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COVID-19 Updates by Region

Federal, Provincial/Territory Information and Updates:

LAST UPDATED: August 14, 2020
Canada-U.S. border will remain closed until Sept. 21
The federal government will extend the Canada-U.S. land border closure for another 30 days until Sept. 21, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said Friday. The closure to non-essential travel has been in place for months, but with caseloads still high in many U.S. states, the two governments have mutually agreed to continue restricting movement across the world's longest international border. The federal government has also moved to curb the movement of Americans through Canada who are ostensibly on their way to Alaska. U.S. travellers destined for the northern state have been limited to five crossings in Western Canada and they must commit to taking a direct route.
Canada's Competition Bureau investigates Amazon.ca
Canada's Competition Bureau has launched an investigation into online selling powerhouse Amazon.ca to examine whether the website's U.S. owners are "impacting competition to the detriment of consumers and companies that do business in Canada." The competition watchdog said in a release Friday that while its probe is ongoing and stressed that "there is no conclusion of wrongdoing at this time," the bureau is looking into whether or not the site may be engaging in anti-competitive practices, including:
  • Any past or existing Amazon policies that may impact third-party sellers' willingness to offer their products for sale at a lower price on other retail channels, such as their own websites or other online marketplaces;
  • The ability of third-party sellers to succeed on Amazon's marketplace without using its "Fulfilment By Amazon" service or advertising on Amazon.ca.
  • Any efforts or strategies by Amazon that may influence consumers to purchase products it offers for sale over those offered by competing sellers.
  • In a statement to CBC News, a spokesperson for Amazon said "we are co-operating with the Competition Bureau's review and continue to work hard to support small and medium sized businesses who sell in our Canadian store — and help them grow." The bureau is asking any person or business that has conducted sales via Amazon.ca to contact them if they have any insights into the issues it is investigating. While personal information must be disclosed, the bureau is promising confidentiality.
    Updated CEWS Calculator released by the CRA
    Click here to access the CEWS Calculator
    Government of Canada Sets National Temporary Minimum Unemployment Rate For EI Benefits Calculations
    As the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is set to wind down at the end of August, the federal government has temporarily adjusted the Employment Insurance (EI) program’s unemployment rate to 13.1%, which will be applied nationally (except for in areas where the actual rate is higher). This temporary measure will set a uniform eligibility requirement for EI regular benefits, provide a minimum entitlement of 26 weeks of benefits and set the number of best weeks of earnings used in the calculation of the weekly benefit rate at 14. For more Information
    Transport Canada says if you can't wear a mask for medical reasons, prove it
    Non-medical masks have been required for air travellers in Canada since mid-April to prevent the spread of COVID-19. A ministerial order issued Friday closes a loophole that may have made it easier for some flyers to avoid face coverings. There are medical reasons that could make wearing a mask difficult, from certain lung conditions to anxiety disorders. Passengers who are unable to wear a face mask due to a medical condition must now present an official doctor's note stating that they are exempt from the rule, or they will be denied boarding. Travellers who want to fly without a mask, they must provide a medical note that:
    • has been issued by a medical professional.
    • is on official letterhead.
    • is dated.
    • clearly states the passenger's name and that they have a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask. Since April 20, it's been mandatory for air travellers to cover their mouth and nose during airport screenings while boarding and at all times during a flight, unless while eating, drinking or taking oral medication. Infants are not required to wear masks.
    Former Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney advising PM on COVID-19 economic response
    Mark Carney — the former governor of the Bank of Canada and the Bank of England — has been acting as an informal adviser to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the federal government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. News of the informal role was first reported by Bloomberg on Monday. Carney has long been rumoured to have political aspirations since returning to Canada after his term with the Bank of England expired earlier this year. Many in Liberal circles see Carney as a top candidate for finance minister should he seek office or as a possible leadership candidate to eventually succeed Trudeau. With a sudden vacancy in the Toronto-area riding of York Centre there have been rumours that Carney could be a candidate in an upcoming byelection, though senior Liberal sources have repeatedly thrown cold water on that idea. Carney is well-suited to advise the prime minister during difficult economic times. He led the Bank of Canada during the global financial crisis more than a decade ago and held the top job at the Bank of England during the Brexit uncertainty. Carney, a former investment banker currently serving as the United Nations' special envoy on climate action and climate finance, has likened the climate crisis to a financial crisis — and has urged financial sector to help tackle the issue.
    Higgs proposes deal to avoid general election until 2022 or end of COVID-19 pandemic
    Premier Blaine Higgs has made a dramatic offer to the three opposition parties, committing to putting off a snap election and listening to their policy ideas if they agree to keep his minority government in power for another two years. Higgs released a letter Monday to the other party leaders, asking that all four of them agree to avoid forcing an early election until the scheduled date in October 2022 or until the COVID-19 pandemic is over. Higgs has been hinting for weeks that he would trigger a campaign, justifying the threat by saying the province needs stability to manage the pandemic and continue restarting the economy. Liberal Leader Kevin Vickers welcomed the premier's offer. Under the proposed deal, three byelections expected this fall would go ahead as planned.
    Canada added 419,000 jobs in July – still down 1.3M from pre-COVID-19 level
    Canada's economy added 419,000 jobs in July and the jobless rate dropped to 10.9 per cent. Statistics Canada reported Friday that July's job gain, when added to the 953,000 in June and the 290,000 from May, still leaves Canada's economy with 1.3 million fewer jobs than it had in February, before widespread lockdowns to limit the spread of COVID-19 began. The data agency said 345,000 of the new jobs added in July were part-time. Only 73,000 were new full-time positions. Economists polled by Bloomberg had been expecting a gain of about 421,000 jobs. Ontario: Employment rose by 151,000 (+2.2%) in July, building on an increase of 378,000 in June and bringing employment to 91.7% of its pre-pandemic February level. The proportion of people who were employed but worked less than half of their usual hours for reasons likely related to COVID-19 was 10.9% in July, down from 14.1% in June. The unemployment rate in Ontario fell by 0.9 percentage points to 11.3% in July. Quebec: Employment increased by 98,000 (+2.4%) in July, adding to gains in the previous two months and bringing employment to 94.4% of its pre-COVID level. The increase in employment in July was all in part-time work. The unemployment rate decreased 1.2 percentage to 9.5%, the third consecutive monthly decrease. British Columbia: The number of employed British Columbians increased by 70,000 (+3.0%) in July, reaching 93.5% of the February employment level. The proportion of people who were employed but worked less than half of their usual hours was 12.0% in July, down from 14.6% in June. The unemployment rate fell by 1.9 percentage points to 11.1%. Alberta: Employment increased by 67,000 (+3.2%) in July, including gains in both full-time and part-time work. The unemployment rate for the province fell by 2.7 percentage points in July to 12.8%, the first decline since the COVID-19 economic shutdown. Saskatchewan: Employment rose by 13,000 (+2.5%) while the unemployment rate fell 2.8 percentage points to 8.8%. Manitoba: Employment increased (+12,000) for the third consecutive month and the unemployment rate declined by 1.9 percentage points to 8.2%. Newfoundland and Labrador: Employment increased by 4,300 (+2.1%) in July and the unemployment rate dropped 0.9 percentage points to 15.6%. Nova Scotia: Employment rose by 3,400 (+0.8%) in July, reaching 92.7% of its February level. The unemployment rate in the province declined by 2.2 percentage points to 10.8%. Prince Edward Island: Employment rose by 1,100 in July (+1.5%), adding to the gains in the previous two months. The unemployment rate declined by 3.5 percentage points to 11.7%. New Brunswick: Employment was little changed in July after recording employment gains of 39,000 from April to June. Employment in the province—which was among the first to begin easing COVID-19 restrictions—was at 96.6% of its pre-COVID February level, the most complete employment recovery of all provinces to date. Click here to access the complete Labour Force Survey, July 2020
    CECRA Extension information released by CMHC
    CMHC and the federal government have extended the CECRA for small businesses until the end of August. What you need to know:
    • Only those tenants approved in the April, May, June and July application are eligible for the August extension.
    • If a business had an average revenue decline of 70% or more in April, May, and June, it is deemed eligible for the additional month of rent relief. However, not all tenants in the original application need to be included for the August extension.
    Application deadlines
    • If you have been approved for rental assistance and are applying for the July and/or August extension, the deadline to submit your application is September 14, 2020.
    • If you have not yet submitted your application or are still creating it, the deadline to submit new applications that include the July and/or August extension is August 31, 2020.
    • CMHC will open the applications for the extension shortly.
    Get the latest details on the program
    Health Canada recalls more than 50 hand sanitizers in evolving list
    Health Canada is recalling more than 50 hand sanitizers that contain ingredients "not acceptable for use" that may pose health risks. The organization says hand sanitizers with "unacceptable types" of ethanol or denaturants have not been approved for use in sanitizers in Canada, and their safety and efficacy have not been established. Denaturants are ingredients added to ethanol to make it unfit for human consumption to avoid unintentional ingestion of hand sanitizers particularly by children. Health Canada said possible reactions to the ingredients include skin irritation, eye irritation, upper respiratory system irritation and headaches. Health Canada has an evolving list on its website of 51 hand sanitizers that are currently being recalled and says Canadians should consult the list regularly. The organization says to stop using products listed, and to consult a health-care professional "if you have used these products and have health concerns."
    Record number of companies have sought creditor protection
    22 major Canadian companies sought creditor protection in May and June, almost 4 times the typical pace. A record 10 companies began CCAA proceedings in May — followed by a new record of 12 companies in June. Both figures best the previous high of nine seen in December 2011 and the eight hit in in the depths of the financial crisis in October 2009. The number fell back to 4 in July but that's still above the 10 year average of about three per month, according to a database maintained by the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada. Many of the recent restructurings are numbered companies, but a some high-profile insolvencies and bankruptcies in Canada have made headlines, including clothiers Reitmans, and Frank & Oak, shoe seller Aldo, hot drink seller DavidsTea, entertainment company Cirque Du Soleil, travel agency FlightHub, various oil companies and even a Christian charity. That list that doesn't even include major U.S. names like Chesapeake Energy, J Crew, Neiman Marcus, Brooks Brothers, Pier 1 and Hertz.
    Porter Airlines pushes back restart date amid COVID-19 pandemic
    Porter Airlines says it is pushing back its restart date amid ongoing travel restrictions. The airline had hoped to resume flights this summer but said Tuesday that won’t be possible, and it will instead aim to restart service on Oct. 7. The company is waiving change and cancellation fees on all flights and vacation packages booked between now and Oct. 7.
    Commercial rent relief program extended into August
    The federal government has extended Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA), its rent subsidy program to support small businesses, by another month. Under the original rent program known as CECRA, small businesses that have lost 70 per cent or more of their revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic only have to pay 25 per cent of their rent. The provinces, territories and federal government combine to cover 50 per cent, while landlords cover 25 per cent.
    Salmonella outbreak in Canada linked to American red onions
    Health officials have tracked a salmonella outbreak in Canada reported earlier this week to red onions imported from the United States. According to a release from the Public Health Agency of Canada, there have been 55 additional illnesses in Canada since the outbreak was first announced for a total of 114 cases of salmonella across five provinces. People in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario are being asked to not eat any red onions imported to Canada from the U.S., including food products containing red onions, until more is known about the outbreak. Health officials are urging retailers and restaurants in these provinces to not use, sell or serve red onions imported from the U.S.
    EI-like benefit for gig, contract workers will be available after CERB ends,
    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the government plans to move out-of-work Canadians into the employment insurance system and provide parallel support for millions of people who are set to exhaust their emergency pandemic aid, and who don't have EI to fall back on. The $80-billion Canada Emergency Response Benefit is set to wind down over the coming weeks, and those who are EI-eligible are to start drawing assistance that way. At a media event on Friday morning, Trudeau said many people who don't qualify for CERB, such as gig or contract workers, will gain access to a transitional, parallel benefit that is similar to EI. It will also include access to training and the ability to work more hours without a steep clawback in benefit payments, Trudeau said. More details of the program will be unveiled at a later date. The most recent figures on the CERB show that as of July 26, the government had paid out $62.75 billion in benefits to 8.46 million unique applicants since its launch.
    Canadian economy grew 4.5 per cent in May: Statistics Canada
    Statistics Canada says the economy grew by 4.5 per cent in May as businesses began to reopen after severe lockdowns of March and April. The average economist estimate was for a 3.5 per cent increase in gross domestic product for May, according to financial data firm Refinitiv. Rebounds were seen across multiple industries with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, including retail trade that registered a 16.4 per cent bump to mark its largest monthly increase since comparable readings began in 1961. Motor vehicle and car sales contributed the most to the retail growth. Statistics Canada says the sector would have grown by 11.4 per cent had they been excluded from calculations. In a preliminary estimate for June, the agency says the economy continued to pick up steam, with a five-per-cent increase for the month. Despite the two months of growth after two months of negative readings, Statistics Canada's preliminary estimate is that economic output contracted by 12 per cent in the second quarter compared to the first three months of 2020. The June and second-quarter figures will be finalized late next month. CIBC economists noted that a 12-per-cent drop in the second quarter would be the largest decline ever by a long shot, even if such a decline was expected. The Bank of Canada's most recent economic outlook expected the second quarter of 2020 to be worse than the first, estimating a three-month drop in GDP of 14.6 per cent. The central bank expected an economic contraction of 7.8 per cent this year, warning that after an immediate turnaround as restrictions eased, a recovery would be long and bumpy with some businesses and jobs not surviving the downturn. Statistics Canada says economic activity still remained 15 per cent below pre-pandemic level despite the gains over May as business activity was slowly allowed to resume.
    U.S. economy shrank at fastest pace on record last quarter
    The U.S. economy contracted at its steepest pace since the Great Depression in the second quarter, as the COVID-19 pandemic shattered consumer and business spending, and a nascent recovery is under threat from a resurgence in new cases of coronavirus. Gross domestic product collapsed at a 32.9 per cent annualized rate last quarter, the deepest decline in output since the government started keeping records in 1947, the Commerce Department said on Thursday. The drop in GDP was more than triple the previous all-time decline of 10 per cent in the second quarter of 1958. The economy contracted at a five per cent pace in the first quarter. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast GDP plunging at a 34.1 per cent rate in the April-June quarter. The bulk of the historic tumble in GDP occurred in April, when activity ground to an abrupt halt after restaurants, bars and factories, among others, were shuttered in mid-March to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Economists say without the historic fiscal package of nearly $3 trillion US, the economic contraction would have been deeper. The package offered companies help in paying wages and gave millions of unemployed Americans a weekly $600 supplement, which expires on Saturday. Many companies have exhausted their loans. This, together with the sky-rocketing coronavirus infections, is keeping layoffs elevated. In a separate report on Thursday, the Labour Department said initial claims for unemployment benefits totalled 1.434 million in the week ending July 25.
    Eurozone GDP drops 12.1% in record pandemic plunge
    The coronavirus pandemic caused the largest GDP drop ever recorded for the 19 EU countries using the euro as currency, according to estimates. The eurozone economy has shrunk by over 12%, with Spain bearing the brunt.
    TD, Scotiabank and RBC extend work from home policy until 2021
    Royal Bank of Canada and TD Bank Group say most of their staff will work from home until at least 2021. The move comes after the Bank of Nova Scotia informed head office employees in the General Toronto Area currently working remotely that they can continue to do so until 2021 and after all of the major banks in the city agreed to a May request from mayor John Tory, who asked companies in the area to keep their workers home for the summer.
    Air Transat to cancel all flights from Western Canada to U.S., sun destinations this winter
    Air Transat plans to cancel all flights from Western Canada to sun destinations and the United States this winter, with refunds en route to customers — a policy about-face in the COVID-19 era. The airline is cancelling all southbound routes that were slated to take off from Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Victoria, Air Transat parent Transat AT told customers this week. The only routes out of western gateways between Nov. 1 and April 30 will be from Vancouver to Toronto and Montreal, and some connecting flights to Europe via Toronto. Passengers will automatically receive a full refund rather than the company credit that has previously been offered for flights cancelled due to the COVID-19 crisis, Transat said.
    Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Improvements, Receives Royal Assent
    The proposed improvements to the CEWS passed through the Senate and received Royal Assent on July 27. Among other things, Bill C-20 extends the CEWS to December 19, introduces a sliding scale and made some eligibility improvements. These are improvements we advocated and are pleased to see implemented on behalf of our members. More Information
    Shopify revenue doubles amid shift to online shopping in COVID-19
    Shopify Inc. is reporting $36 million US in profits in the second quarter on a nearly doubling of revenues as it reaped the benefits of COVID-19 lockdowns. The Ottawa-based tech company says it earned 29 cents per diluted share for the three months ended June 30, compared with a loss of 26 cents per share or $28.7 million US in the prior year. Reporting in U.S. dollars, adjusted earnings reached $129.4 million or $1.05 per share, up from $10.7 million or 10 cents per share in the second quarter of 2019. Revenues surged 97 per cent to $714.3 million from $362 million a year earlier. Shopify was expected to report a net loss of 59 cents per share or adjusted profit of one cent per share on $513.8 million in revenues, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv. The company says the ongoing effect of the pandemic has been to accelerate the shift of purchase habits to e-commerce with new stores created on the Shopify platform growing 71 per cent in the quarter.
    Bank of Canada faces shortage of $50 bills due to pandemic hoarding
    The Bank of Canada is facing a shortage of $50 bills due to the COVID-19 pandemic and signs point to Canadians hoarding cash as a primary reason. In a statement, the Bank of Canada said the shortage will not impact the consumer’s ability to withdraw cash, but rather it may require banks to alter their cash orders to incorporate other denominations. The Bank of Canada could not specify why the demand has increased for the $50 specifically, but it released a staff discussion paper earlier this month that shows there was a spike in demand for all bank notes -- though $20 and $50 bills were in highest demand -- in April and May, compared to the past five years.
    Cash hoarding an international problem
    A report from the Centre for Economic Policy Research in the U.K. shows cash in circulation has increased in United States, Italy, Spain, Germany, France, Australia, Brazil and Russia, to name a few. In the U.S., pandemic hoarding, combined with businesses refusing cash, has led to a shortage of coins. This shortage led to the foundation of the U.S. Coin Task Force, which is meant to “identify, implement, and promote actions to reduce the consequence and duration of COVID-19 related disruptions to normal coin circulation.”
    Government extends 2019 tax payment deadline to September
    Today the CRA announced that it was extending the payment deadline and applying relief to interest on existing debt.
    Payment deadline extension The CRA is extending the payment due date for current year individual, corporate, and trust income tax returns, including instalment payments, from September 1, 2020, to September 30, 2020. Penalties and interest will not be charged if payments are made by the extended deadline of September 30, 2020. This includes the late-filing penalty as long as the return is filed by September 30, 2020.
    Interest on Existing Tax Debt The CRA is also waiving interest on existing tax debts related to individual, corporate, and trust income tax returns from April 1, 2020, to September 30, 2020 and from April 1, 2020, to June 30, 2020, for goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) returns. While this measure for existing tax debts does not cancel penalties and interest already assessed on a taxpayer’s account prior to this period, it ensures that a taxpayer’s existing tax debt does not continue to grow through interest charges during this difficult time. This measure provides immediate relief to impacted taxpayers.
    Filing returns The previously extended filing due dates for individual, corporate, and trust income tax returns remain unchanged. However, recognizing the difficult circumstances faced by Canadians, the CRA will not impose late-filing penalties where a current year individual, corporation, or trust return is filed late provided that it is filed by September 30, 2020.
    For those receiving credits and benefits such as the Canada Child Benefit The CRA temporarily suspended interruptions for those who were unable to file their income tax and benefit return by the June 1 deadline. Currently, if a 2019 individual tax return has not been assessed, the CRA is calculating benefits and/or credits for the July to September 2020 payments based on information from 2018 tax returns. However, if 2019 individual tax returns are not received and assessed by early September 2020, estimated benefits and/or credits will stop in October 2020 and individuals may have to repay the amounts that were issued as of July 2020. The CRA has helpful information and a step-by-step guide to help Canadians complete their taxes. The CRA tax processing system is fully operational and returns are being processed quickly to support Canadians in getting their refunds and ensuring continuity of their benefits.
    RBC – COVID Consumer Spending Tracker
    Spending stabilizes – solidifying early recovery
    • Consumers seem to have hit their stride into July, with card volumes holding relatively steady since the end of June. Spending is hovering near year-ago levels, as many parts of the country continue to slowly re-open.
    • In most categories, spending stuck close to the levels cited in our last report, strengthening a rebound several weeks in the making.
    Online spending holds strong, as Canadians avoid the mall
    • Online purchasing remained robust, with some categories seeing a lasting shift toward more frequent virtual purchases.
    • Canadians continued to embrace remote buying, particularly in categories where delivery and curbside pick-up have been broadly accepted.
    • Even as stores reopened to customers, online and remote spending remained stronger for clothing retailers, restaurants, and grocery stores as consumers avoided crowds.
    • In-person entertainment and health spending bounced back to pre-pandemic levels quickly, especially as things with few online alternatives reopened (e.g., golf courses, hair salons).
    Read the Report
    Statistics Canada says retail sales surged 18.7 per cent in May
    Statistics Canada says retail sales surged 18.7 per cent in May led by motor vehicle and parts sales. The agency says retail sales increased to $41.8 billion in May but that still left them 20 per cent below levels in February, before physical distancing measures were implemented to fight COVID-19. Economists on average had expected a 20 per cent increase in May, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv. Sales were up in 10 out of 11 subsectors with vehicle and parts dealers, general merchandise stores and clothing stores the main contributors to May's strength. The increase in sales followed a record decline of 24.1 per cent in April. Statistics Canada says online sales were $3.8 billion in May, accounting for eight per cent of the total retail market.
    Improved Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Bill Passes the House
    On Tuesday afternoon MPs in the House of Commons passed Bill C-20, including the improved CEWS, which was announced on Friday last week. The Senate must now study the bill before it can be implemented. We have called for the bill to be swiftly passed and are grateful MPs on all sides worked to achieve that goal. We are hopeful the Senate will now do the same.
    Walmart Canada investing $3.5 billion over five years, notably on technology
    Walmart Canada plans to invest $3.5 billion over the next five years to improve service in stores and on the web, renovate 150 stores and build two new distribution centres. Future technology initiatives include the use of payment on mobile devices so that customers can pay for purchases anywhere in the store. The company also aims to soon offer a complete merchandise pick-up service at about 270 branches, or 70 per cent of its locations in Canada. Renovations to more than one-third of its stores will be completed over three years. Walmart is also planning to spend $1.1 billion to speed up the flow of products by building two new distribution centres, in Vaughan, Ont. and Surrey, B.C., as well as renovating an existing centre in Cornwall, Ont.
    Have you paid your HST?
    The HST deferral that was brought in back in March has ended and your HST payments are due. As part of the government’s response to COVID-19 the CRA allowed businesses, including self-employed individuals, to defer until June 30, 2020 any GST/HST payment that became owing between March 27 and the end of May 2020. Those deferred tax payments were due effective the end of June. For more information
    Sweeping changes to federal wage subsidy announced
    Finance Minister Bill Morneau is proposing sweeping changes to the federal government's wage subsidy program that would extend the program until the end of the year and open the program to more businesses. The proposed changes will
    • Make the subsidy accessible to a broader range of employers by including employers with a revenue decline of less than 30% and providing a gradually decreasing base subsidy to all qualifying employers. This would help many struggling employers with less than a 30% revenue loss get support to keep and bring back workers while also ensuring those who have previously benefited could still qualify, even if their revenues recover and no longer meet the 30% revenue decline threshold.
    • Introduce a top-up subsidy of up to an additional 25% for employers that have been most adversely affected by the pandemic. This would be particularly helpful to employers in industries that are recovering more slowly.
    • Provide certainty to employers that have already made business decisions for July and August by ensuring they would not receive a subsidy rate lower than they would have had under the previous rules.
    • Address certain technical issues identified by stakeholders. The draft legislation would extend the program until December 19. The new changes would take effect retroactively as of July 5. Under the proposed legislation, all qualifying businesses would receive a base subsidy that would vary according to how much revenue they lost. Harder-hit companies would receive larger subsidies. The changes were drafted following extensive consultations with businesses and employers reporting major flaws in the original program.
      Media Release
      Detailed Backgrounder
      Canada-U.S. border closure extended into August
      Senior government officials confirm the arrangement limiting border access to essential travel only will be rolled over for another 30 days. The agreement, which has to be reviewed each month, was set to expire on July 21. It's now being renewed for the fourth time since the border closed to non-essential traffic on March 21.
      Airport cuts 1/4 of staff due to reduced travel demand
      The Greater Toronto Airports Authority, which operates Pearson International Airport, says it will not fill 200 current open positions and get rid of an additional 300 positions through voluntary departures and layoffs. The cuts represent a slash of 27 per cent of the airport operator's pre-pandemic workforce. In April, Pearson airport processed 97 per cent fewer passengers than it did in the same month a year earlier and right now the GTAA says passenger traffic is back where it was in 1996. Other major airports have already made similar job cuts, including 25 per cent of staff at Vancouver's main airport and one third of the staff in Calgary.
      Federal temporary national sick leave program created
      As part of the $19B ‘Safe Restart’ fund the federal government will be creating a temporary national sick leave program — providing 10 days of paid sick leave to those who don't already have it through their employers — at an estimated cost of $1.1 billion.
      July extension now available for CECRA for small businesses
      The July extension for CECRA for small businesses is now available. The July extension is based on the existing program parameters for the April, May and June period. No new documents are needed to opt-in. Not all tenants in the original application need to be included in the request for the July extension. Property owners can only opt-in once and no new tenants can be added. Visit the updated program page to learn more about how it works
      Canada, U.S. confirm extension of travel ban into late August.
      Canada and the United States have agreed to extend their mutual ban on non-essential travel between the two countries until Aug. 20.
      Federal government to provide provinces and territories with $19B for 'safe restart' of economy
      The federal government will provide $19 billion to the provinces and territories to help fund a "safe restart" of the Canadian economy. The direct transfers are part of a comprehensive agreement to help those governments cover some of their budgetary costs over the next six to eight months as they reopen and prepare for a possible second wave of COVID-19. The original plan was for a $14 billion fund — but many premiers said that amount was not nearly enough to cover their needs. The funding will focus on seven priority areas, including $4.2 billion for enhanced COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, $4.5 billion for the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) for front line and essential workers, and $625 million to fund more child care spaces so that parents can get back to work, according to a government background document. The federal government will put up to $2 billion toward the operating costs of Canadian cities for six to eight months; provinces and territories will be required to match that amount from their own funds. The feds also will match any new funding that provinces and municipalities put toward public transit, up to $1.8 billion. As part of the agreement, Ottawa will create a temporary national sick leave program — providing 10 days of paid sick leave to those who don't already have it through their employers — at an estimated cost of $1.1 billion. Additional funds will go toward improving the state of long-term care, and to fund mental health services and tackle homelessness.
      Queen Elizabeth knights 100-year-old fundraising captain
      On the lighter side of the news, today, The Queen conferred the Honour of Knighthood on Captain Tom Moore at an Investiture at Windsor Castle.
      Premier Brian Pallister calls on federal government to redesign CERB
      Premier Brian Pallister is again criticizing the Canadian emergency response benefit (CERB), calling on the federal government to make changes to ensure it doesn't penalize Canadians who want to return to work. At a news conference Tuesday, Pallister argued that the current CERB rules disqualify workers who earn more than $1,000 a month. He argues that the federal government should consider a phased reduction of the benefit as workers return to their previous or new jobs. Pallister said he met with representatives from numerous national organizations and think tanks, including the Conference Board of Canada, the Parliamentary Budget Office and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce to discuss the country and Manitoba's economic recovery.
      House prices bounced up 6.5% in June compared to last year, CREA says
      Canada's housing market showed signs of recuperation from COVID-19 last month, with prices and sales numbers well up from where they were a year earlier. The Canadian Real Estate Association said Wednesday that the average price of a Canadian resale home was $539,000, up 6.5 per cent from the average price a year earlier. A total of 41,628 homes changed hands during the month, an increase of 63 per cent from May's level, and a jump of more than 15 per cent compared to June 2019. Sales were up in Canada's biggest cities compared to May:
      • Toronto, up 83.8 per cent.
      • Montreal, up 75.1 per cent.
      • Greater Vancouver, up 60.3 per cent.
      • B.C.'s Fraser Valley, up 99.7 per cent.
      • Calgary, up 54.9 per cent.
      • Edmonton, up 59 per cent.
      • Winnipeg, up 22.5 per cent.
      • Hamilton-Burlington, Ont., up 34.8 per cent.
      • Halifax-Dartmouth, up 55 per cent.
      • London and St. Thomas, Ont., up 67.9 per cent.
      • Ottawa, up 55.6 per cent.
      • Quebec City, up 43.6 per cent.
      Prices, on average, were double-digits higher in fifteen of the 26 biggest markets in Canada, compared to where they were a year ago. CREA says the average price figure can be misleading because it can be easily skewed by sales in big and expensive markets like Toronto and Vancouver. So the group calculates another number, known as the House Price Index, which strips out those effects and adjusts for the mix of different homes in different markets. The HPI went up at an annual rate of 5.4 per cent in June.
      Bank of Canada holds interest rate steady
      Canada's central bank opted to keep its benchmark interest rate right where it was on Wednesday, at 0.25 per cent. It's the first rate decision under the stewardship of Tiff Macklem, who took over as governor of the Bank of Canada last month after Stephen Poloz's seven-year tenure ended. The bank says it will keep its rate low to stimulate the economy "until economic slack is absorbed so that the two per cent inflation target is sustainably achieved." The decision was in line with expectations of economists who monitor the central bank polled by Bloomberg. The bank's next decision is scheduled for Sept. 9 and no change is expected at that meeting either. In addition to the interest rate decision, the bank also released its quarterly Monetary Policy Report, which outlines the bank's outlook for the economy. Macklem and other officials at the bank will have more to say about their outlook at a news conference on Wednesday scheduled for 11 a.m.
      Senate committee recommends improvements to COVID-19 emergency programs
      The Senate finance committee says significant gaps remain in the federal government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, despite efforts to adjust and improve emergency support programs rolled out over the previous several months. The committee report found that while programs like the wage subsidy have provided vital support to many businesses, many companies in need remain ineligible. The wage subsidy program's uptake has not been as robust as the government had hoped. "The committee ... does not believe a business should be ineligible from all support simply because its revenue only declined by one per cent below the threshold." The Senate report recommends expanding eligibility to include companies that don't have commercial business accounts — currently a requirement to qualify — and to cover hard-hit sectors like tourism, hospitality and airlines. The committee also urged the government to expand eligibility for the Canada emergency business account and the commercial rent assistance program. The former provides interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and non-profits, while the latter provides forgivable loans to cover 50 per cent of monthly rent payments for small businesses that have faced financial hardship.
      CFIA’s Toolkit For Food Businesses
      If your business is new to federal food regulations, follow these steps from the Canada Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to help understand the requirements of the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR), as well as other food-related requirements. Access The Toolkit
      Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy will be extended to December
      In his daily media conference the Prime Minister revealed that the government will be extending the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to December 2020. Trudeau wasn't saying today how the government will reshape the eligibility rules for the program As of July 6, the wage subsidy had paid out $18.01 billion to 252,370 companies. The government's fiscal and economic "snapshot" last week boosted the budget of the wage subsidy program to $82.3 billion.
      Canada adds health officials at U.S. border crossings to screen for COVID-19
      The Public Health Agency of Canada is adding on-site employees at 36 points of entry across the country. The "increased presence" of officials is at the points of entry — including air and land — that see 90 per cent of travellers. PHAC officials, including quarantine officers, clinical screening officers and screening officers will now be on-site to screen travellers entering Canada at these ports of entry. The news follows a surge in new cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., with large daily increases in some of the country's most populous states. That uptick is paired with an increase in traffic across the international border at airports and land crossings, as restrictions are loosened. Travel across the border has been linked to a new cluster of cases in Prince Edward Island tied to an individual who came from the U.S. with a student visa.
      Economy adds 953,000 jobs in June, unemployment rate falls
      Statistics Canada says the economy added nearly one million jobs in June as businesses forced closed by the pandemic began to reopen. The agency says 953,000 jobs were added last month, including 488,000 full-time and 465,000 part-time positions. The unemployment rate fell to 12.3 per cent in June after hitting a record-high of 13.7 per cent in May. The average economist estimate for June had been for an addition of 700,000 jobs and the unemployment rate to fall to 12.0 per cent, according to financial data firm Refinitiv. Statistics Canada says the unemployment rate would have been 16.3 per cent had it included in unemployment counts those who wanted to work, but did not look for a job. The jobs report this morning says there are still some 3.1 million people affected by the shutdowns of March and April when public health restrictions forced businesses to close and workers to stay at home to slow the spread of COVID-19. About 2.5 million didn't have jobs in June, either due to temporary or permanent layoffs, while the remainder are working less than half their usual hours. As restrictions eased, the number of people participating in the labour force grew by about 786,000 after May's 491,000 gain, bringing those considered in the labour force to within 443,000 of its pre-pandemic level. The unemployment rate for women was 12.7 per cent in June compared to 12.1 per cent for men. Similarly, the participation rate for core-aged men was less than one percentage point below the February level, while for women it was 1.4 percentage points short. The underutilization rate -- which counts those who are unemployed, those who want a job but didn't look for one, and those working less than half their usual hours -- was 28.3 for women and 25.5 per cent for men. The Bank of Canada and federal government say the worst of the economic pain from the pandemic is behind the country, but Canada will face high unemployment and low growth until 2021.
      U.S. members of Congress push Canada to reopen border
      In an open letter addressed to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, 29 bipartisan members of Congress called on the Canadian government to plan a phased reopening of the Canada-U.S. border and to consider easing existing measures. "We are asking that the United States and Canada immediately craft a comprehensive framework for phased reopening of the border based on objective metrics and accounting for the varied circumstances across border regions," read the letter, which was published on Western New York Congressman Brian Higgins' website on July 3. Despite the United States' plea, a spokesperson for Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a statement that the health and safety of Canadians is "absolutely priority." "Decisions about Canada's border are made by Canadians, for Canadians," said Freeland's spokesperson, Katherine Cuplinskas, in the statement. "Since the beginning of this global pandemic, we have been having friendly ongoing conversations with our American partners about our shared border. Both sides agree that the current measures in place, which are set to expire on July 21st, have worked well in restricting non-essential travel while allowing essential crossings to continue unimpeded." Freeland's office wasn’t alone in pushing back against the call. Social media posts show the Canadians are opposed to reopening the border for non-essential travel. These posts were much less diplomatic than the official response from Minister Freeland’s Office.
      A Deeper Dive into yesterdays federal fiscal ‘snapshot’ By Temple Scott Associates
      The Government’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan includes more than $230 billion in measures to support Canadians and businesses. The snapshot is formatted to give the Government flexibility to scale those programs up or down in the coming months, stating that the Government will announce measures to support economic recovery as needed – though no details were offered about what those measures could be. Most notably for businesses, the snapshot indicates that changes to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy are forthcoming, to “stimulate rehiring, provide support to businesses during reopening and help them adapt to the new normal”. In anticipation of that, the Government set aside additional funding for the program, perhaps indicating that it will be extended beyond August 29th, when it is currently set to end. Notably, no additional funding was set aside for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, which is also due to end that day. The impact of COVID-19 on employment has been significant, with approximately 30% of the workforce either losing their jobs or having their hours reduced at the start of the pandemic. However, the Government believes that its response to COVID-19 prevented greater economic damage, arguing that federal programs replaced more than $40 billion in lost income, prevented the real GDP contraction from reaching over 10% in 2020, and stopped the unemployment rate from rising a further 2% over the course of the year. The snapshot accounts for the $14 billion Safe Restart Agreement that is currently being negotiated with the Provinces, but it does not provide greater detail on how that money will be spent, beyond making broad commitments to prioritize healthcare capacity, testing and tracing, personal protective equipment, childcare, and support for municipalities. Minister Morneau promised to announce details of the Agreement as they are decided. Opposition Reaction Although no Parliamentary vote is required to pass the “snapshot”, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh stated that his support for the Government could be contingent on its contents, and the other Opposition leaders were also vocal in setting criteria for the fiscal update. The NDP gave the snapshot a “C+”, primarily criticizing the lack of support for persons living with disabilities and absence of action to increase taxes on the wealthy and eliminate tax havens. The Conservatives argued that the Government lacks a plan to stimulate growth, attract business investment, and get Canadians back to work and they also sounded alarm over the size of the Federal debt. The Bloc Quebecois also called for more measures to get Canadians back to work. What’s Next Marked by both the fiscal snapshot and the virtual Cabinet retreat this week, it is clear that the Government is attempting to transition from crisis management of the pandemic to charting a pathway to a new normal. However, judging by the tone of the snapshot, that transition will be cautious and the Government remains open to further spending in response to COVID-19. Minister Morneau did not fix a date for Budget 2020 today, or even commit to tabling one before Budget 2021. He did commit to providing further details on Federal finances in the Fall, and indicated that the tabling of a full budget at that time will depend on how successfully the pandemic and its economic fallout are limited. Meanwhile, the House of Commons Finance Committee is authorized to continue a virtual meeting schedule over the summer, and it could, in theory, choose to study today’s snapshot, which could result in an appearance by the Finance Minister before the Committee.
      CEWS to be extended
      In a technical briefing an official from the federal Department of Finance said the government will soon announce details of a proposed extension to the wage subsidy beyond its current August 2020 end date. In the fiscal snapshot speech Finance Minister Bill Morneau said “We know there's some things that need to change so we can get people back to work.” “We'll have more to say in the very near term.”
      Fiscal snapshot – by the numbers
      • Deficit for 2020-21 rises to $343.2 billion from $34.4 billion projected before pandemic.
      • Net federal debt will hit $1.2 trillion.
      • Federal debt-to-GDP ratio is expected to rise to 49% in 2020-21 from 31%
      • Direct federal support for Canadians and businesses: $212 billion.
      • COVID-19 slowdown has cost the federal treasury an additional $81.3 billion.
      • GDP will shrink by projected 6.8% this year — worst since the Great Depression.
      • Economy is expected to bounce back by 5.5% next year.
      For more information on the Fiscal Snapshot
      Highlights of the federal fiscal 'snapshot'
      Today, federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau delivered an update on federal spending and economic projections linked to the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The update is a "fiscal snapshot" instead of the traditional economic and fiscal statement that comes between budgets. Back in March, Morneau was forced to put off his spring budget in March after the devastating economic effects of the pandemic became clearer. Here are some of the highlights: Deficit: The deficit for 2020-21 is expected to rise to $343.2 billion from the $34.4 billion deficit projected before the pandemic. The additional deficit can be attributed to the $212 billion in direct support measures the federal government is providing to individuals and businesses. The snapshot says that, aside from the pandemic program spending, the economic slowdown is estimated to have added another $81.3 billion to the deficit in 2020-21. Government revenue: The federal government's revenues are expected to decline to $268.8 billion in 2020-21 from a projected $341 billion in 2019-20. Personal income tax revenue is predicted to shrink to $146.3 billion next year from $170.9 billion in 2019-20 — a decline of 14.4 per cent. Corporate income taxes revenue is are expected to decline by 22.3 per cent, to $38.3 billion from $49.2 billion last year. The revenue from the GST is projected to decline 20.4 per cent to $30.9 billion from $38.8 billion in 2019-20. GDP decline: The Canadian economy is projected to shrink by 6.8 per cent this year before bouncing back by 5.5 per cent next year, making this crisis the worst economic contraction since the Great Depression. The economy is expected to decline in 2020-21 more than twice as much as it did in 2009-10 in response to the global financial crisis. The decline in GDP is expected to take place in the second quarter of this fiscal year, according to private sector projections of a 40.6 per cent decline in GDP. Debt-to-GDP ratio: The federal debt-to-GDP ratio is expected to rise to 49 per cent in 2020-21 (from 31 per cent in 2019-20). The federal government says it's getting a better deal on that debt through very low interest rates. "As a consequence of these developments, the government will save over $4 billion in public debt charges in 2020-21 compared to the forecast presented in the 2019 Economic and Fiscal Update in December 2019," the snapshot said. Job losses: Between February and April, 5.5 million Canadians either lost their jobs or saw their work hours significantly reduced. Those losses pushed the unemployment rate to 13.7 per cent in May — the highest rise on record — from a pre-crisis low of 5.5 per cent in January. Finance Minister Bill Morneau said that without government pandemic programs, the GDP would have contracted by more than 10 per cent and unemployment would have risen by another 2 per cent. Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA): As of July 3, 688,000 applicants have been approved for roughly $27.41 billion in CEBA loans — $7 billion of which is forgivable if the loan is paid back before December 31, 2022. The cost of the program is expected to rise to $13.7 billion by the time it ends. Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS): The total estimated impact of the Canada emergency wage subsidy will be $82.3 billion. That is an increase from the $45 billion estimate provided by the government last month and reflects the proposed extension and broadening of eligibility for the program. Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB): As of June 28, the CERB has provided over $53 billion in benefit payments to 8.16 million Canadians. That amount is expected to rise to $80 billion based on the eight-week extension and significant take-up of the program. Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB): To date, it has provided over $1.4 billion to over 600,000 applicants, which is expected to rise to $5.2 billion by the time it winds down. Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA): As of July 3, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), has approved applications for over 29,000 small businesses and total requested funding of over $221 million. CMHC is working closely with large property owners to complete applications to provide rent support to a further 25,000 small businesses.
      Canadians' COVID-19 fears are rising again – U.S. might be to blame
      Polls suggest Canadians are worried about the situation in the U.S. A Nanos Research survey for the Globe and Mail found that 81 per cent of Canadians polled want the border with the United States to stay closed for the "foreseeable future." Léger finds that 86 per cent of Canadians reject the idea of reopening the border at the end of July, as is currently planned (although the border closures have been renewed and extended repeatedly in the past). Remarkably, 71 per cent of Canadians "strongly disagreed" with a reopening of the border, suggesting a firmly held opinion. In mid-May, Léger reported that 21 per cent of Canadians wanted the border to open by the end of June or earlier. Now, just 11 per cent agree with opening the border by the end of July. These darkening views on the pandemic can't be tied entirely to COVID-19's spread in the U.S., as it's not the the only country with an uncontrolled outbreak. Canadians are also reporting more pessimism about the future, despite the apparently improving situation here. According to the Léger poll, 82 per cent of Canadians expect a second wave — that's up six points from early June. The poll suggests Canadians have lost some of their late-spring optimism. “Although the weather has improved, patios are open and people can get a haircut again, more and more Canadians appear to be coming to the realization that this is likely to be just a temporary reprieve — and not the new normal.”
      Proposed class-action against Skip the Dishes moving forward after Supreme Court's Uber ruling
      A proposed class-action lawsuit against Winnipeg-based food delivery service Skip the Dishes can now move forward through Manitoba courts, after the Supreme Court of Canada reached a decision last month in a similar case involving an Ontario Uber Eats driver. The lawsuit, filed by former Skip the Dishes courier Charleen Pokornik in Manitoba's Court of Queen's Bench in summer of 2018, argues the company misled its drivers by classifying them as independent contractors rather than employees, allowing it to avoid labour laws covering minimum wages, paid sick leave and other benefits. Pokornik and her lawyers were seeking class-action certification, but the court process was put on hold last year after the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case brought forward by Uber Eats driver David Heller. Like Pokornik, Heller argues Uber has violated the rights of its drivers by misclassifying them as independent contractors. He is also seeking class-action certification. The Supreme Court decision, released on June 26, doesn't deal with whether or not Uber drivers are employees or independent contractors. Instead, it determined that drivers can seek legal recourse through Ontario's court system, rather than going through an arbitration process mandated by Uber and based in the Netherlands. In July 2018, days before Pokornik filed her statement of claim, Skip the Dishes changed its contract with drivers, requiring them to go through arbitration instead of the courts to resolve disputes. The new contract also stipulated that any action must be brought individually, and not as part of a class. Now that the Supreme Court has ruled in the Uber case, the Skip the Dishes case is set to move to a case management hearing in mid-September, says a lawyer representing Pokornik's class-action application. If the court decides that Skip drivers are in fact employees and not private contractors, the company could be required to pay drivers retroactively for lost wages, overtime, vacation pay and more.
      OECD Employment Outlook 2020 Released
      According to the OECD, there is a real danger that the COVID-19 jobs crisis will increase poverty and widen inequalities, with the impact felt for years to come. Countries now need to do everything they can to stop this jobs crisis from turning into a social crisis. Reconstructing a better and more resilient labour market is an essential investment in the future and in future generations. Explore the Results
      SaskPower taking revenue hit from COVID-19; too soon to rule out rate increases
      SaskPower says it's taking a hit from the COVID-19 pandemic, but it's too early to say what impact that will have on customer rates. The Crown utility says sales were down by 10 per cent from April to June, amounting to millions in lost revenue. It also reports that deferred bill payments totalled $47 million as of the end of last month. Environment Minister Dustin Duncan is responsible for SaskPower and says it's too early to decide whether rates will have to increase to make up for the revenue shortfall this fiscal year. SaskPower president Mike Marsh said some of the utility's expenses are falling and the $50-million drop in revenues doesn't necessarily mean a hit to net income, which is the main factor for rate increases. The utility has not raised rates for the last two years, Marsh noted, and any thought of doing so would have to balance the needs of the Crown with the financial impact on customers. SaskPower's 2019-20 annual report shows the global health and economic crisis had little impact on last year's books. The Crown reported net income of $205 million. The utility also collected $83 million from customers who started paying the federal carbon tax in April 2019.
      Facebook to Pay $9.5 Million Penalty to Competition Bureau for Misleading Privacy Claims
      The Competition Bureau (the “Bureau”) recently concluded that Facebook Inc. made false or misleading claims to the public about the privacy of Canadians’ personal information on Facebook and Messenger. Facebook disagreed with the conclusion of the Bureau, but wished to resolve the matter by entering into a consent agreement and not contesting the conclusions for purposes of the agreement. As a result, Facebook is required to pay a $9 million penalty, plus an additional $500,000 for the costs of the Bureau’s investigation. Canadian privacy regulators have not historically had significant tools to financially penalize companies for breaching the privacy rights of individuals. The Bureau is stepping into that gap, at least in part. In light of this recent decision, organizations should take a good look at their privacy policies, statements and notices and consider whether any of the statements contained therein are or may be considered inaccurate or misleading. Click here to read the article.
