Below are the key government announcements made on May 8, 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
Prime Minister Trudeau announced that the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (the “CEWS”) will be extended beyond June 2020. The government has not confirmed how much longer the subsidy will be available to employers. The Prime Minister reported that since the CEWS launched on April 27, 2020, employers have applied for subsidies for almost 2 million workers.
The government announced a new $5-million Agriculture Training Support Program to support employers in the agriculture and food supply chain industries offset costs for COVID-19 safety and training, including costs for personal protective equipment. Under the program, the government will provide grants of up to $2,000 per new employee, to a maximum of $50,000 per employer. Grants will be administered on a first-come, first-served basis. Approximately $1-million of the program’s funding will be targeted for meat processors in order to support new hire meat-cutting training. Program support is targeted to agricultural, meat processing and horticultural businesses and services on the Government of Alberta’s essential service list. Applications will be accepted via the existing Canadian Agricultural Partnership website.
WorkSafeBC published a bulletin describing steps that businesses should take to develop workplace safety plans for operating during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The bulletin provides steps for:
- assessing risk;
- reducing risk;
- developing reopening policies;
- developing communication plans and training; and
- monitoring the workplace.
The bulletin indicates that during an inspection, employers will be asked to demonstrate steps taken to protect workers and ensure that workers understand the measures.
Effective May 11, 2020, the government will lift the current 1-month supply restriction on most prescription medications. Manitobans will then be able to fill their prescriptions as per the prescriber’s directions and obtain a supply of up to three months, except for any medication deemed to be short in supply according to Health Canada.
The government also announced that it will be speeding up funding to Manitoba’s municipalities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The government will provide municipalities with 75% of their municipal operating grants, with the remainder to be provided in the Fall.
The government announced that New Brunswick is moving into the second phase of its COVID-19 recovery plan as of May 8, 2020, which includes permitting the operation of the following business/activities:
- elective surgeries and other non-emergency health services, including dental, physiotherapy, optometry and massage therapy;
- outdoor public gatherings of 10 or fewer people;
- indoor public gatherings of 10 or fewer people for in-person religious services, weddings and funerals;
- all in-person programs at post-secondary institutions, subject to COVID-19 directives from Public Health, although virtual education options should be continued wherever possible;
- cultural venues such as museums, galleries and libraries;
- offices not deemed essential during the initial phase;
- retail establishments, including malls;
- campgrounds and outdoor recreational activities, such as zoos and outfitters;
- non-regulated child care providers;
- day camps, if they are able to adhere to Public Health measures set out in the COVID-19 Recovery Phase: Guidance to Early Learning and Childcare Facilities and Day Camps; and
- ATV trails across the province.
In addition, early learning and child care centres regulated by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development will be permitted to reopen as of May 19, 2020.
The re-opening of businesses and activities are subject to maintaining proper distancing measures, and adherence to the general guidelines from Public Health (PDF), as well as the Guidelines for New Brunswick Businesses (PDF) issued by WorkSafe NB on May 8, 2020.
Prior to re-opening, businesses must prepare an operational plan that must be provided to officials on request. Further details on preparing an operational plan may be accessed here (PDF).
The revised emergency order instituting this new phase of the recovery plan may be viewed here (PDF).
Newfoundland and Labrador
The Chief Medical Officer of Health stated that the province will move from Alert Level 5 to Alert Level 4 on Monday, May 11, 2020 if the number of new COVID-19 cases remains low over the weekend.
Under Alert Level 4, a number of public health measures will be relaxed to allow more social and business activities, while minimizing the risk of outbreaks. A list of the business and recreational activities that are permitted under Alert Level 4 can be found here.
Following the transition to Alert Level 4, it will take at least another 28 days to determine whether it is safe to move to Alert Level 3.
The government confirmed that schools will not reopen for the remaining school year.
The government announced the Essential Health Care Workers Program, which will provide a payment of $2,000 to eligible front line workers, including employees of the Nova Scotia Health Authority, IWK Health Centre and those who work in long-term care, home care and in-home support and emergency health services. Employees who volunteered to be redeployed to work at a facility experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak will also receive this benefit.
The government published the regulation required for the previously announced reopening of certain retail stores and essential construction on May 8, 9 and 11, 2020. Among other things, the regulation permits retailers to have employees inside their establishments as of 12:01 a.m. on May 8, 2020, on a temporary basis, in order to prepare for the limited reopening on Monday, May 11, 2020. As announced by the government, the regulation also permits professional sport training facilities to reopen.
The government announced investments in technology to modernize processes and expand access to justice in courts across the province.
Prince Edward Island
The government announced the following easing of COVID-19 restrictions effective May 8, 2020:
- members of the same household may gather indoors with up to 5 other individuals from different households;
- members of the same household may gather outdoors with up to 10 other individuals from different households; and
- household units may be extended by one or two members who are important to supporting the household.
Physical distancing must be maintained at any gatherings involving individuals from different households.
There were no major government updates as of 5:00 p.m. EDT on May 8, 2020.
The government announced that the Saskatchewan Small Business Emergency Payment (SSBEP) program (PDF) will be extended to the month of May for businesses that are required to remain closed or substantially curtail operations after May 19, 2020.
The program provides a payment of up to $5,000 to eligible businesses during each eligibility period based on 15% of the business’s monthly sales revenue in either April 2019 or February 2020. Businesses that qualify for the program will automatically receive a second payment after May 19, 2020.
The government added additional information to its Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan (PDF). The changes include:
- updates to the guidelines for appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE) – page 17;
- updates to the guidelines for drive-in or remote worship services – page 24;
- guidelines for drive-in theatres – page 25;
- guidelines for public markets and farmers markets – page 32;
- updates to the guidelines for clothing and retail operations for thrift stores and businesses that sell second-hand goods – page 36;
- updates to the golf course guidelines – page 42-43; and
- updates to the guidelines about passengers in boats – page 46.
Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and the Yukon
In the Northwest Territories, the government closed Highway 8 (the Dempster Highway) to all traffic.
There were no major government updates in the Yukon or Nunavut as of 5:00 p.m. EDT on May 8, 2020.