reach $1,000 per month.
  • These premiums will also be applied in designated « hot zone » hospitals in the greater Montreal region, but only for the following job categories: clinical nurses and auxiliaries, respiratory therapists, beneficiary attendants, health auxiliaries and social services, service assistants and maintenance workers.
  • For equity, subsidies will be paid to intermediate and family-type resources and to private CHSLDs so that they are able to offer the same bonuses to their staff.
  • Private Residences for the elderly will also receive a subsidy to offer the same bonuses to their staff working in the “hot zone.”
  • The government will also offer $ 2,000 per month to all employees in the health and social services network who agree to temporarily transfer from a region to Montreal, Laval or the Montérégie.

State of Emergency Renewal

On May 6, the Quebec government issued an Order to renew the state of public health emergency throughout the Quebec territory and extend the measures provided for by Orders-in-Council until May 13, 2020.

Education

On May 6, the government adopted a second Order to impose certain terms surrounding the provision of educational support services to students in preschool, elementary, secondary, vocational training and general adult education.

In the same decree, the government announced the lifting of the suspension of the activities of centres de la petite enfance, day care centres, family childcare services as well as school childcare services, situated elsewhere than in the Greater Montreal territory.

Gradual Reopening of the Economy

Through the same decree, the government ordered the lifting of the suspension of activities in the following workplaces:

  • School boards and private educational institutions, to the extent that it is required for providing the educational support services that were ordered;
  • Enterprises in the mining sector and manufacturing enterprises whose activities were not identified as “priority” (to certain conditions);
  • The construction sector;
  • Providers of goods and services in the mining, manufacturing and construction sectors; and
  • Real estate brokers, land surveyors, inspectors and building appraisers and chartered appraisers.

__________

Le gouvernement du Québec a annoncé les mesures suivantes :

Soutien financier aux garderies

Le 8 mai, le gouvernement a annoncé un soutien financier additionnel de 22M$ aux garderies non subventionnées. En effet, un premier financement de 30,5M$ avait été octroyé pour couvrir notamment une partie des coûts fixes, soit 5,95$ par jour par place, et ce, pour la période du 16 mars au 1er mai. Rétroactivement au 4 mai, et ce, jusqu’au 19 juin, ce montant passera à 10,10$ par jour par place.

De plus, une aide financière totalisant 370 000$ sera répartie entre les 48 responsables de services de garde reconnus non subventionnés, pour qu’ils puissent, eux aussi, rouvrir leurs portes.

Support pour la santé mentale des travailleurs de la santé et des services sociaux

Le 8 mai, le gouvernement a annoncé un financement supplémentaire de 14 M$ pour protéger la santé psychologique des travailleurs de la santé et des services sociaux. Cette aide servira à renforcer le programme d’aide aux employés et à répondre à l’augmentation des besoins. Ainsi, l’ensemble des 273 795 employés et gestionnaires du réseau bénéficieront de 3 séances de soutien psychologique de plus que les 5 ou 6 séances déjà prévues par période de douze mois.

Prime incitative aux travailleurs de la santé à temps plein

Par ailleurs, quant à la prime incitative offerte aux travailleurs de la santé à temps plein, annoncée le 7 mai dernier, elle prendra plus concrètement les formes suivantes :

  • Tous les employés qui travaillent à temps plein dans les CHSLD recevront 100 $ par semaine.
  • Des primes supplémentaires seront versées à ceux qui travaillent à temps plein dans un CHSLD infecté : soit 200$ de plus après 2 semaines consécutives de travail et 400$ de plus après 4 semaines consécutives. Les primes peuvent donc atteindre 1000 $ par mois.
  • Ces primes seront également appliquées dans les centres hospitaliers désignés « zone chaude » de la grande région de Montréal, mais seulement pour les catégories d’emploi suivantes : les infirmiers cliniques et auxiliaires, les inhalothérapeutes, les préposés aux bénéficiaires, les auxiliaires en santé et services sociaux, les aides de service et les préposés à l’entretien.
  • Par équité, des subventions seront versées aux ressources intermédiaires et de type familial et aux CHSLD privés afin que ceux-ci puissent offrir les mêmes bonifications à leur personnel.
  • Les résidences pour personnes âgées (RPA) recevront également une subvention pour offrir les mêmes primes à leur personnel œuvrant en « zone chaude ».
  • Le gouvernement offrira en plus 2000$ par mois à tous salariés du réseau de la santé et des services sociaux qui accepteraient de transférer temporairement d’une région vers Montréal, Laval ou la Montérégie.

Renouvellement de l’état d’urgence

Le 6 mai, 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 13 mai 2020.

Éducation

Le 6 mai, le gouvernement a adopté un deuxième décret pour ordonner certaines modalités entourant l’offre des services d’encadrement pédagogique aux élèves du niveau préscolaire, primaire, secondaire, de la formation professionnelle, de la formation générale des adultes.

Dans ce même décret, le gouvernement a annoncé la levée de la suspension des activités des centres de la petite enfance, des garderies, des services de garde en milieu familial de même que des services de garde en milieu scolaire, ailleurs que sur le territoire du Grand Montréal.

Reprise graduelle des activités économiques

Par ailleurs, par l’entremise de ce décret, le gouvernement a ordonné la levée de la suspension des activités dans les milieux de travail suivants :

  • Les commissions scolaires et les établissements d’enseignement privé dans la mesure où cela est requis aux fins de la prestation des services ordonnés dans le décret;
  • Les entreprises du secteur minier et des entreprises manufacturières dont les activités n’étaient pas identifiées comme prioritaires (à certaines conditions);
  • Le secteur de la construction;
  • Les fournisseurs de biens et services requis pour les secteurs minier, manufacturier et de la construction;
  • Les courtiers immobiliers, les arpenteurs-géomètres, les inspecteurs et les évaluateurs en bâtiment et des évaluateurs agréés.

