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Bulletin | Covid-19

Daily Workplace Wrap-up on COVID-19 for April 6, 2020

Fasken
Reading Time 5 minute read
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Labour, Employment & Human Rights Bulletin

Below are the key government announcements made on April 6, 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

Applications for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (the "CERB") opened on April 6, 2020. As of 11:15 a.m. E.D.T., 240,000 individuals had applied for the benefit.

In his daily press conference, the Prime Minister said the government is looking into ways to assist individuals who are working reduced hours as a result of the pandemic and those who are still working but are making less than they would if collecting the CERB.

Alberta

The government announced the implementation of temporary employment standards in order to provide job protection for workers and flexibility for employers. Among the temporary employment standards are the following:

  • the temporary layoff period has been increased from 60 days to 120 days. This change is retroactive for any temporary layoffs related to COVID-19 that occurred on or after March 17, 2020;
  • the 24-hour written notice requirement for shift changes, and the two weeks' notice for changes to work schedules for those under an averaging agreement, has been suspended;
  • the requirement to provide the group termination notice to employees and unions when 50 or more employees are being terminated has been suspended. Employers are still required to provide notice of group terminations to the Minister and individual notice of termination requirements continue to apply; and
  • employees caring for children affected by school and daycare closures or ill or self-isolated family members due to COVID-19 will have access to unpaid job-protected family leave. There is no service eligibility requirement (i.e. the 90-day employment requirement is waived) and the leave length is flexible. This change is retroactive for any employees who took time off to care for family, for the aforementioned reasons, on or after March 17, 2020.

The government also announced plans to change its process for modifying employment standards, with further details to come.

British Columbia

The government introduced an amended (PDF) Labour Relations Code Regulation. As a result, when a union applies to be certified to represent a bargaining unit of employees, evidence of union membership will be valid for six months. Prior to the amendment, evidence of union membership was valid for 90 days.

Manitoba

No major government updates as of 5:00 p.m. E.D.T. on April 6, 2020.

New Brunswick

The government established a pandemic task force vested with decision-making authority over the provincial healthcare system's efforts to combat COVID-19.

Newfoundland and Labrador

The government temporarily amended the Shops' Closing Regulations under the Shops' Closing Act to allow retail stores providing certain essential services/products to open for business on Good Friday (April 10, 2020). Retails stores providing the following services essential to the life, health or personal safety of individuals and animals are permitted to open on Good Friday:

  • food;
  • pharmaceutical products, medicine and medical devices;
  • personal hygiene products;
  • cleaning products;
  • baby and child products;
  • gas stations;
  • computer and cellphone service and repair;
  • electronic and office supplies;
  • hardware supplies; and
  • pet and animal supplies.

The temporary amendments to the Shops' Closing Regulations are intended to provide individuals with more time to shop in advance of Easter Sunday and to avoid store overcrowding on Saturday, April 11, 2020.  

Employers cannot require an employee to work on Good Friday. However, an employer and an employee can agree that the employee will work on the public holiday. The public holiday provisions under the Labour Standards Act will apply to employees who work on Good Friday.  

Nova Scotia

No major government updates as of 5:00 p.m. E.D.T. on April 6, 2020.

Ontario

The government announced financial support to parents given the closure of schools and child care centres in the province. According to a government news release, the new Support for Families initiative will provide one-time payments to parents of $200 per child up to 12 years of age, and $250 per child with special needs up to 21 years of age. 

Prince Edward Island

The Chief Nursing Officer announced that a virtual care platform will be available for physicians, nurse practitioners, and mental health and addictions professionals this week. The platform will allow health care providers to offer their services over a secure video platform, improving access for patients while reducing the need for in-person visits.

Quebec

The government announced $100-million for a new program called the Concerted Actions Program for the Maintenance in Employment ("PACME"). PACME will provide grants to eligible employers to help cover the costs of training activities. According to the government, eligible training activities will include, among other things, training for digital skills relating to teleworking, best practices related to health and safety, organizational communication and improvement of employee "know-how." Companies will be permitted to receive grants for online or distance training, and will be required to comply with all health and safety rules in force as training is delivered (including any restrictions in place as a result of COVID-19).

PACME grants, according to the government, will reimburse up to 100% of employers' eligible training expenses, such as for trainer's fees and required equipment, up to $ 100,000.

Workers' wages during eligible training may also be reimbursed, up to a maximum of $25 per hour for 25% to 100% of the total hours paid. Reimbursement for such wages through PACME will depend on any federal government emergency wage assistance to which a business is eligible. 

Saskatchewan

No major government updates as of 5:00 p.m. E.D.T. on April 6, 2020.

Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and the Yukon

The Yukon government announced additional funding for licensed child-care centres and family day homes. More information is available online.

In the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, there were no major government updates as of 5:00 p.m. E.D.T. on April 6, 2020.

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