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Bulletin | Covid-19

Daily Workplace Wrap-up on COVID-19 for April 2, 2020

Fasken
Reading Time 6 minute read
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Labour, Employment & Human Rights Bulletin

Below are the key government announcements made on April 2, 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

No major government updates as of 5:00 p.m. E.D.T. on April 2, 2020.

Alberta

No major government updates as of 5:00 p.m. E.D.T. on April 2, 2020.

British Columbia

The government issued a Ministerial Order designating essential services in British Columbia. The government has not ordered that non-essential services cease operating in BC.

Pursuant to the Ministerial Order, designated essential service providers cannot be held liable for damages caused by exposure to COVID-19 while a state of emergency is in force.

Immunity from liability is conditional on an essential service being operated or provided "in accordance with  all applicable emergency and public health guidance", or a reasonable belief that the service being operated or provided was in accordance with such guidance. An employer will not have immunity if they exercised gross negligence.

The government commenced a provincial task force to consider COVID-19 economic impacts for businesses and employers, and to develop solutions for long term economic recovery.

The BC Human Rights Commissioner released a statement which identifies COVID-19 as a disability protected under British Columbia’s Human Rights Code, with an accompanying FAQ. The Commissioner’s views have not been tested at the BC Human Rights Tribunal, or at any Court.

Manitoba

The government announced that beginning on Tuesday, April 14, 2020 all parents who work in critical services will be able to access available child-care spaces in any licensed facilities currently operating.  This includes support staff at hospitals and clinics, grocery store staff, farmers and farm workers, construction workers, and bank and credit union employees.  Parents working in these sectors who have been unable to make other child-care arrangements will be able to work directly with licensed facilities to secure child care spaces.

New Brunswick

The government announced that its emergency order made under the Emergency Measures Act has been revised to include the following:

  • campgrounds are now included in the list of business operations that are prohibited from admitting individuals for a 2 week period;
  • owners and managers of sites that permit seasonal docking of multiple recreational vessels must either prohibit docking or take steps to ensure minimal interaction of people;
  • owners and occupiers of land are now responsible to take all reasonable steps to prevent social or recreational gatherings;
  • open fires are prohibited until May 1, 2020;
  • border control points have implemented adjustments to allow people to get to work, to see their children, and to access necessities; and
  • individuals are prohibited from knowingly approaching within two metres of another person, except members of their household or as needed for work.

An updated version of the declaration can be accessed here.

The government also announced that schools will not be reopened and the school calendar will not be extended unless the situation drastically improves. A government website now provides options for learning at home.

Newfoundland and Labrador

No major government updates as of 5:00 p.m. E.D.T. on April 2, 2020.

Nova Scotia

The government announced 2 new programs:

  • the Worker Emergency Bridge Fund, intended to assist those who are self-employed or have been laid-off and do not qualify for Employment Insurance. The fund will provide a one-time $1,000 payment to help bridge the gap until the federal government’s Canada Emergency Response Benefit comes into effect; and
  • the Small Business Impact Grant, which will allow eligible small business and social enterprises to receive a one-time grant of 15% of their gross revenues (based on April 2019 or February 2020 gross revenues), to a maximum of $5,000. This grant will can be used for any purpose.

Eligibility for these programs is not affected by a person or business being enrolled in another provincial program or any federal assistance initiative.  An announcement on when applications for the programs will be available is expected early next week.

Ontario

In light of COVID-19 shutdowns, the government announced $1.3-million in technology spending to assist courts and tribunals transition to remote operations. The government’s announcement notes that Ontario's courts and tribunals have been shifting to audio and video conferencing to hear priority matters.

In addition, the Ontario government announced $12-million in emergency funding in the mental health sector. The funding can, among other announced uses, be used by mental health agencies to hire and train more staff.

The government also called upon Ontario businesses to support truck drivers when they are stopping to rest, get gas or use washrooms, by providing facilities for drivers.  For employers operating in the trucking industry, the government announced that it is “providing more safe places for truck drivers to stop and rest across the province and are keeping all 23 ONroute travel plazas open for take-out, grab and go and drive-through services, including washrooms with enhanced cleaning. We are also providing portable washrooms at 32 truck inspection stations so trucks have a place to stop and rest safely.”

Prince Edward Island

No major government updates as of 5:00 p.m. E.D.T. on April 2, 2020.

Quebec

Premier Legault called on law enforcement within the province to be less tolerant of those failing to comply with government restrictions related to COVID-19, and asked that they start issuing fines (between $1000 to $6000) for those contravening the restrictions.

The government also announced an additional $287-million in spending on the healthcare sector, which the government says will facilitate:

  • an 8% bonus for professionals in the healthcare sector who are in direct contact with COVID-19 (in emergency rooms, intensive care units, testing centres, long-term care centres, etc.). This increase will benefit approximately 69,000 professionals; and
  • a 4% bonus for other workers in the health and social services sector, including nurses staffing the 8-1-1 line, laboratory technicians, and others. This bonus will benefit some 200,000 workers.

These bonus measures are retroactive to March 13, 2020 and could be extended.

The government also announced a temporary hourly rate increase for patient-care attendants. Retroactive to March 13, 2020, their hourly rate will be increased by $4 per hour. This will benefit approximately 34,000 workers serving in private long-term care homes, seniors residences, and other health care sector workplaces.

Saskatchewan

No major government updates as of 5:00 p.m. E.D.T. on April 2, 2020.

Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and the Yukon

States of emergency were extended in both Nunavut and the Northwest Territories.

In the Northwest Territories, the government announced a second wave of financial relief measures through existing income security programs for residents, families and seniors, including an emergency assistance benefit for income assistance clients. More information on the increased benefits is available online.

In the Yukon, the government provided additional details on its forthcoming financial support for businesses suffering loses as a result of major event cancellations. The Temporary Support for Events Funding Program will cover costs for perishable goods and the cancellation of accommodation and services.

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