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Bulletin | Covid-19

Weekend Workplace Wrap-up on COVID-19 for March 28 and 29, 2020

Fasken
Reading Time 7 minute read
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Labour, Employment & Human Rights Bulletin

Below are the key government announcements made on March 28 and 29, 2020 that touch on workplace issues.  We also summarize the “in case you missed it” (“ICYMI”) top stories in each province from the previous week. These changes will undoubtedly affect many of your businesses. 

Our daily and weekend overviews of previous government announcements, employment analyses and other COVID-19 information are available here

The Federal Government

The Government of Canada announced that Transport Canada is introducing new restrictions on domestic travel. As of March 30, 2020 at 12:00 p.m. E.D.T., people showing any symptoms of COVID-19 will be denied boarding on all domestic flights and intercity passenger trains. These measures apply to passenger rail carriers (except commuter rail operators) under federal jurisdiction. Guidance for airline operators and passenger railway companies with respect to these restrictions has been published by Transport Canada.

ICYMI: On March 25, 2020 the government announced more details on the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit (“CERB”), and created a new COVID-19 leave of absence for federally regulated employees. On March 27, 2020 the federal government announced a wage subsidy of up to 75% for eligible small and medium-sized businesses.

Alberta

No major government updates as of 5:00 p.m. E.D.T. on March 29, 2020.

ICYMI: On March 27, 2020, the government ordered the closure of specific non-essential businesses.

British Columbia

No major government updates as of 5:00 p.m. E.D.T. on March 29, 2020.

ICYMI: On March 23, 2020, the government introduced a new COVID-19 leave of absence for employees.

Manitoba

The government announced the following measures that will be effective Monday March 30, 2020:

  • public gatherings are limited to no more than 10 people at any indoor or outdoor place or premises;
  • retail businesses including grocery/food stores must ensure separation of 1 to 2 metres between patrons assembling at the place of business; and
  • public transportation facilities must ensure that people assembling at the facility are reasonably able to maintain a separation of 1 to 2 metres.

ICYMI: On March 27, 2020, the government announced changes to its employment standards legislation aimed at making temporary layoffs related to COVID-19 less restrictive by removing the requirement that employees are automatically deemed to be terminated after 8 weeks of layoff within a 16-week period.

New Brunswick

The New Brunswick government provided additional guidance on the one-time New Brunswick Workers Emergency Income Benefit announced on March 24, 2020. This benefit is available for individuals who:

  • have lost their job;
  • have been laid off, or been self-employed and have lost all revenue, on or after March 15 due to the state of emergency in New Brunswick;
  • have earned a minimum of $5,000 (gross) in the last 12 months or in the last calendar year;
  • have lost their primary source of income;
  • have applied (or plan to apply) for support from the federal government (either Employment Insurance or the Canada Emergency Response Benefit);
  • have no other income; and
  • are 18 years or older.

Additional information regarding the benefit is available online here. As previously reported, applications may be made online beginning on March 30, 2020 at 12:00 p.m. A.D.T.

ICYMI: On March 25, 2020, the government barred travellers to the province save for specific purposes, and announced checkpoints at provincial points of entry.

Newfoundland and Labrador

The government posted a one-page guide setting out the businesses that are permitted to remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic.

ICYMI: On March 27, 2020, the government created a new COVID-19 leave of absence for employees.

Nova Scotia

No major government updates as of 5:00 p.m. E.D.T. on March 29, 2020.

ICYMI: On March 23, 2020, the government declared a state of emergency.

Ontario

On March 28, 2020, the government announced the implementation of a new emergency order applicable to long-term care homes. 

According to the government announcement, “these temporary measures provide further flexibility for long-term care homes and allow homes to redirect their staffing and financial resources to essential tasks.”  The measures include the Ministry of Long-Term Care’s redeployment of qualified inspectors to “[support] long-term care homes on the ground through staff supply, care coordination, serving as point-people with Public Health, helping homes to prevent and contain infections, and many other tasks necessary to the safety and security of residents.”

