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Bulletin | Covid-19

Daily Workplace Wrap-up on COVID-19 for April 28, 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 28, 2020 that touch on workplace issues. Our daily (weekday) and weekend overviews of previous government announcements, employment analyses and other COVID-19 information are available here

The Federal Government

The Prime Minister announced that the federal, provincial, and territorial governments have agreed to a set of common principles for gradually restarting the Canadian economy. The First Ministers released a joint statement which includes the following four principles:

  1. taking a science and evidence-based approach to decision-making;
  2. coordination and collaboration between all jurisdictions;
  3. continued accountability and transparency of all governments; and
  4. flexibility and proportionality as information changes over time.

This statement identifies the criteria and measures that must be in place in order to restart the economy, including:

  • COVID-19 transmission is controlled, so new cases are contained at a level that our health care system can manage;
  • sufficient public health capacity is in place to test, trace, isolate, and control the spread of the virus;
  • expanded health care capacity exists to support all needs, including COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients;
  • supports are in place for vulnerable groups, communities, and key populations. This includes the protection of seniors, residents of group living facilities, workers in close quarters, homeless people,  Indigenous peoples and those living in remote locations, health care workers and other essential workers, and inmates;
  • support and monitoring of workplace protocols are in place to keep Canadians safe at their jobs, and prevent the introduction and spread of COVID-19;
  • restrictions on non-essential travel are eased and managed in a coordinated manner; and
  • communities are supported in managing local disease activity, including in child care, schools, and public transportation, and industry and economic sectors are engaged to support the health of Canadians, reduce viral activity, and protect the economy as it restarts.

Alberta

There were no major government updates as of 5:00 p.m. E.D.T. on April 28, 2020.

British Columbia

There were no major government updates as of 5:00 p.m. E.D.T. on April 28, 2020.

Manitoba

The government announced a partnership with the federal government to facilitate local food producers and farmers' markets selling their products online.  For more information on this initiative, click here.

The government also introduced four new temporary orders under the Emergency Measures Act, which will apply retroactive to March 20, 2020. Among the orders is a Trucking and Transportation Provisions Order which extends the expiry dates of certain permits, certificates or registrations until July 31, 2020, and is designed to ensure truck drivers continue the movement of essential goods and services. For more information please click here.

New Brunswick

The government revised its State of Emergency mandatory order to prohibit the entry of temporary foreign workers into New Brunswick effective April 28, 2020.

Newfoundland and Labrador

The Chief Medical Officer of Health issued an amended order to operators of personal care homes and long term care facilities prohibiting them, without an exemption, from:

  • permitting staff to work across multiple personal care home and long term care facility locations; and
  • permitting staff to engage in any other employment while simultaneously employed at a personal care home or long term care facility.

Nova Scotia

The government announced a $380-million loan program to help municipalities with financial losses due to COVID-19. Eligible municipalities will have six months to begin repayment, and three years to fully repay the loan. 

The government also announced that all schools and daycares will remain closed until at least May 18, 2020.

Ontario

The government announced a new website: COVID-19: Tackling the Barriers.  According to a government press release, the website will allow business to submit proposals about "temporary changes to provincial rules and regulations in order to remove any barriers that are hindering business and negatively impacting Ontario's supply chain."

Prince Edward Island

The government announced its 4-phase plan to re-open the economy and ease public health restrictions. The phased approached is expected to be implemented as follow:

  • Phase one is scheduled to start on May 1, 2020. This phase includes making certain non-urgent health care services available and permitting gatherings and non-contact outdoor recreational activities of up to 5 individuals from different households. Certain outdoor and construction services will be allowed. Social distancing shall be required at any gatherings or businesses which operate.  
  • Phase two is scheduled to start on May 22, 2020.  It will allow small indoor gatherings, larger outdoor gatherings and limited recreational activities (5 people indoor and 10 people outdoor).  Additional businesses, including retail businesses, select indoor services, and unlicensed and licensed child care providers will be permitted to open.
  • Phase three is scheduled to start on June 12, 2020. It contemplates slightly larger indoor and outdoor gatherings (15 people indoor and 20 people outdoor) and the opening of organized recreational activities and facilities. Further, personal services, indoor dining, and accommodations businesses are also expected to re-open during this phase.
  • Phase four is yet to be fully determined, but will include further relaxation of the public health measures.

