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Bulletin | Covid-19

Daily Workplace Wrap-up on COVID-19 for April 1, 2020

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

Below are the key government announcements made on April 1, 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 Government of Canada announced further details surrounding the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, and issued a backgrounder with further information. While more details are to be announced and clarified, according to the government’s announcement:

  • “The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy would apply at a rate of 75 per cent of the first $58,700 normally earned by employees – representing a benefit of up to $847 per week. The program would be in place for a 12-week period, from March 15 to June 6, 2020.
  • Eligible employers who suffer a drop in gross revenues of at least 30 per cent in March, April or May, when compared to the same month in 2019, would be able to access the subsidy.
  • Eligible employers would include employers of all sizes and across all sectors of the economy, with the exception of public sector entities.
  • For non-profit organizations and registered charities similarly affected by a loss of revenue, the government will continue to work with the sector to ensure the definition of revenue is appropriate to their circumstances. The government is also considering additional support for non-profits and charities, particularly those involved in the front line response to COVID-19. Further details will be announced in the near term.
  • An eligible employer’s entitlement to this wage subsidy will be based entirely on the salary or wages actually paid to employees. All employers would be expected to at least make best efforts to top up salaries to 100% of the maximum wages covered.”

According to the government, eligible employers will be able to access the subsidy by applying through a Canada Revenue Agency online portal, which should be available in a few weeks.  The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy will not replace the previously announced 10% wage subsidy for eligible employers. For employers that are eligible for both subsidies for a period, any benefit from the 10% wage subsidy an employer receives is expected to reduce the amount available to that employer from the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy.

The Prime Minister also clarified that employees will not be able to receive both the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). Beginning on April 6, 2020, Canadians can apply online for the CERB.

See the Fasken bulletin, Early Details on the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, for further details and analysis of the government’s announcement and backgrounder.

Alberta

No major government updates as of 5:00 p.m. E.D.T. on April 1, 2020.

British Columbia

The government has extended its declared state of emergency for an additional 14 days.

It also issued new guidelines for operation of industrial camps during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Finally, the British Columbia Workers Compensation Board issued new guidelines for Preventing Exposure to COVID-19 at workplaces in British Columbia.

Manitoba

No major government updates as of 5:00 p.m. E.D.T. on April 1, 2020.

New Brunswick

The government extended the state of emergency that was declared on March 19, 2020, for another 14 days. The Premier warned that failure to comply with emergency orders could result in fines ranging from $292.50 to $10,200, and that law enforcement authorities were being deployed to enforce these measures.

The chief medical officer of health announced a new directive requiring healthcare workers in nursing homes to have their temperature taken before being allowed into the workplace.

Newfoundland and Labrador

On April 1, 2020, the Minister of Health and Community Services issued a Public Health Emergency Extension Declaration (“Declaration”). The Declaration extends the province-wide public health emergency for a period of 14 days effective April 2, 2020. The Minister of Health and Community Services advised in a press conference that he believes a number of additional extensions will be required.

The Premier previously announced that the government will permit the limited operation of regulated child care services for children (aged one to thirteen) of essential workers. The child care services will be provided at no charge to essential workers. On April 1, 2020, the Premier advised that essential workers who arrange their own child care in a “home-like” environment will be reimbursed $200 per week per child upon confirmation from the worker’s employer that the worker is an essential employee. For the purpose of this child care benefit, essential workers include all health care workers, paramedics, firefighters, police and correction workers, early childhood educators providing essential worker child care services, and other public servants required to work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nova Scotia

No major government updates as of 5:00 p.m. E.D.T. on April 1, 2020.

Ontario

On the evening of March 31, 2020, the government issued an order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (the “EMPCA”) which requires individuals in Ontario to identify themselves to police. Specifically, the order provides that a police officer or provincial offences officer, which includes First Nations constables, special constables and municipal by-law enforcement officers, who has reasonable and probable grounds to believe that an individual has committed an offence under the EMPCA may require the individual to provide the officer with their correct name, date of birth and address.

The government announcement states that this temporary power allows officers to “be able to enforce emergency orders during these extraordinary times” and highlights the following consequences for failing to comply with the new identification order and any other emergency orders, namely:

  • “Failing to correctly identify oneself carries a fine of $750 for failure to comply with an order made under the EMCPA or $1,000 for obstructing any person in exercising a power if a provincial offences officer issues a ticket.
  • In addition, failure to comply with an emergency order could carry punishments of up to one-year imprisonment or a fine of up to $100,000 for an individual, $500,000 for a director of a corporation, or $10,000,000 for a corporation itself if a provincial offences officer charges the individual by issuing a summons.
  • These penalties apply in addition to the penalties for breaching other emergency orders.”

Individuals travelling between Ottawa, Ontario and Gatineau, Québec may expect to see random checkpoints at the Ottawa-Gatineau border crossings, among other areas, limiting travel into western Québec.  On April 1, 2020, the Québec government announced that, beginning at 12:00 p.m.  E.D.T. on April 1, 2020, checkpoints would be deployed to limit non-essential movements in the Outaouais region.  The Québec government’s press release made it clear that these measures would not affect health care services or other essential commerce.  News reports indicate that checkpoints were set up on bridges between Ottawa and Gatineau as early as 1:00 p.m. E.D.T. 

On April 1, 2020, the Ontario government announced the launch of a $50-million fund named the Ontario Together Fund.   According to the government announcement, the purpose of the fund is to “help businesses provide innovative solutions or retool their operations in order to manufacture essential medical supplies and equipment, including gowns, coveralls, masks, face shields, testing equipment and ventilators.” The fund will be available to companies and organizations across the province.  Businesses may submit proposals to the government through the Ontario Together portal.

In a press conference, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health indicated that she was making certain orders under the Health Protection and Promotion Act affecting workplaces that are still operating. The specific orders being made were unclear as of 5:00 p.m. E.D.T. as no orders had been published or made publicly available. 

Prince Edward Island

The government introduced the COVID-19 Income Support Program, intended to assist employees experiencing a loss of income. This fund will provide one-time, taxable payments of $750 for eligible employees.

The government announced additional screening and enforcement measures at the Confederation Bridge for travelers arriving in Prince Edward Island. Individuals coming across the bridge will be stopped to determine if their travel to Prince Edward Island is essential based the guidelines announced earlier in the week by the Chief Public Health Officer.

It is expected that individuals will be permitted onto the island if they are:

  • essential workers commuting for work; 
  • essential workers in the trade and transportation sectors who are moving goods and people across borders (such as truck drivers); 
  • residents of the island returning from out-of-province travel, medical appointments or students returning home; and 
  • individuals coming on compassionate grounds. 

Non-residents of the island traveling to the province for personal reasons will not be admitted.

Quebec

Premier Legault announced additional restrictions, including movement restrictions, in four regions. In each of Outaouais, Laurentides, Lanaudière and Mauricie - Centre du Québec, travel will now be limited to essential movements. As set out in the Ontario update, this has resulted in some immediate measures at the provincial boundary between Quebec and Ontario in Ottawa.

The Premier also confirmed that when an employee needs to travel in a restricted region in order to work, the police can request a certificate from the employer as proof that they perform work permitted under the current provincial restrictions.

Saskatchewan

No major government updates as of 5:00 p.m. E.D.T. on April 1, 2020.

Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and the Yukon

In Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon, there were no major government updates as of 5:00 p.m. E.D.T. on April 1, 2020.

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