COVID-19: Cross country update (April 9, 2020)

9 avril 2020

( Disponible en anglais seulement )

Federal

The Government of Canada announced the following measures:

Starting today, small business owners can apply for support from the Canada Emergency Business Account through their banks and credit unions.  Eligible small businesses and non-profit organizations can get interest-free loans of up to $40,000.  If the loan is repaid by December 31, 2022, 25% of it will be forgiven, up to $10,000.  These loans are fully funded by the Government of Canada.  Businesses can contact their primary lender by phone or email to find out about their application process.

 

British Columbia

The Government of British Columbia announced the following measures:

Mental Health Programs

$5 million will be used to expand existing mental health programs and to launch new virtual services to support British Columbians.  These programs can be accessed on the government’s website.

Rental Supplement

Renters who are experiencing a loss of income during the COVID-19 pandemic can now apply for the Province’s new temporary rental supplement.  The program will provide $300 per month for eligible households with no dependents and $500 per month for eligible households with dependents.  Eligible households are those that meet the following criteria:

  • receiving or eligible for Employment Insurance, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit or experiencing a 25% reduction in monthly employment income as a result of COVID-19;
  • 2019 household income of less than $74,150 for households with no dependents and $113,040 for households with dependents;
  • paying more than 30% of current/reduced gross monthly income toward rent; and
  • not receiving any other rent subsidy from any level of government, including subsidized housing or rent supplements, such as Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters or the Rental Assistance Program.

The supplement will be available for April, May and June 2020 and will be paid directly to landlords on behalf of renters.

Guidance for Hotel Sector

The Ministry of Health has issued COVID-19 Guidance to the Hotel Sector, which provides interim guidance for preventing the transmission of COVID-19 to operators of hotels, motels, hostels, inns and other forms of travel accommodation.

 

Alberta

The Government of Alberta announced the following measures:

Agriculture and Food Employers and Workers

A new online tool has been launched to help Albertans find agriculture and food work opportunities, and for essential agriculture businesses to find workers.  Agriculture and food employers and workers can access hiring, job search and farm safety resources through the new Agriculture Job Connector at alberta.ca/AgJobConnector.

Small Business Supports

Small businesses can obtain free advice, coaching and information on COVID-19 resources and supports from Business Link, a non-profit organization jointly funded by the Government of Alberta and the Government of Canada.  To access Business Link services, contact 1-800-272-9675 or visit businesslink.ca.

Job Creation

To get Albertans back to work, the government is doubling the capital maintenance and renewal funding in 2020-21 from $937 million to $1.9 billion by accelerating the capital plan to resurface roads, repair bridges, restore schools and fill potholes.

Truck Drivers and Railway Operators

Temporary regulation changes are being made for truck drivers and railway operators to protect the supply chain and ensure access to necessities like medical supplies, groceries and fuel.  The changes will temporarily allow commercial truck drivers transporting essential supplies in direct support of the COVlD-19 relief efforts to:

  • Work for longer periods of time, provided all safety conditions are met;
  • Apply for fewer municipal and provincial overweight permits by increasing the limits on weight of loads some vehicles can carry;
  • Be exempt from road bans; and
  • Be exempt from municipal bylaws that restrict the hours they operate and park.

The regulation changes also allow provincially regulated railways to temporarily delay audits and retesting of existing operators’ skills and medical fitness, to ensure physical distancing requirements can be met.

Additional regulations are being temporarily modified as follows:

  • The deadline to file appeals to the Alberta Transportation Safety Board is 30 days after the public health emergency ends. The deadline to apply to the courts for judicial review of the board’s decisions is now 30 days after the ministerial order ends.
  • The expiry dates of vehicle inspection certificates and decals will be extended to May 15 for those certificates set to expire between March 17 and May 15.
  • The deadline is being extended for most drivers who require a medical evaluation to provide their completed medical form when applying for or renewing their licence.

These temporary changes will remain in effect until the ministerial orders end, which is the earliest of:

  • August 14 or 60 days after the public health emergency order ends, if it ends before June 15.
  • Another date determined by the minister or cabinet.