      Bank of Canada - Quarterly Business Outlook Survey
      The bank's quarterly business outlook survey published Monday suggests many service sector and energy companies don't expect a return to pre-pandemic employment levels. About one-third say they have used a federal wage subsidy to reduce or avoid layoffs, while other firms looking to rehire or hire new staff cited an emergency federal benefit for workers as a hurdle to their plans. The latest figures from the federal government show the $45-billion wage subsidy has paid nearly $17.1 billion to 245,160 companies as of June 29. Meanwhile, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, or CERB, has paid $53.53 billion in benefits to 8.16 million people as of June 28 since it was introduced in late March. The worry among workers about losing their job rose to the highest level seen in the bank's regular survey of consumer expectations, released alongside the business outlook survey. Workers' expectations of how easily they could find new work dropped to the lowest level since the 2015 oil price shock. Consumers' expectations for wage growth were below what they anticipated for inflation, while the outlook for growth in household income dropped to its lowest level in the survey's history. The central bank's business survey detailed some of the impact of the lockdowns and stay-at-home requests
      • Nearly half of all businesses reported an outright decline of their sales in the past 12 months because of COVID-19, low energy prices and the uncertainty both wrought.
      • More than half of businesses expect their total sales over the next 12 months to be lower than they were in the last year, with future sales indicators at record lows.
      • About half of firms expect their sales will "mostly recover" within the next year as COVID-19's effects recede, but the expectations of a return to pre-pandemic levels often depend on lifting government-mandated restrictions. Some companies said they could get back to normal operations within a month of public health restrictions being lifted.
      • Companies' plans to invest in themselves have been cut back. Those companies planning a bump in capital budgets are often trying to digitize their operations, or boost productivity in the context of staff working from home.
      The consumer survey said spending expectations have tumbled, which the banks says suggests consumers have become more cautious due to the economic impact and health risks related to the pandemic. The bank said consumers expect to spend mostly on essentials. They expect to spend less on durable goods like cars and furniture, as well as for services that involve face-to-face interactions like eating out, travel or going to the movies. The business outlook survey and Canadian survey of consumer expectations come ahead of the Bank of Canada's next interest rate announcement and monetary policy report on July 15. The central bank is expected to keep its key interest rate on hold at 0.25 per cent, while the monetary policy report will include an update to its economic forecast. Business Outlook Survey—Summer 2020 Canadian Survey of Consumer Expectations—Second Quarter of 2020
      2/3 of Canadians support closing businesses again if COVID-19 cases spike: survey
      The new poll conducted by Nanos Research for CTV News surveyed 1,049 Canadians within the past week, and found that two-thirds of respondents support, or somewhat support, another round of business closures in the event of a significant rise in cases and hospitalizations. Forty-two per cent of respondents said they support the closures, while another 28 per cent said they somewhat support them. About one in four Canadians oppose (16 per cent) or somewhat oppose (11 per cent) the idea. Support for shutting down businesses during a second wave was strongest in Ontario (53 per cent) and weakest in Quebec (24 per cent). Those older than 55 -- who are more susceptible to the virus -- were more supportive of the closures, at 77 per cent, than younger Canadians aged 18 to 34, at 64 per cent support. 4 in 5 Support Mandatory Masks The poll also found that most Canadians support the mandatory wearing of masks in all public spaces, with 54 per cent in support and 25 per cent somewhat supportive. Nearly one in five respondents said they opposed (11 per cent) or somewhat opposed (nine per cent) mandatory face masks. Support for mandatory face masks was highest in Ontario, at 65 per cent. While Ontario Premier Doug Ford has repeatedly rejected this idea, Toronto -- which accounts for 12 per cent of Canada’s total caseload -- recently made it mandatory to wear a face mask in all enclosed public spaces, such as grocery stores and public transit. Support for mandatory masks in public was lowest in the Prairies, which still saw a majority of support at 68 per cent.
      Seniors who qualify receiving one-time COVID-19 payments of up to $500 this week
      Eligible seniors in Canada will finally be receiving their one-time COVID-19 payments this week, a measure first promised by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in mid-May, to aid in the rising costs associated with the pandemic. The federal government estimates there are currently 6.7 million seniors who are eligible for the OAS pension and 2.2 million who are eligible for the GIS. These payments are set to total $2.5 billion. Any senior who is eligible for the Old Age Security (OAS) pension will receive a $300 payment, and an additional $200 is being sent to seniors eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). The payments are being made directly to anyone who is eligible, with no application needed.
      Sask: Restaurants and bars can expand services, indoor rinks and pools can reopen starting Monday
      More restrictions on businesses have begun to ease as the provincial government continues to reopen the Saskatchewan economy. Starting Monday, seating at bars and restaurants across the province will be expanded to "a level that allows staff and customers to maintain two metres of physical distance," a news release from the province said. Previously, restaurants and bars were only allowed to operate at 50 per cent capacity. As well, pool tables, video lottery terminals and dart boards will be allowed to be used, as long as physical distancing can be maintained. Casinos and bingo halls will be able to reopen on Thursday. Live entertainment in bars is set to return on July 16, along with race tracks and rodeos.
      Atlantic bubble opens, allowing travellers from within the four provinces to cross borders.
      The Atlantic bubble starts Friday, allowing travellers from within the four provinces to cross borders without having to self-isolate for 14 days, but each province has its own set of rules for visitors. Here is what you need to know before you go. New Brunswick: Peace officers will still stop every non-commercial vehicle at the border and ask travellers to identify themselves and provide proof of residence, said Coreen Enos, a spokesperson for the Department of Public Safety. Government-issued photo identification, such as a driver's licence, can satisfy both requirements, she said. Nova Scotia: Visitors from the other Atlantic provinces will have to show proof of residency to provincial officials when entering at highway borders, airports or ferries. Every adult will need to show either a driver's licence, government identification card, health card, or a utility bill or bank statement with a valid Atlantic Canadian address. No self-declaration form will be required. Prince Edward Island: Has an online self-declaration form visitors from the other three Atlantic provinces must fill out in advance in order to enter from the Northumberland Strait either via the Confederation Bridge or the Caribou-Wood Islands ferry. Only one form is required per vehicle and people are asked to submit the form at least a day ahead of their scheduled arrival date. A submission identification number will be generated when the form is submitted. Newfoundland and Labrador: Two pieces of identification will be required to verify that the traveller is a resident of one of the Atlantic provinces. One piece of identification must include an address. In addition, visitors must also complete the contact information section on the province's self-declaration forms. For those outside Atlantic Canada: With some exceptions, people from outside the Atlantic provinces cannot come in, and most of those who do get in must self-isolate for 14 days. If they have self-isolated in one Atlantic province, they may enter another one without self-isolating again.
      Federal government, WE Charity agree to part ways on summer student grant program
      The federal Liberal government and the WE Charity are ending a partnership that would have seen the charity distribute around $900 million in federal student grants this summer. The decision to outsource this work to a third party with ties to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's family was criticized by some in the charitable sector and by the opposition Conservatives. Pierre Poilievre, the Tory finance critic, has asked both the auditor general and the federal procurement watchdog to review the sole-sourced contract that would have given WE the authority to administer the Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG). Volunteer Canada, a group that promotes volunteerism, refused to work with WE because it objected to how the program was being administered — and they opposed paying students for volunteer work. Trudeau and his mother, Margaret, have appeared at a number of WE Day events, while his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, hosts a podcast for the group called "WE Well-being." WE has said no member of the Trudeau family receives an honorarium for their appearances with the charity, though Grégoire Trudeau has had her travel expenses covered. A spokesperson from the Prime Minister's Office said Grégoire Trudeau's involvement with WE was cleared by the federal ethics commissioner. WE also has gone through an organizational upheaval in recent months, with a series of resignations and layoffs. Trudeau had defended the partnership, saying WE was the only group with a nationwide network capable of operating a program of this sort for young people. Other charitable organizations have questioned that assertion. Trudeau said Friday the move to cut ties was "WE's decision, which we support." The federal government will simply distribute the grants itself.
      Business Resilience Service (BRS) Hotline Closes Today
      As businesses increasingly move into the reopening and recovery phases, the BRS is being wound down. We thank our partners in the accounting profession across Canada who facilitated this project (particularly EY, CPA Canada and Imagine Canada) along with the Government of Canada for their support. The BRS helped thousands of businesses navigate the pandemic. We’re proud of the impact this service was able to provide to help the Canadian business community.
      More details about the CECRA Extension released
      The Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program was extended CECRA for small business through the end of July 2020. According to CMHC, Property owners and small business tenants will soon be able to access funding for the month of July. What you need to know:
      • Only those tenants approved in the April, May and June application are eligible for the July extension.
      • If a business had an average revenue decline of 70% or more in April, May and June, they are deemed eligible for the additional month of rent relief. However, not all tenants in the original application need to be included for the July extension.
      To streamline the process and make it easier, CMHC is removing the requirement to claw-back insurance proceeds and provincial rent supports from the CECRA for small businesses forgivable loan amount for both existing and new applicants. Existing applicants who are affected will be notified and will have any previously clawed-back amounts restored to their forgivable loan.
      CRA Deadline Changes – T2 and T3 Returns
      The CRA has advised that T2 Corporation Income Tax Returns and T3 Trust Income tax Returns that would have been due in June, July, or August are now due on September 1. For T2s and T3s, as previously announced, any income tax balance due on or after March 18 and before September 1 will also be due by September 1. More Information
      Government Ends GST/HST And Customs Duty Payment Deferrals
      The federal government has confirmed it ended the payment deferrals as planned on June 30, today. Businesses that continue to experience difficulty in remitting GST/HST and customs duty amounts owing can contact the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to make a request for the cancellation of penalties and interest, and/or for a flexible payment arrangement with the CRA.
      Update on mandatory masks in Canada
      Toronto city council votes to make masks mandatory indoors Toronto city council approved a bylaw Tuesday that makes face coverings mandatory in indoor public spaces. The bylaw will take effect July 7. It will remain in effect until the first city council meeting of the fall, which is currently scheduled for Sept. 30-Oct.1. Children under the age of two will be exempt, as will anyone with a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask. Quebec makes wearing of masks mandatory on public transit starting July 13 Wearing a mask while taking public transit will be mandatory as of July 13 in Quebec, Premier Francois Legault announced on Tuesday. Wearing of masks has been strongly recommended by public transport authorities in Quebec, but not mandatory. The new rule applies to everyone across the province aged 12 and up. Children between two and 12 years old are not required to wear masks, but are still strongly recommended to do so. Children under two years of age don't have to wear them, Hamilton considering making indoor mask wearing mandatory Hamilton public health officials are looking at making mask wearing mandatory indoors. Mayor Fred Eisenberger says there'll be a potential bylaw coming to a city council meeting in the near future. B.C. health officer 'expects' British Columbians to wear masks Dr. Bonnie Henry says the province has stopped short of mandating the use of masks out of concern for those who would have difficulty wearing one. Henry said while the number of COVID-19 cases in B.C. doesn't warrant a similar law, it may be needed in the future.
      Isolation order for anyone entering Canada extended until Aug. 31
      The federal government has extended the mandatory quarantine order for most people entering Canada until the end of August to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. Any travellers entering the country -- by land, air or sea -- will have to isolate for 14 days, whether or not they are showing any symptoms of COVID-19. The order made under the Quarantine Act, which first came into effect in late March, was set to expire at midnight Tuesday, but will now remain in effect until Aug. 31. It carries penalties that include six months in prison or a fine of up to $750,000, which could go up to $1 million if the person caused death or bodily harm by wilfully and recklessly breaking the rules.
      Online Multi-jurisdictional Registry Access Service (MRAS) launched in Western Canada
      Until now, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba had separate processes and systems for corporations and limited partnerships to complete their extra-provincial business registrations and maintenance filings. On June 27, 2020, the four provinces were the first to implement the online Multi-jurisdictional Registry Access Service (MRAS), a hub that allows corporate information sharing between the provinces, making extra-provincial registration faster and easier. The four western provinces committed to reconciling business registration and reporting requirements between the jurisdictions, thus simplifying extra-provincial business registration processes. Through MRAS, other jurisdictions will eventually be able to share corporate information, thus extending the New West Partnership’s efficiencies across Canada.
      Canada's economy shrank by almost 20% in March and April, but turnaround seen in May data
      Canada's economy shrank by 11.6 per cent in April, the biggest plunge on record, following March's contraction of 7.5 per cent as COVID-19 lockdowns began. Statistics Canada reported Tuesday that all 20 categories the data agency tracks were lower, and they added up to the biggest monthly plunge since record-keeping began in 1961. April's plunge means the economy at the end of April had lost almost one-fifth of the output it produced at the end of February. Manufacturing was down by 22.5 per cent from March's already low level, while construction plunged 22.9 per cent. Within the retail segment, hotels and restaurants were down by 42 per cent, while arts and entertainment fell by 26 per cent. Oil and gas extraction fell by just 1.8 per cent, while air transportation plummeted by 93.7 per cent. The technology sector, meanwhile, eked out a tiny 0.4 per cent increase, Bank of Montreal economist Doug Porter noted. Toronto-Dominion Bank economist Omar Abdelrahman said that sectors where work-from-home options are more feasible fared better. That included industries such as finance and insurance (down one per cent), professional, scientific and technical services (down 1.3 per cent), and real estate rental and leasing (down 3.5 per cent). Though record-setting, April's plunge was actually not as deep as the 13 per cent contraction that economists were bracing for. Statistics Canada did hint that preliminary GDP numbers for May projecting a slight uptick after bottoming out in March and April. StatsCan's first estimate for May is a moderate three per cent rebound in GDP from the depths.
      TSX has best quarter in more than a decade
      The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 125.50 points at 15,515.22 to finish 2.1 per cent higher in June and ahead nearly 16 per cent over the last three months. This was the indexes best quarter in more than a decade as the price of gold reached its highest level since 2011. In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 217.08 points at 25,812.88 as it ended its best quarter since 1987. The S&P 500 index was up 47.05 points at 3,100.29, while the Nasdaq composite was up 184.61 points at 10,083.64, a record close. The stock market gains came amid strong consumer confidence numbers and Congressional testimony by Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell. Powell said the economic outlook remains uncertain with output and employment still far below their pre-pandemic levels. He expects stock markets will move in fits and starts depending on virus headlines, but tread higher in the third quarter and surge into the final months of 2020. The materials sector gained more than two per cent on higher gold prices to lead the TSX. Iamgold Corp. and Hudbay Minerals Inc. rose 7.8 and 7.3 per cent respectively. The August gold contract was up US$19.30 at US$1,800.50 an ounce and the September copper contract was up 3.6 cents at nearly US$2.73 a pound. Industrials increased nearly one percentage point even though shares of Air Canada lost another three per cent. The heavyweight financials sector was up 0.8 per cent. Energy was one of four major sectors to fall as Tourmaline Oil Corp. dropped 3.5 per cent and Seven Generations Energy Ltd. was down 2.6 per cent on lower crude oil prices. The August crude contract slid back 43 cents at US$39.27 per barrel and the August natural gas contract was up 4.2 cents at US$1.75 per mmBTU. The Canadian dollar traded for 73.38 cents US compared with 73.09 cents US on Monday.
      Canada extends ban on most foreign travellers to at least July 31
      Ottawa has extended the travel ban that bars entry to all travellers who are not Canadian citizens, permanent residents or people entering from the U.S. for "essential" reasons. The order, which was set to expire June 30, "has been extended until July 31 for public health reasons". The order bans most foreign nationals from entering Canada if they arrive from a foreign country other than the U.S. (There are limited exceptions for air crew, diplomats and immediate family members of citizens. Some seasonal workers, caregivers and international students are also exempt.) Officials confirm the government will maintain the order barring foreign nationals from entering Canada at this time, instead of modifying the order to reopen the border to certain countries — those with low infection rates or those allowing Canadian tourists to visit, for example. A separate order prohibits non-essential travel between Canada and the U.S. and remains in effect until July 21; it was extended earlier this month. Under this order, essential workers, such as truckers and health workers, are allowed to cross the border.
      Canadians to be allowed into EU countries
      The European Union announced Tuesday that it will reopen its borders to travellers from 14 countries. Citizens from the following countries will be allowed into the so-called EU+ area and four other nations in Europe's visa-free Schengen travel zone: Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay. Travellers from other big countries with high infection rates, like the US, Russia, Brazil and India, will miss out due to soaring coronavirus infections. The EU said China is "subject to confirmation of reciprocity," meaning it must lift all restrictions on European citizens entering China before Chinese citizens will be allowed back into the EU.
      CECRA Extended to July
      At his morning press conference, Prime Minister Trudeau announced that the federal government was extended the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program by one month. The program was initially intended to support small businesses during the months of April, May, and June. No additional details were provided. The announcement did catch representatives from CMHC and MCAP (who’s administering the program for CMHC) off guard. The CFA expects more details about the program extension in the next few days.
      Canadian Business Resilience Network Small Business Relief Fund: Recipients Revealed
      Today the CBRN announced the 62 recipients who were each awarded a $10,000 lifeline to help their small business recover and prosper beyond this pandemic through the Canadian Business Resilience Network Small Business Relief Fund. The fund was managed by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and made possible through the generosity of Salesforce. See the Recipient List
      Travel in Canada: What’s allowed
      From the "Atlantic bubble" to Ontario's discouraged trips, the rules for travel vary around the country. Here's a handy list from CTV News to see what's permitted and not.
      Expanded CEBA Now Partially Available
      After a week’s delay, the expanded Canada Emergency Business Account loan program is now available; however, only if you bank with one of Canada’s six largest banks. The CEBA expansion will be available from more lenders over the coming weeks. To apply for a CEBA contact your primary financial institution. As announced by the government in May, CEBA has been expanded to enable a greater number of qualifying sole proprietors, or businesses with payroll lower than $20,000, with eligible non-deferrable expenses between $40,000 and $1.5 million to apply for interest-free, partially forgivable loans of up to $40,000. CEBA is administered by Export Development Canada (EDC), which is working closely with banks in Canada to deliver the loans. Full eligibility criteria can be found here: ceba-cuec.ca The federal government has set out new terms under which phase three of the program will be available. For the first two phases of CEBA, banks would enroll businesses, once they had attested to their eligibility, and provide funding upfront, while EDC would screen for eligibility after the loans had been extended. In phase three, EDC will approve eligibility in CEBA before funding is released. While businesses will still be required to provide an attestation to their primary business financial institution, they will need to provide additional documentation to EDC, before a loan can be approved by EDC. As of June 15, more than 669,000 CEBA loans have been approved by financial institutions including banks, representing over $26 billion in interest-free credit for eligible businesses.
      Supreme Court sides with Uber drivers, opening door to $400M class-action lawsuit
      The Supreme Court of Canada has cleared the way for Uber drivers to take the next step in their fight to be recognized as employees. In a ruling Friday, the high court upheld an Ontario Court of Appeal decision that opened the door to a possible class-action suit aimed at securing a minimum wage, vacation pay and other benefits for drivers. The man behind the planned class action, David Heller, is a Toronto driver for UberEats, a service that delivers food from restaurants to customers at home. He argued that Uber drivers are employees, which entitles them to protections under Ontario's Employment Standards Act. Ontario's highest court said a clause in the agreement that requires all disputes to go through arbitration in the Netherlands was an unfair bargain and amounted to contracting out of an employment standard. In its decision, the Supreme Court said the arbitration agreement is invalid, noting someone in Heller's position could not be expected to appreciate the financial and legal implications of the arbitration clause. Supreme Court of Canada Ruling CFA Reaction The CFA is reviewing the decision and will be determining our next steps in the coming days and weeks.
      Canada's charitable sector seeks government grants to stay afloat
      Charitable providers of social services — daycare, community venues, support groups and more — have seen a catastrophic drop in revenue, with some forced to cancel fundraising events because of physical distancing requirements while others are simply unable to operate. That means a complete loss of user fees and other regular sources of income. Although many charities qualify for the federal wage subsidy, that covers only part of the cost of staff. Among the casualties so far:
      • The YMCA in Yarmouth, N.S. — a fixture on the city's Main Street for 162 years, has closed for good; other Y locations are at risk.
      • As many as 124 Royal Canadian Legion branches across the country either don't have the resources to reopen, or say they won't last longer than three months if they do.
      • The Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada location in Edson, Alta., has notified the community it won't be able to reopen.
      • IMPACT Parkinson's Centre, a small non-profit in New Westminster, B.C., closed its doors June 1, unable to "make it through to the other side," according to a notice on its website.
      • The Old East Village Grocery in London, Ont., a social enterprise that supported disabled people dealing with food insecurity, had to shut down due to the cost of new sanitation protocols and a lack of staff.
      The federal government has already provided some support to the sector, in the form of the $350 million Emergency Community Support Fund. The Red Cross, the United Way and the Community Foundations of Canada will disburse the funds to non-profits and charities that help "vulnerable populations who are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19."
      Canada almost self-sufficient in PPE
      Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canadian companies are now producing so much personal protective equipment needed in the fight against COVID-19 that Canada is almost at the point of being self-sufficient. Supply of PPE key preparation for second wave Having a secure domestic supply will be particularly important if there is a second wave of the deadly virus that causes COVID-19 in the fall, triggering another wild, global scramble for PPE. China is the dominant supplier of PPE. With the outbreak starting in that country, there was a severe shortage of equipment as the disease first started spreading around the world in March. Countries were out-bidding one another for supplies that were often never delivered. According to the Public Services and Procurement Canada website, Canada has vast amounts of protective equipment and supplies on order. Some of the contracts are for delivery much later. As of June 16, 55.7 million face shields had been ordered but only 17.6 million were received; more than one billion pairs of gloves were ordered but only 42.3 million have been received; 126.6 million gowns were ordered but only 4.6 million were received; and 20.4 million litres of hand sanitizer were ordered but just 7.1 million litres have been received.
      Federal student service grant unveiled today
      Eligible students can receive grants of between $1,000 to $5,000, depending on hours completed. The program was originally announced more than two months ago. Post-secondary students will be eligible to earn up to $5,000 this summer through a new volunteer service grant. The grant is available for a range of volunteer work, including mask making, tutoring, researching animal behaviour and designing exercise programs for seniors. The grant will be worth between $1,000 and $5,000, depending on the number of hours completed. For every 100 hours worked, a student is eligible for $1,000, which means someone must volunteer 500 hours to receive the full grant. The program opens today and runs until Oct. 31, 2020. Only students and recent graduates 30 years old and younger can enrol. To qualify, an individual must be enrolled part-time or full-time in a recognized post-secondary education program in the spring, summer or fall of 2020, or must have completed post-secondary studies in December 2019 or later. Back in April, Trudeau announced the creation of the Canada student service grant — a way of giving students who can't find summer jobs a chance to earn some money while volunteering in "national service" activities related to fighting the pandemic.
      CRA tip line flooded with 3,300 leads on suspected emergency aid cheats
      Canada's tax agency has received more than 3,300 tips on suspected abuse of emergency aid programs designed to help the people and businesses taking a financial hit during the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of tips about possible fraud involving the Canada emergency response benefit (CERB), the wage subsidy program and student COVID-19 aid is growing fast. As of May 31, the Canada Revenue Agency had received 600 tips; just over a week later, that number had swelled to 1,300. Canadians already have made 361,000 repayments for CERB aid they weren't eligible for. That's up from 190,000 as of June 3. CRA said repayments were made in cases where applicants received a double payment for the same period, were not actually eligible for the benefit or returned to work earlier than expected. CRA would not say how many claims have been found to be fraudulent.
      Fitch Downgrades Canada's Ratings to 'AA+'; Outlook Stable
      Fitch Ratings has downgraded Canada's credit rating to AA+ from AAA, citing the federal government's move to borrow about a quarter of a trillion dollars to prop the economy up during the pandemic lockdown. Fitch Ratings, Moody's and S&P Global Ratings are considered to be the three big credit rating agencies in the U.S. Fitch last confirmed Canada's rating in July of last year. S&P Global Ratings and Moody's both still have Canada listed as top tier borrowers. S&P Global Ratings last confirmed Canada's rating in November of last year, while Moody's last confirmation came in May of this year. Fitch said that while it is downgrading Canada's rating, it expects Canada's debt-to-GDP ratio to stabilize over the medium term before the economy gradually starts recovering with the help of monetary and fiscal stimulus. Fitch predicts Canada's pandemic response will increase its consolidated gross general government debt to 115.1 per cent of GDP in 2020, up from 88.3 per cent of GDP in 2019. A Fitch spokesperson said that to come up with that figure, the company added together Canada's "federal, provincial and territorial, local and other governmental debt liabilities" and subtracted from that amount the value of the Canada Pension Plan and Quebec's Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, which manages several public pension plans. The number does not include unfunded pension liabilities. Fitch said it expects Canada's debt-to-GDP ratio to stabilize at about 120 to 121 per cent sometime between 2022 and 2024. The report said Fitch has confidence in Canada's economic recovery in 2021 because of the advanced, well-diversified and high-income nature of its national economy. It also cites Canada's political stability, strong governance and policies that have "delivered steady growth and low inflation." Full Report Available Here
      Federal Government Extends Time Periods Given To Employers To Recall Employees Laid Off Due To COVID-19
      Prior to these changes, employers could temporarily layoff their employees for up to three months if no notice with a recall date was provided or for a period of up to six months if they provided a notice with an expected recall date before the layoff became a termination. The amendments, which are set out in the Canada Labour Standards Regulations, temporarily extend these time periods by up to six months: For employees laid off prior to March 31, 2020, the time period is extended by six months or to December 30, 2020, whichever occurs first. For employees laid off between March 31, 2020 and September 30, 2020, the time period is extended until December 30, 2020 unless a later recall date was provided in a written notice at the time of the layoff. These changes, which came into effect on June 22, 2020, do not apply to employees who are covered by a collective agreement that contains recall rights. More Information
      Communications Guide And Template Signage For Businesses Reopening
      This communications guide was originally published as part of our in-depth CBRN Reopening Toolkit for Business. By popular request, the communications guide and template signage (including ready-to-print signs) are now available in a stand-alone format. Please feel free to share this resource with your networks. Access The Guide
      Health Canada posts recalls for three more hand sanitizer products
      Health Canada has added more hand sanitizer products to their growing recall list. The agency first announced recalls of some hand sanitizer products on June 6 due to the presence of industrial-grade ethanol, and has continued to update the list throughout the month. The following hand sanitizers were added to the recall list on Monday: • Gel Antiseptique Pour Les Mains, made by Megalab Inc. • Germzero, made by Flash Beaute Inc. • Tekare Instant Hand Cleanser Gel, made by TEKPolymer Inc. The contaminant listed for these products is ethyl acetate. According to Health Canada, industrial-grade ethanol is harsher than the type of ethanol that has been approved for use in hand sanitizers in Canada. Industrial-grade ethanol also could contain extra chemicals not suited for use in hand sanitizers. A list of hand sanitizers approved for sale in Canada, as well as a list of similar products that have been accepted under COVID-19 interim measures can be found on Health Canada’s website.
      Eight more weeks of CERB to cost $17.9 billion, budget officer says
      The parliamentary budget officer estimates in a new report that it will cost the federal government $17.9 billion to provide eight extra weeks of payments through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. The report this morning from budget officer Yves Giroux says that would bring the total cost of the benefit program for people who've lost all or nearly all their work to the COVID-19 pandemic to $71.3 billion. The CERB, now budgeted at $60 billion, has paid out $43.51 billion to 8.41 million people as of June 4 as demand surged past federal expectations. With the first cohort of CERB applicants set to hit the 16-week limit on the payments early next month, the Liberals have promised to increase the limit to 24 weeks to provide help through the summer for those who need it. Giroux's report says the additional cost to the program depends heavily on the outlook for the economy and jobs, as well as the course of the pandemic.
      Update on Federal PPE procurement
      Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand and Innovation, Science and Industry Minister Navdeep Bains spoke at today’s briefing to provide an update on the government’s supply procurement efforts. Last week, Canada received nine cargo planes with supplies of gowns, gloves and masks. This brings the total to 78 plane loads of supplies received to date since the start of the pandemic. A 13th shipment of hand sanitizer has arrived in Vancouver and the government continues to receive 500,000 N95 masks from 3M on a monthly basis. This amount is in addition to a larger order that 3M is providing to provincial and territorial health systems. In other good news on this front, CAE is set to begin shipping made-in-Canada ventilators every week to the government following recent receipt of its accreditation. Minister Anand remarked that as COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease, the government will be returning to competitive procurement processes where needed.
      Forecast says economy will grow in 2021 if there isn't another national shutdown
      The Conference Board of Canada says the economy may have already begun to recover from the deepest recession on record if the country can avoid another national COVID-related shutdown. The quarterly forecast estimates Canada's economy will shrink by 8.2 per cent this year, after about three million jobs were lost in March and April due to COVID shut-downs. It also projects Canada's national unemployment rate will peak at 13.7 per cent in the second quarter ending June 30, the highest since the measure was first recorded in 1976. But the report says the addition of nearly 300,000 jobs in May and continued easing of restrictions in June probably indicate the pandemic's worst impact on the labour market has passed. It's projecting the addition of another 1.3 million jobs in the July to September quarter, dropping the national unemployment rate to 10.5 per cent. The Conference Board says that if the country can avoid a second national shutdown, Canada's economy could grow by 6.7 per cent in 2021 and by 4.8 per cent in 2022.
      Business Resilience Service: Still Available
      Need help navigating the services available to help your SME get through COVID-19? The Business Resilience Service, delivered to your organization free of charge, provides: • Guidance on COVID-19 financial support program options and eligibility • Direction on accessing the most appropriate support organizations • Help to make decisions to support recovery plans • Real time insights and feedback to policymakers To access the BRS, call 1-866-989-1080 to connect with a business advisor from the accounting profession. The service is available seven days/week: • Monday-Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET • Saturdays: 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET • Sundays: 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET More Information
      Planned CEBA Expansion Delayed
      A promised expansion of a COVID-19 aid program that allows small businesses to access $40,000 loans guaranteed by the federal government will not launch today as planned. Finance Minister Bill Morneau took to twitter late last night to announce the Canada Emergency Business Account expansion delay, saying: "Work continues around the clock to ensure the program can securely launch across over 230 financial institutions. We know how important the program is to small businesses and want to launch as quickly as possible. Updates to come." There's no immediate word on why the program expansion is being delayed. Several weeks ago the Feds announced the small business loan program would be expanded to allow more to access it, including owner-operated small businesses with payrolls under $20,000, sole proprietors receiving business income directly and family-owned corporations compensating in the form of dividends.
      Retail sales plunged 26.4 per cent in April: StatCan
      Retail sales fell by more than a quarter in April due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Statistics Canada said Friday that they regained some of the lost ground in May. The agency said retail sales plunged by a record 26.4 per cent to $34.7 billion in April leaving them down 33.6 per cent since physical distancing measures were implemented in mid-March. However, Statistics Canada said early estimates suggest retail sales rose 19.1 per cent in May. Economists on average had expected a drop in April of 15.1 per cent, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv. However, many retailers started or expanded their online presence and curbside pick-up services in response to the closures. Statistics Canada says online sales surged to a record high, representing 9.5 per cent of the total retail market. Sales were down in all 11 subsectors in April, while motor vehicle and parts dealers took the largest hit in dollar terms as the sector fell 44.3 per cent for the month. Sales at food and beverage stores fell 12.7 per cent as supermarkets and other grocery stores saw a drop of 12.0 per cent compared with March when Canadians stocked up. Retail sales in volume terms fell a record 25.2 per cent in April, following an 8.2 per cent drop in March, leaving them down 31.3 per cent since the onset of the pandemic
      Canada tops 100,000 reported coronavirus cases
      Ontario reported 173 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, pushing Canada's total number of confirmed and presumptive cases above 100,000. As of 12:42 p.m. ET on Thursday, Canada had 100,146 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 62,442 of those cases as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial data, regional health information and CBC's reporting stood at 8,348 after being revised down by one when health officials in Ontario's Peel Region updated their figures.
      Federal deficit could hit $256 billion, PBO
      The parliamentary budget officer says in a new report that this year's federal deficit could hit $256 billion due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The result is the combination of an estimated total of $169 billion in federal spending on emergency aid and a historic drop in economic output. The budget office estimates the economy could shrink by 6.8 per cent in 2020, the weakest showing since 1981 and double the record of 3.2 per cent shrinkage in 1982. The overall deficit figure is only $3.8 billion higher than budget officer Yves Giroux's previous predictions, which his report says is due to a better economic outlook in the second half of the year that offsets some new spending. Previously, Giroux estimated the economy could shrink by 12 per cent in 2020. Giroux stresses that the figures are the outcome of one of many possible scenarios and not a certain forecast. The report comes one day after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to deliver a "snapshot" of federal finances on July 8 that will provide short-term spending estimates. CERB and CEWS costs The budget office now estimates the $2,000-a-month CERB will cost the government $61.1 billion, but pull in $7.7 billion when recipients are taxed on the income next year. The Liberals have promised to extend the benefits so recipients can receive 24 weeks instead of the current 16, and previously revised the budget for the program to $60 billion. When the Finance Department increased the cost of the CERB, it also lowered the cost for the CEWS program from to $45 billion from $73 billion based on the take-up rate among businesses. Giroux's office estimates the wage subsidy to cost the treasury $55.6 billion.
      Voluntary nationwide contact tracing app coming soon
      Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today he hopes Canadians will download a new app on their cellphones that will alert them if they've come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. The federally-backed project has been spearheaded by the Canadian Digital Service, a federal initiative, and the Ontario Digital Service, with help from volunteers from the tech firm Shopify. It incorporates Bluetooth technology provided by Apple and Google. The app will undergo a security review by BlackBerry. The technology works by having people who test positive upload their results anonymously to the app, called COVID Alert, using a temporary code given to them by a health care provider, said a federal media release. Other users who have the app and who have been near someone who has tested positive will then be alerted that they've been exposed and a notification will encourage them to reach out to their local public health authorities. Ontario will roll out the app first. Officials in that province said they hope to have the app available for download on July 2 for iPhones running iOS 5.0 or later versions, and for Android phones running Android 6.0 or later versions. App use is voluntary, says PM. The privacy commissioner was helping with the development of the app. Therefore, no personal information will be shared. The app is super secure. The app will be available on July 1st. Alberta has been using its own app called ABTraceTogether for weeks now. That has some people worrying about a patchwork of apps across the country that could lead to confusing messaging, low uptake numbers and inconsistent data.
      Thousands of tourists, shoppers still trying to enter Canada despite COVID-19 travel ban
      Canadian border agents have turned away more than 7,500 foreigners – mostly Americans – trying to visit Canada for non-essential purposes, including sightseeing, shopping and recreation, since pandemic restrictions on travel were imposed. The latest data available from the Canada Border Services Agency reveals that 7,639 foreign nationals were denied entry to Canada under the discretionary travel ban between March 22 and June 16. Americans accounted for 87 per cent of those denied entry, with 6,615 U.S. citizens being sent home by Canadian border agents. The remaining 1,024 people denied entry were citizens of other countries not specified by the CBSA.
      Federal finance minister will present a fiscal 'snapshot' on July 8
      The Trudeau government will provide an update on the state of government finances on July 8. Trudeau said that because of the economic uncertainty created by the global pandemic, the update will not be the same as the ones in previous years. Trudeau has previously dismissed calls for a fiscal update/budget, arguing there are simply too many variables to make an accurate projection of how the economy will respond. The PM would not offer a timeframe for presenting a full economic update or a budget, saying only it will happen once the economy has stabilized. The government shelved its plan to present a budget in March, as the novel coronavirus spread around the world and the country went on lockdown. It has been under pressure to give a detailed economic update ever since.
      Mandatory mask laws are spreading in Canada
      Some communities across Canada have started making non-medical face masks mandatory on public transit — or even in businesses or indoor spaces — to curb the spread of COVID-19. Some doctors and epidemiologists are calling for such laws to be more widespread. But others warn about the potential negative impacts and say the scientific evidence isn't strong enough to warrant such heavy-handed measures. Here's a closer look at the issue. The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends wearing a non-medical mask or face covering in public places, especially crowded ones, when physical distancing — keeping a distance of two metres from other people — isn't possible to do consistently. Such places include stores, shopping areas and public transportation. Where in Canada are masks mandatory so far? Most mandatory mask regulations in Canada so far concern transportation situations where people may have trouble physically distancing.
      • Transport Canada made masks mandatory for air passengers starting in April.
      • Some transit agencies in Ontario have announced that masks will be mandatory on buses, streetcars and trains, including Ottawa, Toronto, Hamilton and Guelph.
      • In addition, at least two municipalities are implementing mandatory mask laws:
      • Côte Saint-Luc, Que., a Montreal suburb that had hundreds of confirmed COVID-19 cases and dozens of deaths by the beginning of June, is making face masks mandatory in indoor public spaces starting July 1.
      • The municipality of Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph in Ontario made masks or face coverings mandatory at most businesses earlier in June.
      Most regulations include exceptions for children under two years old and people who can't wear a mask because of breathing difficulties or another medical condition or disability.
      CAMH survey shows pandemic affecting mental health, but anxiety levels may be easing
      Findings from a new survey by Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) indicate the pandemic has had a significant impact on the mental health of Canadians. "What's unique about this pandemic is it affects everyone," said Samantha Wells, senior director of the Institute for Mental Health Policy Research at CAMH. "It's pervasive and everyone is being affected in some way, shape or form." The study found that 20 per cent of Canadians surveyed say they have been experiencing loneliness during the pandemic. One in five also reported feeling moderate to severe levels of anxiety because of factors such as job loss and fear of contracting the virus. CAMH staff were particularly surprised, however, by one result in the survey. When the second group was surveyed two weeks after the first sampling, the percentage of people saying they were anxious dropped by four percentage points — from 25.5 per cent in early May to 21.5 per cent towards the end of that month. It was a small change, but one that researchers classify as significant. "The explanation we're coming up with now is it's possible that people are really adjusting to the pandemic," Wells said. She said that CAMH jumped at the opportunity to gather this data with Delvinia, a global research technology company, in order to ascertain how this unprecedented event is affecting the mental health of Canadians. The goal is to use the knowledge for future programming at the hospital, as well as to brace health-care providers for what may come should a second wave of the virus hit this country. "We may be facing a mental health crisis," Wells said. "We don't know what will come next. But certainly, if there is another wave of this pandemic, there's a lot to be concerned about in terms of the mental health of Canadians." That's why Wells argued it's essential to gather as much information as possible about the ways Canadians are feeling.
      Canada- U.S. border to remain closed to non-essential travel until July 21
      The Canada-U.S. border will remain closed to non-essential travel for at least another 30 days to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus as confirmed cases in the United States continue to climb past the two million mark. The deal was set to expire on Sunday but will now extend until July 21, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced during his daily news conference today. Both countries reached an agreement in March to temporarily close the border to non-essential travel — meaning no recreational visits — while keeping it open to commercial traffic and essential workers who cross the border for work, and has already extended the deal twice so far. Last week the federal government announced it will now allow some immediate family members separated by the temporary COVID-19 travel restrictions to cross the border into the country.
      CERB payments to be extended for 2 more months
      Today, PM Trudeau confirmed that the government will be extending eligibility for the CERB by eight more weeks. Those who have been receiving the CERB, but cannot find a job, will continue to receive $2,000 a month. Over the next few weeks, the government will look at international best practices and monitor the economy and progression of the virus to determine what changes – if any – are required to continue supporting Canadians. A draft bill placed conditions on CERB payments requiring recipients to actively look for work and to not turn down reasonable work opportunities. That legislation did not pass, but Trudeau said today the government will find ways to encourage people to work when they are able. Employees who make more than $1,000 a month are no longer eligible for CERB. The Conservatives have called for a scaled approach that would allow people to collect a percentage of CERB while working more hours.
      Extension of CERB and changes to CEBA are coming
      Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today that the federal government will extend the Canada emergency response benefit (CERB), with details to follow in the days ahead. The CERB is due to run out soon for people who have been on the benefit since it was first launched in April, at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. People can only claim the benefit for 16 weeks — four eligibility periods — and the end of the program's fourth eligibility period is early July. Trudeau announced that "We're working on a solution to extend the benefit for people who can't return to work yet. We'll have more details this week…” Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos said today the "situation has changed" since the CERB was first introduced — the economy has re-opened in many parts of the country — so there will be "new parameters" to the program when the extension is formally announced. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has made extending CERB eligibility a condition of his party's support for a key piece of fiscal legislation that is set to be tabled in the House of Commons this week. The government will present the supplementary estimates on Wednesday and Parliament must pass that bill, which gives the government the authority to spend on programs and services. The legislation is considered a confidence vote — meaning the government could fall if it doesn't obtain the support of at least one of the opposition parties for these estimates. CEWS take up lower than expected While more than eight million Canadians have applied for the relief benefit during this economic slowdown, the take-up for the wage subsidy program — which floats government funds to employers to keep employees on the payroll — has been considerably lower. The government cut its projected budget for the wage subsidy for the 12-week period between April and June from $73 billion to $45 billion. As of June 8, the program has paid out only $10.5 billion in wage subsidies. CEBA changes Friday for those paying dividends Trudeau also announced that the government will start accepting new applications for the Canada emergency business account (CEBA) starting Friday. Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos announced that approximately 670,000 businesses have received a small business loan so far. On Friday, eligibility for the program will expand to those paying dividends, those working with contractors and those that had previously been ineligible for assistance.
      Average house price in May was down, even as sales bounced back from record low in April
      Home sales bounced back by 57 per cent from their worst April in more than 30 years last month, but the average price of a home sold in May still inched lower compared to last year. The Canadian Real Estate Association says home sales were 56.9 per cent higher in May than they were in April. April and May are typically a very busy month for home sales, as warmer weather prompts buyers to start shopping after their winter hibernation. But COVID-19 has thrown the usual seasonal patterns of real estate out the window, as widespread lockdowns and physical distancing requirements slowed most showings to a crawl. This April was the worst such month in almost 40 years for home sales, CREA reported last month. Activity picked up a little in May, but the sales level is still just two-thirds what it was before the pandemic struck.
      Bill C-17 To Allow Deadline Extensions For Federal Corporations
      On June 10, 2020, a new bill was tabled in the House of Commons that will allow the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry to issue orders to extend various deadlines for federal businesses, not-for-profits, cooperatives, and boards of trade. Bill C-17 affects the following acts administered by Corporations Canada:
      • Canada Business Corporations Act
      • Canada Not for profit Corporations Act
      • Canada Cooperatives Act
      • Boards of Trade Act
      The bill grants authority to extend the period for holding annual meetings and, for boards of trade, the deadline for filing annual summaries. We will provide more information as soon as it is available.
      Grocery chains phasing out $2 hourly pay bump for workers implemented at start of COVID-19
      Grocery chains Loblaws and Metro, as well as Walmart, have decided to stop giving their workers the $2-an-hour pay bump they put in place in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Loblaws, whose brands include Shoppers Drug Mart and No Frills, announced the decision in a letter to members of its loyalty program PC Optimum on Thursday. Metro, which owns Metro, Food Basics, Jean Coutu and other brands, confirmed that it, too, plans to phase out its $2 hourly pay bump. Walmart Canada gave its workers a similar pay bump for April and May, and confirmed to CBC News in an email that those payments will now be stopped. But the company said it is adding enhanced support for its workers through things like tele-health services, mental health support and counselling, as well as increased discounts on purchases on top of the discounts they regularly receive. Other major Canadian grocery chains, such as Longo's and Sobeys, did not immediately respond to a request for comment as to whether or not they will scrap their pay increases. While ending the hourly pay bump, Loblaws and Metro plan to disburse one final bonus to workers next month. Metro will pay full-time staff an extra $200 on their July 2 paycheque, while part-timers will get $100. Loblaws workers can expect a $160 bonus next month pro-rated to a 40-hour work week. The two chains and others implemented the pay bump to workers in March as panic buying in the early stages of lockdowns had many stores struggling to keep items on the shelves.
      CBRN Small Business Relief Fund: Applications Close June 12
      The CBRN Small Business Relief Fund will help 62 small Canadian businesses recover and support their resilience, for a total of $620,000 in funds. Businesses can use the $10,000 grants to support their recovery efforts, including paying salaries, retrofitting their workplaces and acquiring technology to adapt their business models. Applications close at 8:00 p.m. ET on Friday, June 12. Apply Now
      $57 Million Investment in Digital Main Street Will Help Businesses Reopen, Recover and Grow
      The Ontario government, in partnership with the federal government, launched a $57-million program through the Digital Main Street platform to help up to 22,900 Ontario businesses create and enhance their online presence and generate jobs for more than 1,400 students. Businesses will be able to take advantage of three new programs to support their digital transformation:
      • shopHERE powered by Google will leverage Ontario's strengths by hiring highly skilled and trained students to build and support the launch of online stores for businesses that previously did not have the capacity to do so themselves. The core goal will be to help small businesses compete and grow, in a world that is increasingly online, and help them recover as quickly as possible following COVID-19.
      • Digital Main Street Grant will help main street small businesses be digitally more effective. Through a $2,500 grant administered by the Ontario BIA Association, small businesses will be able to adopt new technologies and embrace digital marketing. Municipalities, Chambers of Commerce, and Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) can apply for a Digital Service Squad grant, which will allow them to establish teams to provide personalized, one-on-one support.
