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Covid-19 | Bulletin

Daily Workplace Wrap-up on COVID-19 for March 31, 2020

Fasken
Reading Time 5 minute read
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Labour, Employment & Human Rights Bulletin

Below are the key government announcements made on March 31, 2020 that touch on workplace issues. 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

Despite the earlier announcement that details regarding the new Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (up to a 75% wage subsidy for employers that can demonstrate a 30% decline in revenue as a result of COVID-19) would be delivered on March 31, 2020, the Finance Minister tweeted that the release of the details was delayed by a day.  Based on the Finance Minister’s tweet, the additional details on the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy will be released on April 1, 2020.

Alberta

The government introduced 2 bills in the legislature related to its COVID-19 response, including Bill 10 - the Public Health Emergency Powers Amendment Act 2020.

The government indicated Bill 10 largely reflects recent announcements by the government granting enforcement agencies full authority to enforce public health orders and to issue fines pursuant to recent amendments to the Procedures Regulation under the Provincial Offences Procedures Act.   Employers that violate any public health orders may be subject to the following fines:

  • up to $100 per day to a prescribed fine of $1,000 per occurrence; and
  • Courts will also have increased powers to administer fines of up to $100,000 for a first offence and up to $500,000 for a subsequent offence for more serious violations.

Though introduced, as of 5:00 p.m. E.D.T. Bill 10 had not been passed by the legislature.

British Columbia

No major government updates as of 5:00 p.m. E.D.T. on March 31, 2020.

Manitoba

The government announced that it is indefinitely suspending all in-person classes for students from kindergarten to grade 12.  Prior to the announcement, in-person classes had only been suspended until April 10, 2020.

New Brunswick

No major government updates as of 5:00 p.m. E.D.T. on March 31, 2020.

Newfoundland and Labrador 

The government issued a public advisory stating that retailers in Newfoundland and Labrador selling milk, chicken and eggs should not limit quantities available to customers. It stated that healthy supplies of these products are produced in Newfoundland and Labrador and that no shortages or service disruptions with respect to these supplies are anticipated. Customers should be permitted to purchase these products in required amounts to ensure sufficient quantities without the need for multiple store visits.

Nova Scotia

The government launched a “COVID-19 Employer Assessment Tool”. This assessment tool is designed to help businesses and non-profits determine if they may remain open and how they can comply with public health orders and workplace safety requirements. 

The government also released further information on the COVID-19 Rent Deferral Support Program (PDF). The program is intended to indemnify eligible commercial landlords for losses incurred from rent deferrals to businesses directly impacted by the government’s Health Protection Act Order (PDF). Template agreements for the program can be found here (gross lease) (PDF) and here (net lease).

Ontario

On March 31, 2020, the government announced that schools and child care centres will remain closed on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health. 

The government’s announcement indicates that public schools will remain closed to teachers until Friday, May 1, 2020, and to students until Monday, May 4, 2020, with the possibility that such dates could be re-evaluated and extended if necessary.

Private schools, licensed child care centres and other early education programs will also remain closed until April 13, according to the emergency orders issued under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, which only allows closures to be extended for one 14-day period at a time, with the exception of certain centres which will remain open to support frontline health care workers and first responders. 

Prince Edward Island

The government announced that all schools across the province will remain closed for in-person classes until, at minimum, May 11, 2020.

Quebec

Premier Legault announced that the government’s current priority is to ensure the supply and sufficiency of medical protective equipment. Orders for certain depleted supplies are expected to arrive in the next few days.

Premier Legault also confirmed that the government expects a gradual return to normal when the COVID-19 situation stabilizes. A team of four government ministers has been tasked to prepare the government’s plans based on anticipated economic impacts, particularly on changes in consumption, and measures for the government to take to ensure that businesses are ready to be relaunched quickly.

Saskatchewan

The government announced the creation of a new pandemic response plan for the Ministry of Social Services, affecting organizations and agencies under its portfolio. Details of the plan can be accessed here.

Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon

In the Northwest Territories, the government announced a second wave of economic relief measures valued at a total of $8.26 million, including the following:

  • $1.617 million in income assistance to create a one-time emergency allowance;
  • $270,000 in additional benefits to income assistance clients by excluding “gifts or unearned income” from the calculation of earned income until June 30, 2020;
  • leases, licences and concession fees for all businesses operating at any of the territory’s airports will be waived from April 1 through June 30, 2020;
  • interest charges on all late tax returns will be waived between March 15 and June 30, 2020;
  • all licensed establishments will be able to return unopened inventory to the Northwest Territories Liquor and Cannabis Commission;
  • professional fees for Health and Services workers will be waived for the year;
  • food establishment permit fees will be waived for the year.

A detailed list of all the new measures is available online.

In Yukon, the government published a comprehensive list of all closures, cancellations, restricted facility access and changes in services that have been announced as of March 31, 2020.

In Nunavut, there were no major government updates on March 31, 2020 as of 5:00 p.m. E.D.T.

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