The government also announced,effective March 28, 2020,a prohibition on organized public events, and social gatherings of more than five people (subject to some narrow exemptions).   

On March 29, 2020, the Ontario government released guidance for employers in the construction industry on matters relating to health and safety during the current pandemic. According to a government news release, this updated guidance is intended to “help employers better understand their responsibilities and what is needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on the job site…and addresses sector topics including:

  • providing better on-site sanitation, including a focus on high-touch areas like site trailers, door handles and hoists;
  • communicating roles, responsibilities, and health and safety policies, by, for example, posting site sanitization schedules and work schedules;
  • enabling greater distances between workers by staggering shifts, restricting site numbers and limiting elevator usage; and
  • protecting public health by tracking and monitoring workers.”

The announcement included a reminder to employers of their obligations to take reasonable precautions to keep workers safe and, further, that “ministry inspectors are inspecting job sites today and every day.” The government called for a “heightened focus on health and safety” while job sites remain open during the pandemic.

ICYMI: At 11:59 p.m. E.D.T. on March 24, 2020, all non-essential services/business workplaces in the province were required to close.

Prince Edward Island

No major government updates as of 5:00 p.m. E.D.T. on March 29, 2020.

ICYMI: ON March 27, 2020, the government announced that all non-essential government services and non-essential businesses in the province will remain closed indefinitely.

Quebec

On Saturday, March 28, 2020, the government banned all but essential travel in or out of the following areas of the province: Bas-Saint-Laurent, Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Côte Nord, North of Québec, Saguenay Lac-St-Jean, Gaspésie, Îles de la Madeleine, Nunavik and the Cree territory of James Bay. Police controls have been installed on highways in and out of these areas. Employees required to travel to and from these regions for work purposes may be assisted by a letter from their employer explaining what they are doing and that it falls within the current list of permissible businesses allowed to operate by the government.

The government also announced that “precautions” were being taken at the provincial border with New Brunswick, with details yet to come.The government also announced a ban on cottage rentals to limit travel between regions.

Premier Legault commented that the government will only allow the reopening of non-priority companies and workplaces when it is safe and appropriate, with the hope that this will happen soon.

Finally, the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (the Montreal police force) announced that it has directed its officers to more proactively enforce and issues fines for contraventions of public health measures, including with respect to breaches of quarantines, prohibitions against gatherings, and the operation of businesses that are required to be closed.

ICYMI: As of 12:01 a.m. E.D.T. on March 25, 2020 all non-priority services and activities in the province were required to shut down.

Saskatchewan

No major government updates as of 5:00 pm E.D.T. on March 29, 2020.

ICYMI: On March 26, 2020, the government issued an order requiring all but critical public services to close.

Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon

In the Yukon, the government announced the following measures to support businesses and workers:

  • financial support to employers through the new Paid Sick Leave Rebate Program. The rebate will cover a maximum of 10 days of wages per employee to allow for a 14-day self-isolation period. Eligible employers can apply online;
  • workers employed through the Yukon Nominee Program (“YNP”) will not be issued the standard 90-day notice to find new employment in case of a layoff or a reduction of hours. General information on the YNP is available here;
  • aviation fees  (i.e. airport landing, aircraft parking and loading) will be waived from April 1st until December 31st, 2020;
  • $1 million of additional funding to the Tourism Cooperative Marketing Fund, and a broadened scope of eligible projects and activities for tourism businesses. General information on the fund is available online; and
  • $275,000 of additional funding for arts and culture sectors

In Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, there were no major government updates as of 5:00 p.m. E.D.T. on March 29, 2020.

ICYMI: On March 24, 2020, the Northwest Territories Highway 7 border crossing was ordered closed. On March 27, 2020, states of emergency were declared in the Yukon and in the Northwest Territories.

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