 

Newfoundland and Labrador

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced the following measures:

Alert Level 4

Effective May 11, the province will move to “Alert Level 4,” and a number of public health measures will be relaxed. The full list of changes is available on the government’s website.  Some measures affecting businesses and services include:

  • Limited expansion of child care services;
  • Professional services such as accounting firms, law firms, and financial services can offer in-person services; however, work from home policies are encouraged, where possible;
  • In-person worker and workplace safety training will be permitted (e.g. Standard First Aid, Basic Safety Training, food safety, etc.);
  • Gardening centres can open for in-person sales and service;
  • Landscaping and lawn care services can operate; and
  • Animal daycares can resume operations.

The following remain closed:  retail stores that do not offer essential services; bars and lounges; cinemas; and, personal service establishments. Restaurants also remain closed for in-person dining.

Ferries

As part of the province’s easing of some public health measures, restrictions for passengers on provincial ferries will be relaxed on May 11. Passengers will no longer be restricted to only essential travelers. However, ferry users are encouraged to travel as infrequently as possible to help prevent the spread of the virus. The following measures will be in place:

  • All passengers will still be required to remain in their vehicles during crossings;
  • The number of passengers on each ferry will continue to be limited to 50% of its regular capacity;
  • Current ferry schedules implemented during the pandemic will still be maintained to allow ample time for cleaning;
  • Passengers without vehicles, who travel in the passenger lounges, will still be required to practice physical distancing of at least six feet from other passengers; and
  • Passengers without vehicles will not be permitted to travel in passenger lounges when physical distancing is not possible.

Passengers are also encouraged to wear non-medical masks or face coverings whenever possible, as per Transport Canada recommendations.

 

New Brunswick

The Government of New Brunswick announced the following measures:

On May 8, the government announced that New Brunswick has transitioned to Phase 2 of its recovery plan, which allows for the reopening of some businesses and activities.

Businesses do not need to be inspected before re-opening, but they must prepare an operational plan that can be provided to officials, if requested.  Businesses may open immediately, but it is up to each business operator to decide if they are ready and if all guidelines have been met.  Businesses remain subject to physical distancing measures, public health guidelines, and guidelines issued by WorkSafeNB.

Re-openings and activities include:

  • Elective surgeries and other non-emergency health services, including dental, physiotherapy, optometry and massage therapy;
  • Outdoor public gatherings, with physical distancing, of 10 or fewer people;
  • Indoor public gatherings, with physical distancing, of 10 or fewer people for in-person religious services, weddings and funerals;
  • All in-person programs at post-secondary institutions, subject to the COVID-19 directives from Public Health (however, virtual education options should be continued wherever possible);
  • Cultural venues such as museums, galleries and libraries;
  • Offices not deemed essential during the initial phase;
  • Retail establishments, including malls;
  • Restaurants;
  • Campgrounds and outdoor recreational activities, such as zoos and outfitters;
  • Non-regulated child care providers (although they must adhere to Public Health guidelines, including having an operational plan);
  • Day camps, if the organization can adhere to Public Health measures; and
  • ATV trails across the province.

On May 19, early learning and child care centres regulated by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development will be permitted to reopen.  The department will contact operators to provide further information in the coming days.

Face masks are required to be worn in public if physical distancing cannot be maintained.

Information on public health recovery phases, measures and guidelines is available on the government’s website.  Business owners who have questions can contact Opportunities NB Business Navigators by emailing nav@navnb.ca or by calling 1-833-799-7966.

 

Nova Scotia

The Government of Nova Scotia announced the following measures:

On May 8, the government announced that the school year for students will end June 5 and licensed daycares will remain closed until at least June 5.

 

Prince Edward Island

The Government of Prince Edward Island announced the following measures:

AccessPEI Locations

Effective May 12, select Access PEI locations will open to the public.  Subsequently, on May 25, commercial vehicle and motorcycle road testing will resume on a limited basis.  The government has extended the expiry dates of all driver’s licenses, vehicle transfers and registrations until July 6, 2020.

Easing of Public Health Measures

On May 8, the government announced that it is easing some public health measures.  Beginning today:

  • Members of the same household may gather indoors with up to 5 other individuals from different households;
  • Members of the same household may gather outdoors with up to 10 other individuals from different households;
  • Maintaining physical distancing is important during any gatherings with those from outside your household; and
  • You may extend your household unit by one or two members, who are important to supporting your household or who you feel may need closer contact and support, such as hugs, handshakes, etc.

 

Northwest Territories

The Government of the Northwest Territories announced the following measures:

Effective May 8, the government announced that Highway 8 (the Dempster Highway) border crossing between NWT and Yukon will be closed to all traffic as of 5:00 p.m. on May 8.

Additionally, the NWT amended liquor regulations to permit the sale of beer, wine and spirits by restaurants for take-out and delivery without the need for an off-premises extension to their license.  Some restrictions apply:

  • Class B license holders can only sell liquor in combination with food;
  • Licensed establishments must use their own, in-house delivery service, i.e., establishments may not use common carriers, such as taxis or other private delivery services, for the delivery of liquor;
  • Establishments may not sell liquor for take-out or delivery on Sundays or after 10:00 p.m.; and
  • Establishments must limit their sales for off-premises consumption to the following:
    • no more than 1.5 L of wine per day, per customer (two 750 ml bottles of wine);
    • no more than one 1.14 L of spirits per day, per customer (commonly referred to as a 40 oz. bottle); or
    • no more than 8.52 L of beer per day, per customer (twenty-four 355 ml cans)

 

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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