Each phase may start at an earlier or later date depending on the progress or egress of COVID-19 within the province. It is possible that the phases will be delayed, halted or reversed.

Quebec

Premier Legault addressed the government's plan to reopen Quebec in May 2020, commenting that:

  1. retail stores outside shopping malls or that are in a shopping mall but have a door directly to the outside will be permitted to open on May 4, 2020, except those in the metropolitan area of Montreal, which cannot open until May 11, 2020.  Businesses supplying these shops will be able to open on the same dates. The government expects that the reopening of shops and their supply vendors will enable 196,000 Quebecers to return to work;
  2. construction businesses will be permitted to operate as of May 11, 2020 in all sectors of the construction industry. Businesses supplying construction businesses will also be permitted to reopen.  The government expects that the reopening of the construction sector will enable 85,000 Quebecers to return to work; and
  3. manufacturing businesses will reopen in two phases.  On May 11, 2020, manufacturers will be permitted to operate with a maximum of 50 workers, plus 50% of the remaining number of workers usually scheduled for any shift that usually exceeds 50 workers.  For example, a company that employs 50 workers on a shift will be able to operate at full capacity (i.e., with all 50 employees on shift). However, a company that employs 500 workers on the same shift can only have 275 workers in the facility for that shift (i.e., 50 employees, plus half the number of employees between 50 and 500, being an additional 225).  Subject to the government determining otherwise, on May 25, 2020, the restriction on the number of employees will be lifted. The government expects this measure will result in 176,000 Quebecers returning to work.

As businesses reopen, the CNESST and Public Health guidelines must be followed. More guidelines are expected later this week.  Fines or penalties for a failure to comply will be imposed by the CNESST.

Premier Legault also commented that the following requirements and recommendations will remain in place during this initial reopening:

  • businesses (except restaurants offering takeout and delivery, grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations and convenience stores) must be closed on Sundays until May 31, 2020;
  • all employees who can work from home will have to continue to do so;
  • employees at increased risk (e.g., with underlying health problems or more than 60 years old) should not return to work; and
  • there are no current plans to reopen any part of the tourism industry (e.g., fishing, camping, outfitting, restaurants, etc.).

Saskatchewan

There were no major government updates as of 5:00 p.m. E.D.T. on April 28, 2020.

Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and the Yukon

In Nunavut, the government announced a new Order Respecting Social Distancing and Gatherings ("Order"). The Order came into effect on April 24, 2020, and replaces the previous Order Restricting Mass Gatherings dated March 23, 2020.

Except as previously ordered by the Chief Public Health Officer, the Order permits all businesses and organizations operating or carrying on business to continue to do so as long as they:

  • implement social distancing of two (2) meters within their workplaces;
  • limit the number of customers on their premise to five (5) persons at a time if they cannot, due to their physical size, maintain the social distancing requirement of two (2) meters.

The government clarified that the following businesses and services must remain closed:

  • food service establishments and licensed premises. Restaurants can continue to provide take-out or delivery, if they can implement the social distancing requirements above;
  • businesses operating as personal service providers (i.e. hair dressers, barbers, massage therapy, etc.); and
  • dentist, veterinarian, and psychologist offices (except for emergencies).

The Order contains several exceptions. Employers with activities in Nunavut should carefully review the Order online to ensure that they are compliant.

In the Yukon, the government announced it will reform the law to ensure that Social Assistance benefits will not be reduced by the Canada Emergency Response Benefit ("CERB") from April to June 2020.

In the Northwest Territories, the Public Health Emergency and State of Emergency were extended until May 12, 2020. Additional travel restrictions and self-isolation protocols for residents, non-residents, and several categories of workers coming into the territory were introduced through a freshly amended Public Health Order – Covid-19 Travel Restrictions and Self-Isolation Protocol (as amended April 27, 2020).

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