      • Future-Proofing Main Street will provide specialized and in-depth digital transformation services and support that helps existing main-street firms adapt to changes in their sector and thrive in the new economy. By leveraging teams of digital marketing professionals and talented students, these firms will be able to create new online business models, develop and implement digital and e-commerce marketing strategies, and maximize digital tools, platforms and content.
      In addition, the Recovery Activation Program, operated through the Toronto Region Board of Trade, will help businesses grow and digitize their operations with custom consulting sessions, online resource sharing, learning webcasts and business planning. As a result of the investment announced today, the program will be offered province-wide and at no cost to businesses.
      Ottawa commits $133M in further aid for Indigenous businesses
      PM Trudeau announced an additional $133 million in funding today to help Indigenous businesses suffering the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. About $117 million of this investment will help small and community owned businesses get through the pandemic, while $16 million is being allocated specifically for Indigenous businesses in the tourism industry.
      Federal opposition parties reject CERB/disability support bill
      Opposition parties have refused to give unanimous consent to speedily pass the federal government's latest emergency legislation. They have also rejected the government's bid to split the bill to allow benefits for Canadians with disabilities to go ahead while continuing debate on the changes to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) The bill includes a proposed expansion of the wage subsidy program to include seasonal workers and some additional businesses, as well as proposed penalties for fraudulently claiming the CERB. It also proposes changes to the CERB in response to concerns that the benefit is discouraging people from returning to low-paying jobs. The NDP is balking at the prospect of Canadians who fraudulently claim the $2,000-a-month CERB being fined or sent to jail — despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's assurances that the punishment is aimed at those who deliberately defraud the government, not those who make honest mistakes. The Conservatives are holding out for a full resumption of House of Commons business. The Bloc Québécois is demanding three conditions be met before it will support the bill: a fiscal update this month, a first ministers' meeting before September on health-care transfers to the provinces and a ban on political parties accessing the wage subsidy to avoid laying off staff.
      Canada-U.S. border closure to be extended into July
      The Canada-U.S. border closure to all non-essential traffic will be extended beyond the June 21 date set last month. Media reports suggest that Canada and the United States are holding talks about extending the border restrictions, but the agreement has yet to be signed. Both countries reached an agreement in March to temporarily close the border to non-essential travel — meaning no recreational visits — while keeping it open to commercial traffic and essential workers who cross the border for work. The deal extension was first reported by Reuters on Tuesday. It is unclear how long the border restrictions will be extended. The initial agreement was extended in April by 30 days until May 21, before being extended for another 30 days last month.
      Make the Most of the CBRN Reopening Toolkit for Business
      As many provinces and territories continue to make progress on resuming some economic activities, please remember to make use of the comprehensive CBRN reopening toolkit. The toolkit provides information on regulations and reopening, childcare access, communications materials, sourcing PPE, access to guides and materials from other organizations and more. Access the Toolkit
      Government Launches PPE Supply Hub Website
      The Supply Hub connects Canadian organizations with federal, provincial, territorial and other resources and information about PPE, including consumer guidance. Buyers will find PPE supplier lists, in addition to guidance to help plan their PPE purchases. Access The Hub
      Federal bill proposes tighter rules for CERB
      The Liberal government is proposing legislation that would impose tighter rules for claiming the Canada emergency response benefit (CERB) and is threatening to impose fines and jail time on those who deliberately lie on applications. The bill comes as the government faces pressure from the Conservatives on the one hand to weed out fraudulent claims and urge people to get back to work — and pressure from the NDP on the other hand to extend emergency aid and avoid going after Canadians who file ineligible claims. In a bill to be tabled in the House of Commons Wednesday, the government says Canadians won't be eligible to claim the benefit if:
      • They fail to go back to work when it is reasonable to do so, and their employer asks them to return.
      • They fail to resume self-employment when it's reasonable to do so.
      • They decline a reasonable job offer when they are able to work.
      The bill also lays out penalties for claimants whose applications include information that is "false or misleading," and for those who "knowingly failed" to disclose sources of income or other relevant facts when they applied for the federal aid.
      Cyber Threats to Canadian Organizations
      The Canadian Centre for Cyber Security has issued an alert regarding cybercrime during the pandemic. The centre has assessed that the COVID-19 pandemic presents an elevated level of risk to the cybersecurity of Canadian health organizations involved in the national response to the pandemic, including but not limited to medical research, manufacturing, distribution and policy-making organizations. Read The Alert
      WHO backtracks on claim that asymptomatic spread of COVID-19 is 'very rare'
      A top official with the World Health Organization has walked back statements that the spread of COVID-19 from people who do not show symptoms is "very rare," amid backlash from experts who have questioned the claim because of a lack of data. Maria van Kerkhove, an infectious disease epidemiologist and the COVID-19 technical lead for the WHO, said Monday that the available data from published research and member countries had shown asymptomatic cases were not a significant driver for the spread of the virus. Van Kerkhove said she didn't intend to imply that asymptomatic transmission of the virus globally was "very rare," but rather that the available data based on modelling studies and member countries had not been able to provide a clear enough picture on the amount of asymptomatic transmission. Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease physician at Toronto General Hospital, said there has been confusion over the evolving science on the amount of asymptomatic transmission since the start of the pandemic. "At a fundamental level it's extremely important to explain the science well and explain what our current knowledge is and also explain what the unknown questions are," he said. "I don't think the WHO did a very good job of that yesterday and they did a questionable job of that today when they were trying to clarify their comments." Bogoch said there is a key discrepancy between people who do not have symptoms, those who have not yet shown symptoms and those who only have mild symptoms, which can make studying the true number of asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 extremely challenging.
      Hand Sanitizer Recall
      Check your hand sanitizer label. On Saturday, Health Canada issued a recall of six hand sanitizers that are made with industrial-grade ethanol. The chemical can lead to dry skin, irritation and cracking. The brands include Eltraderm, Contract Packaging Distributions, Nature's Own, Sanilabs and Walker Emulsions. More Information
      Canada added 290,000 jobs in May
      After losing more than three million jobs in March and April, Canada's economy added 290,000 jobs in May, Statistics Canada reported Friday. The data agency reported that 290,000 more people had paid employment in May than in April. The surge means May was the best one-month gain for jobs in Canada in 45 years, although it happened from an admittedly low bar. It also means the economy has now replaced about 10 per cent of the jobs it lost to COVID-19. Despite the job gains, Canada's official unemployment rate rose to 13.7 per cent, as 491,000 more people were looking for work in the job market, notably students, whose search for summer work isn't normally recorded in the months before May. In February, Canada's jobless rate was 5.6 per cent. It increased to 7.8 per cent in March and 13 per cent in April. The number of unemployed Canadians has more than doubled since February. The vast majority of the new jobs came in Quebec, which added 230,900. Every other province added jobs except Ontario, which lost 64,500 positions. What do we mean by 'job,' anyway? Scotiabank economist Derek Holt said that while overall the job numbers were certainly positive, he's taking them with several grains of salt because it all depends on what is meant by "employment" in these unprecedented times. StatsCan's job numbers are based on a survey of Canadians, which means they are based on answers by human beings and subject to interpretation. Nearly three million Canadians reported they worked no hours in May, but still told the data collectors at StatsCan that they consider themselves to be employed. "Whether or not you believe that Canada created about 290,000 jobs last month depends, critically, upon what fraction of those who worked no hours in May but said they were employed will ultimately return to their jobs," Holt said. Right now, the millions of people on Canada's federal government wage subsidy program are not considered to be unemployed, despite not actively working, "and hence not as a lost job," Holt noted. "Some will indeed return to full or part hours, and we all hope this to be the case for all, [but] some won't regain the full hours they had before ... and some will not return at all." If those people don't return to active work, May's job surge could vanish as swiftly as it appeared.
      Federal government to provide $14B to provinces, territories to 'safely' restart economies
      The federal government is providing $14 billion to the provinces and territories to help them "safely and carefully" reopen their economies — but the premier of Canada's most populous province says it's not nearly enough. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement at his daily news conference outside his residence at Rideau Cottage this morning, saying the money will help pay for more personal protective equipment (PPE) for front-line health care workers and businesses, and for child care so that parents can go back to work. Some of the money going to provinces and territories is meant to help them improve the state of long-term care, and to help municipalities continue providing core public services such as transit. The government is saying little at this point about how the money will be carved up and when it will flow. Ontario Premier Doug Ford said it's a "start" but $14 billion falls far short of what's required to address the "massive need" in his province. "The reality is, we have a $23 billion problem in Ontario, and $14 billion for all of Canada ... just won't cut it," he said.
      Federal Government Announces One-Time Payment To Individuals Who Are Certificate Holders Of The Disability Tax Credit
      The Prime Minister announced that the government is introducing a one-time, non-taxable payment of up to $600 for Canadians with disabilities. The government will also establish a national workplace accessibility stream to help people with disabilities find and keep a good paying job. In addition, five new projects are being funded across the country to support Canadians in obtaining supportive devices that will help them overcome barriers in the workplace. More Information
      CMHC removes requirement for Tenant to disclose Gross Annual Revenue from CECRA application
      Overnight the CMHC made a change to the CECRA program which removed the requirement for Tenant’s to disclose to their landlords their Gross Annual Revenue. Tenant’s will still have to attest that they meet the requirements of the program. CECRA Website for more information
      Canadian Chamber releases Roadmap to Recovery
      Today the Canadian Chamber of Commerce launched Roadmap to Recovery, which takes a comprehensive look at the challenges facing Canada’s economy and identifies 51 specific recommendations governments should adopt to overcome the challenges identified. Canada was prepared to do whatever it took to ensure we made it through this pandemic, and we need to apply the same mindset to repairing our economy. Read the News Release Access The Roadmap To Recovery
      Personal bankruptcies fell to record low in April
      The number of people filing for bankruptcy fell to a record low in April, as government support programs and mortgage deferrals during the coronavirus pandemic are keeping people's heads above water for now. According to official data released by the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada, a total of 6,700 people across Canada filed for bankruptcy or made a formal proposal to their creditors that month, a figure that is down by 43 per cent compared to the same month a year earlier. That's the biggest plunge on record dating back to 1988, and the smallest number of people filing for bankruptcy since at least 2007. But the decline in personal bankruptcies doesn't suggest fewer people are feeling the financial pinch. Rather, it suggests that people are doing whatever it takes to pay the bills for now. Official numbers from Statistics Canada show that more than one million Canadians lost their job in March, and another two million lost their job in April. Numbers for May are due out on Friday, and they are expected to show at least another half-million jobs lost. Counterintuitively, that record-setting pace of job losses may be keeping insolvencies at bay for now. Bankrupcy consultants conceded that "If not working, a debtor is largely creditor proof," and the courts are closed. As of the middle of May, more than seven million Canadians had applied for the Canada emergency response benefit, Ottawa's $35 billion program for laid-off Canadians. The program seems to be having an impact in keeping creditors at bay, as "CERB payments cannot be garnished."
      COVID-19 support for seniors will flow starting July 6
      Today, the Prime Minister revealed the release date for supplemented seniors payments, announced back in May, will flow during the week of July 6, 2020. The government is investing $2.5 billion to provide a one-time, tax-free payment of $300 to seniors eligible for the Old Age Security pension. To support Canada’s most vulnerable seniors, an additional $200 is also being provided to seniors who are eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement.
      To date only 1.3% of landlords have agreed to take part in the commercial rent relief program
      A recent report by the Globe and Mail indicates that since the program opened last week, only 16,000 landlords of the country's 1.2 million small businesses have agreed to take part in the program. Applications for CECRA opened May 25. The CFA has sent a letter to the federal and provincial governments asking for the following changes to the current program and some provincial actions to help incentivize landlords into participating. 1. Reduce the 70% threshold to 30% 2. Inclusion of “Dark Sites” in the program 3. Allow tenants to apply for the CECRA without their landlord 4. Extend the program beyond the current April, May, June window Provincial governments must use their policy and legislative tools 5. Institute a temporary moratorium on commercial rent default evictions for a six-month period 6. Temporarily suspend property tax rebate for vacant properties 7. Expand access to CEBA so that landlords can use the loan on a site by site basis
      Bank of Canada holds rate steady but scales back some COVID-19 stimulus
      The Bank of Canada held its benchmark interest rate steady at 0.25 per cent on Wednesday and said it thinks the economic impact of COVID-19 on the world's economy "appears to have peaked." Canada's central bank has dropped its rate dramatically since the pandemic began, cutting its rate from 1.75 per cent in late February to 0.25 per cent barely a month later. The bank also announced it will tinker with a number of bond and debt-buying programs in order to make sure there is enough cash in the system. The Bank's programs to improve market function are having their intended effect. As a result, the Bank is reducing the frequency of its term repo operations to once per week, and its program to purchase bankers' acceptances to bi-weekly operations. Bank of Montreal economist Benjamin Reitzes noted that "both of these operations have seen much less take-up (or none at all) of late." In barely two months, the feverish pace of bond buying to buttress the economy has ballooned the bank's balance sheet by $125 billion according to Toronto-Dominion Bank economist James Orlando. GDP decline less than expected When announcing the decision today, the bank noted that it now expects GDP to decline between 10% and 20% compared to last year—a less severe expectation than was forecast in April. The central bank is now projecting that the Canadian economy will recover in the third quarter of 2020.
      Trudeau: Restarting the economy and access to PPE
      Noting that every province and territory will have its own plans to restart their economies, the prime minister highlighted the need for a collaborative approach among governments. The prime minister went on to emphasize that as provinces re-open demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) will increase. He then turned to ongoing procurement efforts. Prime Minister Trudeau noted that the government has procured over 100 million surgical masks and nearly 40 million surgical gloves. The prime minister went on to note that over half of the face shields in the country have been produced domestically. Prime Minister Trudeau went on to announce that the government has delivered funding to four Canadian companies working on rapid testing, including Deep Biologics in Guelph. The prime minister went on to highlight the work of the Industry Strategy Council and the work it is doing to analyze the impact that the pandemic is having on various sectors in the country.
      Conference Board releases Provincial Outlook Summary
      This quarterly economic forecast provides highlights of the Provincial Outlook report, which presents the short-term outlook for Canada’s provinces. Highlights
      • Canada is in the midst of its worst economic downturn in decades, with real GDP expected to decline by 4.3 per cent this year.
      • The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the economic outlook for all provinces, with significant declines in economic activity right across the country.
      • Alberta will be hardest hit this year as it contends with the combination of restrictions on activity to slow the spread of the virus and an unprecedented drop in the price and demand for oil.
      • The economic outlook for next year is much better, with all provinces expected to rebound strongly.
      CRA snitch line now open to report fraudulent CERB, CEWS claims
      The CRAs Leads Program updated its website this week to include the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) funds to its list of reportable cheating activities. As of June 1, the government had processed more than 15 million applications for CERB, including more than eight million unique applicants, and paid out more than $42 billion in benefits.
      Nine business leaders appointed to the Industry Strategy Council
      These leaders come from a diverse array of sectors, including agri-food, digital industries, manufacturing, transportation and clean tech. This panel will provide a forum for business leaders to share their direct perspectives on the scope of challenges that Canadian industries face. The Council will hold virtual meetings every two weeks over the next three months.
      • Murad Al-Katib, President and Chief Executive Officer, AGT Food and Ingredients – Agri-food sector
      • John Baker, M.S.C., President and Chief Executive Officer, D2L Corporation – Digital Industries sector
      • Rhonda Barnet, President and Chief Operating Officer, AVIT Manufacturing – Advanced Manufacturing sector
      • Paviter Binning, President, Wittington Investments, Limited – Retail sector
      • Ben Cowan-Dewar, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Cabot Links – Tourism & Hospitality sector
      • Karimah Es Sabar, Chief Executive Officer and Partner, Quark Venture – Health & Biosciences sector
      • Karen Hamberg, Vice President of External Affairs and Sustainability, Westport Fuel Systems Inc. – Clean Technology sector
      • Mark Little, President and Chief Executive Officer, Suncor Energy Inc. – Resources of the Future sector
      • Sylvie Vachon, President and Chief Executive Officer, Montreal Port Authority – Transportation sector
      Facebook Extends Small Business Grants Application Deadline
      We know your business may be experiencing disruptions resulting from the global outbreak of COVID-19. We’ve heard that a little financial support can go a long way, so Facebook is offering cash grants and ad credits to help during this challenging time. The application deadline for the Facebook grants program has been extended to June 7 at 11:59 p.m. ET. The Facebook grants program is a separate initiative from the CBRN Small Business Relief Fund, which is accepting applications until Friday, June 12 at 8:00 p.m. ET. Businesses may apply for both programs; however, if your business receives in excess of $1,000 from the Facebook program, you will not be eligible to receive a CBRN grant. Apply For A Facebook Grant Apply For A CBRN Grant
      Upcoming Tax Filing Deadlines
      Individuals
      • Filing date for 2019 tax year: June 1, 2020
      • Payment date for 2019 tax year: September 1, 2020
          Self-employed and their spouse or common law partner
          • Filing date for current tax year: June 15, 2020
          • Payment date for current tax year: September 1, 2020
          Corporations
          • Filing date for 2019 tax year:
          • June 1, 2020 for corporations that would otherwise have a filing due date after March 18 and before June 1, 2020.) September 1, 2020 for corporations that would otherwise have a filing deadline in June, July, or August 2020.
        • Payment date for 2019 tax year
          • September 1, 2020 for balances and instalments under Part I of the Income Tax Act due on or after March 18 and before September 1, 2020.
        Canada's economy shrank at an 8% in the first 3 months of 2020
        Canada's economy shrank at an 8 per cent annual pace in the first three months of 2020, worst since 2009. Statistics Canada reported Friday that the slowdown was the sharpest quarterly drop since the financial crisis of 2009, as measures to contain the pandemic such as school and business closures, border shutdowns and travel restrictions brought economic activity grinding to a halt. The eight per cent decline was better than the ten per cent contraction that economists had been expecting for the period. While the vast majority of the contraction came in March when the pandemic hit, January and February's numbers weren't overly strong to begin with due to pre-existing drags such as rail blockades across the country, and a teacher strike in Ontario in February. Canada's gross domestic product was 2.1 per cent smaller over the three months than it was at the end of 2019. But much of that came in March alone, as GDP declined by 7.2 per cent during the month. That makes March 2020 the worst month for Canada's economy since record-keeping began in 1961. By sector, the slowdown in March was striking, including:
        • Accommodation and food services, down 39.5 per cent.
        • Transportation and warehousing, down 12.2 per cent.
        • Air transportation, down 40.9 per cent.
        • Manufacturing, down 6.5 per cent.
        • Retail trade, down 9.6 per cent.
        • Educational services, down 13.5 per cent.
        • Arts, entertainment and recreation, down 41.3 per cent.
        • Construction, down 4.4 per cent.
        • Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction, down five per cent.
        Canadian Economy Shrank More Than U.S. but Less than Other G7 Countries: StatCan
        Today’s StatCan report noted that while Canada’s performance may be worse than that of the U.S., it’s in the “middle of the pack” compared to other developed countries, Bank of Montreal chief economist Doug Porter wrote in a client note. He outlined the change in GDP “from least bad to worst”:
        • Japan (-3.4 per cent)
        • U.S. (-5.0 per cent)
        • U.K. (-7.7 per cent)
        • Canada (-8.2 per cent)
        • Germany (-8.6 per cent)
        • Italy (-17.7 per cent)
        • France (-21.4 per cent)
        Ottawa extends large cruise ship ban until October
        Transport Minister Marc Garneau said Thursday passenger ships with overnight accommodations for more than 100 people — including both passengers and crew — can't operate in Canadian waters until at least Oct. 31. The move extends and expands an order issued in mid-March that barred ships with more than 500 passengers from Canadian waters until July. Ships with more than 12 passengers can't go to the Arctic until at least Oct. 31, for fear that one might carry COVID-19 to a remote northern community.
        4 in 10 Canadians can feasibly perform their job from home – StatCan
        New data released by Statistics Canada reveals that only four in 10 Canadians hold jobs that can be reasonably performed remotely. StatCan data released on Thursday broke down how many Canadians are physically able to work from home, based on their employment, and found that only 39 per cent of Canadians are able to work remotely. The data looked at the “telework capacity” of different industries to measure how likely they were to be able to work from home. Finance, insurance and educational service workers had the highest ability to work from home, at 85 per cent. Other jobs that had a high capacity for being performed remotely were professional, scientific and technical services, at 84 per cent. At the other end of the scale, food services, agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting have “almost no telework capacity, The 39 per cent statistic is striking when compared to the percentage of Canadians who worked from home before the pandemic. In 2018, around 13 per cent of Canadians were doing some scheduled work from home hours -- only a tiny raise from the 10 per cent of Canadians who worked from home in 2000, according to the StatCan report.
        CBRN Small Business Relief Fund Now Accepting Applications
        Applications are now open for the Canadian Business Resilience Network Small Business Relief Fund! We are offering grants to Canadian small businesses that have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to help them recover and support their resilience. These grants are made possible through the generosity of Salesforce and will be offered as a one-time payment of $10,000 to 62 businesses across the country. Applications are being accepted until Friday, June 12, 2020 at 8:00 p.m. ET. Learn More And Apply Here
        Federal government to provide rent relief to eligible business tenants at all National Parks, National Historic Sites And National Marine Conservation Areas
        The Government of Canada is taking further action to support businesses operating in Canada’s national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas dealing with the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The government will waive up to 75% of eligible commercial rents for the months of April, May and June 2020 or equivalent amounts of annual rents. This relief is additional to measures announced March 27 allowing commercial operators to defer payments normally due on or after April 2, 2020 to as late as September 1, 2020. Parks Canada will be contacting all holders of commercial leases and licences of occupation in national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas to provide details on this additional relief. Information will also be made available soon on the Parks Canada website.
        CBRN Business Reopening Toolkit and Provincial/Territorial Regulation Tracker
        In order to operate, businesses must abide by all national, provincial/territorial and local codes issued by our governments. This includes when and which businesses can open, an array of health and safety measures, social distancing standards, occupancy limits and more. Through the CBRN Business Reopening Toolkit, you can access the rules and regulations that are in place according to federal and provincial/territorial jurisdictions. Reopening Toolkit Regulation Tracker Financial Support
        CBRN Small Business Relief Fund launched
        CBRN Small Business Relief Fund launched to give grants of 10,000 to help support business recovery efforts. The Fund will help 62 small Canadian businesses recover and support their resilience, for a total of $620,000 in funds. Businesses can use the $10,000 grants to support their recovery efforts, including paying salaries, acquiring safety and personal protective equipment for staff, replenishing materials or paying for the measures required to adapt business models to the economic impacts of COVID-19. During the COVID-19 crisis, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s mission is to help as many businesses as possible stay afloat and remain open. Small business owners put everything they have into their businesses, and these grants will help give a little bit back. Good people coming together is how Canadians have managed this crisis, and the Canadian Chamber and Salesforce are following their lead, one business at a time.
        Contribute to the CFA’s submission on the future of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)
        The Government of Canada is reviewing the CEWS program, and input from businesses is required to inform potential changes to the program to best meet the needs of businesses and their staff. You can participate via a short online survey or by email. Deadline to participate is June 5, 2020. Feel free to share your views on the future of the CEWS by emailing covid@cfa.ca. Your comments will help CFA staff craft our response to the public consultation.
        Facebook Canada Launches Grant Program And New Supports, Totalling Nearly $3.5 Million For Small Businesses
        Small businesses are the pillars of our communities and, right now, they need everyone’s support. Today, Facebook Canada launched a program with nearly $3.5 million in support for small- and medium-sized businesses in the Ottawa-Gatineau, Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal regions. From grants and virtual training to enhanced resources and new product features, this is Facebook Canada's way of giving a hand to those who give our communities so much. The deadline to apply for the grants is Tuesday, June 2. For more information.
        CRA Extends Filing Deadlines For Corporations And Trusts
        The CRA has extended deadlines for T2 Corporate Income Tax Returns and T3 Trust Income Tax Returns that had been due in June, July or August. Those returns are now due September 1, 2020. As previously announced by CRA, any income tax balance due on or after March 18 and before September 1 is also now due by September 1, 2020. INFO ON T2s & T3s INFO ON TAX FILING AND PAYMENT
        Did you and your landlord apply for commercial rent relief today?
        Federal-Provincial Commercial Rent Assistance Program officially opened this morning. Application documents and updated criteria are now available here. Is you landlord working with you to apply? If not, the CFA wants to know. Send us an email at covid@cfa.ca with
        • Your business legal name
        • Your landlords name
        • Your location
        • A summary of your situation
        • Your contact information
        These stories will help the CFA advocate for changes in the program criteria to help make more CFA members eligible for support.
        Business Resilience Service launched to help businesses navigate government programs
        Canadian Chamber and the Government of Canada team up with accounting profession to provide free advice to small to medium-sized business, not-for-profits and charities. The program, called the Business Resilience Service (BRS), is run through the Canadian Chamber’s Canadian Business Resilience Network in collaboration with EY and with support from Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada) and Imagine Canada. The BRS will provide options for any vulnerable small to medium-sized business, not-for-profit or charity to immediately connect with experienced accounting and tax professionals across the country from professional services firms. The program, delivered to organizations free of charge, will:
        • Provide guidance on program options and eligibility
        • Rapidly direct businesses – including enterprises involving Indigenous peoples, women and diverse groups – to the most appropriate support organizations
        • Help organizations make decisions to support recovery plans
        • Provide real time insights and feedback to policymakers
        The BRS program, coordinated by EY, will be provided for four weeks from Monday, May 25, and will involve support from approximately 125 business advisors from across the accounting profession. Organizations can access the BRS seven days a week by calling 1-866-989-1080.
        Federal government to work with province to provide workers with 10 days of paid sick leave per year
        Following recent conversations with NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, Prime Minister Trudeau committed to working closely with the provinces to provide workers with 10 days of paid sick leave per year. Trudeau stressed that no one should have to choose between paying bills and taking time off to care for themselves. He also confirmed that the government is considering other mechanisms to support workers “for the longer term”. Specific details about the delivery of paid sick leave is expected to come in the weeks ahead.
        Commercial Rent Assistance Portal Opens Monday, May 25, 2020
        The CECRA for small businesses application portal opens at 8:00 am on Monday, May 25. Application documents and updated criteria are now available here.
        Government launches benefit-finder tool for emergency aid
        The government launched an online tool today to help Canadians navigate the various financial benefits available during the pandemic, as the political parties continue to spar over the resumption of Parliament. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the benefit-finder tool during a daily briefing. The government site is now live to help students, seniors and out-of-work Canadians find out which benefits they can access.
        Update on the PM’s call with the Premiers
        Last night the Prime Minister spoke with the provincial and territorial Premiers for the tenth time since the start of the pandemic. The call has been happening every week since the crisis began. On the call they spoke at length about the safe re-opening of the economy and mutually outlined a set of principles for moving forward. These principles include:
        • Canada needs to continue scaling up its testing capacity to quickly identify new cases and isolate them. The federal government is working with the provinces and territories to expand testing by procuring more reagents and swabs. Some provinces have the capacity to meet current needs, but both levels of government are collaborating to ramp up these efforts.
        • Canada needs to accelerate its ability to conduct contact tracing. The feds have trained federal employees to make 3,600 contact tracing calls every day of the week. Statistics Canada also has an additional 1,700 interviewers available to make 20,000 calls a day. Ontario is already utilizing these federal services and Trudeau noted these resources are available to assist other provinces and territories with their tracing backlogs.
        • Canada needs to ensure that data that is collected across jurisdictions is shared between the provinces and territories to help manage spread.
        While each of the Premiers plans will be different, Trudeau confirmed that they are all working towards one common goal: protecting Canadians. He emphasized the next phase of collaborative efforts will focus on testing, contact tracing and data collection and Trudeau has told the Premiers the feds are here to “support, facilitate and fund” this work.
        COVID-19 pushed Canadian retail sales to their biggest ever plunge in March
        Widespread lockdowns due to COVID-19 across the country pushed Canadian retail sales down by 10 per cent in March, the biggest plunge on record. Statistics Canada reported Friday that about 40 per cent of Canadian retailers closed their doors in March, as government lockdowns and physical distancing requirements set in. March's plunge was more than twice as bad as the previous record of 4.5 per cent, set in February 1998. The data agency says April's preliminary numbers suggest that month's data are likely to be even worse, down 15 per cent from March's already low level, but the numbers released Friday show just how bad things got in just the first two weeks of lockdown. Overall, Canadians spent just $47 billion at retailers in March. That's the worst month since 2016. Just about every type of retailer saw sales plummet during the month, but those deemed non-essential bore the brunt, including:
        • Clothing stores, down 51 per cent.
        • Motor vehicle and parts dealers, down 35 per cent.
        • Furniture and home furnishings, down 24 per cent.
        • Hobby, book and music stores, down 23 per cent.
        • Gas stations, down 19 per cent.
        There were a few bright spots, namely grocery stores that saw booming business as Canadians stocked up to shelter in place. Food and beverage sales were up 22 per cent, while general merchandise stores had their best month ever, with sales up 6.4 per cent. Sales at health and personal care stores rose 4.6 per cent, also to their highest level on record. Cannabis sales rose 19 per cent. Another bright spot was the growth in online retailers, as Canadians spent $2.2 billion online in March. That's 40 per cent higher than it was in the same month last year.
        Have you been denied for the $40K CEBA loan? We want to hear from you!
        If you have applied for the Canada Emergency Business Account ($40k loan) and been denied--let us know. Tell us if you have not received a reason for the rejection or what the reason was and why you disagree. We may be able to help get you some answers. Make sure your email includes:
        • Your business legal name (according to your financial institution)
        • Your financial institution
        • A summary of your situation
        • Your contact information
        These stories will help the CFA advocate for changes in the program criteria to help make more CFA members eligible for support. Send us an email at covid@cfa.ca
        CBRN Launches Reopening Canada’s Economy, A National Guide for Business
        The Canadian Business Resilience Network, which the CFA is a member, launched a guide for businesses moving to reopen, “Reopening Canada’s Economy, A National Guide for Business.” The guide is accessible electronically here
        Uptake on government programs
        During Saturday’s media briefing Prime Minister Trudeau noted that • over 500,000 businesses have been able to receive a loan through the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) • Subsidies through the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) have impacted almost 2,000,000 workers. • the CEWS will be extended past June 2020
        Business Credit Availability Program will be expanded for small and medium-sized businesses
        Prime Minister Trudeau revealed that the Business Credit Availability Program will be expanded for small and medium-sized businesses. Support for mid-market businesses will include loans of up to $60 million per company and guarantees of up to $80 million. Through the BCAP, Export Development Canada (EDC) and the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) will work with private sector lenders to support access to capital for Canadian businesses in all sectors and regions.
        Federal government announces large employer emergency financing facility (LEEFF)
        On May 11, Finance Minister Bill Moreau announced that the federal government is offering bridge financing for big Canadian businesses across all sectors to help them keep employees on the payroll through the pandemic, but there are conditions attached – including the required disclosure of the company's environmental plan. Large employer emergency financing facility (LEEFF) will provide support to employers with annual revenues of more than $300 million whose credit needs are not being met through conventional financing. The program is open to large commercial businesses in all sectors except those in the financial sector, as well as certain not-for-profit businesses like airports. To qualify, businesses must be looking for financing of $60 million or more, have significant operations or workforce in Canada and not be involved in ongoing insolvency proceedings. It is not intended to be a low-cost loan program for companies that don't need it or to bail out companies that were already in financial trouble before the pandemic. Companies must disclose their climate action plans and sustainability goals to qualify and must meet other conditions, including not having "excessive" executive pay. Companies that have been found guilty of tax evasion are disqualified. Details are still being worked out and information on the application process is expected shortly. For more information please see the Prime Minister’s News Release.
        Federal government extending CEWS beyond June
        At his press conference on May 8, the Prime Minister said that the federal government’s emergency wage-subsidy program will be extended beyond its early-June endpoint. The program covers 75 per cent of worker pay up to $847 a week to try to help employers keep employees on the job in the face of steep declines in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More details on the extension will come next week.
        New Industry Strategy Council announced by the federal government
        Today, PM Trudeau announced that Innovation, Science and Industry Minister Navdeep Bains will be leading a new Industry Strategy Council chaired by Monique Leroux. The Council will be tasked with taking a deeper dive into how the pandemic is affecting specific sectors and finding ways for the government to best support them. Previous economic strategy tables set up in the government’s first mandate will also be leveraged throughout this process. The Tables are chaired by industry leaders in the following key sectors: advanced manufacturing, agri-food, clean technology, digital industries, health and bio-sciences, resources of the future, and tourism and hospitality. In response to some particular pressures related to the pandemic, the Government is adding two new Tables, representing the retail and transportation sectors.
        Canada's jobless rate soars to 13 per cent in April
        The Canadian economy lost almost two million jobs in April, a record high, as the closure of non-essential services to slow the spread of COVID-19 forced businesses to shutter temporarily. The loss of 1,993,800 comes on top of more than one million jobs lost in March, and millions more having their hours and incomes slashed. The unemployment rate soared to 13.0 per cent, Statistics Canada reported, as the full force of the pandemic hit compared with 7.8 per cent in March. It was the second highest unemployment rate on record as job losses spread beyond the service sector to include construction and manufacturing. Economists on average had expected the loss of four million jobs and an unemployment rate of 18 per cent, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv. The unemployment rate would have been 17.8 per cent had the agency's labour force survey counted among the unemployed the 1.1 million who stopped looking for work -- likely because the COVID-19 economic shutdown has limited job opportunities. In all, more than one-third of the labour force didn't work or had reduced hours in April, an "underutilization rate" that was more than three times higher than in February before the pandemic struck. Here's a quick look at April employment (numbers from the previous month in brackets):
        • Unemployment rate: 13.0 per cent (7.8)
        • Employment rate: 52.1 per cent (58.5)
        • Participation rate: 59.8 per cent (63.5)
        • Number unemployed: 2,418,300 (1,547,000)
        • Number working: 16,184,900 (18,178,700)
        • Youth (15-24 years) unemployment rate: 27.2 per cent (16.8)
        • Men (25 plus) unemployment rate: 10.8 per cent (5.9)
        • Women (25 plus) unemployment rate: 11.3 per cent (7.1)
        Here are the jobless rates last month by province (numbers from the previous month in brackets):
        • Newfoundland and Labrador 16.0 per cent (11.7)
        • Prince Edward Island 10.8 (8.6)
        • Nova Scotia 12.0 (9.0)
        • New Brunswick 13.2 (8.8)
        • Quebec 17.0 (8.1)
        • Ontario 11.3 (7.6)
        • Manitoba 11.4 (6.4)
        • Saskatchewan 11.3 (7.3)
        • Alberta 13.4 (8.7)
        • British Columbia 11.5 (7.2)
        Agreement reached on $4B deal to boost essential workers' pay
        Today, Ottawa announced it has reached a $4 billion agreement with all the provinces and territories to boost the salaries of essential workers who make less than $2,500 a month. The federal government will kick in $3 billion while the provinces will contribute the rest. Some provinces already have moved ahead. Saskatchewan recently announced that employees making less than $2,500 a month while working with vulnerable people are eligible for a wage top-up of $400 per month for 16 weeks. That includes people working at long-term care homes, daycares and shelters. Ontario announced a $4-per-hour increase for front-line workers at long-term care homes, retirement homes, emergency shelters, supportive housing, group homes, correctional institutions and youth justice facilities, as well as for those providing home and community care and some hospital staff. Quebec announce a $4-per-hour pay hike for workers in private long-term care homes, as well as a $24.28-per-hour salary to attract new workers to fill in as attendants at the facilities.
        Federal Update on how many Canadians applied for support
        At today, press conference, President of the Treasury Board Jean-Yves Duclos announced how many Canadians and Canadian businesses have accessed the federal support programs since March 15, 2020. The numbers are staggering considering that there were 19 million Canadians in the workforce in February 2020.
        • 500, 000 businesses have received an emergency loan
        • 10.9 million applications have now been received under the CERB and 7.5 million Canadians have received funding under the program.
        • 100 000 businesses have applied for the CEWS
        Canadian Chamber – Impact of COVID-19 on Diverse Business Owners
        New data from the recent Canadian Survey on Business Conditions was released which shows that COVID-19 had a more severe impact on diversity-owned businesses:
        • 71.14% of diversity-owned businesses experienced a high drop in demand, compared with the national average (64.8%)
        • 34.74% of diversity-owned businesses experienced a 50% or more decrease in revenue, compared with the national average (26.2%)
        • 51.06% of diversity-owned businesses said they could remain open for no longer than 60 days without a source of revenue, compared with the national average (42.2%)
        • 48.92% of diversity-owned businesses said they could remain open for no longer than 3 months amid social distancing, compared with the national average (39.7%).
        However, if they can weather the crisis, the data indicate that each group expects to rebound in a similar time and fashion as other businesses across the country. Further, there are several notable data points demonstrating innovation and ingenuity:
        • Indigenous-owned and visible minority-owned businesses have tested or used R&D at a higher rate (11.1% and 8.6%) than national average (5.7%)
        • 17% of businesses owned by those with disabilities tested or used e-commerce during the crisis compared to the national average (11.6%)
        • Women-owned business have increased investment in training and education at a higher rate (16.2%) than the national average (11.3%)
        Federal support for farmers, food businesses, and food processors
        The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau announced an investment of more than $252 million to support farmers, food businesses, and food processors.
        • $77.5 million Emergency Processing Fund to help food producers access more PP), adapt to health protocols, automate or modernize their facilities, processes, and operations, and respond to emerging pressures.
        • $125 million in funding to help producers faced with additional costs incurred by COVID-19. This includes set-asides for cattle and hog management programs to manage livestock backed-up on farms, due to the temporary closure of food processing plants.
        • Increase the Canadian Dairy Commission’s borrowing limit by $200 million to support costs associated with the temporary storage of cheese and butter to avoid food waste.
        • Creation of a Surplus Food Purchase Program (initial $50 million) designed to help redistribute existing and unsold inventories such as potatoes and poultry, to local food organizations who are serving vulnerable Canadians.
        For more information please see the news release
        Most Canadians comfortable with pace of easing restrictions: poll
        77% of Canadians happy with COVID-19 measures, but only 43% of Americans feel same about their government. The poll, conducted by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies between May 1 and 3, surveyed 1,526 adult Canadians and 1,002 adult Americans randomly recruited from its online panel. The internet-based survey cannot be assigned a margin of error because online polls are not considered random samples. People in most provinces taking steps to reopen were between 60 and 70 per cent supportive of those moves, while 16 to 30 per cent would like to see their government slow down a little. Some provinces have already begun loosening physical distancing measures put in place as the growth in the number of COVID-19 cases started picking up steam in March. In Quebec, which has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Canada, the province is allowing some retail stores to reopen outside of Montreal with an eye to reopen the manufacturing and construction sectors next week. On Monday it pushed back the reopening of non-essential stores in the Montreal area at least another week. Ontario, with the second-highest number of confirmed cases in the country, is allowing the partial reopening of some seasonal businesses. Manitoba has gone even further, allowing slightly restricted access to libraries, museums, and restaurant patios. But in Alberta, which plans to allow certain retail stores, restaurants and daycare centres to reopen as early as May 14, people seem less comfortable with how quickly things are moving. There, 50 per cent of respondents would like the province to slow down.
        Visits to Canadian Retailers are down 76% during COVID-19 Pandemic
        In Canada, PiinPoint’s Mobile Location Data shows that visits to retailers are down 76% from this time last year. Not surprisingly, the data shows that restaurants have been hit the hardest, experiencing a 95% drop in visits when compared to the same period last year, given the strict business closures that have been enforced by provincial and federal governments. Those eateries with an option for drive-thru service, such as fast-food restaurants, are seeing a 70% decrease in visits. Banks, clothing, and home decor stores reflect a similar impact as restaurants, with an 89% drop in visits, while electronic and office supply stores have seen an 82% decrease in visits. With stay-at-home measures in place and few people driving to work, gas stations have seen a 90% decrease in visitors, despite record low gas prices. Home Improvement stores have taken a hit with a 35% decrease in visits, and that number is expected to increase as many stores have been forced to move to curbside pickup only. Grocery stores initially saw a massive increase in visits leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic announcement, as people stocked up on supplies. Amidst the battles for toilet paper and panic-buying, there was a surge of visits to Grocery stores, peaking at a 196% increase on March 23 when compared to the previous year. However, following the stock-up period and this large increase, visits are still down 27% year over year. For the full report
        Reminder: CERB recipients must reapply for further benefits
        Canadians who are receiving income from the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) must reapply for another four weeks of benefits. The CERB offers $500 per week for Canadians who’ve lost work due to the COVID-19 pandemic up to a maximum of 16 weeks, but recipients must confirm their eligibility for the program every four weeks. The renewal payments are not automatic, meaning anyone who applied for CERB between April 6 and April 10 will need to reapply for the benefit. For the upcoming wave of payments, CERB recipients born in January, February or March can begin applying on May 11, those born in April, May or June can begin to apply on May 12, those born in July, August or September can begin on May 13 and those born in October, November or December can begin their application on May 14, according to the Canada Revenue Agency website . To qualify for the benefit, Canadians must be at least 15 years of age and have been forced out of work due to the pandemic. They must also have earned at least $5,000 in the previous calendar year and now expect to make less than $1,000 per month while collecting the CERB payments. Recipients can reapply for the benefit either online or by calling 1 (800) 959-2019.
        Canada has entered a recession due to pandemic: C.D. Howe
        Canada has officially entered a recession due to the economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the C.D. Howe Institute's Business Cycle Council declared Friday . The council said the economy peaked in February before the steps taken to slow the spread of the coronavirus brought the economy to a standstill. The C.D. Howe council defines a recession as a pronounced, persistent, and pervasive decline in aggregate economic activity and it looks at both GDP and employment as its main measures. The March jobs report showed more than a million jobs were lost in the month, while a preliminary estimate by Statistics Canada suggested the economy contracted by nine per cent in the same month. Statistics Canada reported Thursday that economic growth had stalled going into the crisis, with real gross domestic product essentially unchanged in February due to teacher strikes in Ontario and rail blockades across many parts of the country.
        Tiff Macklem appointed the next Governor of the Bank of Canada
        Finance Minister Bill Morneau has appointed Tiff Macklem , the former senior deputy governor of the Bank of Canada, to take over the top job at the central bank. Macklem is currently the dean of the Rotman School of Management in Toronto but had spent decades with the Bank of Canada before starting that appointment. Macklem began his career at the bank in 1984. He was widely expected to win the contest for bank governor in 2013, but was beaten out by Stephen Poloz, who was then CEO of Export Development Canada. Poloz's term as Governor of the Bank of Canada ends June 2.
        Federal deficit could top $252 billion, says Parliamentary budget officer
        Parliament's budget watchdog says it's likely the federal deficit for the year will hit $252.1 billion as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic — and could go even higher if emergency measures remain in place longer than planned. The figure is an estimate based on the almost $146 billion in spending measures the government has announced to help cushion the economic blow from the pandemic, estimated declines in the country's gross domestic product and the price of oil remaining well below previous expectations. Parliamentary budget officer Yves Giroux's report assumes real GDP will contract by 12 per cent this year and help push the federal debt-to-GDP ratio to 48.4 per cent. The report says the estimates are one possible scenario if current public health measures remain in place or are slowly — but not entirely — lifted over the rest of the calendar year.
        Federal government clarifies Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program is based on Gross Rent
        Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses provides much needed relief for small businesses experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19. It offers forgivable loans to eligible commercial property owners so that they can reduce the rent owed by their impacted small business tenants by at least 75% for the months of April, May and June, 2020. Today the federal government confirmed that the rent rebate program will apply to the monthly gross rent. When the program was originally releases on Friday April 24 the focus was on base rent and it was unclear if Common Area Maintenance (CAM) plus Taxes or Taxes, Maintenance, Insurance (TMI). To qualify, “impacted small business tenants are businesses, including non-profit and charitable organizations who:
        • pay no more than $50,000 in monthly gross rent per location (as defined by a valid and enforceable lease agreement),
        • generate no more than $20 million in gross annual revenues, calculated on a consolidated basis (at the ultimate parent level), and
        • have temporarily ceased operations (i.e. generating no revenues), or has experienced at least a 70% decline in pre-COVID-19 revenues.**
        ** To measure revenue loss, small businesses can compare revenues in April, May and June of 2020 to that of the same month of 2019. They can also use an average of their revenues earned in January and February of 2020.” The CFA is working with the federal government to get a better understanding of what the “ultimate parent level” means for franchisors and franchisees under the program. Click here for the CMHC program criteria
        Canadian Chamber/StatsCan Survey – Half of all Businesses See a Decline of 20% or More in Revenue due to Covid-19
        The Canadian Survey on Business Conditions (CSBC), a joint effort between Statistics Canada and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, provides the most detailed insight yet into the impact of COVID-19 on Canadian businesses. Many CFA members contributed to the report by providing information to the survey. Nearly one-third (32.3%) of businesses who responded to the survey reported that their revenues from the first quarter of 2020 were down by 40% or more from the same quarter a year earlier. Another 21.2% of businesses reported their revenues had decreased by 20% to 40% over the same period. Businesses in the accommodation and food services (72.6%), arts, entertainment and recreation (66.7%) and retail trade (60.3%) sectors were most likely to report a decline in revenue greater than 20%. In contrast, just over two-fifths of businesses in each of the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting (42.0%) and the utilities (40.4%) sectors reported either no change or an increase in revenue. Across the country, over half of businesses in Alberta (57.7%), Ontario (56.3%), British Columbia (54.8%), Newfoundland and Labrador (53.5%) and Saskatchewan (52.8%) saw declines of 20% or more in revenue. In contrast, close to one-third of businesses in Prince Edward Island (33.1%), the territories (32.4%) and New Brunswick (30.3%) reported either no change or an increase in revenue.

