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Bulletin | Covid-19

Weekend Workplace Wrap-up on COVID-19 for April 4 and 5, 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 4 and 5, 2020 that touch on workplace issues. We also summarize the "in case you missed it" ("ICYMI") top stories in each province from the previous week. 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 released additional details on the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (the "CERB"), applications for which begin on April 6, 2020.

In order to handle the expected volume of applications, the government is staggering the days workers can apply based on their month of birth. Applicants born in January, February or March can apply on Mondays (with the first occasion being April 6, 2020). Applicants born in April, May or June can apply on Tuesdays (with the first occasion being April 7, 2020). Applicants born in July, August or September can apply on Wednesdays (with the first occasion being April 8, 2020), and applicants born in October, November or December can apply on Thursdays (with the first occasion being April 9, 2020). Applicants can also apply, regardless of their month of birth, on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Those who sign up to receive the CERB by direct deposit should receive the first CERB payment within 3-5 days of their application. For those who choose to receive the benefit by mail, payment should be received within 10 days of their application.

Workers must re-apply and confirm their eligibility for the CERB every 4 weeks. The maximum CERB entitlement is up to 16 weeks.

Details on when and how to apply for the CERB are available at this link.

ICYMI: On March 31, 2020 and April 1, 2020, the federal government provided more early details on the Canada Emergency Wage Benefit.

Alberta

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

ICYMI: On March 31, 2020, the government introduced 2 bills in the legislature related to its COVID-19 response, including Bill 10 - the Public Health Emergency Powers Amendment Act 2020.

British Columbia

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

ICYMI: On April 1, 2020, 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 5, 2020.

ICYMI: On March 30, 2020, the government announced all businesses that are not on its list of critical services must close between April 1 and April 14, 2020.

New Brunswick

The government announced that enforcement officers have begun fining individuals for contraventions of the province's emergency restrictions, with fines ranging from $292.50 to $10,200.

ICYMI: On April 1, 2020, 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

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

ICYMI: On March 30, 2020, the government published guidance for specific businesses with respect to operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, including for non-essential retail businesses wishing to provide alternative service delivery (including via ecommerce and contactless delivery) and for employers in the construction industry.

Nova Scotia

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

ICYMI: On April 2, 2020, the government announced two new programs: the Worker Emergency Bridge Fund and the Small Business Impact Grant.

Ontario

On April 3, 2020, the Ontario government announced a temporary order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act applicable to retirement homes. The government announcement indicates that the order will provide "retirement homes with more flexibility to recruit and reassign staff" in response to COVID-19. This emergency order is similar to the orders previously issued for hospitals and long-term care homes. In addition, retirement homes are now required to report any COVID-19 outbreak to the regulatory body as well as the local medical officer of health. Further, amendments were made to the Retirement Homes Act, 2010 to require all retirement homes to follow the guidance and recommendations from the chief medical officer of health regarding infection control and prevention.

On April 4, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. E.D.T., the government's amended list of essential businesses/workplaces came into effect by regulation, resulting in further closures of and restrictions on workplaces in Ontario. The new regulation is available here.

On April 4, 2020, the Ontario government also announced a Residential Relief Fund of $40 million for residential service providers that support vulnerable populations, including children and youth, people with developmental disabilities and emergency shelters for women and families of domestic violence. According to the government press release, the Fund is intended to "cover costs such as additional staffing, residential respite for caregivers; personal protective equipment and supplies; initiatives to support physical distancing and transportation to minimize client exposure."  In addition, the government announced temporary measures to ensure staffing and resources are available to those who care for people with developmental disabilities, including flexibility for agencies to "redirect their staffing and financial resources."

Finally, on April 4, 2020, the government announced the launch of a new web portal at Ontario.ca/AgFoodJobs. The government press release states that the web portal is "connecting workers with employers looking to fill positions in the agri-food sector […] [making] it easier to match people to essential jobs and training resources throughout the provincial food supply chain."   The portal will provide access to information regarding job opportunities for all components of the food supply chain.

ICYMI: On April 3, 2020, the government announced revisions to its list of essential businesses/workplaces permitted to remain open, which took effect at 11:59 p.m. E.D.T. on April 4, 2020.

Prince Edward Island

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

ICYMI: On April 1, 2020, the government introduced the COVID-19 Income Support Program, intended to assist employees experiencing a loss of income. This fund will provide a one-time, taxable payment of $750 for eligible employees.

Quebec

Effective April 4, 2020, additional regions were added to the government's list of "closed regions ", to which only essential travel (for humanitarian purposes, essential services and health services) is allowed. The additional regions are Charlevoix and the city of Rouyn-Noranda. More police controls have been installed to enforce the government's travel restrictions.

Employees who live in restricted regions or who must travel into restricted regions for work may benefit from a letter from their employer to help them cross any police barriers.

On April 5, 2020, Premier Legault announced that the government's closure of all non-priority services and activities has been extended until May 4, 2020.

Finally, the government announced the launch of a new project called « Le Panier bleu », a web platform showcasing Quebec's products and businesses in order to encourage buying local. This service will be free for all Quebec businesses.

ICYMI: On March 30, 2020, the government announced that all shops in Quebec will have to be closed on Sunday throughout the month of April 2020, except for the following: gas stations, convenience stores, pharmacies and take-out services from restaurants. On April 1, 2020, 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

On April 4, 2020, the government published a guidance document outlining key steps that retail food and grocery stores should take to protect workers and the health of the public.

The recommendations include:

  • place hand sanitizer with a minimum of 70% ethyl alcohol in dispensers near doors, pay stations and other high-touch locations for customers and staff use;
  • promote physical distancing of customers by, among other things, using physical queue line controls and making announcements at regular intervals over store speaker;
  • glove use is not required. If staff are using gloves, they should be changed after every interaction and when changing tasks; and
  • ask customers who arrive with cold, influenza or COVID-19-like symptoms (fever, cough or breathing issues) to return home and use a delivery service instead.

ICYMI: On April 3, 2020, the government published the Regulations for its Self-Isolation Support Program, which provides eligible workers 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

There were no major government updates from the Northwest Territories, the Yukon or Nunavut, as of 5:00 p.m. E.D.T. on April 5, 2020.

ICYMI: On March 30, 2020, the Nunavut government indicated that all individuals under investigation for COVID-19 are subject to a mandatory isolation order and will be fined should the order be breached (i.e. up to a $50,000 fine or up to six months' imprisonment). On March 31, 2020, the Northwest Territories government announced a second wave of economic relief measures valued at a total of $8.26-million. On April 3, 2020, the Yukon government introduced two Ministerial Orders under the Civil Emergency Measures Act.

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