 

Saskatchewan

The Government of Saskatchewan announced the following measures:

$1.5 million in emergency financial aid will be made available to help post-secondary students with limited financial resources and supports whose studies and employment have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The amount of emergency funding will depend on each students’ circumstances and will be available from April 1, 2020 to September 30, 2020.  Eligibility requirements and application details will be available to students through their post-secondary educational institution within the next week to ten days, after details are finalized.

 

Manitoba

The Government of Manitoba announced the following measures:

Education

On April 9, Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen announced that the province is providing a supplemental online learning resource, My Learning at Home/Mon Apprentissage Chez Moi, for Manitoba families whose children are learning at home during the suspension of in-school classes because of COVID-19. The My Learning at Home portal went live online today.

Call for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

On April 9, the Province put out a special request to the garment industry for the following items to be used by social service workers in support of the province’s response to COVID-19:

  • medical swabs
  • non-medical cotton gloves;
  • non-medical cotton gowns; and
  • previously requested supplies (i.e., medical gowns, suits, gloves and masks).

Businesses and individuals in Manitoba who can provide supplies are asked to visit manitoba.ca/covid19supplies.

Enforcement of Public Health Orders

On April 9, the Province and City of Winnipeg announced a collaboration to implement ‘Operation Safe Apart,’ a pandemic public health enforcement strategy, including new pre-set fines for individuals or business owners who disregard public health orders.

The province declared a state of emergency on March 20, which included orders under The Public Health Act to help reduce the spread of the virus including:

  • restrictions on public gatherings to 10 or fewer people;
  • requiring the closure of non-essential businesses; and
  • enforcing social distancing measures by businesses and services that remain open including ensuring a two-metre distance is kept between people in the facility or premises.

Effective April 9, fine amounts for breaching these emergency orders will be set at $486 for individuals and $2,542 for businesses.

Manitoba will be implementing a multi-tiered enforcement approach to enforcing orders, which will include public education, written warning or, ultimately, enforcement actions such as ticketing or arrest, if necessary.

Child Care

Beginning on April 14, all parents who work in critical services, as defined by the Chief Provincial Public Health Officer, will be eligible to access child-care spaces available in licensed facilities. This includes health-care providers, emergency service providers, corrections workers, law enforcement workers, fire and paramedic workers, direct social services and child protection workers, support staff at hospitals and clinics, grocery store staff, farmers and farm workers, construction workers, bank or credit union employees.

Parents working in these sectors who have been unable to make other child-care arrangements will be able to visit manitoba.ca/covid19 to see which facilities have spaces and work directly with them to secure child care.

 

Ontario

The Government of Ontario announced the following measures:

Plan for Economic Recovery

The Ontario government has launched the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee which will focus on getting businesses up and running and people back to work after the COVID-19 pandemic is over. The Committee will be consulting with a wide variety of people to assess the impact of COVID-19 on the provincial economy and develop an action plan to move forward, including business associations, chambers of commerce, municipal leaders, corporate leaders, small business owners, and entrepreneurs.

Support for Seniors and People with Disabilities

Ontario is partnering with SPARK Ontario to help seniors and people with disabilities stay connected and healthy as they self-isolate during the COVID-19 outbreak.  SPARK Ontario is a bilingual volunteer hub designed to direct volunteers to groups across the province requiring help delivering food or medicines, running errands or checking up on seniors and people with disabilities by phone or email while they self-isolate.

 

Quebec

The Government of Quebec announced the following measures:

On April 9, the government announced the granting of bonuses to personnel working in the various private living environments for seniors and clienteles with specific needs, including private seniors’ residences, residential and private unfunded long-term care centres (CHSLD), intermediate resources and family-type resources. The bonuses offered are retroactive to March 13, 2020 and are in addition to the bonus of $4 per hour announced on April 2 to compensate the beneficiary attendants.

These new bonuses are equivalent to those granted to employees of the public health and social services network, announced on April 2. Thus, a temporary premium of 8% will be paid to nurses and auxiliary nurses. In addition, a 4% bonus will be granted to other employees in the private accommodation sector.