        Change in business revenue in Q1 2020 compared to Q1 2019

        • 10.5% experienced an increase in revenue
        • 14.3% saw no change in revenue
        • 17.9% experienced a decrease in revenue of up to 20%
        • 53.5% experienced a decrease in revenue of over 20%

        Staffing decisions taken as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic

        • 38.1% have reduced staff hours or shifts 40.5% have laid off staff

        For more information

        MPs convene first special virtual sitting
        Members of Parliamentmet for the first time virtually April 28 during the all-party special committee on COVID-19. These virtual sittings will take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays, until at least May 25, as parliamentarians find new ways to maintain accountability while physical distancing.
        Federal health officials update projections
        Trudeau spoke ahead of a Tuesday afternoon briefing from federal health officials, who delivered revised modelling and forecasts for COVID-19 in Canada. Get the details of the federal COVID-19 modelling update. The new modelling shows that while the number of new cases was doubling every three days previously, it is now doubling every 16 days. Short-term projections predict between 53,191 and 66,835 cases by May 5, and between 3,277 and 3,883 deaths by that date.
        Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy – Keep in mind CRA will be enforcing strict compliance criteria
        As of April 27, 2020, online applications have opened for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS). The CEWS provides a 75% wage subsidy to eligible employers for up to 12 weeks and is retroactive to March 15, 2020. The subsidy will be available at a rate of 75% of weekly remuneration paid to a maximum of $847 per employee. Your business must have experienced a drop of at least 15% of revenue in March 2020 and 30% for April 2020 and/or May 2020 to qualify for this subsidy. The Federal Government has implemented severe penalties if a business is found not to have met to the CEWS eligibility requirements after receiving the subsidy. Audits will be conducted by the Canada Revenue Agency to verify the amounts related to the subsidy including revenue and salary calculations. If a business is not compliant with the rules, the consequences can include:
        • repayment of amounts received
        • significant fines of up to 25% of the CEWS received (and up to an additional 200% in the case of fraudulent claims)
        • penalties for up to five years in prison for individuals who submitted fraudulent claims
        Furthermore, the individuals who have the principal responsibility for the financial activities must attest that the application is complete and accurate. As such, the individual(s) that make the attestation can be held personally responsible for the application that is filed and will also be subject to penalties for incorrect and/or fraudulent claims. The CRA intends to publish the name of any eligible employer that makes an application for the wage subsidy and share information with government officials for the purposes of administration and enforcement of the Canada Emergency Benefit Act.
        Federal projected spending on direct supports due to COVID-19 hits $145B
        The federal government's latest projection of how much it will spend on direct support for Canadians to get through the COVID-19 crisis has now reached more than $145.6 billion. Those direct support programs account for approximately one fifth of the overall tally of the measures the government has announced related to the pandemic. Ottawa estimates that overall total — including measures to protect Canadians health and safety and to provide business and tax liquidity support as well as the direct support for individuals, businesses and sectors — amounts to more than $817 billion. But much of that is not spending that will end up on the books. For example, a large portion, $300 billion, is a measure by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OFSI) to free up capital for the banks.

        Another big part of that overall total are tax deferrals and credit and loan guarantee programs:

        • Credit and liquidity supports through the Bank of Canada and CMHC are projected at $200 billion.
        • Income and sales tax deferrals are estimated at $85 billion.
        • Liquidity support for businesses, homeowners and the agricultural sector is estimated at more than $286 billion.
        But while there is a cost associated with those programs, deferrals, credit support and monetary measures essentially just put off when the government gets paid.

        The additional emergency funding and the direct support measures that will have the biggest impact on the deficit and debt in the government's financial books.

        • $73 billion: Canada emergency wage subsidy
        • $35 billion: Canada emergency relief benefit
        • $15.3 billion: Canada emergency business account
        • $5.5 billion: GST credits
        • $9 billion: Financial aid to students
        • $1.7 billion: Orphan well clean up
        Commercial Rent Assistance Program Badly Misses the Mark!
        Today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today announced the new rent subsidy program, jointly funded by the provinces, that is supposed to help businesses (franchised businesses are included in the program).

        PROGRAM DETAILS

        • The program will provide forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners to cover 50% of three monthly rent payments that are payable by eligible small business tenants who are experiencing financial hardship during April, May, and June.
        • The loans will be forgiven if the mortgaged property owner agrees to reduce the eligible small business tenants’ rent by at least 75% for the three corresponding months under a rent forgiveness agreement, which will include a term not to evict the tenant while the agreement is in place. The small business tenant would cover the remainder, up to 25% of the rent.

          ELIGIBILITY

          • Businesses paying less than $50,000 per month in rent and who have temporarily ceased operations
          • Businesses who have experienced at least a 70% drop in pre-COVID-19 revenues. This support will also be available to non-profit and charitable organizations.
          • Support for larger businesses will be announced in the coming days.

          TIMELINE

          • The CECRA is expected to be operational by mid-May, with commercial property owners lowering the rents of their small business tenant’s payable for the months of April and May, retroactively, and for June.
          CFA does not think this will help many
          Based on our read of the program details the assistance only affects a tenant’s base rent with no support or rebate of the Taxes, Maintenance, Insurance (TMI) that all commercial tenants pay. As CFA members know the TMI is often 50% of a business’s accommodation costs. Here is a link to the program details which are contained in the News Release from the PM. The CFA will be looking at our options but we will continue to push for governments across Canada (federal and provincial) to provide real commercial rent relief.
          Other Stakeholder Reaction
          Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB): Welcomed the rent relief program but warned that it may be too complicated and too reliant on landlords to administer. Restaurants Canada: Very encouraged by PM, JustinTrudeau, April 24th announcement on rent support for small businesses. No eviction provision is there as is direct help to operators. Restaurants are included. Good thing. Ontario Chamber of Commerce: “We applaud both the Canadian and Ontario governments for their leadership to provide rent relief to avoid the mass closure of small and medium-sized enterprises across the province. Speed will be of the essence to get this delivered to those in need quickly. This program will help tenants by lowering the rent burden and protecting against evictions, while supporting landlords who also have bills to pay.”
          Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Portal Opens April 27
          The Canada Revenue Agency will open the application process on April 27. CEWS claims will be subject to verification by the CRA, therefore the CRA will begin to release funds for approved applications on May 5. To get ready, the CRA has released instructions on what you need to do, a wage subsidy calculator and enhanced eligibility information. The Subsidy is NOT first come, first serve. It is available to all business who apply so business do not need to apply on Monday out of fear of missing out. The CRA expects the first cheques to be issued during the week of May 4. They have added 2000 people to their call centre to answer questions and process applications. Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Information Page
          $1.1B for medical research and vaccine development
          Prime Minister Trudeau announced the government will be investing an additional $1.1 billion for a national medical research strategy. The new funding will invest in three primary areas, including research on vaccines, supports for clinical trials, and an expansion of testing and modelling. More specifically, approximately $115 million of the $1.1 billion is being invested in research to develop vaccines and treatments in universities and hospitals across the country. An estimated $662 million will also be provided to support clinical trials in Canada. While the vaccine is a long-term solution to the virus, $350 million dollars is being invested to expand national testing and modelling in the immediate term. For more information please see the News Release.
          Update on Federal Program Uptake
          Finally, Treasury Board President Jean Yves Duclos also provided a brief update on government support programs,
          • 8.9 million applications have now been received for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.
          • 351 small businesses have received approvals for loans under the Small Business Emergency Relief Fund
          Friendly reminder – CERB is a taxable benefit
          Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) provides Canadians whose jobs have been affected by the COVID-19 with $2000 per month for up to 4 months. The CERB is a taxable benefit so anyone receiving that funding will be expected to report it as income when you file your income tax for the 2020 tax year. Unlike most standard paycheques, CERB payments do not have income tax deducted before they are sent out. The federal government has set the lowest tax rate for 2020 at 15 per cent. That means anyone who earns $48,535 or less in total income for the year will owe tax on their CERB monies. A recipient who earns the maximum benefit of $8,000 will have to repay $1,200 at tax time. Provincial and territorial income tax rates will also apply.
          Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) portal will open April 27, 2020
          The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) announced that applications under the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy will open on April 27. The Subsidy is NOT first come, first serve. It is available to all business who apply so business do not need to apply on Monday out of fear of missing out. The CRA expects the first cheques to be issued during the week of May 4. They have added 2000 people to their call centre to answer questions and process applications. Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Information Page $9B in funding for students under the new Canada Emergency Student Benefit On April 22, the Prime Minister announced the Canada Emergency Student Benefit, a $9 billion package of new measures aimed at helping young people. The benefit will give eligible postsecondary students $1,250 a month from May to August. For students taking care of someone else or have a disability, that amount increases to $1,750 monthly. College and university students currently in school, planning to start in September, or who graduated in December 2019 are eligible. Working students earning less than $1,000 per month can also apply for the CESB. The benefit will require additional legislation and talks are now underway about how quickly a bill to implement this new program can be brought forward. Specifically, the federal government is also:
          • Creating an additional 76,000 jobs for young people in sectors that need an extra hand right now, or that are on the frontlines of this pandemic;
          • Investing more than $291 million to extend scholarships, fellowships, and grants for three or four months;
          • Launching a new Canada Student Service Grant of between $1,000 and $5,000 for students volunteering in the COVID-19 fight;
          • Providing more than $75 million to specifically increase support for First Nations, Inuit, and Metis Nation students; and
          • Doubling the student grants that the government gives out for the 2020-21 school year.
          New Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Calculator released
          Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Calculator
          Details leaking out about Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA)
          According to the Prime Minister’s announcement last week Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses. The program will seek to provide loans, including forgivable loans, to commercial property owners who in turn will lower or forgo the rent of small businesses for the months of April (retroactive), May, and June. Implementation of the program will require a partnership between the federal government and provincial and territorial governments, which are responsible for property owner-tenant relationships. We are working with the provinces and territories to increase rent support for businesses that are most impacted by the pandemic and we will have more details to share soon. In his media conference today, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said Tuesday that the province will participate in a forthcoming federal program to help commercial tenants cover rent during the pandemic. Manitoba will contribute $16 million to the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program, Pallister said, although details are scarce about how the program will work once implemented. Stay tuned.
          MPs pass motion to hold in-person, virtual sittings
          Yesterday MPs have passed a motion to hold both in-person and virtual meetings to question and debate the government's response to the COVID-19 crisis. The motion formally adjourns the House of Commons until May 25. A special committee — with every MP a member — will meet once weekly in person. Virtual meetings will occur online twice a week once technological and procedural issues have been worked out. MPs defeated a proposed amendment from the Conservatives which called for two in-person sitting days, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said that doing away with 80 per cent of sitting days does not serve the best interests of Canadians and that more in-person sessions would yield better results in terms of accountability, oversight and proposals from opposition parties. Scheer suggested Trudeau is dodging accountability, preferring the "controlled" environment of daily news conferences outside his residence at Rideau Cottage to opposition questions in the House of Commons. Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet accused the Conservatives of holding Parliament "hostage." NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said regular in-person sessions are important to the work of addressing gaps in programs meant to support Canadians and businesses struggling financially through the health crisis, including students.
          $350M support fund for community groups helping vulnerable people
          Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today announced $350 million in emergency funds for community groups and national charities that help seniors, the homeless and others made more vulnerable by the pandemic. The funds will support community groups through national organizations such as the United Way Canada, the Canadian Red Cross and the Community Foundations of Canada. The funds will support such activities as:
          • Volunteer-based home delivery of groceries and medications.
          • Transportation services, such as those driving seniors or persons with disabilities to appointments.
          • Scaling up help lines that provide information and support.
          • Helping vulnerable Canadians access government benefits.
          • Delivering training and supplies to volunteers.
          • Replacing in-person, one-on-one contact and social gatherings with virtual contact through telephone, texts, teleconferences or the Internet.
            Parliament returned on April 20, 2020
            Between 36 and 40 MPs, including the House Speaker, have been in the House of Commons for today's sitting, which included a question period. Over the weekend the Liberal government reached a tentative deal with the NDP and Bloc Québécois to have one in-person sitting per week. The Conservatives rejected the idea, insisting on more regular meetings each week. Conservatives proposed having two sitting days per week (Tuesdays and Thursdays). Scheer suggested Trudeau prefers the "controlled" environment of daily news conferences outside his residence at Rideau Cottage to opposition questions in the House of Commons. Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet accused the Conservatives of holding Parliament "hostage." NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said regular in-person sessions are important to the work of addressing gaps in programs meant to support Canadians and businesses struggling financially through the health crisis, including students.
            Canada-U.S. agree to extend border restrictions by 30 days
            Canada and the United States have agreed to extend the current closure of the border to all non-essential travel for at least another month. It's been nearly a month since the two countries negotiated their 30-day agreement that exempted the flow of trade and commerce, as well as vital health-care workers such as nurses who live and work on opposite sides of the border. That agreement was due to expire in a few days.
            $1.4 billion for regional economic development and cultural/sport organizations
            Earlier today the Prime Minister announced $1.4 billion in supports for regional economic development agencies and for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations.
            • $675 million to support their work of the six RDAs (the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, Western Economic Diversification Canada, FedNor, FedDev Ontario, Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency) to provide equivalent bridge financing support to businesses unable to access the government’s broader support measures.
            • $287 million for the Community Futures Network, funded through the RDAs, to support rural businesses and communities, including through access to capital.
            • $500 million in Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations to help them address their financial needs. This funding will be administered by Canadian Heritage via contribution agreements.
            All air passengers need to wear non-medical masks starting Monday
            Starting on Monday, all air passengers in Canada have to wear non-medical masks or a face covering that goes over their mouth and nose, or risk being denied boarding Transport Canada has announced. Effective at noon on April 20, it’ll be required that anyone travelling through an airport or on an airplane wear a mask, including when going through screening checkpoints where the screeners are unable to keep two metres distance between themselves and the traveller. For travellers looking to depart from, or arrive in Canada, it will be mandatory that they have a non-medical mask or adequate face covering during the boarding process or they will not be allowed to travel.
            Virtual Canada Day party this year
            With gatherings banned due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year's Canada Day celebrations will take place online, the federal government announced Friday. Canadian Heritage Minister Stephen Guilbeault said his department is working with artists to create a virtual show on July 1. The lineup for the Canada Day show is normally released about a month before July 1.
            ICBC is temporarily waiving a number of fees
            Drivers who choose to suspend their insurance won't have to pay the usual $30 cancellation and $18 re-plating fees. In a statement, ICBC says drivers who cancel must remove their licence plates from their vehicle but can reuse the same plates as long as they reinsure after May 30. Those who do so earlier will be issued new plates for free. Companies that own fleets of cars are also eligible to suspend their insurance. With many businesses now switching to delivery models, ICBC says drivers don't need to change their insurance or pay higher premiums. Previously, additional insurance was required.
            Big changes to the CEBA program
            Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced the federal government is also opening up the eligibility criteria the Canada Emergency Business Account. The program, targeted at small- and medium-sized businesses, offers government-guaranteed loans of up to $40,000 to cover the costs of keeping their enterprise afloat during the COVID-19 crisis. Today the PM lowered the threshold. Now, companies who paid between $20,000 and $1,500,000 in total payroll in 2019 will be eligible to receive a loan (still based on T4 income). Under the first iteration of the program business were required to have a payroll of $50,000 to $1 million based on their 2019 T4 Summary. This should help many more CFA members qualify for the CEBA loans. Since the banks began accepting applications, they have approved more than 195,000 loans worth about than $7.5 billion. To apply for a CEBA loan you must work through your financial institution where you do your day to day business banking.
            Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program being developed
            Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also announced a new assistance program meant to help businesses offset monthly rent. The Canadian Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program will help small businesses offset rent in April, May and June, Trudeau said during his daily COVID-19 address. Ottawa will work with provinces to roll out the program, as it falls under provincial jurisdiction. The announcement was made in conjunction with plans to loosen eligibility requirements to the Canadian Emergency Business Account (CEBA), in order to aid more small- and medium-sized businesses struggling with the fallout of the pandemic. CFA is working to try and find out some details. Please stay tuned.
            DEADLINE APPROACHING: Canadian Survey of Business Conditions
            The Canadian Chamber of Commerce and Statistics Canada have released the Canadian Survey of Business Conditions (CSBC). The CSBC will examine the impact of COVID-19 on businesses, changes that businesses have made to adapt, challenges they continue to face and anticipated challenges as recovery begins. Click here to complete the survey. If you have not already done so, we encourage you to complete the survey and share with businesses in your network. The survey deadline has been extended to Wednesday, April 22. Complete the survey
            Conference Board of Canada - Provincial Outlook Spring 2020 – Preliminary Forecast
            The Conference Board released its preliminary Spring 2020 forecast which estimates that real GDP declined at an annualized pace of nearly 5 per cent in the first quarter. In the second quarter, the decline in GDP is forecast to hit 25 per cent. This will be the steepest quarterly decline in economic output on record, based on modern statistics that date back to 1961. Executive Summary
            Real-time economic data shows Canada frozen in time
            Real Time Economic Data
            Changes to CERB – you can still work and collect
            Today Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced it was changing the CERB eligibility rules to: • Allow people to earn up to $1,000 per month while collecting the CERB. • Extend the CERB to seasonal workers who have exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to undertake their usual seasonal work as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. • Extend the CERB to workers who recently exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to find a job or return to work because of COVID-19. The government will be working with provinces to increase pay of essential retail workers who make less than $2,500 a month. These changes will be retroactive to March 15, 2020. More details will be posted on the portal shortly. Quebec and British Columbia have already implemented direct wage support for low-income workers in the essential service sectors. The federal government will now be sharing the cost of this wage support through the new transfer to these provinces.
            Rent Support – expecting an announcement from the federal government soon
            An announcement on rent support will be coming soon. CFA has been trying to learn more about the types of support but officials and political staff have been tight-lipped about the program.
            Bank of Canada holds rate steady at 0.25% - no plans to go lower
            The Bank of Canada kept its benchmark interest rate steady at 0.25 per cent on Wednesday, The bank says it thinks economic activity in the period between April and June will be between 15 and 30 per cent lower than it was at the end of 2019 due to widespread lockdowns, layoffs and other drastic measures will have a dramatic impact on Canada's economy in the months ahead. The central bank said its release that it considers the current level of its rate to be its "effective lower bound." That means the bank doesn't have any plans to cut the rate to zero or into negative territory, despite the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic that has devastated Canada's economy. While the bank is signalling it doesn't see a scenario where it would put its rate into negative territory, the bank says it is doing a lot of other things beyond interest-rate reductions to help support the economy such as buying up more bonds and other debts to help keep the economy running. Last month, the Bank of Canada announced it would buy $5 billion worth of federal government debt every week in order to support the economy. On Wednesday, it said it would keep doing that but also buy up to $50 billion worth of provincial debt and up to $10 billion worth of corporate debt in order to ensure there is enough of what central bankers refer to as "liquidity".
            Home sales fell 14% in March
            Home sales fell by 14 per cent in March as COVID-19 lockdowns slowed the market according to the Canadian Real Estate Association. Sales were down just about everywhere from February's level, including in the following cities:
            • Greater Toronto Area, down 20.8 per cent.
            • Montreal, down 13.3 per cent.
            • Greater Vancouver Area, down 2.9 per cent.
            • Fraser Valley, down 13.6 per cent.
            • Calgary, down 26.3 per cent.
            • Edmonton, down 13.2 per cent.
            • Winnipeg, down 7.3 per cent.
            • Hamilton-Burlington, down 24.9 per cent.
            • Ottawa, down 7.9 per cent.
            The average sale price largely unchanged from February. March started strong and then froze in the second half. Preliminary data from the first week of April suggest both sales and new listings were only about half of what would be normal for that time of year. Year over year the average price in March 2020 was up by 12.5 per cent compared to the average seen in March 2019.
            IMF sees worst global recession since 1930s, Canada’s economy to shrink 6.2%
            The global economy has entered a recession as a result of the novel coronavirus and that the situation is “way worse than the global financial crisis according to International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Kristalina Georgieva. The world economy in 2020 will suffer its worst year since the Great Depression of the 1930s, the International Monetary Fund says in its latest forecast. Data from the fund’s forecast show Canada’s economy being hit harder than countries like the U.S. and Japan but surviving the blow better than others like Italy, Spain, Germany, France and the U.K. The IMF said it expects the global economy to shrink 3 per cent this year — far worse than its 0.1 per cent dip in the Great Recession year of 2009 — before rebounding in 2021 with 5.8 per cent growth. It acknowledges, though, that prospects for a rebound next year are clouded by uncertainty. Top Line Report IMF Full Report
            Parliament returns to pass wage subsidy
            Parliament passed the federal government's wage subsidy legislation Saturday night, on April 11, after an emergency sitting that saw MPs applauding collaboration between parliamentarians of all political stripes. The legislation cleared both chambers of Parliament after days of protracted negotiations between the government and opposition parties produced an agreement to pass a bill that will flow billions of dollars to companies during the COVID-19 crisis. While the Conservatives said they still have some issues with the implementation of the $73-billion wage subsidy, they agreed to waive normal parliamentary procedure to get the legislation through the Commons in a single day to allow bureaucrats to start sending money to businesses in need. Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said his party's support for the legislation was conditional on the government agreeing to more accountability measures — namely allowing more parliamentary committees to meet throughout this pandemic. One of those committees will be tasked with studying whether Parliament can meet virtually in the weeks ahead.
            Emergency benefits start rolling out
            As the government worked on changes to the wage subsidy, applications for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) launched this week with millions of people applying for the benefit. Trudeau said the government will expand the CERB to cover some of those who don’t yet qualify. He said the government is looking to provide additional support to those who’ve had their hours cut back due to COVID-19 and for those who are currently working but are making less money than they would under the CERB. He also promised more help to post-secondary students and announced changes to the Canada Summer Jobs program, including increasing the program’s wage subsidy to 100 per cent.
            Federal government releases public health modelling data
            Earlier today the national COVID-19 modelling projections were officially released by Health Canada. Health Canada used two different modelling scenarios: forecasting – which uses actual data on cases seen in Canada to estimate future cases for the week ahead – and dynamic modelling – which is a longer-term prediction of cases using existing knowledge of how the virus behaves. The forecasting model predicts there will be between 22,580 and 31,850 cases of COVID-19 in Canada by April 16. Based on the case fatality rate to date, we can anticipate there will be between 500 and 700 total deaths by next week. The dynamic model assumes that everyone is susceptible and includes various stages of the disease. Health Canada uses as much available scientific information as possible to predict the potential range of people that may be affected. At a high-level, the modelling found that:
            • With no public health measures: A majority of the population (70-80%) would be infected with over 300,000 deaths anticipated.
            • With some public health measures: Between 25-50% of the population infected and over 100,000 likely deaths.
            • With strong public health measures: Approximately 1 to 10% of the population infected and between 11,000 and 22,000 deaths if infection remains between 2.5% and 5%.
            At this time, it is still too early to know if we are at the peak of this crisis but maintaining current measures – including strong social distancing – will help continue planking the curve. If you’re interested in reviewing the modelling, you can access Health Canada’s slide deck here.
            More businesses now eligible for the 75% wage subsidy
            Today, Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced a number of changes to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS). That will have a significantly impact on CFA members To qualify business only must be down 15% in March – The benchmark has been changed for March so businesses who saw a drop in gross revenues of at least 15 per cent in March, and 30 per cent in April and May will qualify for the 75% wage subsidy. 100% refund on EI, CPP, QPP, QPIP contributions for employees who are on leave with pay – The government is also going to give eligible employers a 100-per-cent refund for certain employer contributions to Employment Insurance, the Canada Pension Plan, the Quebec Pension Plan, and the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan paid in respect of employees who are on leave with pay. Start Ups and New Businesses Are Now Eligible – Not-for-profits, high growth companies and new businesses may now be eligible if they have seen a drop in gross revenues of at least 15 per cent in March, and 30 per cent in April and May compared to an average of their revenue from January and February 2020. Businesses who have been in business since March 2019 will still have to use those revenues to determine if they are eligible. For more information please click here
            Intake for the Canada Emergency Business Account starts on April 9
            The intake for the CEBA loans begins on April 9. CEBA loans will provide interest free loans of up to $40,000 to help pay for operating costs that can’t be deferred as a result of COVID 19. $10,000 (25%) of the $40,000 loan is eligible for complete forgiveness if $30,000 is fully repaid on or before December 31, 2022. If the loan cannot be repaid by December 31, 2022, it can be converted into a 3 year term loan at an interest rate of 5%. To qualify business will need to demonstrate they paid between $50,000 to $1 million in total payroll in 2019 – based on their 2019 T4SUM Summary of Remuneration Paid. Businesses must agree to use funds from this line of credit to pay for operating costs that cannot be deferred, such as payroll, rent, utilities, insurance, and property tax. How to apply – Businesses should apply through the financial institution that holds their primary business operating account. CFA is lobbying for the program to be expanded so businesses can get one loan per active business location not per corporate entity.
LAST UPDATED: July 29, 2020

