Below are the key government announcements made on April 17, 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
The Prime Minister reported that more than 7.5 million payments have been made under the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (“CERB”). Moving forward, the government will be releasing the latest figures on the CERB three times per week through the government’s open data portal.
The government also announced new measures to create and protect Canadian jobs and provide more support to businesses and organizations dealing with the economic impacts of COVID-19. The government will provide over $1.7-billion for targeted measures, including:
- $675 million in financing support to small and medium-sized businesses that are unable to access the government’s existing COVID-19 support measures, through Canada’s Regional Development Agencies;
- $287 million to support rural businesses and communities, including by providing them with access to capital through the Community Futures Network;
- $500 million to establish a COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations to help address the financial needs of affected organizations within these sectors so they can continue to support artists and athletes;
- $250 million to assist innovative, early-stage companies that are unable to access existing COVID-19 business support, through the National Research Council of Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program; and
- $20.1 million in support for Futurpreneur Canada to continue to support young entrepreneurs across Canada who are facing challenges due to COVID-19. The funding will allow Futurpreneur Canada to provide payment relief for its clients for up to 12 months.
The government also announced new measures to support and promote job retention and growth in the energy sector, including:
- providing up to $1.72 billion in funding, including funding to the governments of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia, and the Alberta Orphan Well Association, to clean up orphan and/or inactive oil and gas wells; and
- establishing a $750 million Emission Reduction Fund with a focus on methane to create and maintain jobs through pollution reduction efforts.
The government issued Ministerial Order 625/2020 to allow the Chief Medical Officer of Health to require a health care facility operator to provide information for the purpose of restricting the movement of staff members among health care facilities. This Order reflects and reinforces recent changes made by Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health in CMOH Order 10-2020 and includes the following additional changes:
- the Chief Medical Officer may, upon written notice, require an operator of a health care facility or a contractor operating within a health care facility to disclose information pertaining to personal information of staff members and any information related to the purpose of restricting the movement of staff members among health care facilities; and
- the Chief Medical Officer and Department of Health may use the information obtain for the purpose of restricting movement of staff members among health care facilities, including disclosing the information to other operators of health care facilities for the purpose of restricting movement.
The amendments are retroactive to April 16, 2020.
The Provincial Health Officer published an order requiring that Personal Services businesses, including services related to hair, skin, nails and others part of the body, body modification, floatation tanks, cosmetic laser services and electrolysis, cease operating until further notice.
The Provincial Health Officer published a second order limiting the merchandise that may be sold at vending merchandise markets (i.e. open air markets) to food products. Physical distancing measures at those sites must be provided, and facilities for on-site dining, such as picnic tables and chairs, must be removed.
Finally, the Provincial Health Officer published an order amending previous orders and directions to restrict health care workers from working at multiple health care facilities. The amended order extends the class of facilities to include extended care hospitals, and provides additional directions to Regional Health Boards and Medical Health Officers to facilitate the restriction of movement of health care workers between facilities.
The government announced $300-million in COVID-19 funding, for initiatives including the procurement of essential supplies and equipment, support for local production of gowns, scrubs and other medical equipment, and support for testing and hospital overflows.
Businesses which can rapidly scale up production or re-tool their manufacturing lines to develop products needed by the government to combat COVID-19 are asked visit the government’s COVID-19 portal.
The government passed legislative amendments to the Emergency Measures Act which, among other things, creates new powers for the government to suspend timelines for court measures. The amendments to the Emergency Measures Act may be viewed here.
The government also passed amendments to the Employment Standards Act. These amendments include a new job-protected leave of absence during a declared state of emergency, the full details of which can be determined by the government through a regulation. The amendments may be viewed here. As of 5:00 p.m. EDT, no regulation setting out the details of the new leave was publicly available.
Newfoundland and Labrador
No major government updates as of 5:00 p.m. EDT on April 17, 2020.
On April 16, 2020, the government issued an emergency order allowing municipalities to take redeployment and staffing measures for certain municipal services to respond to the pandemic.
On April 17, 2020, the government announced $1-million in new funding to connect workers with jobs in the agri-food sector. According to the province’s press release, the funding will “help primary agriculture, food processing companies and grocery retail to recruit and train workers who are important to keeping the essential food supply chain functioning.”
The government also announced new emergency orders intended to protect vulnerable people from COVID-19 and allow employers to re-assign staff for this purpose. According to the government press release, those new orders include:
- “Providing Local Health Integration Networks with the ability to direct home care service provider organizations to safely reassign frontline staff to areas where they are most needed, including home and community care settings, long-term care homes, supportive housing, retirement homes and hospitals.” The emergency order can be found here.
- “Providing municipalities and District Social Service Administration Boards with the flexibility to offer reassignments to certain staff to where there is local need during the outbreak, including child care, by-law enforcement, and public health services.” The emergency order can be found here.
The Ontario government also announced a new emergency order which expands the list of essential workers eligible to receive emergency child care during the pandemic. According to the government press release, such services are now also accessible to the following frontline workers:
- “Staff working in developmental services, victim services, violence against women services, anti-human trafficking services and child welfare services (children's aid societies) and in children's residential settings;
- Additional staff identified by the Ministry of the Solicitor General, including:
- First Nations constables;
- Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management fire investigators;
- Select critical staff in community corrections, such as probation and parole officers;
- Contractors in institutional corrections services;
- Frontline staff at the Provincial Forensic Pathology Unit;
- Critical staff at the Centre of Forensic Sciences; and
- Critical staff operating the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre.
- Staff working in shelters (e.g., serving homeless populations;
- Power workers;
- Pharmaceutical and medical supplies and device manufacturing workers;
- Non-municipal water and waste-water employees; and
- Federally employed staff including Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers and Canada Post employees.”
Prince Edward Island
No major government updates as of 5:00 p.m. EDT on April 17, 2020.
Premier Legault announced a $45-million program through which the government will add $100 per week to the wages paid by farmers to their employees.
The Chief Medical Health Officer’s public health order has been updated to require that all long-term care and personal care homes ensure that each of their staff members works in only one facility, as of April 28, 2020. A care home may seek approval from a medical health officer to permit a staff member to work in more than one facility if they are unable to ensure adequate staffing levels as a result of complying with this order.
This public health order’s coverage of long-term care and affiliate care homes has been expanded to include personal care homes and to formally require the following:
- all staff members in long-term care, personal care and affiliate care homes must undergo a health screening prior to entry to the facility, including a temperature check; and
- at all times while on shift, all staff members in long-term care, personal care and affiliate care homes shall wear, at minimum, a procedural/surgical mask. Additional personal protective equipment may be required to perform care or procedures, and those guidelines must be followed.
The updated public health order can be viewed here.
Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and the Yukon
In Nunavut, the government announced that all schools will remain closed to students for the remainder of the school year.
No major government updates from the Northwest Territories or the Yukon as of 5:00 p.m. EDT on April 17, 2020.