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Bulletin | Covid-19

Daily Workplace Wrap-up on COVID-19 for April 7, 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 7, 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

During his daily press conference, the Prime Minister stated that draft legislation for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy was being discussed between the government and opposition parties. The bill has not yet been tabled in Parliament and is not yet publically available.

Prime Minister Trudeau said that the government will work to pass the legislation "quickly" but, he did not say when Parliament will be recalled to do so.

Alberta

No major government updates as of 5:00 p.m. E.D.T. on April 7, 2020.

British Columbia

The Employment Standards Branch ("ESB") published guidelines about the impacts of COVID-19 on Sections 63 (individual terminations), 64 (group terminations), and 65 (exceptions to individual and group terminations) of British Columbia's Employment Standards Act, as well as a bulletin: Quitting, Getting Fired or Laid Off.

Among other things, the ESB stated its position that individual and group notice of termination required under sections 63 and 64 of the Employment Standards Act may not be required, if business closures or staffing reductions are due to the current COVID-19 pandemic and the circumstances have made the employee's work impossible to perform. Whether work is "impossible to perform" should be determined on a case by case basis, and would not ordinarily apply in circumstances where the  work can be done in alternative ways (i.e. working remotely).

The ESB's policy guidelines and statements do not have the force of law and are not binding on the Employment Standards Tribunal in any adjudication, though they may be reviewed as part of an adjudication.

Manitoba

The government is seeking businesses able to manufacture and/or supply personal protective and other medical equipment for its COVID-19 efforts. Interested businesses are asked to contact the government – click here for more information.

New Brunswick

The government announced that businesses impacted by COVID-19 may now apply for working capital loans (discussed in a previous post). Additional information about the application process may be accessed here.

All workers interested in the New Brunswick Emergency Income Benefit must apply before 8:00 p.m. A.D.T. on April 9, 2020.

Newfoundland and Labrador

The government announced that a number of tax return filing deadlines are being delayed and that interest and penalty relief will be available to support eligible businesses suffering from the impacts of the pandemic.

If a taxpayer is prevented from making a payment when due, filing a return on time, or otherwise complying with a tax obligation, they can submit a written request for remission of interest and penalties. Requests should validate how the taxpayer was prevented from complying with the requirements as a result of COVID-19 circumstances.

Nova Scotia

No major government updates as of 5:00 p.m. E.D.T. on April 7, 2020.

Ontario

The government announced the launch of the Health Workforce Matching Portal, a new online portal to match frontline health care workers with hiring employers in the province. Targeted frontline workers include "retired or non-active health care professionals, internationally educated health care professionals, students, and volunteers with health care experience."  Employers can register online to request support through the portal. 

The government also announced over $37-million in funding to assist Indigenous communities with outbreak planning, prevention and mitigation. The government press release also indicated that "the government is working with the Indigenous business community to assess how to address the impacts of COVID-19 on Indigenous businesses, economies and workers."

The government introduced a new emergency regulation (PDF) permitting authorized cannabis retail stores to operate for a period of 14 days from the date of the order, notwithstanding the earlier removal of cannabis stores from the government's list of essential workplaces. Products must either be delivered or picked up in outdoor areas in close proximity to the retail store, subject to certain conditions.

On April 6, 2020, the government announced an emergency regulation to protect first responders. The regulation under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act allows police, firefighters and paramedics to obtain COVID-19 positive status information about individuals with whom they are coming into contact. The information which will be disclosed is limited to the individual's name, address, date of birth, and whether the individual has had a positive COVID-19 test result.

On April 6, 2020, the Ontario government also announced the deferral of $15 million in property taxes, including for businesses, in parts of Northern Ontario located outside of municipal boundaries. The deferral allows for 90 extra days to pay without incurring interest or penalties.

Prince Edward Island

No major government updates as of 5:00 p.m. E.D.T. on April 7, 2020.

Quebec

The city of Montreal announced the cancellation of all festivals, sporting events and public gatherings in the region until July 2, 2020 due to COVID-19.

Saskatchewan

No major government updates as of 5:00 p.m. E.D.T. on April 7, 2020.

Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and the Yukon

After extending the public health emergency on April 2, 2020, the Government of the Northwest Territories also extended the territory-wide state of emergency under the Emergency Management Act. No additional restrictions were announced as of 5:00 p.m. E.D.T. on April 7, 2020.

In the Yukon, the government provided additional details about border enforcement pursuant to its Ministerial Orders. Enforcement officers have been deployed at various border crossings and at the Erik Nielsen Whitehorse International Airport. A list of the locations where enforcement officers have been posted is available here. The government also announced that the opening of territorial parks and campgrounds has been delayed until June 2020.

In Nunavut, the government provided an update and technical details related to COVID-19 isolation procedures.

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