On April 8, the government announced through a ministerial decree the granting of bonuses to employees of ambulance services, health communication centers and the Corporation d’Urgences-santé. They notably granted for the ambulance technicians, a temporary bonus of 8% of the salary for each hour worked and for the staff, unionized or not, of the emergency medical services sector a temporary bonus of 4% of the salary for each hour.

On April 8, the Minister of Labor, Employment and Social Solidarity, Mr. Jean Boulet, announced that the Temporary Aid for Workers Program (PATT COVID-19) will end on April 10, 2020, at 4:00 p.m.  This decision was made following the implementation of the new federal program for the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit.

This temporary aid program, launched on March 16, represented an investment of more than $14.5 million.  It financially supported more than 13,000 citizens targeted by an isolation measure and who were not eligible for an income replacement program. Until the expiry of the program, requests must be made by telephone.

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Le gouvernement du Québec a annoncé les mesures suivantes :

Le 9 avril, le gouvernement a annoncé l’octroi de primes au personnel œuvrant dans les différents milieux de vie privés pour aînés et clientèles avec des besoins spécifiques, incluant les résidences privées pour aînés, les centres d’hébergement et de soins de longue durée (CHSLD) non conventionnés, les ressources intermédiaires et les ressources de type familial.

Les primes offertes sont rétroactives au 13 mars 2020 et s’ajoutent à la prime de 4$ par heure travaillée qui avait été annoncée le 2 avril dernier pour indemniser les préposés aux bénéficiaires.

Plus précisément, ces nouvelles primes sont équivalentes à celles octroyées aux employés du réseau public de la santé et des services sociaux, annoncées le 2 avril dernier. Ainsi, une prime temporaire de 8% sera versée aux infirmières et infirmières auxiliaires. De plus, une prime de 4% sera octroyée pour les autres employés des milieux d’hébergement privés.

Le 8 avril, le gouvernement a annoncé, au travers d’un arrêté ministériel, l’octroi de primes au personnel à l’emploi des services ambulanciers, des centres de communication santé et de la Corporation d’Urgences-santé. On a notamment accordé aux techniciens ambulanciers une prime temporaire de 8% du salaire pour chaque heure travaillée, et au personnel du secteur préhospitalier d’urgence, syndiqué ou non, une prime temporaire de 4% du salaire pour chaque heure travaillée.

Le 8 avril, le ministre du Travail, de l’Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale, M. Jean Boulet, a annoncé que le Programme d’aide temporaire aux travailleurs (PATT COVID-19) prendrait fin le 10 avril 2020, à 16 h. Cette décision a été prise suite à la mise en œuvre du nouveau programme fédéral nommé la Prestation canadienne d’urgence.

Ce programme, lancé le 16 mars dernier, a représenté un investissement de plus de 14,5M$. Il a permis de soutenir financièrement plus de 13 000 travailleurs visés par une mesure d’isolement et qui n’étaient pas admissibles à un programme de remplacement du revenu. D’ici la fin du PATT COVID-19, les demandes devront être faites par téléphone.

 

Newfoundland and Labrador

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced the following measures:

CERB and Income Support

Effective April 9, the government provided some clarity around how the provincial Income Support program interacts with the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). While some Income Support clients may qualify for the CERB because they had employment earnings in the last year, others will not qualify. It is important to note that individuals cannot receive both provincial Income Support and the CERB at the same time. Should Income Support clients receive the CERB, they will no longer qualify for Income Support, and benefits will be suspended immediately. An overpayment will be set up on Income Support files where there is an overlap in payments from the CERB. When Income Support benefits are suspended, individuals will need to apply for prescription drug coverage through Newfoundland and Labrador Prescription Drug Plan by calling 1-888-859-3535 or going online.