Alberta COVID-19 Update

Masks mandatory in all Edmonton indoor public spaces starting Aug. 1
Face masks will be mandatory in all indoor public spaces starting Saturday, after city council passed a temporary bylaw. The bylaw requires people to wear face coverings at all times while in indoor or enclosed public places or public vehicles. It includes indoor spaces that are both public and privately owned.
Calgary to make masks mandatory in indoor public spaces as of Aug. 1
The City of Calgary will make masks mandatory in all indoor public spaces starting Aug. 1. Council voted 12-3 in favour of the new bylaw on Tuesday. The bylaw, which will require people to wear a face covering over their mouth, nose and chin, would apply to all indoor public spaces in the city, like malls and grocery stores, and on Calgary Transit, in taxis and Ubers. It does not include schools, daycares and multi-family residential buildings. Businesses will be asked to post signs notifying people of the rule, but will not be expected to deny service to those who don't wear masks, as there are exemptions. The bylaw will not apply to children under age 2, people with underlying medical conditions that inhibit their ability to wear a mask, people who are eating or drinking, or people who are engaging in a fitness activity, among other exemptions. Those who fail to wear a mask and don't meet those exemptions could be fined $100 to $200, but city officials say the focus will be on education over ticketing.
Edmonton city council to debate making masks mandatory
Edmonton city council will meet Thursday to debate whether to make it mandatory for people to wear masks in indoor public places.
Regina working to streamline pot store application process as market opens up
The City of Regina is working to streamline the application process for marijuana retail stores in the city once the cap is lifted on the number of stores allowed in each community. The Saskatchewan government announced last October that the cap on stores in communities would be lifted in September of this year. In a delegation to the city's planning commission meeting on Wednesday, one pot shop owner expressed concern over the plan. The committee voted in favour of a change to the wording of the zoning bylaw, which would essentially ensure prospective applicants for permits to open new stores are approved and cleared by the province prior to applying to the City of Regina. An amendment, introduced by Coun. Andrew Stevens, was approved to prepare a report on the economic impact assessment on the city as a result of legalization. That report is expected back before the committee in 2021. Stevens, who noted the agenda item was about the application process and not the market, said the meeting highlighted the city's opportunity to get ahead of the provincial government when the process changes in the fall. The decision needs approval by city council, which will meet July 29.
Regina city council considering $2M grant program for struggling businesses
Regina's executive committee is considering a plan that could provide relief for businesses struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. If approved, the city would set aside a $2 million pot of money that could be divvied out to businesses through grants. Businesses could apply for grants of between $1,000 to $25,000, as long as they agree to match whatever money they receive. Regina's chamber of commerce would help oversee the grant program. Mayor Michael Fougere said he supports the idea for the most part, but said council will need to narrow down which businesses will be allowed to apply. The executive committee approved the plan, which will go before city council for further discussion on July 29.
Alberta government proposes new agency to attract investment
Bill 33, the Alberta Investment Attraction Act, would allow for the creation of the corporation, which would be governed by a board that would have up to seven members. The bill was introduced in the legislature on Tuesday by Tanya Fir, the minister of economic development, trade and tourism. The Invest Alberta Corporation would have a budget of $18 million over the next three years to fulfil a mandate of pulling foreign dollars into Alberta as part of an effort to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn. If the legislation passes, cabinet will appoint up to seven board members, one of whom will be a member of executive council. The board will in turn select a CEO.
Alberta providing free non-medical masks to Albertans at drive-thrus resumes Monday
A Alberta program giving non-medical masks to Albertans through drive-thrus is set to resume on July 13. In June, 20 million masks were distributed through restaurants, municipalities, and long-term care facilities as well as First Nations and Métis settlements, according to a Sunday morning news release from the province. The province said the second round will distribute another 20 million masks. About 600 A&W, McDonald's and Tim Hortons locations across Alberta took part in the program in June, giving away 14 million masks. The province announced it was pausing the program on June 22.
Outdoor gathering limit doubled in Alberta from 100 to 200 people
Alberta is doubling the number of people who can gather at an outdoor event from 100 to 200, officials announced Tuesday. The limit for indoor gatherings remains at 50. More information on outdoor and indoor gathering restrictions is available online. Sector-specific recommendations during the relaunch are also available online.
Alberta recovery plan: billions in infrastructure, cut corporate taxes
Alberta will spend billions on infrastructure projects, cut its corporate tax rate, establish a new investment agency and introduce a series of targeted incentives for industry as part of a plan to restart its economy. Premier Jason Kenney said his government would spend $10 billion on projects that will immediately create jobs, including health-care facilities, pipelines, schools, drug treatment centres and more. He said the government anticipates the creation of 50,000 jobs directly tied to the projects across the province. . Alberta has been hurt by oil price wars and COVID-19 pandemic. It has seen its deficit balloon from a projected $7 billion to $20 billion this year. Its most recent budget was based on oil fetching $58 US per barrel, a forecast critics called rosy at the time, and was rushed through the legislature as a battle between Saudi Arabia and Russia cratered the price and the global pandemic settled on Alberta. Economists are predicting a severe recession in the once-booming province and even Kenney has warned of "a great fiscal reckoning" to come in a province that has tied its fortunes to the swings of its main commodity. In addition to the spending announced today, Kenney also said his government would speed up the implementation of corporate tax cuts, slashing the rate to eight per cent from 10 per cent starting on July 1. The plan will offer incentives for the tech sector to employ workers and will funnel $175 million into the Alberta Enterprise Corporation to provide venture capital to startups. As well, a new agency, Investment Alberta, will set up international offices and pitch Alberta to potential investors. Sector-specific initiatives to spur diversification will be unveiled in the coming days and weeks. Read more about Alberta's Recovery Plan
Alberta: SME Relaunch Grant accepting applications
The Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant offers financial assistance to Alberta businesses, cooperatives, and non-profit organizations that were ordered to close or curtail operations, and that experienced a revenue reduction of at least 50 per cent, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible organizations can apply for 15% of their pre-COVID-19 revenue, up to a maximum of $5,000 in funding. Businesses, cooperatives and non-profits can use these funds as they see fit to help offset a portion of their relaunch costs, such as implementing measures to minimize the risk of virus transmission, which could include:
  • physical barriers
  • purchasing personal protective equipment and disinfecting supplies
  • paying rent and employee wages
  • replacing inventory and more
For more information on the SME Relaunch Grant
Alberta pharmacists to begin offering tests for COVID-19
Alberta will soon begin testing for COVID-19 at community pharmacies, says Health Minister Tyler Shandro. Twenty pharmacies, located primarily in Edmonton and Calgary, will begin to offer swab tests to Albertans without symptoms and no known exposure to COVID-19, Shandro said at a news conference Thursday. The number of pharmacies conducting COVID-19 testing will expand further once processes, flow of test materials and data is working well, he said. Each participating pharmacy will adhere to strict protocols and has the specialized skills needed to protect patient safety.
Alberta’s free mask distribution a huge success
The first phase of Alberta’s distribution of free non-medical masks has ended, with more than 14 million masks handed out at A&W, McDonald’s Canada, and Tim Hortons drive-thrus across the province. Full News Release
Edmonton restaurants close after staff, patrons test positive for COVID-19
At least five Edmonton restaurants have voluntarily closed their doors after staff or customers recently tested positive for COVID-19. Greta Bar, at 10141 109th St., closed on Thursday after a customer tested positive for the virus. Other closures have affected The Pint's downtown location, Earls Tin Palace on Jasper Avenue, and MKT and Round 2 on Gateway Boulevard. In an Instagram post, Greta Bar management said the customer was at the restaurant on June 14, sitting at a table with several of the restaurant staff. Staff working that day will be tested, the post said. The bar is also urging customers who were there on June 14 to be tested.
Alberta: Protecting Commercial Tenants
The provincial government is proposing Bill 23: the Commercial Tenancies Protection Act to protect eligible commercial tenants from having their leases terminated due to non-payment of rent during COVID-19. The act, if passed, would also prevent landlords from increasing rent, charging late fees or enforcing penalties on missed rent. The legislation would cover the period from March 17 to August 31; any rent increases that occurred during that time would require landlords to reimburse tenants.
Alberta: Continued support COVID-19 – extending unpaid leave
The Alberta government is proposing Bill 24: the COVID-19 Pandemic Response Statutes Amendment Act to support Albertans as the province reopens. The bill, if passed, will make amendments to current measures and introduce new measures. These include extending unpaid job-protected leave due to COVID-19 until August 2021, increasing the child care cohort size from 10 to 30 staff and children at day cares, and allowing for remote signing and witnessing of estate and care documents through two-way video conferencing.
Kenney not committing to keeping Alberta's minimum wage at $15
In response to a question in Question Period, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney would not say whether he'd maintain Alberta’s $15 per hour general minimum wage in a post-COVID-19 economy. Kenney responded to the question from NDP Leader Rachel Notley by pointing to Alberta’s high unemployment rate and blaming the former NDP government for what he called its "job-killing policies." Rachel Notley’s NDP government gradually raised the per hour general minimum wage from $10.20 in 2015 to $15 in 2018. After defeating the NDP and winning a majority government, Kenney’s UCP government introduced a youth minimum wage of $13 per hour in June 2019.
Alberta bill will prevent commercial evictions, but provide no rent relief
Today, Economic Development, Trade and Tourism Minister Tanya Fir introduced Bill 23, the Commercial Tenancies Protection Act. The Bill will protect businesses affected by COVID-19-related closures from facing eviction, rent increases and late fees due to missed rent until Aug. 31, if their landlords have refused to sign up for the federal Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program even if they are eligible. The Alberta bill does not provide rent relief to affected businesses. Instead, the government is presuming property owners and tenants can work out a repayment plan. The decision to provide a discount on rent remains with the landlord, meaning they can still demand the full amount owing from March 17 to Aug. 31. For more information
Alberta Reducing Red Tape
Bill 22: Red Tape Reduction Implementation Act, 2020 proposes 14 legislative changes across six ministries. If passed, programs and services led by Energy Efficiency Alberta will transition to Emissions Reduction Alberta; unnecessary delays in the oilsands approval process will be eliminated; and it will be more affordable for non-profits to operate in Alberta among other changes.
Alberta will move to Stage 2 of relaunch on Friday
Premier Jason Kenney announced that Alberta will moved to Stage 2 of Alberta's relaunch on Friday. Some steps of the relaunch that were scheduled to wait until the third stage of the plan will be rolled into Stage 2. Stage 2 measures – will allow more businesses and services to reopen with two-metre physical distancing requirements and other public health measures in place. That list includes:
  • K-12 schools, for requested diploma exams and summer school;
  • Libraries, with some restrictions;
  • Places of worship;
  • Wellness services, such as massage, acupuncture and reflexology;
  • Personal services, including esthetics, cosmetics, skin and body treatments, manicures, pedicures, waxing, facial treatment and tanning;
  • Movie theatres and theatres, with restrictions;
  • Community halls, with limits on attendance;
  • Team sports, with restrictions, for up to 50 players;
  • Provincial campgrounds can operate at full capacity
Areas that were part of Phase 3 but have now been moved forward include:
  • Indoor and outdoor recreation, fitness and sports centres, including gyms and swimming pools, with measures in place;
  • Concerts, casinos and bingo halls, arcades and video lottery terminals in restaurants and lounge.
Events and gatherings that can be larger in Stage 2 include:
  • Indoor social gatherings – including wedding and funeral receptions and birthday parties, with a maximum of 50 people;
  • Outdoor events and indoor seated events, including wedding and funeral ceremonies, with a maximum of 100 people.
  • As long as public health measures and physical distancing are in place, there will no longer be caps on the number of people who can attend worship gatherings, or patronize restaurants, cafés, lounges and bars.
Fitness centre guidelines – specific guidance for operators of fitness centres will draw a line between high- and low-intensity activities, with more physical distance between participants required for high-intensity training. For lower-intensity activities, a distance of two metres would be adequate, with some enhanced measures for the regular cleaning of equipment. For yoga classes participants should be encouraged to bring their own equipment. Other measures would recommend operators do regular screening to make sure patrons or users are not ill, haven't been in close contact with someone who is ill, and haven't returned from international travel in the last 14 days.
Commercial Rent – Banning of Evictions in BC, AB, QC, SK and ON
The governments in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Quebec and Alberta banned commercial evictions in light of increasing reports of tenants being evicted.
Alberta may move to Stage 2 of relaunch before June 19
Alberta may be able to speed up plans to move into Stage 2 of its relaunch strategy, Premier Jason Kenney says. Final decisions have not been made, but Albertans can expect an announcement early next week, Kenney said Wednesday at a news conference. Stage 2 of the relaunch plan has been scheduled to begin on June 19. Under Stage 2, more businesses and services would be allowed to reopen, with restrictions. Businesses listed by the province under Stage 2 include movie theatres and live theatres, libraries, acupuncture and massage therapy, artificial tanning salons, esthetics, cosmetic skin and body treatments, manicures, pedicures, waxing, facial treatments and reflexology. Larger gatherings might be permitted in some situations. Under Stage 3, the list of businesses and venues that would be allowed to reopen, with restrictions, includes arts and culture festivals, concerts and major sporting events, nightclubs, gyms, pools, recreation centres and arenas
Alberta partners with fast-food chains to offer free masks at drive-thrus
Albertans will be able to pick up free non-medical masks from the drive-thrus of A&W, McDonald's and Tim Hortons starting in early June. The Alberta government is distributing 20 million masks meant to help limit the spread of COVID-19, said Health Minister Tyler Shandro during a press conference Friday. The masks are for situations where physical distancing is difficult to maintain, such as on public transit or while shopping. The province is distributing the masks through the three restaurants because they provide an ease of access, said the province's health minister.
Alberta launches new tool available for commercial rent feedback
The province has since launched a survey for landlords and tenants to provide feedback on any challenges experienced in attempting to develop a payment schedule or meet financial obligations.
Edmonton launches $5M grant program to help business
Edmonton businesses struggling to survive the COVID-19 pandemic can apply for municipal assistance through a new program approved on Wednesday. The city's new economic recovery program includes a 50-per-cent discount on business licensing fees — upon request — until the end of 2020. It includes $5.3 million in grant money, with $1,000 to $25,000 available to each successful applicant. The city will implement the recovery program in two phases. Forty per cent of the grant money will be allotted in phase one, from June 10 to Dec. 31, 2020, and the rest will be delivered in phase two, from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2021. Licence fees cut in half Of Edmonton’s 36,000 businesses, 300 have already asked for the 50-per-cent discount on their licence fees. Council approved adjustments to the spring operating budget, moving money from one department to another, to free up the money for the grant program.
Alberta cuts training for barbers
Alberta has expanded the hairstylist apprenticeship program to include barber certification, enabling apprentices to choose the path that best meets their needs. The new barber certification path enables apprentices to streamline their training and achieve certification in half the time. Hairstylist apprentices wishing to switch programs or who are currently working as a barber can receive credit for training they have already completed.
Alberta: Businesses can buy PPE from province until June 30
Alberta will allow private businesses to buy personal protective gear, including masks and gloves, from the province at fair market prices until June 30, but after that they'll need to secure their own suppliers.
Calgary business owners excited yet wary as they reopen their doors
Today restaurants, bars and salons in Calgary can join the rest of the province in Phase 1 of reopening, as the city joins the rest of the province in Phase 1 of its relaunch, allowing salons and barbershops to reopen, and cafes, restaurants, pubs and bars to allow table service at 50 per cent capacity. Those businesses were given the green light to reopen on May 14 across the rest of the province but the cities of Calgary and Brooks have reopened at a slower pace due to higher numbers of COVID-19 cases in their regions.
Calgary, Brooks can join rest of Alberta Monday in Phase 1 easing
Calgary and Brooks will join the rest of Alberta by allowing bars, restaurants, hair salons and barbershops to open on Monday, while more COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted across the province on June 1. The rest of Alberta got the go-ahead more than a week ago to move to stage 1 of the provincial relaunch plan on May 14, but the two southern Alberta cities were told to hold off on opening some businesses due to high COVID-19 infection rates — a last-minute announcement that caught many businesses off guard. Starting Monday, hairstyling and barber shops will be permitted to reopen in Calgary and Brooks, and cafes, restaurants, pubs and bars can reopen for table service at 50 per cent capacity. The premier also announced Friday that as of June 1:
  • Day camps would be allowed to open with restrictions.
  • Post-secondary institutions would be able to offer summer classes with caps on participants.
  • Funeral services and places of worship could expand capacity.
Alberta releases COVID-19 guidelines for sectors that may reopen this week
Tanya Fir, minister of economic development, trade and tourism, released the new online tool to help businesses that may be allowed to reopen as early as Thursday. The province's online tool has documents to help prepare businesses for stage one relaunch, including: • Day camps • Daycare and out-of-school care • Hair salons and barbershops • Museums and art galleries • Outdoor recreation • Places of worship • Restaurants • Retail The website also includes guidance documents for sectors currently allowed to operate under public health orders, including: • Disability service providers • Farmers markets • Golf course operators • Health non-essential services • Health sector PPE guidelines • Homeless shelters • Industrial work camps • Private/municipal campgrounds Under the current relaunch plan, May 14 would be the earliest date when some restrictions may be lifted.
Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec lifting some COVID-19 restrictions
Ontario took its first steps Monday with the reopening of some businesses, including lawn care and landscaping, garden centres for curbside pickup, automatic and self-serve car washes, auto dealerships by appointment, and many construction projects. Manitobans can now visit everything from hair salons to museums to restaurant patios (with fewer seats than normal) provided everyone is following public health rules. In most of Saskatchewan, non-urgent medical offices are allowed to reopen and rules around some outdoor activities — including fishing and boating — are being loosened. But one owner of a physiotherapy clinic told CBC Saskatchewan she's got mixed emotions about opening up. Newfoundland and Labrador plans to move to alert Level 4 on May 11, meaning a relaxation of some public health measures to allow more social and business activities. The province followed New Brunswick's lead and allowed families to come together in "bubbles" made up of two households . Alberta took its first strides toward the large-scale resumption of public life under COVID-19 this weekend as provincial parks and golf courses opened under the government's phased economic relaunch. Alberta began to ease some public health restrictions on Friday, with provincial parks and boat launches reopening with limited services. Alberta has three stage plan starting May 14 called Opening Soon: Alberta’s Relaunch Strategy .
Alberta to partially open economy on Monday
The first step in Alberta's plan to reopen its economy will emphasize outdoor activities, with golf courses to open on Monday followed by shops, bars and restaurants by mid-May. Premier Jason Kenney detailed his government's plan for a multi-stage relaunch that will depend on the province's continued ability to control the spread of the coronavirus and curb the number of COVID-19 patients who need hospital care. The gradual relaunch plan will begin Monday with the resumption of some non-urgent surgeries and office reopenings for dentists, physiotherapists, speech and respiratory therapists, social workers and dieticians. Provincial parks will begin opening Monday with some boat launches available though washrooms and garbage pickup in the parks will not be immediately available. The province will open as many campsites as possible by June 1 with Alberta Parks's online reservation system coming online May 14. Private and municipal campgrounds can reopen under their own authority. Vehicle access to parking lots and staging areas in parks and on public lands will begin on Monday. Under Stage 1, some businesses and facilities could be allowed to gradually resume operations as early as May 14, including:
  • Retail businesses, such as clothing, furniture and bookstores. All vendors at farmers markets will also be able to operate.
  • Hairstyling and barbershops.
  • Museums and art galleries.
  • Daycares and out-of-school care with limits on occupancy.
  • Summer camps with limits on occupancy. That could include summer school.
  • Cafés and restaurants with no bar service to reopen for public seating at 50 per cent capacity.
Under Stage 2, additional businesses and services would be allowed to reopen, with two-metre physical distancing requirements and other public health guidelines in place. That might include:
  • Kindergarten to Grade 12 schools, with restrictions.
  • More scheduled surgeries, including backlog elimination.
  • Personal services, such as artificial tanning, esthetics, cosmetic skin and body treatments, manicures, pedicures, waxing, facial treatments, massage and reflexology.
  • Permitting some larger gatherings (number of people to be determined).
  • Movie theatres and theatres open with restrictions.
  • Visitors to patients at health-care facilities will continue to be limited.
Stage 3. That would mean fully reopening all businesses and services, with some limited restrictions still in place, and:
  • Permitting larger gatherings, permitting arts and culture festivals, concerts and major sporting events, with some restrictions.
  • Permitting nightclubs, gyms, pools, recreation centres and arenas to reopen, with restrictions. •
  • Resuming industry conferences, with restrictions.
  • Lifting restrictions on non-essential travel.
Alberta’s staged COVID-19 relaunch
Alberta releases updated modelling projections
The Alberta government released new modelling projections on Tuesday that estimate far fewer Albertans will require hospitalization and critical care when the coronavirus reaches its expected peak in the province in late May. That new projection now thought to be the most likely scenario estimates that 298 people will be in hospital with 95 in ICU beds at the peak, if current trends continue. As of Tuesday, 82 people were in hospital with the illness, 21 of them in ICU beds. The total number of deaths in Alberta has now reached 80, and the total number of cases is 4,850. The updated "probable scenario" estimates 596 people will require hospitalization when the virus reaches its peak. That's down from the previous projection of 818 people. The regional breakdown of the cases was:
  • Calgary zone: 3,366
  • South zone: 685
  • Edmonton zone: 486
  • North zone: 202
  • Central zone: 84
  • Unknown: 27
Calgary extends ban on events on city-owned land to end of August
The City of Calgary has extended the ban on events on city-owned land until Aug. 31. Previously, the ban extended only until the end of June. That means the cancellation of 166 permitted events, including the annual Canada Day celebrations. Non-permitted events are not included in that tally. The announcement comes one day after both the Calgary Folk Fest and the Calgary Stampede announced their annual festivities would not go forward.
AB, SK, NL and QC release provincial COVID-19 modeling
Saskatchewan released its modelling on April 8, which shows the provincial government is planning for 3,000 to 8,300 deaths and approximately 20 to 200 daily intensive care admissions from COVID-19 at its peak. The data does not say when that peak is expected nor when distancing measures might be eased. Newfoundland and Labrador outlined its projections on April 8. Their prediction focused on intensive care capacity instead of expected deaths. They expect to exceed its 57 intensive-care capacity by the end of June if the spread of the virus continues its current rate of growth. The first assumes current restrictions remain in place and projects 32 per cent of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians infected over a two-year period. Under that scenario, the peak of the virus would occur in early November, and the province would have enough hospital beds and ventilators to weather the pandemic. The second model projects a scenario in which current restrictions are eased and assumes 52 per cent of people in the province infected over the same two-year period. In that scenario, the peak comes sooner — mid-September — and overwhelms hospital beds, intensive-care units and ventilators. Alberta’s Premier Jason Kenney outlined what he described as a "probable" scenario for Alberta on Tuesday that suggested the province won't see a peak in the virus until mid-May. That model suggested Alberta could see as many as 800,000 COVID-19 cases by the end of the summer with death figures ranging from 400 to 3,100. Another more "elevated" scenario pointed toward the possibility of both higher case numbers and between 500 and 6,600 deaths. On Tuesday, Quebec’s model predicts at least 1,200 COVID-19 deaths by the end of April, and if preventative measures aren’t continued, the death toll could be as high as 9,000. Public health officials noted that the current thinking is that the number of deaths will be closer to the lower estimate. Prime Minister Trudeau said Wednesday that people would learn more about a national model in the coming days, but did not provide a specific date. The prime minister said it's not yet clear exactly when Canada will reach a peak but said that strict adherence to critical public health measures — including physical distancing and staying home as much as possible — will help reduce the impact of the outbreak. It’s important to note that the federal modeling requires data from provincial health authorities. Some provinces have better data than others which hinders the development of a national level forecast.
Alberta may be on track for 25 per cent unemployment rate
Jason Kenney made the prediction on Tuesday, as businesses continue to shed jobs and oil prices hit historically low prices. He said it will be the province's most challenging economic period since the Great Depression. Alberta is on track to hit a staggering 25 per cent unemployment rate as businesses continue to shed jobs amid the COVID-19 pandemic coupled with historically low oil prices, Premier Jason Kenney said Tuesday. On a seasonally adjusted basis, the highest rate recorded by Statistics Canada since 1976 was in Newfoundland and Labrador, which hit 22.7 per cent unemployment in September 1984. Alberta's highest unemployment rate to date was 12.4 per cent, also in September 1984. Read more about Premier Kenney’s Comments
Alberta to face its 'worst contraction' ever, ATB chief economist warns
The COVID-19 pandemic and its related economic fallout is poised to change Alberta's economy permanently, says ATB chief economist Todd Hirsch. "This pandemic and this economic fallout will permanently reshape our economy," Hirsch said during a webinar hosted Thursday by the Calgary Chamber of Commerce. "I've had a hard time in the last couple of weeks being an optimist on this. I do think this is something very serious for our economy … I do expect this to be the worst contraction Alberta has ever seen." Hirsch acknowledged there are many unknowns in the coming months. There are questions surrounding how long physical distancing will last and how long it will take for global oil demand to return. He said Alberta's energy sector is being hit extra hard, and entered the intensifying stages of this pandemic "already in a compromised position." Hirsch said he's "not as convinced" oil demand will be back up by the end of this year, citing concerns with transporting oil. His views on the economy echo Premier Jason Kenney's statement last month that Alberta's oil and gas industry is "on life support." Though the global economy could recover from the COVID-19 pandemic this summer, Kenney said Alberta's finances could suffer if an oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia drags on. Potential opportunities While Hirsch acknowledged the present moment's downsides, he pointed out potential innovation and positive change during the pandemic. He said the downturn could encourage a higher value being placed on information and communication technology or a growing demand for locally-produced food products. Or perhaps the pandemic will help in developing innovative healthcare technology or an increase in innovation around clean technology. "To me, success will be that we do take this opportunity to purposefully diversify our economy," Hirsch said.
Alberta expanding child care for essential workers
Alberta expanding child care for essential workers On April 1, Alberta announced an expansion of child care for essential service workers. The province has allowed child-care centres to reopen for a maximum of 30 people. The centres will be compensated for the reopened spaces that are not filled and up to $500 for cleaning supplies.
Alberta releases list of essential services
On March 30, Alberta released their essential services list following their announcement last week on the closure of non-essential businesses. ALBERTA'S LIST OF ESSENTIAL SERVICES
LAST UPDATED: August 14, 2020

British Columbia COVID-19 Update

BC: Residential Rent Hikes are frozen, but landlords can evict
Residential Tenancy Board released details of its plan, which gives renters until July 2021 to repay. Renters in arrears between March 18 and Aug. 17 will have until at least next July to pay back the money owed to landlords. The government says landlords and renters need to work out a payment plan with the extra payment due with the monthly rent. A payment plan has been set out for renters in British Columbia who haven't been able to pay rent during the COVID-19 pandemic as a government moratorium on evictions ends on Sept. 1. The province has also extended its prohibition on rent increases, stopping landlords from raising rents until December. It says anyone who was issued an increase should continue to pay the current amount. The rental supplement remains available until the end of August at $500 a month for families and $300 for renters without dependents. The government says it has helped more than 86,000 households with rent payments during the pandemic.
BC: Health, bylaw officers to target large parties, banquet hall events
On Thursday, B.C.'s Health Minister Adrian Dix said public health officers are going to be checking banquet halls and large parties this weekend to make sure health protocols to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus are being followed.
Start of B.C. school year being pushed back
The start of B.C.'s upcoming school year is being pushed back to a yet-undecided date, Education Minister Rob Fleming revealed Tuesday. Speaking to reporters from the provincial legislature, Fleming said teachers and staff will need some time on school grounds without students present to ensure they're properly implementing the pandemic guidelines put out by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control. That means pushing back the previously announced start date of Sept. 8, though it's unclear exactly when classes will begin. Fleming said the details are still being worked out, but that he expects a gradual start to the school year. The province previously said most students across B.C. from kindergarten through Grade 12 would be able to resume classes after the Labour Day weekend, as they would any other year. But there was swift pushback, including from the B.C. Teachers' Federation, which argued more time was needed to address concerns around returning to work in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fleming noted that B.C.'s back-to-school plan was never finalized, and that changes were to be expected as the stakeholders in its steering committee continued ironing out the details. The province has promised to share final details by Aug. 26.
Most B.C. students to return to school full time in September
Most B.C. students from kindergarten to Grade 12 will return to class full time in September, Education Minister Rob Fleming announced Wednesday. Elementary and middle school learning groups will have a maximum of 60 students. Secondary school learning groups will have up to 120 students. The provincial government is putting up $45.6 million to ensure safety measures, including increased cleaning of high-contact surfaces, an increased number of hand-hygiene stations and the availability of masks.
BC: Wholesale liquor pricing for restaurants, tourism businesses takes effect
Measures enacted by the Province in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that temporarily allow restaurants and pubs to purchase beer, wine and spirits at wholesale cost instead of liquor store retail prices came into effect on Monday, July 20, 2020. Hospitality customers who have registered with the Province’s Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) can now use a searchable hospitality price list to help with their buying decisions. A complete online hospitality product catalogue will launch Sept. 1, 2020. The temporary authorization will remain in effect until March 31, 2021. A provincial review of the program during this temporary reform will help government determine the financial costs and benefits of the change. Previously, hospitality licensees – including restaurants, pubs and tourism operators with liquor licences – paid full retail price (wholesale price, plus a retail mark-up set by the LDB) on most liquor purchases. The new model allows licensees to pay the wholesale price for the products they purchase, which is the same cost paid by government and private liquor stores in the province when they purchase stock for retail sale. Read the original announcement here
B.C. forecasts $12.5B deficit due to COVID-19 spending, massive drops in tax revenues
The financial update presented by Finance Minister Carole James on Tuesday is the first look British Columbians have had at the provincial coffers since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The financial snapshot is being described as an atypical forecast and is subject to considerable uncertainty and revision. Based on the current scenario, the province is looking at a 3.9 per cent drop in household income. British Columbia recently has seen a slight surge in revenues due to a gradual reopening of the provincial economy. But the province is reporting a $999-million drop in personal income tax collected, $973-million decrease in corporate income tax collected and a $1.35-billion drop in provincial sales tax collected. Commercial Crown corporations have led to an $882-million drop in money to government and taxpayer-supported agencies have sent $869 million less to provincials coffers due to the pandemic. The deficit also includes $5 billion put aside for relief and $762 million for business relief and tax measures. Of the $5 billion, the province is putting aside $3.5 billion for immediate financial relief to individuals and businesses and $1.5 billion for a long-term economic recovery plan. Government is forecasting a 15.9 per cent drop off in retail sales and a 27.6 per cent drop in residential sales in 2020. Retail is expected to jump up 8.6 per cent in 2020 and residential sales are expected to rise 9.3 per cent. Corporate profits are expected to be down 36.4 per cent in 2020 and unemployment is expected to be 11.3 per cent by year’s end.
Real estate open houses coming back to B.C. with new guidelines
The British Columbia Real Estate Association, the Real Estate Council of British Columbia, the Office of the Superintendent of Real Estate and WorkSafeBC announced new guidelines Wednesday to resume physical home showings by realtors.
Greater Vancouver home sales up, with prices holding steady
Home sales in the Greater Vancouver area are starting to return to more typical levels after dipping to four-decade lows in April, while prices continue to edge up from 2019. The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver says residential sales last month reached 2,443, a 64.5 per cent jump from May and a 17.6 per cent year-over-year increase. The figure still hovered 21.9 per cent below the 10-year sales average for June.
B.C. government extends temporary layoff provisions for workers, employers
British Columbia has extended the temporary layoffs provisions to a maximum of 24 weeks expiring on Aug. 30, 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. The extension will give employers and workers additional flexibility to support economic recovery in the province with the expectation that businesses honour their obligations to workers and reach agreement with their employees in the event a further extension is required. Section 72 of the B.C. Employment Standards Act provides a tool unique in Canada, allowing employers and workers to extend temporary layoffs by making a joint application to the Employment Standards Branch. Government will continue discussions with worker and employer representatives to ensure the Section 72 applications are processed in a timely and effective manner to support economic recovery and protect workers’ rights.
B.C. tables economic stabilization act, confirms COVID-19 supports
The legislation, introduced yesterday, confirms supports for people and businesses announced by the BC government over the past few weeks. The amendments introduced authorize deficit budgets for the next three years, while the Province supports economic recovery from COVID-19. Additionally, the amendments allow government to continue to table supplementary estimates before the legislative assembly. The amendments also clarify the existing limits and uses of special warrants while the legislative assembly is not in session to maintain essential services and respond to provincial emergencies and disasters like a pandemic. While the amendments allow deficit budgets, the legislation makes no changes to salary holdback requirements for executive council for years where deficits occur. The Economic Stabilization Act brings the B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers into law and updates the eligibility date to March 1, 2020. The change will allow people whose income is affected by COVID-19 and who filed federal employment insurance claims between March 1 and March 15 to benefit from the support. The application for these individuals will be available as of June 26, 2020. Almost 600,000 people have been approved to receive the benefit to date. The legislation also confirms many of the previously announced supports for people and business from the COVID-19 Action Plan, including: • authorizing filing and payment deferrals for employer health tax, provincial sales tax, hotel tax, carbon tax, motor fuel tax and tobacco tax to Sept. 30, 2020; • postponing the date that late payment penalties apply for commercial properties in classes 4,5,6,7 and 8 to Oct. 1, 2020, to give businesses and landlords more time to pay their reduced property tax, without penalty; • allowing municipalities to keep school taxes and the police tax collected for the Province until January 2021; and • requiring municipalities to remit taxes they collect for TransLink in July 2020 so it can continue operating, as well as allowing other municipalities to continue to make their service payments to BC Transit. Other measures from the B.C. COVID-19 Action Plan are being done through regulation, such as reducing the school property tax rate for commercial properties, enhancing the B.C. climate action tax credit and pausing B.C. student loan payments.
B.C. has entered Phase 3 of its COVID-19 restart plan
B.C. Premier John Horgan announced the province has entered Phase 3 of its restart plan, further easing restrictions ahead of Canada Day. The latest guidelines allow B.C. residents to travel responsibly within the province and for many tourism-related businesses to reopen under the guidance of the provincial health officer and WorkSafeBC, including hotels, resorts, spas and RV parks. The film industry and select entertainment venues, such as movie theatres, are also getting the go-ahead.
B.C. announces next steps to support renters, landlords
The Government of British Columbia is extending the temporary rental supplement (TRS) until the end of August 2020 to continue to support renters and landlords. It will also maintain the moratorium on rent increases and evictions for non-payment of rent, while enabling other notices to end tenancy to resume. People who have already been approved for the TRS do not need to reapply. They will receive an email asking them to confirm they plan to live at the same address through July and August. New applications will also be accepted until Aug. 31 and will be eligible for a supplement for the month they are received and all subsequent months. The moratorium on evictions has been in effect since March 30 and will continue for non-payment of rent. As the province moves forward with BC’s Restart Plan, the ban on evictions for reasons other than unpaid rent will be lifted later this month. When these changes come into effect, landlords will be able to serve new notices for reasons including landlord/purchaser use, such as where a new owner has purchased a property and intends to move in, and for cause (e.g., where a tenant is putting the landlord or other tenants at risk, or has sublet the apartment without permission). Depending on the type, these will require a notice period of between one and four months. The Province is committed to giving people advance notice before lifting the moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent at a future date. It will put in place a framework that will require landlords to work with tenants to repay rent that is owing over a reasonable period of time. Government has been clear that tenants who have not experienced financial difficulties are expected to continue to pay rent. Tenants will also be responsible for outstanding rent when the ban on evictions for non-payment is lifted. The rental supplement is in addition to funding available from the federal government and the $1,000 B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers. It is part of the Province’s $5-billion COVID-19 Action Plan to provide income supports, tax relief and direct funding for people and businesses, and to support the services people count on.
Business Council of B.C. Report: The 2020 Shutdown: How Deep is the Economic Hole?
The World – Under a best-case scenario, global GDP declines by 6% in 2020 and rises by 5.2% in 2021. But if there is a second pandemic wave later this year global GDP would likely decline by 8% in 2020, according to a recent OECD forecast. A second wave would also see a much more modest upturn of 2.8% in 2021. Canada – In either scenario, the demand for Canadian exports will fall sharply. Canada tottered into 2020 with a debt and immigration reliant model of economic growth. This model will be difficult to restart in the post pandemic world, especially considering the depth of the economic hole Canada has fallen into. Emerging from it will be uncertain and challenging given the scarcity of catalysts for private sector GDP generation and job growth. Under the OECD’s scenario of no further outbreaks, Canadian GDP would decline by 8% in 2020 and rise by 3.9% in 2021. Canadian GDP is projected to decline by 9.4% in 2020 and rise by just 1.5% in 2021 if a second COVID-19 wave occurs later this year. Canada’s GDP and employment levels will not recover to 2019 levels of activity by the end of 2021 under either scenario. British Columbia – Turning to B.C., we expect the provincial economy to shrink by 7.8% in 2020, a bit worse than our preliminary estimate for a 7.3% decline released back in March. In 2021, we forecast the provincial economy will expand by 4.8%. This is a strong growth number by historic standards, but comes in the wake of a very steep downturn and will only result in B.C. regaining just over half of the economic output lost in 2020. The magnitude of job losses is especially concerning. Since February, the number of people working in the province has plummeted by roughly 350,000. B.C.’s greater exposure to hard-hit sectors (especially accommodation and food services, and wholesale and retail trade) resulted in the unemployment rate nearly tripling in three months and now sits around 13%. As the shutdown is lifted, employment will rebound significantly. But the process will be uneven and slow. Many businesses will not re-open and several tens of thousands of jobs will be permanently lost. Read the Full Report
B.C. passed immunity in April
In April 2020, British Columbia passed a cabinet order this spring saying any person or corporation "providing an essential service" is not liable for damages resulting from COVID-19 infections. The list of B.C. essential service providers granted immunity extends from front-line health workers to long-term care facilities and grocery stores. However, immunity does not apply in all circumstances. Someone could still be found liable in cases of gross negligence or for failing to follow public health guidance.
BC expands measures to support restaurant, tourism industries
The Province has approved a temporary wholesale pricing model that will allow liquor licensees to purchase beer, wine and spirits at reduced cost. It will be in place from the end of July 2020 until March 31, 2021, when the program will be reviewed. Currently, hospitality licensees, including restaurants, bars and pubs pay full retail price – wholesale price, plus a retail markup set by the Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) – on all liquor purchases. The new model will have licensees pay only the wholesale price of the products they order. Full Media Release
Restaurant capacity limits eased in B.C.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Thursday that she is lifting restrictions on restaurants that required them to operate at 50 per cent of their regular capacity. A modified public health order requires restaurants to determine how many people they can serve while still maintaining a two-metre distance between groups. Operators are required to monitor their premises to make sure that capacity isn't exceeded and those distances are maintained, including in line-ups. The order says there can be no more than six people in any party, and if a two-metre distance can't be maintained between tables, a Plexiglas partition should be installed. Buffets and self-serve stations are allowed to operate as long as there is a handwashing facility or hand sanitizer within easy reach and signs reminding customers to clean their hands before touching anything.
B.C. extends state of emergency by two more weeks
British Columbia's record-breaking state of emergency has been extended for an additional two weeks. States of emergency can only be extended two weeks at a time. According to the provincial order approved Tuesday, the state of emergency will now last until June 23. B.C. has been under a state of emergency because of the COVID-19 pandemic since March 18, making it the longest period in the province's history during which emergency orders have been in place.
Commercial Rent – Banning of Evictions in BC, AB, QC, SK and ON
The governments in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Quebec and Alberta banned commercial evictions in light of increasing reports of tenants being evicted.
BC's minimum wage jumps by 75 cents on June 1
The minimum wage for workers in British Columbia rose to $14.60 an hour on Monday. The jump is part of the provincial government's plan to gradually raise the rate from $11.35 in 2017 until it reaches $15.20 in 2021.
B.C. bans commercial landlords who eschew federal rent relief from evicting tenants
Landlords in B.C. who are eligible for emergency federal rent relief and choose not to apply will not be able to evict businesses that aren't able to pay rent, B.C. Finance Minister Carole James announced Monday. The emergency order restricts lease terminations, rent-repayment lawsuits, and repossession of goods and properties, and will stay in place until the end of June, when the federal relief program is currently set to end. James said she's heard from businesses and MLAs around the province that there are landlords who haven't applied for the relief, making the program unavailable to their qualified small-business tenants.
B.C. parks are set to reopen next week, with restrictions
According to B.C. Parks, Cypress, Juan de Fuca, Inkaneep, the Kettle River Recreation Area, Liard River Hot Springs, Porteau Cove, Mount Seymour, some Shuswap Lake sites and Shannon Falls will all open their gates to visitors on June 1, along with dozens of others. Services that will and will not be operating in each of the parks are listed on the B.C. Parks website. Hundreds of other provincial parks in B.C. already reopened on May 14.
B.C.'s extends state of emergency by another two weeks
British Columbia also moved Wednesday to extend its state of emergency for another two weeks, making it the longest period of time it has been under such orders. States of emergency can only be issued for two weeks at a time in B.C
B.C.: Gatherings will be limited to 50 people for now
In her daily press conference, Dr. Bonnie Henry said that even as some COVID-19 restrictions are loosened it is still too early to increase the number of people allowed to gather. The limit on gathers will be limited to a maximum of 50 for the time being.
BC could 'go it alone' on paid sick leave
British Columbia's premier says he wants the federal government to take the lead on the issue of paid sick leave so workers can stay home if they are sick — but he added that the province is "prepared to go it alone if need be." Speaking on Wednesday, Horgan said he wants Ottawa to spearhead a national sick pay program for workers so they wouldn't lose pay if they stayed home with flu-like symptoms, something that's particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic, and other issues during a phone-in news conference.
BC outlines plan to restart
Late on Wednesday, BC Premier John Horgan outlined the provinces plan for restarting economic activity. This will look different in BC than the other provinces because only a small number of sectors in the province were closed by public health order. Sectors that were ordered closed will be asked to work with WorkSafeBC to develop plans to reopen safely. WorkSafeBC is developing industry-specific guidance to help employers bring workers and customers back safely. Any business restarting operations must ensure it is in compliance with the provincial health officer’s orders and in accordance with occupational health and safety guidance provided by WorkSafeBC. B.C. is currently in Phase 1 of the restart plan. Phase 2 – Begins in mid-May:
  • small social gatherings;
  • a resumption of elective surgeries and regulated health services like physiotherapy, dentistry, chiropractors and in-person counselling;
  • provincial parks open for day use;
  • opening more non-essential businesses in keeping with safe operations plans; recalling the provincial legislature for regular sittings.
Phase 3 – target date is TBD
  • will include opening up of additional businesses and services, is between June and September 2020, if transmission rates remain low or in decline.
Phase 4 – target date is TBD
  • will only be achieved when the threat of COVID-19 has been significantly diminished through widespread vaccination, broad successful treatments, evidence of community immunity, or the equivalent.
For more information please see the Premier’s News Release
B.C. creates COVID-19 temporary layoff period
The BC government has extended the temporary layoff period from 13 weeks to 16 weeks for COVID-19 related reasons. Previously under the Employment Standards Act, a temporary layoff longer than 13 weeks in any 20-week period (or about three months in a five-month period) was considered a permanent layoff. With a permanent layoff, employers are required to provide employees with written working notice of termination and/or pay severance to qualifying employees, based on their length of service. Now, temporary layoffs relating to the COVID-19 pandemic can be extended to 16 weeks, if the employee agrees. This change to the Employment Standards Act aligns B.C.’s temporary layoff provisions with the federal Canada Emergency Response Benefit period. The federal period provides 16 weeks of financial support, allowing employees to take full advantage of those benefits. It also allows employees to keep their job, even if they are not working, for 16 weeks of temporary layoff. Employers will be able to quickly resume operations should the public health emergency end within that time. The COVID-19 emergency temporary layoff provisions are not intended to be permanent and will be repealed when no longer needed. For information on employment standards around temporary layoffs.
B.C. Premier extends state of emergency – details on reopening B.C. coming next week
B.C.'s state of emergency introduced last month in response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been extended until May 12. Premier Horgan also said he will outline details next week about lifting restrictions related to the pandemic. The reopening guidelines will be different than other provinces, mostly because B.C. didn't fully lock down its economy, but allowed construction, agriculture and other industries to continue operating. The reopening plan will focus on ensuring health orders on physical distancing and self-isolation are being practised, so that new COVID-19 cases are kept to a minimum.
B.C. home sales to fall by 40 per cent but comeback is likely, report says
B.C. is entering into a deep recession, characterized by falling housing sales and a shrinking economy, according to a new report from the BC Real Estate Association. It finds that the strict social and physical distancing measures by public health are having an immediate impact on the province. However, based on past modelling of recessions in B.C., economists are hopeful the province will be able to stage a comeback once restrictions are gradually lifted. The BCREA examined the impact of past recessions in B.C. to predict how the markets will react during the crisis, as well as its aftermath. Compared to historical recessions in the province, home sales typically have made recoveries of up to 46 per cent.
B.C. reducing most commercial property tax bills by an average of 25%
Late last week B.C. Finance Minister Carole James announced enhanced measures to support businesses and local governments. The relief includes:
  • 25% reduction of commercial property tax by and postponed late penalties;
  • Authorizing local governments to borrow, interest free, from their existing capital reserves to cover operating expenses;
  • Delaying provincial school tax remittances until the end of the year;
  • Greater flexibility to carry debt for an additional year; and
  • B.C. Business COVID-19 Support Service operated by Small Business B.C.
    B.C.'s Police can issue $2,000 fines for price gouging and reselling of medical supplies
    B.C.'s Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth announced on Sunday morning that he has has enabled police to issue $2,000 fines for people engaged in price gouging and reselling of medical supplies during the State of Emergency.
    B.C. extends state of emergency to April 28
    The provincial state of emergency in B.C. has been extended another two weeks as the province continues working to flatten its infection curve. The state of emergency gives the government continued power to take any steps necessary to respond to the health-care crisis and preserve the province's supply chains.
    B.C. Assessment appeal extended
    The BC Property Assessment Appeal Board has extended the appeal deadline to June 1 from April 30. The board helps owners who disagree with the assessed value of their homes, which could affect their tax rate. The board says the pandemic may affect peoples' access to their right to appeal to the board. The extension only applies to appeals required to be filed by April 30.
    B.C. Hydro offering 3-month bill credit
    The provincial government has announced BC Hydro is offering a three-month bill credit to people who are out of work or working at a reduced wage because of the outbreak. The credit will be three times their average monthly bill over the previous year and will not have to be repaid. For small businesses forced to close during the pandemic, the utility is offering bill forgiveness for April, May and June. Premier John Horgan said large, industrial customers can have 50 per cent of their payments deferred for the next three months. In addition, the premier said the B.C. Utilities Commission has approved a one per cent rate drop "across the board" to help cut costs for customers.
    B.C. and Saskatchewan extend States of Emergency to mid April
    Saskatchewan announced it is extending its state of emergency for another two weeks to April 15. B.C.'s provincial state of emergency has been extended until April 14
    B.C. releases list essential and non-essential services
    The province defines essential services as "essential to preserving life, health, public safety and basic societal functioning." Non-essential services can only stay open if they can demonstrate they are complying with public health orders B.C. LIST OF ESSENTIAL SERVICES
LAST UPDATED: July 31, 2020

