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Bulletin | Covid-19

Daily Workplace Wrap-up on COVID-19 for April 3, 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 3, 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. EDT on April 3, 2020.

Alberta

No major government updates as of 5:00 p.m. EDT on April 3, 2020.

British Columbia

No major government updates as of 5:00 p.m. EDT on April 3, 2020.

Manitoba

The government has announced new measures to provide immediate cash flow relief to Manitobans. These relief measures include:

  • Manitoba Hydro, Centra Gas and Manitoba Public Insurance have been directed not to charge interest or penalties for Manitobans who are unable to pay at this time;
  • Manitoba Hydro and Centra Gas have been directed not to disconnect customers during this time;
  • Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries has been instructed not to charge interest on receivables from restaurants, bars and speciality wine stores; and
  • The Workers Compensation Board has been asked to extend relief from penalties for late payments.

For further information on all the measures implemented by the government, click here.

The government is also deferring provincial income tax and corporate income tax filing deadlines to August 31, 2020 to coincide with the revised federal deferred date for income tax filing. These measures are in addition to the recent measures implemented by the government that provide a two-month deferral to small businesses that remit up to $10,000 in payroll tax or sales tax.

New Brunswick

An “Emergency Bridging Fund for Vulnerable Post-Secondary Students” was announced by the government for domestic and international students impacted by COVID-19. Post-secondary institutions will distribute funds based on certain eligibility criteria, with one-time payments to students being up to $750.

Newfoundland and Labrador

No major government updates as of 5:00 p.m. EDT on April 3, 2020.

Nova Scotia

The State of Emergency that was declared by the government on March 22, 2020, originally scheduled to end on April 5, 2020, has been extended (PDF) until April 19, 2020.

Ontario

The government announced reductions and revisions to its list of essential businesses/workplaces following advice from Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.  According to the government’s press release, the changes are to be effective as of Saturday April 4, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. EDT and will be in effect for 14 days, unless extended.

Among the changes highlighted by the government are reductions to construction projects and services in the industrial sector (aside from critical construction projects, including those relating to hospitals and transport) and residential projects, as well as restrictions for specified businesses to provide services by alternate methods such as curb side pick-up and delivery.  The government published the updated list of essential businesses/workplaces hereThe government released a regulation implementing the revised list during the evening of Friday, April 3, 2020

The government also announced increases to public health units’ workforce planning flexibility.  This includes a new emergency order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, effective April 3, 2020, in order to “provide public health units the authority and flexibility they need to make staffing decisions that support their ongoing fight against the outbreak of COVID-19, despite any collective agreements.” 

The government announcement indicates that its changes will allow public health units to “significantly expand their capacity to implement critical public health functions, such as case and contact management, through the use of volunteers, including the thousands of retired nurses and medical students.” This emergency order is similar to those announced in the long-term care and hospital sectors. 

On April 2, 2020, the Ontario Human Rights Commission announced the release of a policy statement on a human rights-based approach to managing the COVID-19 pandemic.  The policy statement calls on governments to:

  • Approach preventing and treating COVID-19 as a human rights obligation
  • Respect the rights of First Nations, Métis and Inuit (Indigenous) peoples
  • Set strict limits on measures that infringe rights
  • Protect vulnerable groups
  • Respond to racism, ageism, ableism and other forms of discrimination
  • Strengthen human rights accountability and oversight

The policy statement was accompanied by a recommended list of actions from the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

Prince Edward Island

The government announced a new COVID-19 financial relief initiative by deferring property tax and fee payments until December 31, 2020.

Quebec

The government announced $150-million in new funding that will be distributed across the province to help small businesses. This funding will be managed by regional authorities (RCMs).

The government also announced new funding for workers in certain businesses which are permitted to continue to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The funding is targeted at workers who are continuing to work, but whose income for that work is or will be less than the payment(s) being provided by the federal government’s Canada Emergency Response Benefit.  Workers in eligible businesses, including convenience stores, pharmacies, and grocery stores, are expected to receive up to $400 per month for up to 4 months.

Saskatchewan

The government published the Regulations for its Self-Isolation Support Program which was previously announced on March 20, 2020.

The Self-Isolation Support Program offers financial assistance for Saskatchewan workers who:

  • are in self-isolation to counter the spread of the COVID-19 virus; and
  • cannot earn all of their work income and who are not eligible for another financial assistance program prior to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, which comes into effect on April 6, 2020.

The program provides support of $450 per week, for a maximum of 2 weeks (up to $900 total), and is retroactive to March 11, 2020.

Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and the Yukon

In the Yukon, the government introduced two Ministerial Orders under the Civil Emergency Measures Act.

The first one, the Civil Emergency Measures Health Protection (COVID-19) Order (MO 2020/14), consolidates the previous orders given by the Chief Medical Officer of Health to date, and adds the following additional orders and restrictions:

  • all travellers entering Yukon by land or air are required to stop upon entry and complete a travel declaration and check in with an enforcement officer before entering the territory;
  • non-residents who must transit through the territory to Alaska or the Northwest Territories or another part of Canada are allowed to remain in the territory for a maximum of 24 hours only;
  • self-isolation is required from all essential services workers, with a limited number of exceptions (i.e. residents of specified British Columbia-Yukon border communities, and critical service workers who must cross the border);
  • people in Atlin, Lower Post, Fraser, Jade City, Fireside or Pleasant Camp are exempt from the 14-day self-isolation period, provided they have not travelled outside of Yukon or their home community in the past 14 days; and
  • residents of rural Yukon communities are advised to limit their visits to Whitehorse if possible, and to work together with neighbours to coordinate picking up groceries or supplies.

The Civil Emergency Measures Health Protection (COVID-19) Order also defines and provides useful guidelines related to essential services:

  • critical and essential service providers are those whose work is to offer the provision of healthcare, food, water, emergency services, infrastructure, utilities, transportation, communications, and government; and
  • critical and essential workers are required to follow orders from the Chief Medical Officer of Health as far as is practicable. Where that is not possible, workers and entities delivering critical services must adhere to strict health and safety protocols.

The government published guidelines for the delivery of critical, essential and other services, and a full list of critical and essential workers is now available online.

The second order, Order MO 2020/13, provides that enforcement officers will be able to issue fines of $500 for any contraventions to the Civil Emergency Measures Health Protection (COVID-19) Order. More information and a full list of the previous orders and advice is available online.

In Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, there were no major government updates as of 5:00 p.m. EDT on April 3, 2020.

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