Ferries

The government reminded ferry users of the existing restrictions on usage of the ferries. Only essential travellers may use the ferries. Essential travellers are passengers who are:

  • Essential workers travelling to their workplace;
  • Patients travelling for medical reasons, including for doctor’s appointments and visits to pharmacies;
  • Residents travelling to purchase essential goods and supplies, such as groceries, that are not available in their home community; and
  • Passengers transporting essential goods.

These restrictions will be strictly enforced over the holiday weekend.

 

New Brunswick

The Government of New Brunswick announced the following measures:

Effective April 9, the Department of Natural Resources and Energy Development has delayed, until at least May 1, the opening of all recreational fishing seasons and the spring bear hunting season due to COVID-19. Fishing season normally begins on April 15 and the spring bear hunt on April 20.

 

Nova Scotia

The Government of Nova Scotia announced the following measures:

Effective April 10, applications for the $40 million Worker Emergency Bridge Fund and Small Business Impact Grant will be available. Applications for small business will be online at 8 a.m. A toll-free phone line for applications for the worker fund will be open starting at 8 a.m.  Effective April 9, the government announced that payment for more than 480 small-business fees will be deferred until June 30 to keep cash in small business hands.

Private campgrounds must close until May 1, when this measure will be reassessed.

Workers in the fishing and offshore industries must self-isolate when they enter the province.

 

Prince Edward Island

The Government of Prince Edward Island announced the following measures:

Sale of Goods/Food

Effective April 18, and until the state of public health emergency is terminated, a retail business that sells or offers for sale food, food products and household or personal products for customer pickup is permitted to sell or offer for sale goods during the hours of 8 a.m. to 11:59 a.m. on Sundays, provided that the sale or offering for sale of the goods is limited to advance purchases.

Fishing

Effective April 9, the recreational fishing season has been delayed until at least June 1. The delay applies to both inland and tidal water fisheries. Fisheries and Oceans Canada has made the necessary regulatory changes to support the delay.

Agriculture Sector

Minister Thompson announced a new $750,000 COVID-19 Strategic Fund for Agriculture under the Canada Agriculture Partnership to help commodities and small processors adapt to the pandemic. Eligible projects could include changing a workplace environment to accommodate physical distancing, doing more business online, or adjusting quickly to changing markets.  The Canadian Agricultural Partnership is a five-year, $37 million investment in strategic initiatives for Prince Edward Island agriculture by the federal and provincial governments.

The agriculture minister also announced that the province is looking at ways to address some of the labour challenges facing the industry, including enhancing the Farm Team Student bursary. The bursary provides a financial incentive, on top of employee wages, to high school or post-secondary students who work in the agriculture industry. The province is adding a job matching service to the program so that job seekers can be paired quickly with farmers looking for workers this season.

Farmers

To help support the health and well-being of Island farmers, Minister Thompson announced increased support for Farmers Talk. The program provides farmers, farm workers and their families with advice and counselling from individuals who understand the agriculture industry.

Truck Drivers

To support the health and safety of truck drivers and their loved ones, Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy Steven Myers announced a partnership with the PEI Trucking Sector Council, Emergency Measures Organization and Rodd Royalty Inn & Suites to make rooms available for truck drivers so they can practice self-isolation between trips. Truckers with a valid Class 1 licence or equivalent from other jurisdictions are eligible for a significantly reduced fee of $20 per night billed directly to the driver’s company. Truck drivers can call 902-892-2253 for booking information, parking directions and availability.

 

Yukon

The Government of the Yukon announced the following measures:

Effective April 8, the government announced that the Yukon Business Relief Program will help Yukon businesses that have experienced a 30% reduction in revenue and require immediate relief.  Eligible businesses can apply for a grant of up to $30,000 per month to cover fixed costs from March 23 to May 22, 2020.  Eligible fixed costs include: commercial rent or lease; water, sewage and waste disposal; electricity and heating fuel; telephone, cable, internet and satellite; software, data services, and subscriptions; business insurance; and pest control.

 

Northwest Territories

The Government of the Northwest Territories announced the following measures:

Effective April 1, 2020 (but announced on April 8), the NWT Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission has suspended late payment interest charges and further extended the assessment payment deadline to August 1, 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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