Manitoba COVID-19 Update

Manitoba students to return to school, some high schools won't be full time
All Manitoba students will return to school on Sept. 8 with some restrictions in place, the provincial government announced Thursday. Learning will be full time in classrooms for all students from kindergarten to Grade 8 and students with special needs, while students in high school may have some remote learning, depending on whether schools can ensure physical distancing. Many students in kindergarten to Grade 8 will be in cohorts of up to 75 students. School divisions are developing plans and time tables to allow for the highest number of high school students to attend classes in-person at one time, while still physically distancing. High school students will need to be in school for at least two days a cycle, but the province is expecting schools will achieve a higher level than that. Divisions may bring in more buses The return to classes will begin at Level 1 in September, but this may be scaled up depending on COVID-19 cases in the province. Level 1 involves enforcing two metres of physical distancing between students to the greatest extent possible. When not possible, students will be organized in cohorts and space will be arranged to encourage separation, according to the province's school guidelines for September. In this scenario, there will be a minimum of one metre between students as they sit in their classrooms. Schools will also need to limit gatherings in common areas such as lunch rooms and will be encouraged to use outdoor venues as much as possible. The province is not recommending or requiring the use of masks, but students and staff are welcome to wear them if they want. Under Level 2, schools would prioritize kindergarten to Grade 8 students for in-class learning, while high school students would use remote learning, with limited use of school facilities for specific programming and assessment. If the province needs to go to Level 3, all students would return to remote learning and schools would be closed, with the exception of kindergarten to Grade 6 students of critical workers. If a students starts showing COVID-19 symptoms while at school, they will be isolated in a predetermined space until a parent or caregiver can come pick them up. Where a separate room is not available, they must be kept at least two metres away from others, according to the province's guidelines. The sick student will be given a medical mask to wear until they are taken home, unless there are safety issues that prevent the student from wearing a mask. If a staff member or volunteer becomes symptomatic while in school, they will be required to immediately isolate themselves from other staff and students, notify their supervisor and go home to monitor symptoms.
Manitoba extends COVID-19 state of emergency once again
Manitoba's state of emergency has been extended again in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The extension will last until August 13. It may be extended again in August
Manitoba: Commercial evictions banned during pandemic if landlords are eligible for rent assist
The Manitoba government has placed a temporary ban on commercial evictions if landlords and tenants are eligible for the Canadian emergency commercial rent assistance (CECRA) program but have not applied, the province said. The change is intended to encourage more landlords and businesses to participate in the federal-provincial cost-shared CECRA program, Finance Minister Scott Fielding said in a press release Friday. The commercial rent assist program is for small businesses being hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. It offers subsidies from the two levels of government to help reduce a business tenant's rent by up to 75 per cent for April through to June. But to be eligible, the property owner must forgive a share of the rent and agree not to evict the tenant for the months it covers. Some business owners have said the program is too complicated and that they've had trouble getting landlords to agree to participate. Manitoba has received only 145 applications and has paid out $1.5 million of the available $64 million through the program, the province said on Friday.
Manitoba will pay people $2,000 to get off COVID-19 benefits and go back to work
The Manitoba government will pay residents up to $2,000 if they go back to work and stop collecting federal COVID-19 benefits. The province will give successful applicants to its new program an initial $500 payment, plus three payments of $500 every two weeks over a six-week period. Applicants must work at least 30 hours per week to qualify for the first payment, and then declare they are still working in order to receive the next payments. They must also be receiving and voluntarily stop payments from the Canadian emergency response benefit (CERB), Canadian emergency student benefit (CESB) or similar COVID-19-related support from Ottawa, the province said in a news release Tuesday. Premier Brian Pallister says he believes the CERB discourages people from working full-time because it limits how much one can work before losing it, and people would rather be back at work than benefiting from a government program.
Manitoba's Phase Three reopening plan to take effect June 21
The Manitoba government has released its plan for the third phase of reopening the province, which raises group size limits, eases travel restrictions, and removes restaurant capacity limits. Under the new plan, group sizes will be increased to 50 people at indoor gatherings, and 100 people at outdoor gatherings. This applies for social gatherings, worship, weddings and funerals, powwows and other Indigenous spiritual and cultural events. The maximum capacity of 300 people has been removed at any site, as long as the gathering can be physically distanced and divided into subgroups of 50 or fewer people indoors, and 100 or fewer people outdoors, to a maximum of 30 per cent of the usual capacity. People gathering at these events are advised to physically distance themselves from people outside of their household, except for brief exchanges. TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS IN MANITOBA EASED As of June 21, people traveling from British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut, as well as people living in the area of northwestern Ontario, west of Terrace Bay, can visit Manitoba without having to self-isolate for 14 days if they are not showing symptoms and have no known exposure to COVID-19.
Manitoba state of emergency due extended another 30 days
Manitoba will be under a state of emergency for another 30 days as of 4 p.m. Monday, in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The province has been under a state of emergency due to the pandemic since March 20 — nearly three months. Prior 30-day extensions were put in place on April 20 and May 17.
Manitoba unveils draft plans for Phase Three of reopening Premier Brian Pallister announced a draft plan for Phase Three of reopening Manitoba. Phase Three will come into effect on June 21. The draft plan proposes an increase in gathering sizes which could see 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors. The province is also looking at the possibility of changing guidelines for faith-based and other cultural gatherings as well as pow wows and other Indigenous cultural and spiritual gatherings. The changes would include 100 people allowed at outdoor events and 50 people allowed in indoor events. The plan also proposes allowing people from Western Canada and northwest Ontario who enter Manitoba to not need to self-isolate anymore for 14 days. The draft proposal is available here.
Manitoba announces $120M for front-line workers like cashiers, cooks, bus drivers
Premier Pallister announced that it will be distributing $120 million to Manitobans who have been working on the front lines during COVID-19 through a Risk Recognition Program. The entire list of eligible positions is on the province's website. People will be able to submit an online application starting on June 3 and the application deadline is June 18 which is expected to provide around 100,000 workers about $1000 on average. The payment will be available to employees who worked on a part-time and full-time basis from March 20 until May 29 and who worked a minimum of 200 cumulative hours or could have worked but were required to self-isolate because of public health orders. They also must have a total pre-tax employment income of less than $6,250 during that period and they cannot be enrolled in the Canada Emergency Response Benefit
Manitoba launches online tool to match employers and students for jobs
The Manitoba government on Thursday launched an online tool to match students looking for job opportunities with employers who need help. Student Jobs MB helps students apply for multiple jobs with the click of a button. Private-sector employers, not-for-profit organizations and governments can post jobs and connect directly with students.
Manitoba: Restaurants, gyms, seniors’ centres can reopen June 1
Businesses that were forced to shutter their doors due to COVID-19 will be allowed to start back up Monday under the second phase of Manitoba's reopening plan, which includes gyms, indoor restaurant spaces and seniors centres, manicurists and pedicurists, film production, pools and a wide swath of other businesses can all resume operating The plan includes expanding capacity at child-care centres and opening bars at 50 per cent capacity. Manitobans will also be allowed to travel north of the 53rd parallel from within Manitoba, though they are advised to stay home if they have any symptoms of COVID-19, which include many cold and flu symptoms.
MB is considering an early start to the school year
Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister says the province is considering an early start to the school year. It's also looking at allowing access to pools and gyms, and limited travel to Manitoba's north as part of its next reopening phase, though no date was attached to the proposals. Manitoba is allowing outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people and indoor gatherings of up to 25 as of Friday, with physical distancing measures in place.
Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec lifting some COVID-19 restrictions
Ontario took its first steps Monday with the reopening of some businesses, including lawn care and landscaping, garden centres for curbside pickup, automatic and self-serve car washes, auto dealerships by appointment, and many construction projects. Manitobans can now visit everything from hair salons to museums to restaurant patios (with fewer seats than normal) provided everyone is following public health rules. In most of Saskatchewan, non-urgent medical offices are allowed to reopen and rules around some outdoor activities — including fishing and boating — are being loosened. But one owner of a physiotherapy clinic told CBC Saskatchewan she's got mixed emotions about opening up. Newfoundland and Labrador plans to move to alert Level 4 on May 11, meaning a relaxation of some public health measures to allow more social and business activities. The province followed New Brunswick's lead and allowed families to come together in "bubbles" made up of two households . Alberta took its first strides toward the large-scale resumption of public life under COVID-19 this weekend as provincial parks and golf courses opened under the government's phased economic relaunch. Alberta began to ease some public health restrictions on Friday, with provincial parks and boat launches reopening with limited services. Alberta has three stage plan starting May 14 called Opening Soon: Alberta’s Relaunch Strategy .
Hair salons, dentists, patios can reopen in Manitoba starting May 4
As of May 4, a variety of non-essential health care and retail businesses in Manitoba will have the option of reopening under strict guidelines. Those services, businesses and venues include:
  • Non-urgent surgery and diagnostic procedures.
  • Therapeutic and medical services.
  • Retail businesses.
  • Restaurants — patio/walk-up services.
  • Hair salons.
  • Museums, galleries and libraries.
  • Seasonal day camps.
  • Outdoor recreation and campgrounds.
If results during or at the end of Phase 1 are not favourable, the province will not proceed with further phases and may instead reintroduce some measures. All businesses and venues being allowed to reopen will be required to continue following social distancing and stringent cleaning practices to protect both employees and customers. Manitoba will continually re-evaluate and adjust plans for further easing of public health restrictions if one or any future phases result in a resurgence of cases. Phase 2 of the reopening, which would happen no earlier than June 1, may include an increase in the size of gatherings and more non-essential businesses, including:
  • Dining inside restaurants.
  • Non-contact children's sports.
  • Film production.
  • Additional personal services, such as nail salons.
Manitoba introduces $120M to support small and medium sized business
The Manitoba Gap Protection Program (MGPP) is available to any of the approximately 120,000 businesses in Manitoba who have fallen into a gap in failing to qualify for the various federal government assistance programs and wage subsidies created because of COVID-19. If one in six businesses have fallen into that gap that would mean approximately 20,000 Manitoba businesses would be entitled to this support, the premier noted. The province will advance each eligible business the non-interest bearing forgivable MGPP loan of $6,000, for a total of up to $120 million. The loan will be forgiven on Dec. 31, 2020, if the recipient attests at that time the business has not received any major non-repayable COVID-19 federal supports such as the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and the Canada Emergency Business Account, as well as sector-specific grant federal programs specifically developed in response to the pandemic. If the applicant has received benefits under a federal COVID program, then the loan will be added to the recipient’s 2020 tax bill. To be eligible for the MGPP funding, a business must:
  • have been operational on March 20, 2020, the date the Manitoba government declared a provincewide state of emergency under The Emergency Measures Act because of COVID-19;
  • have temporarily ceased or curtailed operations as a result of a COVID-19 public health order and have been harmed by the health order;
  • be registered and in good standing with the Manitoba Business and Corporate Registry;
  • have not qualified for federal government COVID-19 grant support; and
  • have an email address and a bank account.
Manitoba Workers Compensation Board to give $37M surplus back to employers
Premier Brian Pallister announced that Manitoba WCB will return 20% of 2019 premium to employers starting in May. The Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba is returning a roughly $37-million surplus to eligible employers. $29 million back to private-sector employers and roughly $7 million to small businesses. This is the second year the WCB has returned a surplus to employers. The WCB insures more than 34,000 employers in the province, or roughly three-quarters of Manitoba's workforce, the province said in a news release.
Manitoba extends COVID-19 public health orders to April 28 but more to come
Manitoba has extended public health orders shutting down non-essential businesses and limiting public gatherings for an additional two weeks. The orders, which were introduced on March 30, were previously set to expire on Tuesday. They are now set to expire on April 28. Under the current rules, bars, hair salons and massage therapy offices are shut down and restaurants are banned from serving eat-in service. Businesses are allowed to do repairs, provide security services or take items out of a closed establishment if they operate on a remote basis. The province is likely to enhance the orders later this week but Dr. Brent Roussin, the province's chief public health officer declined to provide specifics of what that could look like.
Manitoba adds new rules for businesses still allowed to operate
Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer issued the following measures that came into effect on April 1, 2020: All non-exempt businesses may:
  • Continue to operate where customers can order goods online or by telephone; however, customers cannot visit a business’ premises or property to order goods;
  • Continue to sell goods to customers where those goods can be picked up ‘curbside’ or delivered to customers; however, customers cannot pick up goods at a business’ premises or on its property;
  • Allow staff to visit the business’ premises without a limitation on the number of staff, as long as staff take measures to keep social distancing of one to two metres apart from each other; and
  • Accept delivery of goods and may allow services, such as construction, repairs, maintenance and cleaning to occur at their premises and on their property.
Ontario and Manitoba schools to remain closed until May
On March 31, the Ontario government announced that publicly-funded schools will remain closed until May 1 for teachers and May 4 for students. Private schools, licensed child care centres and EarlyON programs will also remain closed for at least another two weeks, according to the province's emergency declaration, which only allows closures to be extended for 14 days at a time. In Manitoba, classes for kindergarten to Grade 12 students in Manitoba are suspended indefinitely for this school year. Teachers will continue to teach remotely, assign work, conduct assessments and prepare report cards. Grades will be held at what they were before the classes were suspended, but students will still have the opportunity to improve their grades.
On March 30, Premier Pallister announced the restriction on non-essential establishment
The Public Health Order to enforce closure of non-essential businesses is in effect as of April 1, 2020. Manitoba followed suit with many other provinces to allow licensed establishments licensed establishments whose primary business is food to also sell liquor as part of their take-out menus. This will allow an added source of revenue for businesses facing significant financial impacts. MANITOBA'S LIST OF NON-ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES
Manitoba is shutting down all non-critical services April 1
The province's chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, made the announcement on Monday, closing any place that serves food for dine-in service, as well as bars, hair salons and massage therapy offices. Grocery stores will still remain open. Read more about what's happening in Manitoba
LAST UPDATED: August 5, 2020

New Brunswick COVID-19 Update

New Brunswick Liberals reject Tory power-sharing deal
New Brunswick's Opposition Liberals have rejected a proposal from Tory Premier Blaine Higgs for an agreement aimed at avoiding an election until 2022. Liberal Leader Kevin Vickers said Friday Higgs wielded the threat of a snap election in a bid to have his minority government remain in power for another two years. The Liberals have left the talks, setting the stage for a possible election call by Higgs. On Monday, Higgs asked the opposition leaders to sign a formal agreement not to trigger an election until September 2022, or no earlier than 30 days after public health officials declare the COVID-19 pandemic over. The Progressive Conservatives and Liberals each have 20 seats in the legislature, while the Greens and the People's Alliance each have three. There are two vacant seats and one Independent. Negotiations between the Progressive Conservatives, Liberals, Greens and the People's Alliance on the proposal that the opposition support Higgs' minority government began Wednesday and continued through Friday.
Employers to get break on WorkSafeNB premiums in 2021
New Brunswick employers are expected to get a break on the premiums they pay to cover benefits for injured workers next year, says the head of WorkSafeNB. The projected average assessment rate for 2021 is between $2.15 and $2.20 per $100 of payroll. That's down from $2.40 in 2020. A decrease in the number of accidents has helped reduce costs. New Brunswick recorded its lowest level of injury frequency in the past 10 years.
New Brunswick businesses told to collect 'minimum information necessary' for COVID-19 contact tracing
New Brunswick businesses and other organizations are being asked to collect only the minimum personal information necessary from patrons and visitors for COVID-19 contact-tracing purposes under new guidelines released Monday by Public Health. They should restrict the information collected to the first and last name of only one person per group and that person's phone number, or, if no phone number is available, an email address, the guidelines say. If the collection form is a physical document, it must be protected from the public's view at all times, must never be left unattended and must be stored in a secure location. If it's electronic, it should be password-protected with a limited number of individuals who know the password. The information should not be used for anything or shared with anyone other than when asked for by a medical officer of health or a Public Health inspector. And it should be destroyed after 21 days, after the risk of transmission of COVID-19 has passed, based on the estimated two-week incubation period.
The guidelines come after the province's privacy commissioner Charles Murray raised concerns about the lack of clarity and risk of a breach.
Under the province's state of emergency order, any for-profit, not-for-profit, charity or government entity that admits patrons to a venue at which seating is offered for the purposes of eating, drinking, socialization, celebration, ceremony or entertainment "must maintain a record of the names and contact information of all persons who attend." The same requirement applies to anyone who hosts, organizes or permits gatherings of more than 50 people, whether seated or standing.
New Brunswick nixes new property tax breaks for businesses, cottages
New Brunswick Finance Minister Ernie Steeves has moved to cancel more than $20 million in property tax cuts for businesses and cottages that he unveiled in his budget just 11 weeks ago. The measures being undone involve proposed relief for residential properties that are subject to secondary provincial taxes, including apartment buildings, cottages and single-family homes not lived in by the owner. That budget proposal was to reduce taxes by $140.40 per year on every $100,000 those properties are assessed to be worth. A second tax cut on commercial and industrial properties is also being withdrawn. It was worth $82.50 per year on every $100,000 of a business property's assessed value. It would have been a substantial saving for some of the province's larger business properties, including a $142,000 tax reduction for Champlain Place in Dieppe beginning next January and a $84,715 reduction in property tax on the Irving Oil refinery. There was also a plan to lower the same taxes identical amounts in 2022, 2023 and 2024, providing a total of $96 million in annual property tax relief to business and cottage properties after the fourth year. Premier Blaine Higgs said the province could not afford the loss in revenue, but he hoped to be able to restore the tax cuts when the province's finances improve.
NB moves to Phase 2 (Orange) of recovery plan
Premier Blaine Higgs announced that New Brunswick will be moving to Phase 2, Orange level. Under Phase 2 (Orange), several activities and openings are permitted, subject to maintaining physical distancing measures, general guidelines from Public Health and the Guidelines for New Brunswick Workplaces issued by WorkSafe NB. Businesses do not need to be inspected before re-opening, but they must prepare an operational plan that can be provided to officials, if requested. Businesses may open immediately, but it is up to each business operator to decide if they are ready and if all guidelines have been met. Re-openings and activities include: • Elective surgeries and other non-emergency health services, including dental, physiotherapy, optometry and massage therapy. • Outdoor public gatherings, with physical distancing, of 10 or fewer people. • Indoor public gatherings, with physical distancing, of 10 or fewer people for in-person religious services, weddings and funerals. • All in-person programs at post-secondary institutions, subject to the COVID-19 directives from Public Health. 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. • Restaurants. • Campgrounds and outdoor recreational activities, such as zoos and outfitters. • 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. The department will contact operators to provide further information in the coming days. • Non-regulated child care providers may open as of today but must adhere to Public Health guidelines, including having an operational plan. • Day camps, if the organization can adhere to Public Health measures set out in the document called COVID-19 Recovery Phase: Guidance to Early Learning and Childcare Facilities and Day Camps. • ATV trails across the province.
NB launches job-matching platform
JobMatchNB, a virtual job-matching platform, was launched Monday to connect New Brunswickers with available positions. Employers can add jobs into the system and they will appear on the site within a few days. Last week, the New Brunswick government announced a ban on any temporary foreign workers entering the province.
NB extends state of emergency for two more weeks
The province has extended the state of emergency for another two weeks. The declaration under the Emergency Measures Act does include some revisions. All licences, registrations, certificates and permits issued under provincial laws that were valid as of March 16 have been extended to June 30. Many renewals can be done online. A new paragraph has been added to authorize municipal councils and council committees to hold more meetings electronically. New Brunswick's Local Governance Act normally limits councillors' participation in meetings electronically rather than in person.
New Brunswick releases four-phase plan to reopen his province's economy
The first phase of New Brunswick's recovery plan and the loosening of some public health restrictions were announced today by Premier Blaine Higgs, the COVID-19 all-party committee which includes Liberal leader Kevin Vickers, People’s Alliance leader Kris Austin and Green Party leader David Coon, and by Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health. As a first step, the following will be allowed effective today:
  • Two-household bubbles: Households may now choose to spend time with one other household, if both households agree. The selection made is not interchangeable.
  • Golf courses and driving ranges: If all physical distancing and safety measures are in place, golf courses and driving ranges can now open.
  • Recreational fishing and hunting: The delay on springs seasons has been lifted.
  • Outdoor spaces: With physical distancing, people can now enjoy the outdoors including parks and beaches.
  • Carpooling: Co-workers or neighbours can carpool if physical distancing measures are maintained by transporting the passenger in the backseat.
  • Post-secondary education: Students requiring access to campus to fulfill their course requirements will be able to do so.
  • Outdoor religious services: As an alternative to online worship, religious organizations can hold outdoor services if parishioners stay in their vehicles that are two metres apart.
  • A guidance document of the public health measures during the recovery phases is being developed and will be available soon.
Large gatherings, events and concerts prohibited are prohibited through Dec. 31, 2020, subject to change. New Brunswick four-phase plan
State of emergency extensions in NB and PEI
New Brunswick has extended its state of emergency for another 14 days. PEI has extended its state of public health emergency for an additional 30 days. Under the measures, anyone travelling to the province will need to disclose the purposes of their travel to determine if it is essential or not.
New Brunswick’s State of Emergency has been extended
New Brunswick's premier said the province's state of emergency has been extended for another two weeks. Blaine Higgs said his province will also put up barriers where needed to discourage people from congregating in public spaces. Request for review period for property assessments extended to May 1 The deadline to request a property assessment review has been extended by 30 days, until May 1. This extension will give property owners an opportunity to thoroughly review their assessments and allow assessors additional time to complete reviews.
LAST UPDATED: August 5, 2020

Newfoundland and Labrador COVID-19 Update

Andrew Furey will be the next Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador
Andrew Furey is the next Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador and replaces Dwight Ball as Leader of the Liberal Party. The party’s convention was held today in St. John’s where the results of the vote which began last week by phone and online ballot were revealed. Out of 34,000 eligible voters, more than 21,000 votes were cast. Furey has never run for political office until now. He is an orthopedic surgeon by occupation and founded Team Broken Earth, a medical relief initiative, and co-founded the Dollar a Day Foundation which provides funding to frontline metal health and addictions programs across Canada. Furey beat John Abbott, CEO of the Newfoundland and Labrador branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association, and former Deputy Minister of Health. Premier-designate Andrew Furey will officially be sworn in on Aug. 19, making him the 14th premier of Newfoundland and Labrador. Furey is required to call an election within one year following his swearing in as Premier.
N.L.'s projected deficit soars to $2.1B
Newfoundland and Labrador's deficit is expected to hit $2.1 billion for the current fiscal year, an increase of $1.35 billion, as new numbers paint a grim fiscal portrait of the province. The ballooning deficit is the result of increasing expenses combined with plunging revenues since the start of this fiscal year in April, two weeks after the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown gripped the province. The province is reporting an expected increase in expenses of $720 million for the year, with health care costs and the province's pandemic response contributing heavily to that figure. Health care costs alone are projected to increase by $261 million, $90 million of which is directly related to the pandemic, with PPE costs cited as the bulk of that cash. The rest, said Osborne, involves pressures on the health care system overall, like the rising cost of goods. The province's $200-million contingency fund, approved by the House of Assembly in March, also contributes to the rising expenses, of which $118 million has been spent so far, pending reimbursements from the federal government. That money has gone toward items like paying for daycare spaces and daycare workers, a home construction rebate package, the tourism sector, and compensating people who had to self-isolate due to travel restrictions. This year's projected $2.1 billion debt is shy of the worst deficit ever, the $2.2 billion figure that came in 2015-16. The province's projected revenue is expected to decrease by $631 million, the lion's share of that — $560 million — from declining offshore royalties. The province had previously budgeted in 2019 for oil revenues based upon $68 USD a barrel. Currently, oil is commanding half that, at $34 USD a barrel, which is itself an improvement from past months as a global price war waged, with oil markets crashing a result. Another unexpected revenue loss came from the Atlantic Lottery Corporation. Although the province did not provide a dollar figure, the closure of its retail outlets and VLTs due to public health restrictions has meant less money coming in. Friday's numbers mean the province now projects a net debt of $16.7 billion. That figure had previously stood at $14.6 billion. The province will need to borrow $3 billion to see it through, although Osborne didn't anticipate having trouble being able to secure that cash, citing positive market response so far. Early on in the pandemic as Newfoundland and Labrador looked for money, lenders had questioned Newfoundland and Labrador's ability to pay, and the Bank of Canada stepped in to assist.
Some N.L. businesses charging a COVID-19 service fee as province reopens
As COVID-19 restrictions begin to relax around Newfoundland and Labrador, people might start to notice a new fee tacked on to some of their bills: a COVID-19 surcharge.
Newfoundland and Labrador outlines plan for relaxing public health restrictions.
plan for relaxing public health restrictions. Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald on Thursday unveiled the provincial government's five-stage plan for relaxing public health restrictions, including conditions that need to be met as the province progresses from present conditions — Level 5 — to living with COVID-19 — Level 1. The provincial government has set May 11 as the target date for moving to Level 4 Level 4 – Relaxation of several restrictions: •
  • Low-risk outdoor recreational activities — including golf and hunting — may resume, provided they're done so safely. •
  • Low-risk non-essential businesses — such as law firms, accounting firms, and outdoor businesses like garden centres — can reopen. •
  • Resumption of some medical procedures. •
  • Funerals with a maximum of 10 people, including the officiant, will be allowed. •
  • Limited expansion of child-care centres.
Level 3 includes further relaxation of public health orders: •
  • Private health-care clinics — such as dentistry, optometry and physiotherapy — can reopen. •
  • Medium-risk businesses — such as clothing stores, hair salons, pet centres — can reopen. •
  • Restaurants can reopen with reduced occupancy. •
  • Medium-risk outdoor recreational activities — such as team field sports — can resume. •
  • Further expansion of child-care centres.
Level 2 sees further loosening of restrictions: •
  • Small gatherings will be permitted, but there will be physical distancing restrictions. •
  • Higher-risk businesses — larger retailers, shopping centres, theatres, perhaps performance paces — can reopen, subject to conditions. •
  • Medium-risk recreational facilities — such as gyms — can also reopen, also subject to conditions.
AB, SK, NL and QC release provincial COVID-19 modeling
Saskatchewan released its modelling on April 8, which shows the provincial government is planning for 3,000 to 8,300 deaths and approximately 20 to 200 daily intensive care admissions from COVID-19 at its peak. The data does not say when that peak is expected nor when distancing measures might be eased. Newfoundland and Labrador outlined its projections on April 8. Their prediction focused on intensive care capacity instead of expected deaths. They expect to exceed its 57 intensive-care capacity by the end of June if the spread of the virus continues its current rate of growth. The first assumes current restrictions remain in place and projects 32 per cent of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians infected over a two-year period. Under that scenario, the peak of the virus would occur in early November, and the province would have enough hospital beds and ventilators to weather the pandemic. The second model projects a scenario in which current restrictions are eased and assumes 52 per cent of people in the province infected over the same two-year period. In that scenario, the peak comes sooner — mid-September — and overwhelms hospital beds, intensive-care units and ventilators. Alberta’s Premier Jason Kenney outlined what he described as a "probable" scenario for Alberta on Tuesday that suggested the province won't see a peak in the virus until mid-May. That model suggested Alberta could see as many as 800,000 COVID-19 cases by the end of the summer with death figures ranging from 400 to 3,100. Another more "elevated" scenario pointed toward the possibility of both higher case numbers and between 500 and 6,600 deaths. On Tuesday, Quebec’s model predicts at least 1,200 COVID-19 deaths by the end of April, and if preventative measures aren’t continued, the death toll could be as high as 9,000. Public health officials noted that the current thinking is that the number of deaths will be closer to the lower estimate. Prime Minister Trudeau said Wednesday that people would learn more about a national model in the coming days, but did not provide a specific date. The prime minister said it's not yet clear exactly when Canada will reach a peak but said that strict adherence to critical public health measures — including physical distancing and staying home as much as possible — will help reduce the impact of the outbreak. It’s important to note that the federal modeling requires data from provincial health authorities. Some provinces have better data than others which hinders the development of a national level forecast.
LAST UPDATED: August 7, 2020

Nova Scotia COVID-19 Update

Nova Scotia Premier to step down
Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil announced Thursday he will step down. McNeil was first elected in 2003 as MLA for Annapolis and has been premier since 2013. McNeil said he will continue to act as premier and Liberal Party leader until the party chooses a replacement. McNeil is in his second term of a majority government. Many do not expect a new leader (and Premier) to be in place before 2021.
COVID-19 leads to $850-million deficit in Nova Scotia budget
Finance Minister Karen Casey released documents showing the expected surplus of $55 million is long gone, replaced by a provincial deficit of $852.9 million. That hole was dug primarily by massive overruns in department spending and the $228-million stimulus package the province announced for additional construction projects this fiscal year. Nine departments required additional appropriations, totalling $443.4 million. The lion's share of that was consumed by the Health Department, which required an additional $374 million for personal protective equipment, essential working funding, backfilling employees, increased use of pharmacare and other demands. The province is projecting an unemployment rate of 11 per cent, or 25,000 fewer jobs — the highest in Nova Scotia since 1997. Revenue for 2020-21 is down $532.1 million from the budget tabled in the spring, primarily due to decreases in HST ($234.4 million) and corporate income tax ($160.8 million). Personal income tax is down $50 million, a figure partially offset by federal direct payments to Nova Scotians. Finance Department officials said that's a sign the program is working. Nominal economic growth is 7.6 per cent lower than projected in the budget, household consumption is down 7.5 per cent, residential construction is down 18 per cent and exports are down 13.1 per cent. Net debt is projected to increase from $15.7 billion to $16.9 billion. The net debt-to-GDP ratio is projected to jump from 33 per cent to 38.7 per cent. Finance Department officials said the latter change is consistent with what other provinces and the federal government are experiencing.
N.S. home sales spike in June
After a brief dip in real estate transactions because of COVID-19, listings in Nova Scotia rebounded last month and sales spiked. In April, there were 60 per cent fewer new listings than in April 2019, making for the slowest April in more than 30 years. Sales for that month dropped about 47 per cent from the previous year. In May, there were about 42 per cent fewer new listings than in May 2019, a 15-year low, and about 42 per cent fewer sales. But June numbers show the market bucking the downward trend. Listings returned to within 10 per cent of last year's levels, and sales spiked by 30 per cent from the previous year. In June 2019, there were 1,427 real estate sales in Nova Scotia. In June 2020, there were 1,862.
Nova Scotia lumber shortage causing construction delays
There's a lumber shortage in Nova Scotia and it's forcing construction companies to make some tough decisions on what jobs they can complete. The shortage has been caused by producers scaling down production due to distancing and COVID-19 precautions and by an unanticipated increase in demand cause by people doing construction projects.
Nova Scotia: Small Business Reopening and Support Grant
The Small Business Reopening and Support Grant provides funding for small businesses, non-profits, charities and social enterprises that were ordered to close or greatly reduce operations because of the Public Health Order or were greatly impacted by orders to stay home. The program helps small businesses affected by COVID-19 by providing a grant and a business continuity voucher for advice and services from a business consultant. Funding includes a:
  • one-time grant of up to $5,000 to help your business safely reopen
  • business continuity voucher of up to $1,500 for advice and services to help your business adapt to and become more resilient in a COVID-19 world
The grant is intended to help businesses reopen and adapt to COVID-19, not to replace lost revenues. MORE INFO
Parts of N.S. economy, like hair salons, bars, gyms, can reopen if ready June 5
Parts of Nova Scotia's economy can begin to reopen June 5 if they're ready and follow public health protocol. If ready the following can reopen June 5:
  • Restaurants for dine-in.
  • Bars, wineries, distilleries and craft beer taprooms.
  • Personal services like hair salons, barber shops, nail salons, spas and tattoo parlours.
  • Fitness facilities like gyms, yoga studios and climbing facilities.
  • Veterinarians.
Other health providers can also reopen on June 5 if they follow protocols in their college or association's plan, as approved by public health, including:
  • Dentistry and other self-regulated health professions such as optometry, chiropractic and physiotherapy.
  • Unregulated health professions such as massage therapy, podiatry and naturopathy.
Lounges are not permitted to reopen yet.
N.S. students won't be returning to the classroom this school year
On May 8, NS Premier Stephen McNeil announced that Nova Scotia students and teachers will not be returning to the classroom this school year. At-home learning will continue until June 5, when the province's school year will end.
Nova Scotia eases restrictions
The Nova Scotia government announced Friday it is immediately easing some public health restrictions around COVID-19, including opening all municipal and provincial parks. Some of the initial steps include:
  • Reopening provincial and municipal parks (excluding playgrounds and beaches), trails and community gardens. Skate parks are open. Provincial parks won't have visitor facilities available to the public, including parking lots, washroom facilities and garbage collection because it is still off-season.
  • Reopening garden centres, nurseries and similar businesses.
  • Sport fishing is permitted from shore or boat, but fishing derbies are not allowed. People are now allowed to go to boating, yacht or sailing clubs to prepare boats for use.
  • Golf driving ranges can open, including those at golf clubs. Courses must remain closed, but golf clubs can perform the necessary preparation work for reopening.
  • People can use their cottages, but use is restricted to one household unit at a time. Travel must be directly to the cottage and back. Travelling back and forth frequently from cottage to primary residence is discouraged. This does not apply to cottage rentals.
  • Provincial and private campgrounds are still closed, but staff are now permitted to do maintenance work for reopening. An exception to this rule is recreational vehicles parked year-round at private campgrounds, which can be used but must follow the same rules.
  • Drive-thru religious services will be allowed as long as people stay in their cars and are parked two metres apart and there is no interaction between people in cars or between people in cars and others.
Rules around physical distancing and social gatherings remain in place. People must keep two metres apart and not gather in groups of more than five.
Big Win for the CFA getting changes to Nova Scotia’s Rent Deferral
Over the weekend CFA staff worked with officials within the government of Nova Scotia to get changes to the provinces Rent Deferral Support program so that franchisees are now considered qualified businesses. The COVID-19 Rent Deferral Support Program (CRDSP), was announced on May 27 and will indemnify qualified landlords for losses incurred as a result the State of Emergency in Nova Scotia. In the first iteration of the program criteria franchisees were excluded from the program. Thankfully Nova Scotia made changes to the program so that CFA members can now qualify for the program. The revised program criteria are available online. Under the program the provincial government may guarantee up to $5,000/month if that business tenant must shut its doors and its landlord agrees to defer rent payments from April, May, and June and spread the deferred amount over the remainder of the lease term. Without the CFA’s advocacy franchisees would have been excluded from the program.
LAST UPDATED: April 13, 2020

Nunavut COVID-19 Update

LAST UPDATED: August 14, 2020

Ontario COVID-19 Update

Ontario: Premier announces increase in gym capacity limits
Beginning August 15, 2020 at 12:01 a.m., these facilities can have up to 50 patrons for each indoor sport or fitness room, while ensuring physical distancing of at least two metres. The announcement was made today by Premier Doug Ford and Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries. The revised capacity limits are on a per room basis. They will apply to the gymnasiums, health clubs, community centres, multi-purpose facilities, arenas, exercise studios, yoga and dance studios and other fitness facilities that are able to follow the new guidance. The change was enabled by amendments to the Stage 3 regulation and a new plan and guidance document to apply a per room limit for sport and recreational fitness activities at facilities with the necessary space or layout. For more information
Ontario's projected deficit will grow to a record $38.5 billion this year
Ontario's projected deficit will grow to a record $38.5 billion this year, as the province takes a significant financial hit from the effects of COVID-19, forcing the government to increase its pandemic rescue package to $30 billion in 2020-2021. During the height of the pandemic provincial tax revenues dropped by $10.7 billion, largely owing to declines in personal income and corporate tax revenue, as well as lower income from the gasoline and fuel tax. Ontario’s net decline in revenue comes in at $5.7 billion, thanks to $6.2 billion in transfers from the federal government. At the same time the province's program spending saw a dramatic $13.1 billion increase, to a total of $30 billion, which includes:
  • $2.4 billion for municipalities and transit (paired with $1.7 billion from the federal government as part of the Safe Restart agreement)
  • $1.5 billion for the temporary pandemic pay program ($1.1 billion from the federal government, $424 million from the province)
  • $610 million to purchase personal protective equipment for healthcare workers
  • $218 million for Long-Term Care, to increase capacity in the sector during the pandemic, and protection for staff
  • $176 million for to provide hydro users around-the-clock off-peak electricity prices
  • $241 million contribution for the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program for small businesses Ontario's economy is expected to a significant hit in 2020 with Gross Domestic Product (GDP) expected to decline by 6.6 per cent, which is "the largest annual real GDP decline on record." The province also said the pace the of economic recover "cannot be predicted with certainty". One of the reasons behind a slower-than-expected recovery, the government said, is the high infection rate in the United States which could impact exports, supply chains and consumer confidence. To help businesses deal with the extended closures the province is extending its tax deferral policy for another month, giving businesses until October 1, 2020 to pay their taxes. The government says the exemptions would apply to: Employer Health tax; Tobacco tax; Fuel tax; Gas tax; Beer, Wine and Spirits tax; Mining tax; Insurance Premium tax; International Fuel Tax and the Race Tracks tax.
    Windsor-Essex - Stage 3 reopening on Wednesday
    Windsor-Essex has now been given the go-ahead to join the rest of Ontario in Stage 3 of the province' s reopening plan. In a news release issued Monday, the province confirmed that the region, which is the last part of the province to remain in Stage 2, will be able to advance to the next stage on Wednesday at 12:01 a.m. The number of new cases in Windsor-Essex has fallen significantly in the past week, with just four new infections confirmed on Sunday and three on Saturday. The region saw a spike in cases in July due to an outbreak of the virus among migrant farm workers. Gyms, spas, and movie theatres will be permitted to open in Windsor-Essex for the first time since March and indoor dining can also resume. Having all regions of Ontario in Stage 3 also means the province could be one step closer to reopening amusement parks. Last week, officials confirmed that Canada’s Wonderland would not be given the green light to resume operations until the entire province had entered Stage 3.
    Hydro One extends ban on electricity disconnections until further notice
    Hydro One in Ontario says it is extending a ban on disconnecting homes from the power grid until further notice. Hydro One first issued the ban towards the beginning of the province's COVID-19 outbreak, saying customers needed to be able to rely on electricity while they were kept at home during the pandemic. The ban was initially set to expire at the end of July, but has now been extended without a fixed end-date. Hydro One says the move is necessary given the ongoing restrictions posed by the pandemic, as well as persistent hot weather across much of the province. It says it's also planning to extend a financial relief program to help customers struggling to pay their hydro bills.
    Ontario releases plan to reopen schools in September
    Elementary students in Ontario will be heading back to school full time come September, the provincial government revealed today, while most high school students will split their time between the classroom and online learning. Elementary level students will remain a single cohort, five days per week, including for recess and lunch. Further, school boards will be required to provide the full curriculum. Class sizes will remain at the mandated maximum levels in place before the COVID-19 outbreak. Secondary students in 24 "designated boards" — mainly in urban and suburban areas with relatively high student populations — will attend school on alternating days, in cohorts of about 15. High schools in non-designated boards, which typically have smaller enrolment, will be able to offer full-time learning, the province says. (A full list of designated and non-designated boards can be found at the end of the PDF slides at the bottom of this story.) Students in Grades 4 through 12 will be required to wear a non-medical mask or cloth face covering while at school. Younger children will be encouraged, but not required, to do so. Medical masks will be provided for teachers and other staff. Parents will be able to opt their children out of in-person classes, if they wish. Children with special education needs who struggle with remote learning will be allowed to attend school daily for instruction. The province says other measures that will be in place to ensure the safety of students include:
    • "Self-screening" by families and teachers.
    • Emphasis on hand hygiene.
    • Distancing when possible.
    • Limiting visitors in schools.
    • Directional signage to limit the cross-flow of students in hallways and on playgrounds.
    When the academic year begins, schools can offer clubs and organized sports if physical distancing is possible and spaces are cleaned and disinfected between each use.
    Voluntary COVID-19 notification app rolls out in Ontario
    COVID Alert is the federal government's latest move in the battle to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as Canada's economy gradually reopens. Here's how it works: • You start by downloading the app to your smartphone. • That will allow the phone to use Bluetooth technology to exchange signals with nearby phones. • If someone tests positive for COVID, their public health authority will give them a one-time key to enter into the app. • The app will then send out notices to every phone that has been within two metres of the infected person's phone for at least 15 minutes over the previous 14 days — as long as those other phones also carry the app. • Those who receive a notification will receive instructions on what to do next. Officials say that the app will become more effective as more people download it — and they stress that it's a notification app, not a contact-tracing app. Other provinces, such as New Brunswick, have worked to develop their own apps. Alberta launched a contact tracing app called ABTraceTogether on May 1.
    Toronto and Peel Region move to Stage 3 reopening on Friday
    Toronto and Peel Region will move into Stage 3 of Ontario's COVID-19 recovery plan this Friday, the Ministry of Health said this morning, as the province reported its fewest number of new cases since March 23. Windsor-Essex, the only other area of the province that is still in Stage 2, will not be permitted to proceed to the next phase at this point. Stage 3 allows for activities such as indoor dining in restaurants, live performing arts shows and the reopening of movie theatres and playgrounds. It also permits larger gatherings of people, though social distancing requirements remain in place. For more information
    Ontario: Declared Emergency Leave is No Longer Available
    As of July 24, 2020, the COVID-19 declared emergency ended in Ontario. As a result, Declared Emergency Leave (DEL) under the Employment Standards Act (ESA) is no longer available to employees as of the same date. However, employees who had been eligible for DEL may meet the eligibility criteria for Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (IDEL). For example, if the employee is:
    • Acting in accordance with an order under section 22 or 35 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act that relates to COVID-19,
    • Providing care or support to certain individuals due to COVID-19, including, but not limited to, school or day care closures, or
    • Unable to perform the duties of their position due to an order under the Reopening Ontario Act, 2020 (ROA).
    “COVID-19 Period” Ends September 4, 2020
    The IDEL regulation defines the “COVID-19 period” as beginning on March 1, 2020 and ending six weeks after the day the COVID-19 declared emergency ends. As the COVID-19 declared emergency was terminated on July 24, 2020, the final day of the COVID-19 period – in which the provisions described below apply – is September 4, 2020. The following provisions for non-unionized employees end on September 4, 2020:
    • Employees are entitled to IDEL under the ESA if their hours of work are temporarily reduced or eliminated by the employer for reasons related to COVID-19,
    • Employees whose hours of work or wages are temporarily reduced or temporarily eliminated by the employer for reasons related to COVID-19 are not considered to be laid off under the ESA, and
    • A temporary reduction or temporary elimination in an employee’s hours of work or wages by the employer for reasons related to COVID-19 does not constitute a constructive dismissal under the ESA. For more information please contact the Employment Standards Information Centre at 1-800-531-5551 or TTY (for hearing impaired) at 1-866-567-8893 or visit the Employment Standards Act guide at Ontario.ca/ESAguide
      CFA plays a key role as Ontario moves forward with changes to the Arthur Wishart Act (Franchise Disclosure), 2000
      Today, the Ontario government announced that it was moving forward with changes to the Arthur Wishart Act. The CFA worked closely with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, the Business Law Modernization and Burden Reduction Council and the Premier’s Office on these changes over the past year. We started by pushing government to move forward with the enabling regulations that had not been implemented since the passage of Bill 154. This advocacy led to a public consultation in the fall of 2019 and many follow up meetings, phone calls and briefings in the Winter and Spring of 2020. Thanks to all the hard work of David Black, CFA’s Director of Government Relations, Darrell Jarvis (Fasken), Chair and Andraya Frith (Osler), Vice Chair of the CFA’s Legal and Legislative Affairs Committee, Larry Weinberg (Cassels), the CFA’s General Counsel, Peter Snell (Gowlings) and Clark Harrop (Dale Lessmann), a former member of the Board, who was appointed to the Business Law Modernization and Burden Reduction Council following the CFA’s advocacy day in March 2019. This group helped draft the CFA’s detailed submission to government and they also participated in numerous meetings, phone calls and brief sessions with the Ministry, Minister’s Office and Premier’s Office on the changes that were being considered.
      The changes, which are effective September 1, 2020, implement un-proclaimed legislative amendments in the AWA will be brought into force. Regulatory amendments to the General Regulation (O. Reg. 581/00) under the AWA will also come into force on this same date, including regulatory amendments needed to enable the legislative amendments noted above. These changes, once in force, are expected to reduce burden on the franchise sector. Bringing the remaining un-proclaimed legislative amendments in the AWA into force will, among other things:
      • Clarify when certain exemptions from disclosure requirements under the AWA apply;
      • Specify that franchisor disclosure obligations are not triggered by certain ancillary agreements, with certain exceptions; and
      • Require statements of material change provided by a franchisor to include information prescribed by regulation.

