Below are the key government announcements made from August 17 through August 23, 2020 that touch on workplace issues. Our previous daily (weekday), weekend and weekly overviews of past government announcements, employment analyses and other COVID-19 information are available here.
The Federal Government
In support of the transition from the Canada Emergency Response Benefit ("CERB"), to the Employment Insurance ("EI)" program, effective September 27, 2020, the government announced a number of changes to the EI program, as well as new income support benefits.
While the government prepares for this transition, the CERB will be extended by an additional 4 weeks, providing a new maximum of up to 28 weeks of benefits.
The proposed changes to the EI program include:
• Insurable hours credit: To help individuals qualify with a minimum of 120 hours of work, EI claimants will receive a one-time insurable hours credit of:
- 300 insurable hours for claims for regular benefits (job loss);
- 480 insurable hours for claims for special benefits (sickness, maternity/parental, compassionate care or family caregiver).
• Minimum benefit rate: Effective September 27, 2020, new EI claimants will receive a minimum benefit rate of $400 per week, or $240 per week for extended parental benefits, and regular benefits will be accessible for a minimum duration of 26 weeks.
• EI premium rate freeze: The government will freeze the EI insurance premium rates for two years, so Canadian workers and businesses will not face immediate increases to costs and payroll deductions due to the additional expenses resulting from the pandemic.
In addition, the government announced the introduction of three new benefits:
1. The Canada Recovery Benefit will provide $400 per week for up to 26 weeks to workers who are self-employed or are not eligible for EI and who still require income support and who are available and looking for work. This benefit will support Canadians whose income has dropped or not returned due to COVID-19.
2. The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit will provide $500 per week for up to two weeks, for workers who are sick or must self-isolate for reasons related to COVID-19.
3. The Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit will provide $500 per week for up to 26 weeks per household, for eligible Canadians unable to work because they must care for:
- A child under age 12 due to the closures of schools or daycares because of COVID-19;
- A family member with a disability or a dependent because their day program or care facility is closed due to COVID-19; or
- A child, a family member with a disability, or a dependent who is not attending school, daycare, or other care facilities under the advice of a medical professional due to being at high-risk if they contract COVID-19.
There were no major government updates as of 5:00 p.m. E.D.T. on August 23, 2020.
The province extended the ongoing state of emergency to September 1, 2020.
The Economic Stabilization (COVID-19) Act came into law, revising due dates for various taxes as a result of the pandemic.
The government made the Gatherings and Events (COVID-19) Order, which introduces fines and enforcement measures for contraventions of the Public Health Order respecting gatherings and events.
The government passed previously-announced amendments to the Workers Compensation Act. By those amendments, the Workers Compensation Board implemented a regulation adding a presumption for certain categories of workers who contract COVID-19 on the job.
The government launched an online provincial pandemic response system to provide clear, timely and more detailed information about the localized risks of COVID-19.
School divisions across Manitoba released their re-opening plans. The re-opening plans are available here.
The government announced that masks will be mandatory in schools for students in grades 4 to 12, teachers, school staff and visitors when physical distancing is not possible.
The provincial state of emergency mandatory order was renewed on August 21, 2020.
The government also released additional information on the province's plan to support vulnerable students and provide COVID-19 testing for school staff. Families are encouraged to contact the principal at their school beginning on August 31, 2020 to discuss plans for continued learning at home if they have been advised by a healthcare provider that a student should not attend school. Further, any student staying home from school for any reason must complete a home-school request form by September 18, 2020.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Distanced gatherings of up to 100 people will be permitted (both indoors and outdoors) with certain restrictions, effective August 24, 2020. Distanced gathering limits will apply to organized social events (run by a recognized business or organization), faith gatherings, sports and physical activities, recreational activities, weddings, funerals and arts and culture events (e.g. theatre performances, dance recitals, festivals and concerts).
Non-medical masks will be mandatory in many public indoor settings throughout the province, effective August 24, 2020.
Resources and guidance documents related to the upcoming school year have been published online.
The province extended (PDF) the State of Emergency until September 6, 2020.
The province also mandated that non-medical masks will be worn by students in grades 4-12 upon the return to school. Further information released by the province concerning back-to-school can be found here.
The government announced the extension of orders currently in force under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020, with some exceptions:
- The government confirmed that the order regarding limitation periods in Ontario, available here, will end and suspended time periods will resume effective September 14, 2020; and
- The government confirmed that the order regarding the educational sector in Ontario, available here, which allowed school boards to make staffing decisions to support congregate care settings in their non-clinical response to COVID-19, will end on August 31, 2020.
The government announced the expansion of indoor capacity for meeting and event facilities and the easing of contact information requirements for bars and restaurants. Effective August 21, 2020:
- Facilities are now able to have 50 guests per indoor meeting room or event space in a facility. Outdoor meeting and event spaces remain at 100 persons for the entire outdoor area. The government confirmed that capacity limits exclude employees or event personnel; and
- The government amended the regulation for areas in Stage 3 to require contact information for only one person in a party entering an indoor or outdoor dining area.
Prince Edward Island
The Chief Public Health Officer announced that gathering limits for events are increasing to allow for up to three cohorts of 50 people for an event such as a worship service, concert, and sporting event, effective on August 18, 2020. Operation plans for such gatherings must be approved in advanced by the Chief Public Health Officer at least two weeks in advance.
The government unveiled its plan to face a potential second COVID-19 wave. The plan provides new requirements particularly with respect the operation of residential and long-term care centres, which must be met by September 30, 2020.
The government also announced 106-million in funding for Public Health authorities, aimed at meeting human resources and equipment needs.
Lastly, the government announced agreements with Quebec manufacturers to produce N-95 masks.
Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and the Yukon
In Nunavut, the government:
- Extended the Public Health Emergency until September 3, 2020; and
- Announced new common travel areas requirements.
In the Northwest Territories, the government:
- Extended the Public Health Emergency until September 1, 2020; and
- Announced that the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer approved all Territorial schools' detailed risk assessment and exposure plans for reopening.
There were no major government updates from the Yukon as of 5:00 p.m. E.D.T. on August 23, 2020.