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Bulletin | Covid-19

Daily Workplace Wrap-up on COVID-19 for April 30, 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 30, 2020 that touch on workplace issues. Our daily (weekday) and weekend overviews of previous government announcements, employment analyses and other COVID-19 information are available here

The Federal Government

As previously announced, the federal government issued regulations (SOR/2020-88 and SOR/2020-89) to expand eligibility for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (the "CERB") to include:

  • those earning up to $1,000 per month;
  • seasonal workers who have exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to undertake their regular seasonal work as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak; and
  • workers who have recently exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to find a job or return to work because of COVID-19.

The expanded eligibility is retroactive to March 15, 2020.

The Senate is expected to consider Bill C-15, An Act respecting Canada emergency student benefits (coronavirus disease 2019) on Friday, May 1, 2020. The legislation, which was passed by the House of Commons late in the evening of April 29, 2020, is required to implement the government's previously-announced Canada Emergency Student Benefit.

Alberta

The Premier announced Alberta's relaunch strategy, including:

  • Alberta Health Services will be permitted to resume non-urgent surgeries as soon as May 4, 2020;
  • dental and other health providers, including physiotherapists, speech language pathologists, respiratory therapists, audiologists, social workers, and occupational therapists will be allowed to resume services as of May 4, 2020; and
  • golf courses may open with restrictions as of May 4, 2020.

Further businesses and services will be permitted to re-open over 3 stages. During the first stage, which is expected to commence on May 14, 2020, the following businesses and services will be permitted to reopen: retail services, hair styling and barbering, daycares, restaurants, cafes, lounges, bars, museums, art galleries, additional outdoor recreation businesses and additional allied health services.

The second stage will include the reopening of the following businesses and services: personal services, massage and reflexology practices, summer camps, post-secondary institutions that deliver online, in-person, or a blend of programming with restrictions, movie theatres and additional elective surgeries. The government is considering reopening schools during the second stage.

The third stage of the reopening is expected to include the following businesses and services: swimming pools, gyms, arenas, nightclubs, industry conferences, arts and cultural festivals and major sporting events.

Progress through each stage will depend on the trajectory and management of COVID-19 within the province.  Restrictions apply both generally and to specific types of businesses and services during each stage. Current restrictions on group gatherings to a maximum of 15 people will continue until otherwise announced. Physical distancing requirements of two metres will remain in place through all stages of the relaunch. Industry specific guidelines for the relaunch are currently being prepared.

British Columbia

The government published new guidelines for employees, operators and contractors working in industrial camp settings, including guidance on:

  • screening of workers for symptoms or potential COVID-19 exposure;
  • added hygiene measures in camps;
  • training workers on how to stay safe while travelling to camp and to worksites;
  • food preparation;
  • limiting travel outside of camp; and
  • having at least one infection and control co-ordinator at each site.

Manitoba

There were no major government updates as of 5:00 p.m. E.D.T. on April 30, 2020.

New Brunswick

The government:

  • announced that the provincial state of emergency has been extended to May 14, 2020;
  • revised its state of emergency order to extend all licenses, registrations, certificates and permits issued under provincial laws that were valid as of March 16, 2020 to June 30, 2020;
  • released a guidance document on its emergency leave for employees; and
  • announced plans to launch a virtual job-matching platform on May 4, 2020, to assist individuals in finding positions previously filled by temporary foreign workers.

Newfoundland and Labrador

The Chief Medical Officer of Health announced Newfoundland and Labrador's plan for living with COVID-19: 'A Foundation for Living with COVID-19'. The plan includes five alert levels. Depending on the alert level, public health restrictions will be gradually relaxed. The province is currently at Alert Level 5 (the highest level).

Effective immediately, households may now spend time with one other household (creating a "double bubble"). People should not have close contact with anyone else outside a two-household double bubble.

The government has set May 11, 2020 as its target date for moving to Alert Level 4, provided specific conditions are met, including:

  • no new COVID-19 cases where the source of infection is unknown;
  • testing is widely available;
  • there is consistent early detection of outbreaks and imported cases; and
  • there is capacity in the health system to handle the COVID-19 caseload.

A complete list of the services and activities permitted during Alert Level 4 can be found in the government's press release. No target date has been set for Alert Level 3 or lower.