      The amendments to the General regulation will:
      • Clarify the accounting standards that can be used for financial statements referred to in the regulation;
      • Specify certain information to be included in a statement of material change provided to prospective franchisees;
      • Specify the threshold for a deposit payment under an agreement for which a franchisor would be exempt from disclosure obligations in certain circumstances;
      • Specify the thresholds for exemptions from disclosure requirements based on “total initial investment” and the manner for determining “total initial investment” for such exemptions; and
      • Make housekeeping amendments to update phrases and terms used in the regulation to align with the legislative amendments.

      You can find these changes reflected in the AWA here:
      Most of the GTA to move to Stage 3 on Friday – Toronto, Peel and Windsor-Essex will remain at Stage 2
      Most of the GTA will be allowed to move forward to Stage 3 of the province’s reopening plan at the end of this week. Durham, Halton, Hamilton, Niagara, Haldimand-Norfolk, Sarnia-Lambton and York regions will all be permitted to enter Stage 3 at 12:01 a.m. on Friday. Toronto, Peel Region and Windsor-Essex Region will, however, remain in Stage 2 for at least another week. It should be noted that the holding back of Toronto, Peel and Windsor-Essex regions is in line with previous comments from Health Minister Christine Elliott, who has said that officials need about four weeks of data to decide whether it is safe to proceed to the next stage in any given region. Toronto and Peel regions only entered Stage 2 on June 24, so there won’t be four weeks of data available until Wednesday. Windsor Essex, with the exception of Leamington and Kingsville, moved to Stage 2 on June 25 and there won’t be four weeks of data for that region until Thursday. Stage 3 represents a much wider reopening of the province with indoor dining resuming at bars and restaurants and gyms, movie theatres and other entertainment venues allowed to reopen. The limit on indoor gatherings will also increase from 10 to 50 and outdoors crowds of up to 100 people will be able to gather.
      Most of Ontario enters new stage of reopening; Toronto remains in Stage 2
      Several regions across Ontario have entered Stage 3 of the province’s reopening plan allowing nearly all businesses to finally open their doors, except in the Toronto area and a few other regions. Only 10 regions stayed behind as the rest of the province, 24 regions altogether, leaped into the new stage on Friday, which allowed gyms, bars, dine-in services and cinemas to finally reopen. For regions that are at Stage 3, indoor gathering limits will increase from 10 to a maximum of 50 people, while outdoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 100 people.
      Ontario – Phase 3 reopening plans announced
      The Ontario government announced today that starting on July 17, most of the province (except the GTHA and southern Ontario) will move to Stage 3 of the reopening plan. The Greater Toronto Area and other parts of southern Ontario, which will remain in Stage 2 for now. Under Stage 3, nearly all businesses and public spaces will reopen with public health and workplace safety measures and restrictions in place. As part of the Stage 3 reopening, Ontario will be increasing gathering limits for those regions entering the next stage to the following:
      • Indoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 50 people;
      • Outdoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 100 people;
      • Gathering limits are subject to physical distancing requirements.
      Public gathering limits apply to indoor and outdoor events, such as community events or gatherings, concerts, live shows, festivals, conferences, sports and recreational fitness activities, fundraisers, fairs, festivals or open houses. A two metre distance must still be maintained at such events. The following, places and activities are not yet allowed to open, even if a region has entered Stage 3:
      • Amusement parks and water parks;
      • Buffet-style food services;
      • Dancing at restaurants and bars, other than by performers hired by the establishment following specific requirements;
      • Overnight stays at camps for children;
      • Private karaoke rooms;
      • Prolonged or deliberate contact while playing sports;
      • Saunas, steam rooms, bath houses and oxygen bars;
      • Table games at casinos and gaming establishments.
      For more information on the restrictions that will remain in place during Stage 3, as well as the public health guidance necessary to keep the people of Ontario safe, visit Ontario.ca/reopen.
      Ontario set to end cannabis delivery, curbside pickup
      Ontario has announced that delivery and curbside pickup services will no longer be allowed at weed stores in the province's state of emergency ends. Since April, the province has allowed privately-owned cannabis stores across Ontario to better cater to customers staying at home during the pandemic with delivery and curbside pickup. The announcement has sparked major concern for some of the province's retailers, many who hastily shifted their business models to provide delivery or curbside pickup to compete with illegal delivery services, which still make up more than 80 per cent of Ontario's cannabis sales.
      Ontario Economic Recovery Act introduced
      Today, the Ontario Government introduced the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, 2020, in an effort to boost the province's economic recovery, create jobs. Some of the changes include amendments to the Building Code Act, Environmental Assessment Act, Planning Act, Occupational Health and Safety Act. Invest Ontario created Invest Ontario will promote the province as a key investment destination, making Ontario more competitive while sending a strong signal to investors that the province is open for business. It will be a "one stop shop" for businesses and investors. It will move at the speed of business and drive greater economic growth, support strategic domestic firms and attract business from around the world to create good jobs in Ontario. It will initially focus on three important sectors for COVID-19 recovery where Ontario has a globally competitive advantage: advanced manufacturing, life sciences, and technology. Invest Ontario will include greater business development and deal structuring expertise and build on the many benefits of investing in Ontario, including: a good quality of life, a highly skilled talent pool, a strong and growing innovation sector, and a pro-job creation jurisdiction that can help businesses thrive. Reducing Regulatory Costs to Business Act, Burden Reduction Reporting Act and Modernizing Ontario for People and Businesses Act Ontario is proposing to merge the Reducing Regulatory Costs for Business Act, 2017 with the Burden Reduction Reporting Act so that all burden reduction requirements would now be in a single law - the Modernizing Ontario for People and Businesses Act. This new act would enshrine the government's seven burden reduction principles into legislation, so that businesses can count on clear, focused and effective rules that maintain or enhance protections for people's health, safety, and the environment. These proposed changes will broaden the reach of burden reduction requirements to encompass legislation, regulation, policies and forms - and to include additional stakeholder groups like for-profit and not-for-profit businesses. This will ensure the government is doing everything it can to communicate clearly, ensure digital rather than paper pathways where possible, and deliver on the province's commitment to be a modern regulator. Occupational Health and Safety Act As part of the government's commitment to keeping workers safe, an amendment to the Occupational Health and Safety Act will allow nationally and internationally recognized standards to be updated more regularly. These standards set workplace safety expectations for everything from protective clothing to equipment, and they are established by organizations such as Canadian Standards Association Group (CSA). Updating standards without requiring regulatory amendments will allow employers and workers access to more current information on workplace standards. For more information on this omnibus legislation
      Ontario introduces legislation to extend emergency orders into 2021
      Ontario introduced new legislation Tuesday to enable the extension of some pandemic emergency orders over the next year. The legislation, to be tabled Wednesday, would allow the government to extend or amend some emergency orders a month at a time, with the law expiring a year after it's passed. Under current legislation, the province can only issue emergency orders while the state of emergency is in place. Ontario's state of emergency is set to expire July 15, and the Premier's office said it would introduce a motion Wednesday to extend it until July 24 to ensure there is no gap between the provincial declaration and when the new bill takes effect. If the bill passes, the government could move parts of the province back to earlier stages of the pandemic lockdown if required.
      Ontario amends Emergency Orders to help Restaurants expand patios faster
      The Ontario government is helping restaurant and bar owners reopen and safely serve more customers by issuing a new emergency order and amending another under s.7.0.2 (4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, which will allow municipalities to quickly pass temporary bylaws for the creation and extension of patios and allow covered outdoor dining areas to serve customers. Under the Planning Act, the process to pass temporary use bylaws to create or extend a patio could take several weeks or more. As restaurants are currently only permitted to host dine-in guests on outdoor patios under Stage 2, this exemption under the emergency order will cut red tape and reduce the process time for passing these bylaws to a matter of days. Municipalities would still be responsible for compliance activities and ensuring proper health and safety practices, like proper physical distancing. The government also amended an emergency order to clarify that outdoor dining areas can open if they have a roof, canopy, tent, awning or other covering. At least two full sides of the outdoor dining area must be open to the outdoors and must not be substantially blocked in any way. If the outdoor dining area has a retractable roof, the roof must be fully open and at least one full side must be open to the outdoors and must not be substantially blocked in any way. For more information
      Ontario Launches Online Training to Promote Safe Workplaces
      Premier Doug Ford, along with Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton, announced that the Ontario government is investing $3 million to provide free online health and safety training through Employment Ontario. These virtual courses will make it easier for job seekers and workers to get essential qualifications, while continuing to practice physical distancing. Up to 100,000 job seekers will now have access to free online workplace health and safety training on topics including infection control, conducting health and safety incident investigations, and slips, trips and falls prevention. Premier Ford remarked that these types of online tools will instill business and consumer confidence, which are critical for getting the economy open again. For more information
      Stage 3 of Ontario's COVID-19 reopening plan looms nearer
      The chances of large parts of Ontario moving soon to Stage 3 of the province's COVID-19 reopening plan are looking good. It's been nearly three weeks since most of the province advanced to Stage 2 which allowed the opening of shopping malls, hair salons, swimming pools, and bar and restaurant patios. Data from those 24 public health units — everywhere but the Greater Toronto Area, Hamilton, Niagara, Windsor-Essex, Lambton and Haldimand-Norfolk — shows the spread of the virus remains largely contained. The new mobile app meant to help with contact tracing of COVID-19 cases won't roll out across Ontario today as planned. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health said the province is still working with the federal government and the app is expected to launch soon. The province didn't give a new date for the app's launch. Provincial-level discussions are happening about when to announce Stage 3. An announcement on Stage 3 could come within the next week or so. Ontario has not laid out precisely what changes will come in Stage 3 of the reopening. Its general framework released back in April suggested Stage 3 would mean "opening all workplaces responsibly" and "further relaxing the restrictions on public gatherings." Even with a move to Stage 3, mass gatherings such as concerts and spectator sports events would remain prohibited "for the foreseeable future," the framework said. Restrictions in place in Stage 2 that could be eased include the closure of playgrounds, the 10-person limit on social gatherings and the ban on indoor seating at restaurants and bars. While the daily number of new COVID-19 cases is a crucial metric for determining the timing of Stage 3, the other measures that are considered include the availability of hospitals beds, speed of testing and effectiveness of tracing close contacts of each person who tests positive.
      Ontario extends emergency orders
      On Saturday, Ontario has extended the emergency orders put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19 for another 10 days. The dozens of orders issued by the Ford government under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act were supposed to expire on June 30 but in a news release issued on Saturday the province confirmed that it would extend them until July 10. The state of emergency, which allows the province to issue and amend the orders, is currently set to expire on July 15 after being extended earlier this week. In addition to extending the emergency orders, the province also announced Saturday that it is removing some restrictions on indoor sports and recreational facilities so that they can be used to “train amateur or professional athletes, or to run certain non-contact amateur or professional athletic,” so long as public health guidelines are followed.
      Toronto, Peel Region now allowed to move into Stage 2 of reopening on June 24 Today, Premier Doug Ford along with Minister of Health Christine Elliott, Minister of Finance Rod Phillips and Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton, announced that the City of Toronto and Peel Region will join 31 other public health regions and move into Stage Two of reopening. Windsor-Essex will be the last region to remain in Stage One. This is due to a recent spike in cases associated with temporary foreign workers. For more information on Stage 2 Reopening in Ontario
      Ontario Releases School Safety Plan for the 2020-21 School Year
      Premier Doug Ford, along with Minister of Health Christine Elliott and Minister of Education Stephen Lecce, announced the government’s plan for the resumption of in-person classes in Ontario’s public schools in September. Readers will recall that last month, Minister Lecce revealed the government would cancel in-person classes for the remainder of the academic year due to the pandemic, but noted that schools would reopen in the fall. Ontario’s plan to safely reopen schools will provide optionality for parents (i.e. parents will have the choice of sending their children to school for in-person instructions, or parents can enroll children into online learning) in accordance with the province’s health and safety guidelines. The safety plan for schools was created following extensive consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, health experts on the COVID-19 Command Table, medical experts at The Hospital for Sick Children, education sector partners, parents and students. Further, Premier Ford outlined that Ontario’s 72 school boards have been asked to plan for the following three scenarios, one of which will be implemented in September, depending on the public health situation at the time: 1. Normal school day routine with enhanced public health protocols: Students going to school every day in classes that reflect standard class size regulations; 2. Modified school day routine: Based on public health advice, an adapted delivery model has been designed to allow for physical distancing and cohorts of students. Under this model, school boards are asked to maintain a maximum of 15 students in a classroom, and adopt timetabling that would allow for students to remain in contact only with their cohort and a single teacher for as much of the school day as possible. This model would require alternate week delivery to a segment of the class at one time; 3. At home learning: Should the school closure be extended, or some parents choose not to send their children back to school, school boards need to be prepared to offer remote education. Premier Ford also outlined that the government has instructed school boards to be prepared with a plan that includes an adapted delivery model, which could include alternate day or alternate week attendance, staggered bell times and recess, and different transportation arrangements to ensure the safety of students and staff.
      Ontario Pauses Commercial Evictions
      Ontario passed the Protecting Small Business Act, temporarily halting or reversing evictions of commercial tenants and protecting them from being locked out or having their assets seized during COVID-19. The legislation applies to businesses that are eligible for federal/provincial rent assistance for evictions from May 1, 2020 until August 31, 2020. Ontario is encouraging landlords and tenants to participate in the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses. The pause on evictions does not apply to those participating in CECRA for small businesses, as the program requires landlords to enter into a rent reduction agreement with their impacted small business tenants and commits them to a moratorium on evictions for three months.
      Ontario government extends emergency orders to June 30
      Ontario has extended all emergency orders currently in force until the end of June. The province will review each of the orders on a case-by-case basis to determine whether they can be adjusted or lifted as officials work to curb the spread of COVID-19. Some emergency orders were eased earlier this month, including a limit on social gatherings which is now set at 10 people instead of the previous limit of five. Most of the province has also entered the second stage of re-opening, allowing more businesses to operate again. The existing emergency orders were set to expire on Friday but are now in effect until June 30.
      Ontario considers 'good faith' immunity from COVID-19 lawsuits
      Ontario is considering granting some degree of immunity from civil lawsuits related to COVID-19 according to CBC News. The move would protect organizations and people — including health-care providers — from lawsuits if they spread COVID-19 while acting in good faith, according to a provincial government source. Another source close to the government said a key purpose of the legislation would be to prevent lawsuits against companies whose staff unwittingly infect customers or other workers as the province allows more non-essential businesses to resume operating. Premier Doug Ford confirmed Tuesday that an immunity provision is on his government's radar. It's unclear what effect — if any — Ontario's move would have on the handful of lawsuits already filed against long-term care providers over the deaths of seniors from COVID-19.
      Ontario Releases Guide on How to Develop a Workplace Safety Plan
      The Ontario government is providing employers with a new general workplace guide, which will help them develop a safety plan to better protect workers, customers and clients. The new downloadable toolkit offers tips on how to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as more people get back on the job during Stage 2 of the reopening of the province. The announcement was made today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. The new guide will help each employer create a safety plan that is right for their own unique workplace. It includes information on the use of face coverings, as well as applying controls in the workplace, from most important to least important. It also includes information on what personal protective equipment may be needed for workers. The government's first general workplace guide is accompanied by a template that employers can fill in to develop their own unique COVID-19 safety plan. The materials will help employers: • Identify the risks for transmitting the virus through person-to-person contact and actions such as touching faces with hands that have been contaminated by contact with surfaces and objects; • Determine what controls are needed to help mitigate risk, such as engineering controls like the installation of plexiglass to separate workers from customers, administrative controls limiting the number of workers in a space at one time, and personal protective equipment including face and eye protection; • Create a workplace safety plan based on the identified risks and appropriate controls specific to the employer's workplace; • Implement the plan in the workplace, and review and update it as the situation evolves; and • Communicate the actions being taken to workers and othe r people entering the workplace. The new guide is supported by 121 workplace resources available at Ontario.ca/covidsafety to help protect workers from the virus. They include safety guidelines and helpful posters with tips for 28 distinct sectors such as construction, food, agriculture, manufacturing and long-term care. These materials were developed by the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development in consultation with provincial health and safety associations.
      More Ontario regions to enter next phase of reopening (except Toronto, Peel and Windsor)
      Premier Doug Ford said as of Friday, June 19, the following areas of the province will move into stage two: • Durham • Hamilton • York • Halton • Niagara • Haldimand-Norfolk • Sarnia-Lambton County For regions in stage two, shopping malls can reopen, restaurants and bars can serve customers seated outdoors, barber shops, hair salons and tattoo parlors can operate, and swimming pools and campgrounds can reopen. (You can read the province's full stage two plan at the bottom of this story.) Toronto, Peel and Windsor will remain at Stage 1
      Ontario's new social bubble rules for COVID-19
      The Ford government revealed new rules for how Ontarians can gather during the COVID-19 pandemic on Friday. The province says that allowing Ontarians to expand their social circles to 10 could help families with child- or senior-care needs, for example, and help alleviate the mental health impacts of isolation. People in higher-risk groups should be discerning about who is part of their social circle, a public health official said at a morning briefing on the new policy. And if your current household already includes up to 10 people, then you cannot expand it further. The new guidance takes effect today everywhere in Ontario, regardless of whether or not your region is moving into the next phase of reopening.
      Toronto is the Fast-Growing Metropolitan Area in North America
      The Toronto metropolitan area is now recognized as the fastest-growing city region in the two countries, while the City of Toronto is the fastest-growing central city, according to a new report from Ryerson University’s Centre for Urban Research (CUR). CUR analyzed the latest population growth estimates for US metropolitan areas and central cities from the US Census Bureau for the 12 months ending July 1, 2019, and comparable estimates for the same 12 months from Statistics Canada. The data showed that Toronto dethroned Dallas-Fort Worth Arlington for the top spot, with Toronto’s metro area adding 127,575 persons in 2019, according to the CUR report. The City of Toronto added 45,742 persons last year, more than the two fastest-growing US central cities combined, Phoenix and the city of San Antonio, which grew by 26,317 and 17,237 persons, respectively. The GTA has received about one-third of the country’s migrants, or about 100,000 people, in the past couple of years which has helped fuel home prices and new home market activity. A May 12 report from The Conference Board of Canada estimates the number of people coming into the region will drop to 65,710 due to the pandemic in 2020. While the government aims to announce a post-COVID immigration plan before its annual announcement this fall, a 35% decrease in the number of migrants in the GTA will certainly impact
      Toronto to make face coverings mandatory on public transit
      Toronto plans to make face coverings mandatory on its public transit system, a rule that could go into effect starting July 2. "As the restart and reopening begins, we know that more people will be back on the TTC … at the same time, physical distancing will become a greater and greater challenge," Mayor John Tory said. The Toronto Transit Commission board will need to approve the recommendation at its meeting next week, though TTC CEO Rick Leary has already said he supports the plan.
      Ontario releases plan to reopen postsecondary education
      Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities Ross Romano unveiled the province’s plan to reopen postsecondary education and ensure academic continuity for Ontario’s students. As part of this, the province plans for the gradual and safe resumption of in-person instruction at postsecondary institutions for the summer term. Minister Romano noted that the province would also be developing a more comprehensive framework to be released to the sector in the coming days, which will provide guidance on the summer reopening and on health and safety measures. Minister Romano explained that starting in July, limited in-person education and training may restart for students who were not able to graduate as a result of COVID-19 closures – referred to by the government as “academically stranded students”. The first phase will permit institutions to provide in-person instruction to students in essential, frontline and high labour market demand areas, including nursing, personal support workers and engineering. Further, beginning in September, all students will have the opportunity to attend postsecondary education through virtual learning, in-class instruction or hybrid formats. Minister Romano also noted that the government would continue to collaborate with the postsecondary sector to determine how best to move forward with reopening campuses in the fall, and beyond, in a way that is responsible and safe for all students and staff.
      Ontario Province Reopening Child Care with Strict Protocols
      Today, the Ontario government announced its plan to reopen child care centres across the province to support the next stage of the province's reopening framework. The plan will require child care operators to follow strict health protocols to ensure the safety of child care staff and children. Similar to the safety guidelines required for emergency child care centres. Centres will be required to adopt specific rules, including:
      • Cohorting ― putting children and staff in groups of 10 or less day over day;
      • COVID-19 response plan ― all child care settings will be required to have a plan in place if a child, parent or staff member/provider is exposed to COVID-19;
      • Screening ― all staff and children must be screened prior to entry to the child care setting. Anyone feeling unwell must stay home;
      • Daily attendance records ― child care settings must keep daily records of all attendees in order to support contact tracing;
      • Cleaning ― child care settings must be thoroughly cleaned before opening and frequently thereafter;
      • No visitors ― only essential visitors are permitted entry into the child care setting;
      • Implementing drop-off and pick-up protocols in a way that facilitates physical distancing.
      Staff can re-enter child care facilities and begin preparation for reopening. When these operators have met all the strict and stringent guidelines for reopening, they will be permitted to reopen. Emergency child care will wind down effective June 26, 2020 as all licensed child care centres are permitted to open province-wide. Families served through emergency child care will be supported by service system managers to return to their previous arrangement or finding new space during the transition back to regular childcare. As child care reopens across the province, if families are not offered access to their previous child care arrangement, operators will continue to be prevented from charging fees for these spaces.
      Commercial Rent – Banning of Evictions in BC, AB, QC, SK and ON
      The governments in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Quebec and Alberta banned commercial evictions in light of increasing reports of tenants being evicted. Ontario will ban commercial evictions between June 3 and August 31 Today, the Ontario government announced today that it intends to take action to protect commercial tenants from being locked out or having their assets seized by their landlords due to the negative impacts of COVID-19. The proposed changes to the Commercial Tenancies Act would, if passed, temporarily halt evictions of businesses that are eligible for federal/provincial rent assistance. If passed, the legislation would reverse evictions that occurred on or after June 3, 2020. The government intends to bring this legislation forward as soon as possible. If passed, the proposed legislation would make it illegal to evict a commercial tenant until August 31, 2020. For more information on the Ontario ban
      Ontario: Restaurants, hair salons, malls and houses of worship outside GTHA can reopen by Friday
      Restaurants, hair salons, shopping malls and public pools will be permitted to reopen in some parts of the province outside the GTHA and parts of southern Ontario by as early as this Friday. But municipalities within the GTHA as well as some hard-hit areas of southern Ontario will not be allowed to reopen additional businesses until June 19 at the earliest. Starting June 12, all Ontario municipalities outside the GTHA, Lambton, Niagara, Windsor-Essex and Haldimand-Norfolk will be able to open shopping malls, all personal care settings including hair salons, barbers and spas, outdoor dining on patios or in parking lots, public pools, houses of worship, museums and other historic sites, community centres and flim, television and photography production. Strict physical distancing will be enforced in all settings, including near-universal use of gloves and masks. Gatherings of up to 10 people will also be permitted in all areas of the province starting on Friday. For instance, personal care settings including tattoo parlours, tanning salons, spas providing massage services, hair removal centres and weight loss clinics will be allowed to reopen, with increased cleaning protocols, appointment only service, questionnaires about COVID-19 for clients and physical distancing measures. Places of worship will be asked to enforce a limit on occupancy of no more than 30 per cent of regular pre-pandemic capacity. Restaurants and bars will be able to seat diners in a physically distant manner, not indoors but only on patios or parking lot space and all diners will have to make reservations. Stores in malls will be under strict occupancy restrictions, enforced walking traffic patterns, and stores with change rooms will be ordered to clean them in between uses. Food courts in malls will be restricted to take-out only. Public pools, community centres and pools in other settings such as condos and hotels will be allowed to reopen, but change rooms will only be allowed to open “if operators can adequately sanitize and disinfect the facilities.” To access the Media Release
      Ontario Extending Outdoor Patios to Allow for Social Distancing During COVID-19
      The Ontario government will allow restaurants and bars to temporarily extend outdoor patio spaces to safely accommodate patrons and staff once licensed establishments are permitted to fully reopen for business. Licensed establishments may create a patio adjacent to their premise or increase the size of their patio once they are permitted to welcome patrons on-site. This temporary measure will allow the public to safely enjoy service that meets social distancing requirements and other public health guidelines. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) will not require licensees to apply or pay a fee for these temporary extensions. Licensed establishments MUST ensure they have municipal approval and meet all other applicable requirements. These measures will be in effect until January 1, 2021 at 3:00 a.m. For more information
      Ontario considering Stage 2 of reopening
      Premier Doug Ford is signalling that he could announce the next phase of loosening Ontario's pandemic restrictions as early as next week, despite a recent uptick in new cases of COVID-19. Ford said the question of moving to Ontario's Stage 2 of reopening is now being considered by the senior officials who form the COVID-19 command table. Stage 2 would allow a wider number of office-based businesses to reopen and expand the maximum size of social gatherings that's currently limited to five. The province's top criteria for further easing its semi-lockdown is a consistent decline over a two- to four-week period in the daily number of new cases. That benchmark has not declined consistently in the three weeks since May 14, when Ford announced Ontario's first stage of looser restrictions, including allowing non-essential retail stores outside of shopping malls to open for customers.
      Ontario lifts restrictions on short-term rentals
      Ontario has announced short-term rentals will be allowed to resume operations on June 5 including cottages, cabins, lodges, condos and B&Bs. Economic Development Minister Vic Fedeli announced the news in a tweet, adding as of 12:01 Friday, the restrictions on rentals would be lifted.
      Ontario extends state of emergency until June 30
      As the CFA reported on Monday night, the Ontario legislature formally voted on Tuesday to extend the state of emergency until June 30. Ontario's emergency measure bans gatherings larger than five people. It also orders the closure of some businesses such as restaurants and bars, except if they offer takeout or delivery. At a news conference Tuesday, Premier Ford said the extension does not mean plans to reopen the province will remain on hold. Ford said his government is continuing to work on a plan for a regional, phased approach to reopening.
      Ontario Together Portal receives 25,000 submissions
      Premier Doug Ford, along with Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade Vic Fedeli and Minister of Health Christine Elliott, began today’s media conference by highlighting that, since launching in March, the Ontario Together portal has received 25,000 submissions, which has led to $200 million in purchases of personal protective equipment (PPE). As part of this, the government has procured 120 million face masks, 4 million face shields and 1 million surgical gloves for frontline workers. As the government continues investing in local manufacturers to keep communities safe during the pandemic, Premier Ford and Minister Fedeli announced an additional $2.8 million in financial support for three innovative businesses. This funding is being provided through the Ontario Together Fund to re-tool processes and increase the capacity of these businesses to make PPE. Premier Ford finished his address by noting these partnerships will unleash the true potential of Ontario’s manufacturing sector to ensure the province is never again at the mercy of other countries when it comes to procuring PPE.
      Ontario considering a regional phased approach to reopening
      Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he's considering a regional phased approach to reopening the province, an approach he had previously resisted. Ford said that the province's expanded testing guidelines, released Friday morning, will help public health officials better understand trends and hot spots. The new strategy will focus on communities with relatively high numbers of cases and certain high-risk workplaces while also boosting Ontario's contact-tracing work.
      Ontario increases the cost of electricity to 12.8 cents from 10.1 cents
      Premier Ford announced the COVID-19 Recovery Rate of 12.8 cents per kilowatt hour that will be applied 24 hours per day, 7 days a week. This rate is a slight increase from the previous 10.1 cents per kilowatt hour but continues the suspension of time-of-use (TOU) energy pricing by offering a single, fixed hydro rate. The fixed rate will be applied to TOU customer bills automatically in an effort to provide stability in pricing. The rate will be in place until October 31, 2020. In addition, the Ontario Energy Board has extended its disconnection ban until July 31 for residential customers. In addition to the COVID-19 Recovery Rate, Energy Minister Rickford announced that customers will have the ability to choose the rate best for them beginning November 1, 2020. Beginning then, electricity customers will have the choice to be billed on TOU electricity rates or through tiered pricing. Finally, Minister Rickford announced the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Business. The $8 million dollar assistance plan will provide support to businesses that are struggling with energy bill payments as a result of the pandemic.
      Ontario extending State of Emergency to June 30
      The state of emergency, which was set to expire on June 2, will be extended until June 30 if the motion is passed on Tuesday at Queen's Park. The province declared a state of emergency on March 17 as the number of COVID-19 cases in Ontario continued to climb. Ontario entered the first phase of the reopening plan on May 19. A number of businesses, including those with a street-front entrance were allowed to reopen. The province was hoping to make an announcement on allowing larger social gatherings last month but said last week they delayed it due to an uptick in cases.
      Ontario makes temporary change to layoff regulations to help businesses
      Ontario is temporarily amending its labour laws to help businesses avoid permanently laying off workers and paying out severance, which could send some into bankruptcy during the pandemic. The government is expected to announce today that it will amend the Employment Standards Act, which requires businesses to terminate employees who have been laid off for 13 weeks. The law then requires the business to pay severance to workers. The change will see non-unionized workers who have had their hours reduced or eliminated placed on a temporary leave that preserves their job. Workers will still be eligible for federal emergency income support programs. News Release
      Ontario Extending Emergency Orders to June 9
      The Government of Ontario declared a provincial emergency on March 17, 2020 under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. This declaration of emergency was most recently extended on May 12, 2020, and is currently in effect until June 2, 2020. Current emergency orders include the closure of outdoor playgrounds, play structures and equipment, public swimming pools and outdoor water facilities, as well as bars and restaurants except for takeout and delivery. Additionally, there continues to be restrictions on social gatherings of more than five people, and staff redeployment rules remain in place for long-term care homes and congregate settings like retirement homes and women's shelters. Full News Release
      Ontario announces support for apprenticeship, tourism and hospitality sector
      Premier Ford announced the launch of a new Ontario Tools Grant program this summer, to help apprentices purchase equipment. An estimated 11,600 Ontario apprentices are eligible to receive: $1,000 each in motive power sectors; $600 each in construction and industrial trades; and $400 for those in-service sector trades. The grant program is slated to invest $2.5 million in 2020-21 and $7.5 million in 2021-22 and ongoing. To support tourism and hospitality workers displaced by the economic shut down, the Premier announced a partnership with UNITED HERE Local 75 to launch a Virtual Action Centre. The centre is expected to help up to 7,000 workers in the sector with supports from counselling for mental wellness to employment preparation through video conferencing. Read the full announcement
      Ontario deficit could hit $41 billion – FAO
      The Financial Accountability Office of Ontario (FAO) released its spring Economic and Budget Outlook report, which highlighted that Ontario is facing a $41 billion deficit – its largest ever. The annual operating shortfall is now estimated to be almost four times larger than projected prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the next two years, Ontario is expected to add an extra $78 billion in red ink to its provincial books. Financial Accountability Officer Peter Weltman stated that these numbers might even prove “too optimistic” if a second wave of COVID-19 forces longer shutdowns of the economy. The FAO projects that Ontario’s real GDP will decline by 9 per cent in 2020, the largest annual decline on record.
      Ontario expected to extend state of emergency to June 2
      Ontario's legislature will sit Tuesday and is expected to extend the province's state of emergency to June 2, while also holding question period again. A statement from the government house leader's office says unanimous consent is also expected to quickly vote on all stages of a bill that makes COVID-19-related changes to several acts.
      Ontario reduces the minimum price for spirits ordered with food for takeout and delivery by 33%
      Late Tuesday Ontario announced it had reduced the minimum price of spirits sold by licensed establishments with food takeout and delivery orders by 33 percent. This pricing change applies specifically to spirits with an alcohol content greater than 14.8 percent. The reduction in minimum pricing will be in effect until January 1, 2021. For more information please see the news release
      Ontario announces a list of more businesses than can open with strict guidelines
      The Ontario government is allowing all retail stores with a street entrance to provide curbside pickup and delivery, as well as in-store payment and purchases at garden centres, nurseries, hardware stores and safety supply stores.
      • On Friday garden centres and nurseries will be allowed to reopen
      • On Saturday, hardware stores and safety supply stores will also be allowed to reopen.
      • On May 11, retail stores with a street entrance will be allowed to reopen for curbside pickup.
      The government is also expanding essential construction to allow below-grade multi-unit residential construction projects like apartments and condominiums to begin and existing above-grade projects to continue. This will help clear the way for the housing and jobs our economy will need to support economic recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak.
      Ontario Extends Electricity Rate Relief During COVID-19
      The Ontario government is extending emergency electricity rate relief to families, farms and small businesses until May 31, 2020. Customers who pay time-of-use electricity rates will continue to be billed at the lowest price, known as the off-peak price, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This electricity rate relief, initially provided for a 45-day period starting on March 24, 2020, has been extended. For the full news release click here
      Ontario Extends State of Emergency until May 19
      On the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Ontario government is extending all emergency orders that have been put in place until May 19, 2020.
      Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec lifting some COVID-19 restrictions
      Ontario took its first steps Monday with the reopening of some businesses, including lawn care and landscaping, garden centres for curbside pickup, automatic and self-serve car washes, auto dealerships by appointment, and many construction projects. Manitobans can now visit everything from hair salons to museums to restaurant patios (with fewer seats than normal) provided everyone is following public health rules. In most of Saskatchewan, non-urgent medical offices are allowed to reopen and rules around some outdoor activities — including fishing and boating — are being loosened. But one owner of a physiotherapy clinic told CBC Saskatchewan she's got mixed emotions about opening up. Newfoundland and Labrador plans to move to alert Level 4 on May 11, meaning a relaxation of some public health measures to allow more social and business activities. The province followed New Brunswick's lead and allowed families to come together in "bubbles" made up of two households . Alberta took its first strides toward the large-scale resumption of public life under COVID-19 this weekend as provincial parks and golf courses opened under the government's phased economic relaunch. Alberta began to ease some public health restrictions on Friday, with provincial parks and boat launches reopening with limited services. Alberta has three stage plan starting May 14 called Opening Soon: Alberta’s Relaunch Strategy .
      Ontario government allowing some businesses to reopen on May 4
      Ontario government has announced that certain businesses and workplaces can reopen on Monday with strict public health measures in effect. The government said businesses permitted to reopen include seasonal businesses and some essential construction projects. The government said following proper health and safety guidelines, these businesses can reopen as of May 4 at 12:01 a.m.:
      • Garden centres and nurseries with curbside pick-up and delivery only
      • Lawn care and landscaping
      • Additional essential construction projects that include: shipping and logistics, broadband, telecommunications, and digital infrastructure; any other project that supports the improved delivery of goods and services; municipal projects; colleges and universities; child care centres; schools; and site preparation, excavation, and servicing for institutional, commercial, industrial and residential development
      • Automatic and self-serve car washes
      • Auto dealerships, open by appointment only
      • Golf courses may prepare their courses for the upcoming season, but not open to the public
      • Marinas may also begin preparations for the recreational boating season by servicing boats and other watercraft and placing boats in the water, but not open to the public. Boats and watercraft must be secured to a dock in the marina until public access is allowed.
      CFA pens Op-Ed with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce
      CFA President Sherry McNeil and Ontario Chamber of Commerce President Rocco Rossi penned an op-ed that was published in the Toronto Sun arguing for changes in the Canada Emergency Business Account to better help CFA and OCC members. A link to the op-ed is below. “All small business owners (franchised and non-franchised) are an essential part of the nation’s economic and social fabric. Like everyone, they are suffering through this crisis and need help to survive. Expanding the CEBA loan program will help more of these businesses survive the COVID-19 economic downturn and help ensure their employees still have jobs. Without this support, recovery will be tougher than it needs to be.” OPINION: Franchisee owners cannot be left behind
      Ontario Providing Employers with Workplace Safety Guidelines to Help Businesses Adapt to New Environment
      Ontario released safety guidelines released to provide direction to those working in manufacturing, food manufacturing and processing, restaurant and food service, and the agricultural sector.
      • 61 sector-specific guidelines are available here from Ontario’s health and safety associations.
      • Guidelines for construction are available here
      . These new sector-specific guidelines recommend actions employers can take as they adapt to the new reality during COVID-19, including:
      • Ways to ensure appropriate physical distancing, including staggering shift times and using ground markings and barriers to manage traffic flow;
      • Changes to the workplace, including installing plexiglass barriers;
      • Promoting proper workplace sanitation.
      Ontario is also issuing posters to promote a variety of useful safety tips on physical distancing and sanitation. They are downloadable from the Ontario.ca website .
      58 new inspectors are on the job
      Starting this week, 58 new inspectors will join the hundreds of existing provincial labour inspectors on the ground who are tasked with communicating COVID-19 safety guidelines to essential workplaces and enforcing emergency measures, including physical distancing and the closure of non-essential businesses.
      Ontario to reveal reopening plans
      Ontario announces three-stage process to reopen economy.
      While there is no firm starting date Ontario announced it will reopen its economy through a three-stage process in the coming weeks and months. Ontario’s reopening will depend on a consistent two-to-four week drop in new daily COVID-19 cases; a decrease in cases not traced to a source; and a decrease in new hospitalizations. The stages for reopening are as follows:

      Phase One:

      • Opening select workplaces that can meet the current health guidelines;
      • Allowing essential gatherings of limited numbers;
      • Opening some outdoor spaces;
      • Allowing hospitals to begin providing some non-urgent and scheduled surgeries; and
      • Protecting vulnerable populations.

      Phase Two:

      • The opening of additional workplaces with mitigation plans;
      • Opening of additional public spaces; and
      • Larger public gatherings.

