Below are the key government announcements made on April 23, 2020 that touch on workplace issues. Our daily and weekend overviews of previous government announcements, employment analyses and other COVID-19 information are available here.
The Federal Government
Prime Minister Trudeau announced more than $1-billion in support for a national medical research strategy to fight COVID-19 that includes vaccine development, the production of treatments, and tracking of the virus.
The Chief Medical Officer of Health announced that the prohibition against gatherings of more than 15 people, pursuant to CMOH Order 07-2020(PDF), will remain in place all summer. As a result of this restriction, many summer events and festivals across Alberta will not be permitted. Following the announcement, the Calgary Stampede and the City of Calgary announced that for the first time in the event's 97 year history, this year's Calgary Stampede is cancelled.
The Chief Medical Officer of Heath also announced that the operation of CMOH Order 10-2020(PDF), which restricts health care workers from working at more than one health care facility, has been temporarily suspended. The temporary suspension is to provide the Ministry of Health more time to inform employers and employees on the scope of the order.
The Provincial Health Officer published an Order (PDF) for employers in the forestry, agriculture, and aquamarine industries that operate industrial camps. Pursuant to the Order, applicable employers must:
- develop a COVID-19 infection prevention and control protocol, and make the protocol available to employees and provincial infection prevention and control officers;
- maintain "high levels of accommodation, worksite and worker hygiene" in industrial camps and provide for a rapid response if workers develop symptoms of COVID-19;
- prevent workers who exhibit symptoms from attending work, and ensure that symptomatic workers self-isolate;
- appoint a person as a COVID-19 coordinator, who will be responsible for, among other things, acting as a liaison between the employer, health officers, and provincial infection control officers, and who must:
- oversee implementation of the employer's COVID-19 infection prevention and control protocol; and
- monitor workers for symptoms of COVID-19.
No major government updates as of 5:00 p.m. E.D.T. on April 23, 2020.
The government announced that it will present a COVID-19 recovery plan for the province in the coming days.
Newfoundland and Labrador
The Chief Medical Officer of Health issued the following orders:
- all travelers arriving in Newfoundland and Labrador must complete a declaration form at the point of entry, effective April 24, 2020 at 12:00 p.m. N.D.T.; and
- all travelers arriving in Newfoundland and Labrador must submit a 14-day self-isolation plan upon entry, effective April 27, 2020 at 12:00 p.m. N.D.T.
The government announced that any extra dispensing fees will be waived for individuals on pharmacare who are having their prescriptions filled more frequently than usual during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is in line with the Nova Scotia College of Pharmacists' recommendation that individuals have their prescriptions dispensed every 30 days (instead of every 60 or 90 days) to protect the province's drug supply.
The province will also waive the $5.00 prescription co-pay for clients of the Income Assistance program and the Low Income Pharmacare for Children program.
These temporary measures take effect April 23, 2020.
The government also announced a new action plan for vulnerable people. According to the government press release, the COVID-19 Action Plan for Vulnerable People "builds on the government's previous actions to protect people living in high-risk settings, including homes serving those with developmental disabilities, shelters for survivors of gender-based violence and human trafficking, children's residential settings, and those residential settings supporting vulnerable Indigenous individuals and families both on and off reserve." The action plan includes, among other things, enhanced screening of staff, enhanced testing of staff, limiting staff working at more than one congregate care setting during an outbreak, additional training, and sustainable staffing measures.
Prince Edward Island
No major government updates as of 5:00 p.m. E.D.T. on April 23, 2020.
Premier Legault announced that the current temporary premium pay being paid to health personnel, which was due to end on April 30, 2020, will be maintained until May 31, 2020.
As part of its planning for reopening Quebec, the government announced that it is expecting public health to provide a timetable next week. This schedule will be adjusted as the provincial public health authority continues to monitor COVID-19. As part of the reopening plan, non-binding recommendations are expected from public health regarding the use of masks, particularly on public transit and for circumstances where social distancing is impossible.
Premier Legault confirmed that any provincial reopening measures will not begin next week.
Finally, the government launched an online platform allowing businesses which are priority services or which carry out priority activities to publish job opportunities in order to fill immediate labour needs.
Premier Scott Moe and the provincial Chief Medical Health Officer announced the Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan (the "Plan").
The Plan has five phases to gradually re-open businesses and services across Saskatchewan, beginning May 4, 2020. The Plan details physical distancing measures and other restrictions and recommendations that will remain in place throughout the five phases. The first two phases are expected in May 2020, as follows:
- Phase One – Beginning May 4, 2020: The first phase of the Plan includes the re-opening of medical services restricted under the current public health order (dentistry, optometry, physical therapy, opticians, podiatry, occupational therapy and chiropractic treatment), and the resumption of low-risk outdoor recreational activities. The size restrictions of public and private gatherings will remain at a maximum of 10 people.
- Phase Two – May 19, 2020: The second phase of the Plan includes the re-opening of retail businesses and select personal services. The size restrictions of public and private gatherings will remain at a maximum of 10 people.
Phases three, four, and five will be implemented following an evaluation of transmission patterns of COVID-19, with dates to be determined.
Phase three contemplates the re-opening of remaining personal services, along with the re-opening of restaurant facilities, gyms and fitness facilities, licensed establishments and childcare facilities. Capacity limits will remain in some facilities, such as a 50 per cent of regular capacity limit for restaurants and licensed establishments. Phase four contemplates the re-opening of indoor and outdoor recreation and entertainment facilities. Phase five contemplates the lifting of long-term restrictions.
Other than in reopened businesses, the size of public and private gatherings will increase gradually throughout phases three, four, and five
The full Plan can be viewed here(PDF).
Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and the Yukon
No major government updates from the Northwest Territories, Nunavut or the Yukon, as of 5:00 p.m. E.D.T. on April 23, 2020.