The Premier stated that it is unlikely that schools will reopen before the end of the scheduled school year.

Nova Scotia

There were no major government updates as of 5:00 p.m. E.D.T. on April 30, 2020.

Ontario

The government announced the publication of workplace safety guidance in preparation for the reopening of the provincial economy.  The guidance documents, available here, are technical and sector-specific, providing guidance to the following industries: transportation, construction, utilities, health care, offices settings, police, fire, mining, forestry, retail, food retail, agriculture, auto, tourism, hospitality, film and television, funeral, maintenance, and manufacturing, as well as general guidance for sales and customer service representatives, executives and management, and curbside pick-up and delivery services. 

The government is also offering a new 511 app free of charge to truck drivers to help support the transportation of goods. The app provides highway information on construction, collisions and road closures. It also identifies open rest areas and locations throughout the province that offer food and fuel.

Prince Edward Island

The government announced home-based learning will remain the primary learning model for the remaining 2019-2020 school year. For students with individualized education supports (e.g., educational assistants and youth services workers), school-based learning will resume as of May 11, 2020.

Quebec

Premier Legault detailed the government's plan to reopen businesses in Montreal on May 11, 2020, and schools on May 19, 2020, subject to the following:

  • transmission of COVID-19 is controlled;
  • the health system is capable of testing, isolating and treating every case of COVID-19 and to trace every contact of individuals with COVID-19;
  • outbreak risks are minimized in special settings like health facilities and nursing homes;
  • preventive measures are in place in workplaces, schools, and other essential places;
  • importation risks can be managed; and
  • communities are fully educated, engaged and empowered to adjust to the new norm.

Premier Legault confirmed that reopening will be postponed if the contagion curve in Montreal starts to rise again or if the critical situation in particular hospitals or areas of Montreal are not under control.

Premier Legault also announced that guidelines for those 60 years of age and older who are in good health, particularly in COVID-19 "cold zones" outside of the Montreal region, should be provided by Public Health in the next few days.  He cautioned that these guidelines and the removal of road controls across the province are not an invitation for Montrealers to travel to "cold zones" for non-essential reasons or to visit their cottages.  The Premier warned that should the government start to see significant non-essential travel around the province, particularly of those leaving Montreal, the government will move to restrict access again.  

Saskatchewan

The Chief Medical Health Officer announced an updated public health order imposing tighter travel restrictions to the Northern Saskatchewan Administrative District ("NSAD"), including:

  • restricting all non-critical travel (including those with primary residences) into and out of the NSAD, as well as restricting all non-critical travel between northern communities;
  • ordering northern residents to remain in their local communities and to practice appropriate social distancing.  Exceptions will be made only for critical items like collecting groceries and medical appointments; and
  • continuing to permit travel related to the delivery of essential services.  A complete list of approved travel can be viewed here.

The updated public health order was not published as of 5:00 pm E.D.T. on April 30, 2020.

The government announced a new wage supplement for lower-income essential workers. The new wage supplement consists of a flat $400 per month benefit (cost-shared with the federal government) for up to 16 weeks (March 15 to July 4, 2020) for each eligible worker. Workers will be eligible if they earn less than $2,500 per month and are employed at:

  • senior-care facilities, including private care homes and home care;
  • licenced childcare facilities;
  • group homes run by community-based organizations; or
  • emergency shelters and transition shelters.

The government also announced new supports for northern outfitters and businesses operating in provincial parks.  Amendments to the Saskatchewan Small Business Emergency Payment ("SSBEP") program will ensure these small businesses are eligible for grants of up to $5,000.

The application process for the new wage supplement and a modified application for the SSBEP will be available in the coming days.

Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and the Yukon

In Nunavut, the government restricted all travel to and from the municipality of Pond Inlet, except for cargo and emergency travel.

With respect to reopening plans, the government stated that it will consider relaxing current restrictions when:

  1. the territory has succeeded in achieving in-territory diagnostic capacity;
  2. there are decreasing rates of COVID-19 in the southern jurisdictions to which Nunavummiut most often travel; and
  3. there are no active cases of COVID-19 within the territory.

There were no major government updates in the Northwest Territories or the Yukon as of 5:00 p.m. E.D.T. on April 30, 2020.

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