      Phase Three:

      • Reopening all workplaces responsibly; and
      • Relaxing restrictions on public gatherings.
      Each stage will last at least two to four weeks, at which point Ontario's chief medical officer of health will be able to tighten certain restrictions, extend the stage or advise that the province can move into the next phase.
      Ontario’s publicly funded schools will remain closed until at least May 29.
      Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced that all publicly-funded schools will remain closed until at least May 31. At a news conference on Sunday, Lecce said the decision was made based on the advice of Dr. David Williams, the province's chief medical officer of health, and the province's COVID-19 Command Table. He said the announcement is also to provide students, parents and teachers with "greater certainty" as the pandemic continues.
      Ontario Supporting Frontline Workers with Pandemic Pay Increase
      The Ontario government is providing frontline staff with a temporary pandemic payment. This increase will provide $4 per hour worked on top of existing hourly wages, regardless of the qualified employee's hourly wage. In addition, employees working over 100 hours per month would receive lump sum payments of $250 per month for each of the next four months. This means that eligible employees working an average of 40 hours per week would receive $3,560 in additional compensation. Those eligible to receive the payment will be staff working in long-term care homes, retirement homes, emergency shelters, supportive housing, social services congregate care settings, corrections institutions and youth justice facilities, as well as those providing home and community care and some staff in hospitals. Click here for more details on the Pay Raise for Frontline Workers
      Community spread 'appears to have peaked' in Ontario, but long-term care cases rising
      Community spread of the novel coronavirus in Ontario appears to have peaked earlier than expected, updated modelling suggests, but the public must "stay the course" to ensure a best-case scenario remains achievable in the weeks ahead, public health officials say. The revised projections come as health authorities provide a briefing on Monday afternoon on the current status of COVID-19 in Ontario. The total number of cases for the span of this wave of the outbreak is "now likely less than 20,000" — if the physical distancing and other emergency measures remain in place, documents provided by the province's dedicated COVID-19 task force say. That figure is "substantially lower" than the worst-case scenario of 300,000 and expected-case scenario of 80,000 included in Ontario's previous modelling update on April 3. Experts initially anticipated a peak of community spread at some point in May. Unfortunately, spread in long-term care and other congregate settings seems to be growing. Outbreaks of COVID-19 have been reported in 127 long-term care facilities, according to the province's task force. The Ministry of Health says there has been 249 deaths among residents at long-term care homes in the province, while one staff member has died. The figures provided today by the COVID-19 task force put deaths in long-term care at 367. Health officials said on Monday that they've now tested all residents and staff, even if they were asymptomatic, at 21 long-term care homes in the province. April 20, 2020 Pandemic Modelling for Ontario
      Ontario – Lower energy consumption might mean higher global adjustment costs for some small businesses, manufacturers
      Ontarians are using about 12.2 per cent less power compared to two years ago, according to the Independent Electricity System Operator. Unfortunately, Ontario's electricity system has substantial fixed costs through contracts meant to ensure stable ongoing supply, and this system did not anticipate a dive in demand related to a pandemic. Ontario also uses a global adjustment, which in part covers the difference between the guaranteed price and what generators can earn on the wholesale market. Residential ratepayers, who are currently paying the lowest amount on the time-of-use scale for all hours of the day, are protected from the global adjustment increase at this time, as are farms and some small businesses. Class B ratepayers, which includes some other small businesses and manufacturers, are not protected. With fewer ratepayers paying the freight, these ratepayers will have to pay a larger proportion to make up the difference. The CFA will be working with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce because we are very concerned about the impact the COVID-19 crisis is having on small business’ electricity bills.
      Ontario launches COVID-19 Action Plan: Long-Term Care Homes
      Premier Doug Ford announced Ontario’s Action Plan for Long-Term Care Homes to prevent further outbreaks and deaths. The Action Plan includes:
      • Aggressive Testing, Screening, and Surveillance: enhancing testing for symptomatic residents and staff and those who have been in contact with persons confirmed to have COVID-19; expanding screening to include more asymptomatic contacts of confirmed cases; and leveraging surveillance tools to enable care providers to move proactively against the disease.
      • Managing Outbreaks and Spread of the Disease: supporting long-term care homes with public health and infection control expertise to contain and prevent outbreaks; providing additional training and support for current staff working in outbreak conditions.
      • Growing our Heroic Long-Term Care Workforce: redeploying staff from hospitals and home and community care to support the long-term care home workforce and respond to outbreaks, alongside intensive on-going recruitment initiatives.
      Ontario Extends State of Emergency for 28 days until May 12
      During a special session of the Legislature Ontario passed a bill to extend the State of Emergency to May 12, 2020. The order closes non-essential businesses and child-care centres until May 12. Ontario public schools will not reopen on May 4 The provincial government initially planned to reopen schools on May 1 for teachers and May 4 for students, and suggested that any further closures would be up to the Chief Medical Officer of Health.
      Ontario long-term home workers will not be permitted to work at multiple facilities amid COVID-19
      Ontario Premier Doug Ford will issue an emergency order that will prohibit employees from working at multiple long-term care facilities in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. Ford, who said long-term care homes are quickly turning into the front lines in the fight against the novel coronavirus, said at a news conference that the order will take effect Tuesday night. Of the province's 626 long-term facilities, 114 are currently reporting infections, representing about 14 per cent of all such homes. Ontario will be launching an action plan Wednesday that would see available resources within Ontario's health system redeployed to homes experiencing outbreaks.
      Ontario extends State of Emergency
      Emergency orders remain in place until April 23. That means the continued closure of amenities in parks and recreational areas, non-essential workplaces, public places and bars and restaurants, along with restrictions on social gatherings and the prohibition of price-gouging. The Ontario Legislature will reconvene tomorrow where the Legislature will approve a few items including an extension of the province’s state of emergency by 28 days. A state of emergency declaration can be extended by no more than 14 days with approval by the Lieutenant Governor, but it requires a vote by the legislature to be extended by 28 days. The extension, if approved, will extend the State of Emergency into May.
      Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee created to start mapping out the economic recovery
      Premier Ford announce the creation of the “Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee,” which will aim to help the economy recover after the COVID-19 pandemic is over. The committee will be chaired by Finance Minister Rod Phillips. Other Ministers on the committee are Vic Fedeli, minister of economic development, job creation and trade, Caroline Mulroney, minister of transportation and Monte McNaughton, minister of labour, training and skills development. The committee will focus on “getting businesses up and running and people back to work,” according to a press release.
      Ontario Providing One-time Payment of $200 or More Per Child
      Today the Ontario government announced the new Support for Families initiative offers a one-time payment of $200 per child 0 to 12 years of age, and $250 for those 0 to 21 years of age with special needs. Families can complete a simple online application at Ontario's Support for Families web page to access this financial support. Parents already receiving Support for Parents (http://www.ontario.ca/SupportForParents) payments through direct deposit will be automatically eligible for this financial support and do not need to submit a new application. Through this initiative the government is providing over $300 million in relief to parents across Ontario as part of Ontario's Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19.
      Ontario halts commercial and industrial construction
      The Ontario government revised the list of essential businesses. Following the update all industrial and commercial construction projects are required to stop work at by the end of day on April 4, 2020. Any business that has not been deem essential and continues to operate can be fined up to $500,000 per offence. ONTARIO LIST OF ESSENTIAL WORKPLACES
      COVID-19 Modelling Update
      On Friday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford released extensive COVID-19 modelling, revealing several scenarios that project the potential number of cases and deaths. In doing so, the province is providing the public with full transparency about the consequences should everyone but essential workers fail to stay home and practice physical distancing. The detailed graphs were not available in time for the April 3 update. DETAILED COVID-19 MODELLING The Quebec government is being asked to release their projections for the aftermath of the crisis. The "most likely" scenario for Quebec should be available by Tuesday, April 7.
      Ontario reduces list of essential services to 44
      On April 3, 2020, Ontario updated the list of essential businesses that can remain open. The restrictions are aimed at further reducing contact between people and stopping the spread of COVID-19. The number of essential businesses has been reduced from 74 to 44. Among those businesses no longer allowed to operate are
      • Private sector industrial, commercial and institutional projects will be affected, while public sector infrastructure work and some residential construction will be allowed to continue.
      • Projects related to the health-care sector, including any work necessary to ensure the production of critical equipment and medical devices, as well those required to maintain the operations of petrochemical plants and refineries, will be exempted from the shut down.
      • Ontario's retail cannabis outlets have been taken off the essential list and will be forced to close, although people can still order from the province's online store.
      ONTARIO'S LIST OF ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES
LAST UPDATED: July 8, 2020

Prince Edward Island COVID-19 Update

P.E.I. strengthens recommendation on mask wearing
P.E.I. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison recommended masks should be worn more often to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at a briefing Tuesday morning. Previous recommendations included wearing masks in places such as on public transit. Morrison said she was now strongly recommending masks be worn in other indoor, public spaces where people are unable to maintain a physical distance of two metres. Wearing a mask is a strong recommendation, said Morrison, not mandatory. The changed advice is based on new evidence from around the world about how the coronavirus spreads.
PEI: Phase 4 of reopening starts today
Phase 4 highlights include:
  • Larger organized gatherings – organized gatherings of up to 50 people will be re-introduced, including for worship services, organized sports, day camps and events like weddings and funerals.
  • Personal gathering limits – limits will remain at no more than 15 people indoor and 20 people outdoor while maintaining physical distancing with individuals who are not part of a person’s household.
  • Long-Term Care visitation – anticipated scheduled indoor visits with up to two individuals at one time and additional access for clergy will be permitted at both private and public Long-Term Care facilities.
  • Businesses – additional businesses providing personal services, such as facials and piercings, can open. Accommodations will open for non-PEI residents, including campgrounds, hospitality homes, inns and bed and breakfasts.
  • Child care – licensed child care centres can accept an additional three children who are between 22 months and school entry age. Unlicensed child care centres and day camps will continue to operate under current requirements.
  • Health care – all non-urgent health care services will resume.
    New emergency leave available for Islanders unable to work during pandemic
    A new emergency leave from work is now available on P.E.I. to those who can't work because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation passed third reading and received Royal Assent last week. The unpaid leave offers increased job security and is available to anyone affected by an officially-declared emergency by the Chief Public Health Officer. It covers those who are in quarantine due to self-isolation or who tested positive to the coronavirus and are not allowed to work, or can't access child care.. Before this leave was introduced, there were two forms of leave available to Island employees: three days of unpaid sick leave or four days of unpaid leave plus one day of paid leave, and that was only available to employees who have been with the same employer for five years or more.
    P.E.I. will move to phase four of province’s reopening plan on June 26
    Dr. Heather Morrison, Prince Edward Island’s chief medical officer of health, announced that Prince Edward Island will move to phase four of its reopening plan on Friday, June 26. Phase four will permit:
    • Up to 50 people for team and organized sports
    • Up to 50 people for small festivals and events
    • An increase in personal services, for things like facials and electrolysis
    • The opening of VLTs and casinos
    PEI premier touts prospect of Atlantic bubble, NS hesitant
    Prince Edward Island Premier Dennis King said Wednesday evening after discussions with other Atlantic premiers that people should be able to travel within the four provinces sometime in early July. But on Thursday, Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said he is reluctant to commit to a date for establishing a travel bubble. The Atlantic bubble has been discussed for some time now. The premiers say they want to provide safe and efficient travel in the region without the need to self-isolate, which would allow for tourism and family visits.
    PEI extends state of emergency until June 14
    Cabinet extends state of emergency until June 14.
    PEI moves to Phase 2 reopening
    Many Prince Edward Island business are getting set to reopen tomorrow as the province moves into Phase 2 of its recovery. There were no new cases reported on P.E.I. Thursday.
    On the lighter side: Quit smoking and get some lobster
    The P.E.I. Lung Association is luring smokers with lobster as a way to convince them to quit. A Smoke-Free Now Challenge launching this week offers people who quit for 28-days $30 worth of lobster or a $30 local gift card. There is an online Facebook group where Islanders and those participating from Nova Scotia can all go on and get support from one another. The promotion is modelled after a similar challenge in Nova Scotia that's helped more than 1,000 people quit over the last few years. P.E.I.'s Smoke-Free Now Challenge starts Friday at noon. It's open to all residents aged 19 or older who are current smokers.
    Re-Open plans are starting to be discussed
    Several provinces have begun to talk about reopening the economy, which has been virtually shut down since mid-March, the pressure is on to find reliable, rapid tests to determine who is infected with the virus and who has developed immunity to it. Prince Edward Island, where the caseload is low, is aiming to ease measures put in place to slow the spread in late April and reopen businesses in mid-May.
    State of emergency extensions in NB and PEI
    New Brunswick has extended its state of emergency for another 14 days. PEI has extended its state of public health emergency for an additional 30 days. Under the measures, anyone travelling to the province will need to disclose the purposes of their travel to determine if it is essential or not.
    Big Win for CFA on P.E.I. Commercial Rent Deferral Program Guidelines
    On April 7, P.E.I. amended the Rent Deferral Program Guidelines that will now allow franchisees to participate in the program. The original program, which was similar to the Nova Scotia program, prevented franchisees from taking part in the program. The CFA spent the weekend working with the PEI government to get the program guidelines amended with the changes being announced this afternoon. The program allows landlords to defer rent for tenant’s whose business is closed to the public due to the related to the COVID-19. Landlords can be eligible for coverage (up to a maximum of $50,000 per landlord and $15,000 per tenant) if you can’t recover the deferred rent. To be eligible for the COVID-19 Small Business Rental Deferral Guarantee Program, landlords must register with Finance PEI by April 20, 2020 by emailing financepei@gov.pe.ca. The Rent Deferral Agreement must be in place by April 20, 2020. For more information, read the Commercial Lease Rent Deferral Program documentation. CFA working with other provinces to get commercial rent relief The CFA continues to work with provincial governments across Canada to get them to put in place rent deferral and rent rebate programs to help franchisors and franchisees through this difficult time.
    P.E.I. announces COVID-19 supports for businesses and individuals
    On April 3, the Province of Prince Edward Island announced a $1,000,000 fund for Islanders who may not qualify for existing support programs.
    • COVID-19 Business Adaptation Advice Program – The program will cover the entire cost for businesses and entrepreneurs, up to $2,500, to hire a professional to provide advice and support on how to adapt or recover from the impacts of the pandemic. Professional services may include human resources and financial planning, digital or IT solutions, or even marketing. COVID-19 Special Situations Fund – will provide up to $1,000 to Islanders who have experienced urgent income loss as a result of COVID-19 and are not eligible for other federal and provincial funding support.
    • Temporary Rental Assistance Benefit – will provide $1,000 per household to help cover the cost of rent for a three month period. Eligible Islanders will receive $500 in the first month they apply and $250 the next two months.
    • Community Champions Initiative – a new $300,000 partnership with Loblaw Companies Limited to create a Community Champions Initiative where community organizations across all 27 provincial electoral districts will receive gift cards which can be used at any Loblaw’s store to support the food-related needs of their populations.
LASTED UPDATED: August 12, 2020

Quebec COVID-19 Update

Quebec invests in 30,000 laptops and tablets for students in need
Quebec is investing $18.9 million to create a reserve of computer equipment for students as they return to school during the COVID-19 pandemic. Education Minister Jean-François Roberge announced Wednesday the government is purchasing about 30,000 laptops and tablets for use by students most in need. The devices will be reserved for children who don't have computers or exclusive access to them, as well as for Grade 10 and 11 students who will be on alternating schedules of in-person and remote learning.
Blanchet will push for election if Trudeau, Morneau, Telford won't resign
Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet says he will try to trigger a fall election if the prime minister, his chief of staff and his finance minister don't resign. Blanchet said the government is not "worthy" of the public's trust in the wake of the WE Charity controversy, which was sparked by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau failing to recuse themselves from cabinet talks involving the organization despite family ties to it. While his preference is to see the trio step down, Blanchet said he's prepared to table a motion of non-confidence in the government if they remain in their jobs. If that motion passed with the support of other parties, it would lead to an election campaign in the midst of a pandemic. NDP MP Charlie Angus accused Blanchet of throwing a "hissy fit" and said Canadians want the opposition parties to press the government to do what's best for Canadians. CFA Comment: The risk of the motion passing is fairly low as the Conservatives, NDP and Bloc would all have to vote together to topple the Trudeau government.
Quebec now allowing festivals of 250 people across the province
Tourism Minister Caroline Proulx said that organizers can go ahead with indoor and outdoor festivals and events, as long as public health guidelines are followed. The limit of 250 people must be respected at all times and that means organizers who push ahead with their events must be responsible for crowd control at entry and exit points. They must also put in place measures to make sure people are maintaining a minimum two metres distance between households. As of Aug. 3, the maximum number of people who can attend indoor or outdoor events in public venues increased from 50 to 250.
Montreal's Crescent Street to be car-free for rest of summer
Montreal's Crescent Street is going to be closed to cars until Sept. 30 as part of the city's effort to make downtown more pedestrian-friendly during the COVID-19 pandemic. As of today, the street is closed to traffic between de Maisonneuve Boulevard and Ste-Catherine Street. Steve Siozios of the Crescent Street Merchants Association said the association requested the closure to allow people more room to spread out during the pandemic.
Wearing a mask became mandatory in Quebec over the weekend
Effective now, masks are mandatory in indoor public spaces across the province. The new measure is kicking in as Quebec witnesses a slow but steady increase in the number of COVID-19 cases. The regulation applies to everyone aged 12 and up, although Legault said even children as young as two could be encouraged to wear a mask — either a certified medical face covering or a handcrafted one, as long as it covers the nose and mouth.
Quebec: Employees may to return to the office July 18
From 18 July, private employers whose staff used to work from home will be able to return to the office provided the number of staff is below 25%. The 25% occupancy rate could be increased gradually over the next few months depending on the evolution of the pandemic situation in Québec. Telework is still strongly encouraged for activities that can be carried out remotely. Businesses that wish to have employees return to the workplace must put in place the recommended health measures. This includes respecting social distance guidelines of 2 metres between individuals in order to protect the health of employees and the population. In addition, the wearing of masks will be mandatory in all common areas of establishments, particularly those in office buildings, such as lobbies, elevators and corridors, since a physical distance of two metres is not possible.
Quebec: Masks now mandatory in enclosed public spaces
At today’s press briefing in Montreal, Quebec Premier François Legault announced that the wearing of masks will be mandatory in enclosed public places in Quebec as of Saturday, July 18.
  • This measure affects shops, grocery stores, shopping and sports centres, and all other indoor locations.
  • Citizens will not be penalized, but may be denied access.
  • It is the owners of closed public places who are responsible for enforcing this new regulation and will face fines ranging from $1000 to $6000, depending on whether it is a first offence or a repeat offence.
This announcement coincides with the beginning of the construction holidays, which have the government fearing a resurgence of the virus, as is currently the case in the United States. The Premier also reiterated that the most important instruction is to maintain social distancing.
Quebec to crack down on bars with 1 a.m. closing time, reduced capacity
Starting Friday, bars in Quebec will have to close by 1 a.m., operate at no more than half capacity and ensure clients are seated while they're drinking, following a flare-up of COVID-19 infections linked to a bar and two house parties on Montreal's South Shore. Speaking at a news conference Thursday afternoon, Health Minister Christian Dubé said last call for alcoholic beverages will be midnight instead of 3 a.m., and bars must be cleared of customers an hour later. Customers must remain seated at tables and no dancing is allowed. The new regulations will also include an increased police presence around bars and surrounding streets, to make sure clients and owners are respecting the guidelines.
Quebec threatens to close bars, nightclubs that don't comply with COVID-19 rules
Quebec's health minister says the province will not hesitate to shut down bars, nightclubs and other gathering places if they don't comply with COVID-19 regulations, after a new spike in infections was detected last week on Montreal's South Shore. By Thursday, the province will release details about how customers and venues could be fined if they don't respect the rules. Health Minister Christian Dubé said at a news conference Monday. There will also be an increased police presence in these venues starting on Thursday and that they are also looking at different ways to ensure COVID-19 restrictions are followed, such as stricter enforcement of a venue's reduced capacity, closing bars and nightclubs earlier and ensuring clients remain seated. The penalties won't be limited to nightlife, Dubé said. Quebec will also crack down on any venue where people gather — including beaches and pools — if physical-distancing rules aren't being respected. Bars across the province were given the green light to reopen on June 25.
Montreal mayor says masks will soon be mandatory in enclosed public spaces
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante says her administration is working on a new regulation that would make it mandatory to wear a face covering in enclosed public places. Plante said the city is intending on having the new rule in place by July 27, but there will be a grace period before it's enforced. Wearing a face covering on public transit in Quebec will soon be mandatory. The province's new regulation goes into effect on July 13.
Quebec to make masks mandatory on public transit across province
Wearing masks will soon become mandatory on public transit across Quebec. Premier François Legault is expected to make the announcement on Tuesday.
Quebec: Casinos, amusement parks, water parks, spas, hotels and bars can all reopen
As of today, June 25, all sectors of activity, with three exceptions, are authorized to resume their activities while applying public health guidelines, including wearing masks and social distancing. Bars, water parks, tourist accommodation sites, casinos and gaming houses as well as spas are all affected by this announcement. • Sector guides will be made available to help businesses adapt to public health guidelines. • The 2-metre distance remains applicable at all times and in all sectors. • Bars, in particular, will have to limit their clientele. Dance floors are prohibited, and customers must consume their drinks while seated at a table, with a distance between people who are not from the same household. • The applicable guidelines for the sectors reopened earlier still apply. However, these measures do not apply to festivals and major events, overnight summer camps and fights in a sporting context, as these activities are still considered to be at high risk of spreading the virus.
Quebec Cabinet Shuffle
Quebec Premier Francois Legault made major changes to his cabinet Monday, including replacing the province's health minister in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Danielle McCann, who shepherded the Health Department of the province worst-hit by COVID-19, will take over the higher education portfolio, which had belonged to Education Minister Jean-Francois Roberge. Treasury Board President Christian Dube will replace McCann to run the province's biggest department. The cabinet reshuffle concerns the following ministers: • Mr. Christian Dubé: Minister of Health and Social Services and Minister responsible for the Montérégie region; • Mme Nadine Girault: Minister of International Relations and Francophonie and Minister of Immigration, Integration and Francization; • Mr. Simon Jolin-Barrette: Minister of Justice, Minister responsible for the French Language, Minister responsible for Secularism and Parliamentary Reform and House Leader of the Government; • Mme Sonia LeBel: Minister responsible for Government Administration and Chair of the Treasury Board, Minister responsible for Canadian Affairs and the Canadian Francophonie and Minister responsible for Democratic Institutions, Electoral Reform and Access to Information; • Mme Danielle McCann: Minister of Higher Education; • Mr. Jean-François Roberge: Minister of Education. For the full list of the new Cabine></a<
Pandemic pushes Quebec into record $14.9 billion deficit
Finance Minister Eric Girard announced Friday, and it could take the province years to bounce back from "an unprecedented shock to the economy." Girard delivered an update on how the pandemic impacted Quebec's finances, and the numbers are grim: Quebec estimates that its deficit will reach a record $14.9 billion for the 2020-2021 fiscal year, and the government said it could take up to five years to balance its books again. That return to budgetary equilibrium "will not be achieved at the expense of public services or by increasing Quebecers’ tax burden," the government pledged. The first few months of the pandemic in Quebec also took a huge bite out of the province's productivity (GDP), which is expected to contract by 6.5 per cent in 2020; that is the biggest downturn since the compilation of such statistics began in 1981. (Quebec's budget had estimated a 2 per cent increase in GDP for the year). Girard said the province hopes to return to its pre-pandemic levels of productivity by the end of 2021. Girard said that Quebec spent some $6.6 billion in just the first few weeks of the pandemic to shore up the province's health care system, provide economic relief to Quebecers and otherwise mitigate the economic effects of the public health crisis. That amount is more than the province spent over two years to counteract the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, Girard noted. The finance minister also reiterated his government's promise that taxes won't go up -- on individuals or on companies -- to help bring the province back to budgetary balance. "Quebecers are already sufficiently taxed" he said. Girard's March budget included a $14-billion financing program to stimulate the economy with infrastructure projects. Now, with a $14.9 billion deficit, the province will be borrowing more than $30 billion this year alone. However, Girard said Quebec has a "credible plan" to balance the budget in five years and a strong track record of sound fiscal management that he said is appreciated by investors who will be buying the province's debt. "We have the capacity to face a second wave," he said. Quebec responded to the pandemic by injecting $3.7 billion in the health sector, as well as $1 billion to help workers and another $2 billion for companies. The deficit for fiscal 2020-21 includes a $4-billion contingency fund as well as a $2.6-billion payment to a fund dedicated to paying down the provincial debt, which will stand at just below $200 billion in 2020.
Quebec drops physical distancing rules for children in daycares
As of Monday, children in groups of 10 or less in Quebec daycares will no longer have to respect physical distancing rules between one another or their educators. However, adults will still have to follow the two-metre guideline while in a day care centre. Daycares outside of the Montreal, Joliette, and l’Épiphanie regions will also be able to operate at 100-per-cent capacity as of Monday; this applies to home daycare providers as well. Daycares in the regions exempt from this new phase will still have to operate at 50 per cent capacity, and home daycare providers will still only be allowed to watch four children at a time. Health officials say this may change as of June 29, but it will depend on whether or not the COVID-19 situation in the province will allow it.
Quebec: Relaxation of rules for team sports
Isabelle Charest, Minister of Education and Minister responsible for the Status of Women, announced the easing of certain restrictions imposed on physical activities (sports, recreation and outdoor activities) on June 22. This phase includes:
  • Reopening of indoor sports facilities, including fitness centres, arenas and gymnastics arenas.
  • Reopening of public and private beaches
  • Resumption of matches for team sports
  • Pool and beach lifeguard training, however, can begin as soon as today.
As with the other recovery phases, public health guidelines must still be respected and applied. Contacts between players, for example, is always prohibited unless it is accidental or sporadic. The government is asking athletes and organizations to avoid reopening locker rooms to avoid closer contact between athletes. Guides for resuming activities developed by sports federations will also be made available to athletes and staff.
Quebec to allow indoor gatherings of up to 50 people soon
Starting on June 22, Quebec will allow indoor gatherings of up to 50 people — provided social distancing rules are respected, the province's public health director announced Monday. Those indoor gathering places include movie theatres; in places with seating, people will be expected to keep 1.5 metres from one another, Dr. Horacio Arruda said. In larger gathering areas where there is a lot of circulation, such as when waiting in line, Quebecers will still be expected to keep two metres apart. The province is also allowing children under 16 to be closer together — only one metre apart instead of two. This will also apply in day camps and schools. Across most of Quebec, dining in restaurants and having small indoor gatherings of fewer than 10 people are permitted starting today, as long as they continue to keep a safe distance from each other and make sure to clean surfaces. Only businesses permitted to serve food can reopen this month, and there is no word on when bars will be allowed to do the same. Montrealers and those living in Joliette and L'Épiphanie will have to wait until June 22, but hairdressers, tattoo parlours and other personal-care businesses reopen in Montreal and Joliette today. Quebec's workplace health and safety board, CNESST, has provided virtual guides on how to reopen these businesses safely in the midst of the pandemic. There will also be a health standards check list available, produced in collaboration with public health and the various associations representing the businesses. Personal-care services were allowed to resume June 1 outside of the greater Montreal and Joliette areas.
Quebec: Support Program for the Development of Tourist Attractions (PADAT)
Tourism Minister Caroline Proulx, accompanied by Finance Minister Éric Girard and Economy and Innovation Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon, also announced an investment of $753 million over two years in Quebec's tourism sector. This announcement would affect more than 30 000 Québec businesses of all sizes throughout the province. Minister Fitzgibbon also announced that the Temporary Concerted Action Program for Businesses (PACTE), announced last March and endowed with $2.5 billion to support Quebec businesses to overcome their cash shortages, would be enhanced by a $200 million component dedicated to the tourism component. This measure will make it possible to provide businesses in need with emergency working capital assistance for up to 18 months.
For more information
Quebec: Bill 61 for economic recovery getting a bumpy ride
On June 3, the government introduced the Act to stimulate the economy of Quebec and mitigate the consequences of a state of health emergency, which focuses primarily on accelerating more than 200 public infrastructure projects over the next five years. Since that announcement, however, many opposition parties, the media and experts have been very critical of the bill's potential downfalls. The two main sticking points concern environmental assessments and the risks of corruption. Today, the monitoring committee of the Charbonneau Commission sounded the alarm, saying that Bill 61 could create 'extremely favourable conditions for the emergence of corruption, collusion and other related malpractices' in addition to giving 'exorbitant powers' to the government. Finally, Premier Legault appealed to the opposition parties for their full cooperation in this urgent context for Quebec's businesses and economy, and also said he was prepared to extend the parliamentary session, which was to end this Friday, if necessary.
Quebec: $140M in financial assistance for commercial rents
This morning, Minister of Economy and Innovation Pierre Fitzgibbon announced a $140 million increase in federal assistance for commercial rents. The cost of this program, shared between the federal and provincial governments, now totals nearly $280 million for Quebec, doubling its investment.
  • Quebec intends to compensate 50% of the owners' losses.
  • Landlords, who had to commit to absorbing a 25% loss by registering for this program, will thus receive an amount equivalent to 12.5% of the total cost of rent in order to reduce their loss by half.
  • Landlords of commercial buildings in all regions of Québec are eligible for this measure.
Quebec: Reopening of the restaurant sector
On the other hand, while respecting social distancing guidelines, restaurants will soon be allowed to reopen their doors to the public. The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food André Lamontagne and the Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Solidarity Jean Boulay, accompanied by Dr. Richard Massé, strategic medical advisor at the Health and Social Services Department, held a press briefing at the end of the day to detail this announcement, which was eagerly awaited by the restaurant industry. This measure is aimed at the complete resumption of restaurant activities, with the possibility of eating a meal on site. It will be effective June 15 for all of Québec except the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal, Joliette and L'Épiphanie, which will have to wait until June 22. Important conditions and changes will be imposed on restaurant operators to ensure the safety of customers and workers:
  • Maintaining the 2-metre distance at all times, in particular
  • Wearing a face cover and eye protection when physical distance is not possible;
  • Posting of rules applicable to the entrance to establishments;
  • Displaying menus on slates or screens to avoid sharing objects; and
  • Disinfecting tables, menus and surfaces such as counters and door handles several times a day.
  • A guide to sector standards has been produced by CNESST and food service organizations.
Commercial Rent – Banning of Evictions in BC, AB, QC, SK and ON
The governments in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Quebec and Alberta banned commercial evictions in light of increasing reports of tenants being evicted. Quebec invests $50 Million for Montreal’s Small Businesses – will also reduce commercial rents The Government of Canada, through Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions, is planning to grant up to $30 million to the PME MTL network through the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF). The Quebec Government is also contributing $20 million. This support is aimed at Montreal businesses ineligible for other federal measures related to COVID-19 that are already in place. The funds will be administered by PME MTL, the City of Montreal’s business support network. For more information on the Quebec program
Quebec to reopen restaurants in some regions as of June 15, everywhere by June 22
Quebec is reopening restaurants in many areas of the province as of June 15. The Montreal region, Joliette and L'Epiphanie will open a week later, as of June 22. New health rules will require “considerable” measures from restaurants in order to safely reopen, said Lamontagne. Labour Minister Jean Boulet said kits will be available from the government’s workplace safety board, the CNESST, including a guide of standards for hygiene rules, disinfection guidelines, social distancing and a daily checklist.
Quebec: Reopening the rec sport sector
Deputy Minister of Education and Minister responsible for sports and recreation Isabelle Charest announced that public health authorities have authorized the gradual resumption of activities for outdoor team sports as of June 8. Supervised training and outdoor skills competitions will be authorized as of next Monday. More than 30 sports federations have developed guides and protocols to ensure that such trainings will be consistent with public health measures. The government anticipates a potential resumption of team matches at the end of June, depending on the state of public health. However, major adaptations will have to be made to the sports in order to comply with public health guidelines. Private swimming pools open to the public, especially those in campsites, as well as supervised practice of individual outdoor sports, such as yoga classes and guided outdoor activities, will also be able to resume their activities from 8 June. As for minor, semi-professional and professional sports teams, the resumption of training and matches is not permitted for the time being, but the public health authorities and the government are working very closely with the sports organizations to ensure that training and matches can resume from the end of June.
Quebec: 80,000 applications for 10,000 orderly positions
A few weeks ago, Quebec Premier François Legault launched a recruitment process for more than 10,000 people who will undergo condensed training to become orderlies. The government received nearly 80,000 applications.
Quebec: Hairdressing, personal care will reopen June 15
The government also announced that hairdressing, beauty, personal care and tattoo salons will be able to resume operations as of June 15. Reopening is conditional on compliance with public health regulations and institutions are responsible for implementing precautions to ensure the safety of staff and clients. Quebec: Relaunching the cultural sector After thanking and congratulating Quebec artists for their ability to innovate and adapt in the face of this crisis, and for using their influence to share the government's health instructions, Legault announced a $400 million plan to ensure recovery in culture. Minister Roy was present to provide several clarifications to the government's plan and hopes that these funds will give artists the financial freedom they need to create and work.
  • $91.5 million to encourage film and television productions;
  • $71.9 million to help cultural businesses and organizations that have had to close their doors to the public because of the pandemic;
  • $50.9 million to support the performing arts in the creation and dissemination of innovative performances through calls for projects to continue their activities despite health regulations;
  • $33.5 million to the music industry and its craftspeople to meet the challenges of new listening habits and health measures;
  • $6.5 million to writers in order to better remunerate their works, part of which will be dedicated to an emergency fund managed by the UDA.
  • $5.9 million to enhance existing festival support to encourage online events; and
  • Investment of $13.5 million in advertising and promotion to boost culture.
  • The minister also pointed out that this assistance is in addition to the $59 million announced at the end of March in advance credit to cultural organizations and a $50 million loan program to ensure the working capital of cultural businesses and organizations. Filming in the television and film sector will be able to resume on June 8, and the government hopes to reopen venues by June 24.
    Quebec courthouse to reopen June 1
    Today, Quebec Justice Minister Sonia LeBel confirmed that courthouses in Quebec would reopen on June 1. She said there will be a limited number of people allowed inside, physical distancing rules and Plexiglas barriers for judges. On a more positive note, the Minister also stated that the pandemic had considerably accelerated the process of digital transformation of the justice system in Quebec. The resumption of activities will thus rely on the reopening of courthouses and tribunals, on the one hand, and on technology, on the other. • 136 virtual courtrooms have been created and have been permanently integrated into how the justice system operates. • All judicial institutions that will reopen on June 1 will be adapted in order to comply with social distancing instructions: o Transparent plastic screens will be installed where appropriate; o Hand washing stations and disinfectant will be made available; o Facilities will be redesigned to respect the 2-metre distance; o Each facility will be able to resume operations at a pace that corresponds to its capacity.
    Shopping centres reopening in Quebec (outside Montreal) June 1
    Quebec's Minister of Economy and Innovation Pierre Fitzgibbon confirmed the reopening of shopping centres as of June 1 for all regions of Quebec, except for the Greater Montreal area and Joliette. The epidemiological situation is being studied very closely following the reopenings in order to determine whether or not there is a risk of a second wave. CNESST has published a detailed protocol on the sanitary upgrading of shopping centres as well as a list of mandatory daily checks for each merchant and shopping centre. The measures include:
    • A limit on the number of customers;
    • Installation of partitions at transaction counters;
    • Maintaining the closure of dining areas; only take-out meals will be permitted;
    • Traffic directions can be indicated on the ground;
    • Increasing the number of security guards to enforce the 2-metre distance;
    • Increasing the number of security guards;
    • Denial of access to any person with symptoms;
    • Recommending that masks be worn.
    Quebec to allow outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people – more openings on June 1
    Quebec is loosening more of its COVID-19 restrictions, despite continuing to have the highest number of new cases in the country. The province's deputy premier, Geneviève Guilbault, announced Wednesday that as of Friday, people will be allowed to hold outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people, composed of up to three households. She said people must maintain physical distancing and must not hold the gathering indoors. Quebec private health-care services, such as dentists and physiotherapists, will be allowed to reopen as of June 1. Businesses that provide personal care services, such as hairdressers, will be allowed to open on the same date — but not in the greater Montreal and Joliette areas, where there are still significant COVID-19 outbreaks.
    Montreal reopening delayed to May 25
    The Quebec government has postponed the planned reopening of elementary schools, daycares as well as businesses in the Montreal area. They are now reopening May 25. Premier François Legault said the government was looking at two factors when it decides whether to go ahead with reopening part of the province: how fast the virus is spreading and the availability of hospital beds. Elementary schools and daycares outside of the Montreal area are still expected to open on May 11. The return to class is voluntary.
    Quebec premier delays restart date for retail stores in Montreal
    The reopening of non-essential stores in the Montreal area, which was scheduled to begin May 11, has been pushed back to May 18, Quebec Premier Francois Legault announced Monday, but the region's schools are still set to reopen as planned. Legault cited the high number of COVID-19 cases and related hospitalizations in the Montreal area as one of the reasons for pushing back the gradual business reopenings. Non-essential stores in the rest of Quebec started reopening Monday . Manufacturing and construction, two other industries that are set to reopen in the Montreal area May 11, will do so as scheduled, Legault added. Elementary schools in the Montreal area are also still scheduled to reopen as planned on May 19. Elementary schools in the rest of the province are due to reopen May 11.
    Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec lifting some COVID-19 restrictions
    Ontario took its first steps Monday with the reopening of some businesses, including lawn care and landscaping, garden centres for curbside pickup, automatic and self-serve car washes, auto dealerships by appointment, and many construction projects. Manitobans can now visit everything from hair salons to museums to restaurant patios (with fewer seats than normal) provided everyone is following public health rules. In most of Saskatchewan, non-urgent medical offices are allowed to reopen and rules around some outdoor activities — including fishing and boating — are being loosened. But one owner of a physiotherapy clinic told CBC Saskatchewan she's got mixed emotions about opening up. Newfoundland and Labrador plans to move to alert Level 4 on May 11, meaning a relaxation of some public health measures to allow more social and business activities. The province followed New Brunswick's lead and allowed families to come together in "bubbles" made up of two households . Alberta took its first strides toward the large-scale resumption of public life under COVID-19 this weekend as provincial parks and golf courses opened under the government's phased economic relaunch. Alberta began to ease some public health restrictions on Friday, with provincial parks and boat launches reopening with limited services. Alberta has three stage plan starting May 14 called Opening Soon: Alberta’s Relaunch Strategy .
    Quebec outlines how some businesses will reopen in May
    A day after outlining a plan to allow children to return to daycares and primary schools in May, Quebec Premier François Legault laid out his plans Tuesday to begin reopening some businesses in the province. Over the course of the month of May, three sectors will be allowed some degree of reopening. They are:
    • Retail stores not in shopping malls.
    • Retail stores that are in malls but have a direct door to the outside.
    • Construction and civil engineering.
    • Manufacturing.
    Stores outside of the Montreal region will be permitted to reopen May 4, while those in the Montreal area will reopen May 11. Construction projects, including road work, will fully resume May 11, with about 85,000 workers expected to be back to work. Manufacturing companies will be allowed to reopen May 4 with some restrictions: those that have 50 or fewer workers will be allowed to reopen with full staff; those with more than 50 employees will only be allowed to have 50 workers plus 50 per cent of the total number of employees above that for any shift throughout the day.
    Quebec to reveal reopening plans
    Quebec moves forward with plan to begin opening schools. In his daily briefing Quebec Premier Francois Legault said elementary schools and daycares will begin reopening on May 11 outside of Montreal and on May 19 on the island of Montreal. All other schools — high schools, colleges and universities — won't reopen until late August. Legault said that timeline will depend on the number of hospitalizations for COVID-19 remaining stable. There are now 1,541 people in hospital — an increase of 23 over Sunday. Some 210 patients are in intensive care, down five from yesterday.
    Quebec real estate brokers get the green light to return to work amid COVID-19 pandemic
    The Quebec government has authorized the province's real-estate brokers to get back to work during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it won't exactly be business as usual. The brokers have been granted permission to work only on transactions deemed to be a priority, defined as those that must be completed before July 31. The Organisme d'autoreglementation du courtage immobilier du Quebec (OACIQ), the agency that regulates real-estate brokers in Quebec, said it has sent directives to ensure that public-health orders put in place during the pandemic are respected. Open houses are not allowed, and in-person visits and home inspections must respect physical distancing guidelines. No broker, or any party involved in a physical interaction regarding a transaction, can have COVID-19 or any of its symptoms and must sign a document attesting to that. During in-person visits, the current occupants of a property must wait outside. Only one person can enter the property along with the broker, maintaining a two-metre distance at all times. No children or people over 70 may take part in a visit. Parties involved in a transaction must also sign a document confirming that the sale is urgent. The brokers are also being asked to work remotely as much as possible. Brokers who do not respect the directives could face disciplinary measures from the OACIQ, which is reminding its members that not respecting the current public health orders means breaking the law.
    Economic relaunch planning starting in Quebec
    As the current state of COVID-19 spread seems relatively under control (with low rates of hospitalization), Premier Legault has said the government of Quebec is starting to think more seriously about allowing businesses to reopen in the upcoming weeks. The government reminded the population that this is not a simple process and that everything must be thought through in order to avoid a second wave of contamination.
    • The government has also announced that, even as businesses start to reopen, the 2-metre rule will be enforced for several months.
    • Businesses that are able to apply the principles of social distancing in their daily activities will be able to restart operations first.
    • Residential construction will probably be able to resume in the coming days or weeks, in an effort to prevent some people from becoming homeless.
    • It is unlikely that schools and daycare centers will be able to reopen before the end of the school year, since it is impossible to maintain a distance of 2 meters in these contexts.
    AB, SK, NL and QC release provincial COVID-19 modeling
    Saskatchewan released its modelling on April 8, which shows the provincial government is planning for 3,000 to 8,300 deaths and approximately 20 to 200 daily intensive care admissions from COVID-19 at its peak. The data does not say when that peak is expected nor when distancing measures might be eased. Newfoundland and Labrador outlined its projections on April 8. Their prediction focused on intensive care capacity instead of expected deaths. They expect to exceed its 57 intensive-care capacity by the end of June if the spread of the virus continues its current rate of growth. The first assumes current restrictions remain in place and projects 32 per cent of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians infected over a two-year period. Under that scenario, the peak of the virus would occur in early November, and the province would have enough hospital beds and ventilators to weather the pandemic. The second model projects a scenario in which current restrictions are eased and assumes 52 per cent of people in the province infected over the same two-year period. In that scenario, the peak comes sooner — mid-September — and overwhelms hospital beds, intensive-care units and ventilators. Alberta’s Premier Jason Kenney outlined what he described as a "probable" scenario for Alberta on Tuesday that suggested the province won't see a peak in the virus until mid-May. That model suggested Alberta could see as many as 800,000 COVID-19 cases by the end of the summer with death figures ranging from 400 to 3,100. Another more "elevated" scenario pointed toward the possibility of both higher case numbers and between 500 and 6,600 deaths. On Tuesday, Quebec’s model predicts at least 1,200 COVID-19 deaths by the end of April, and if preventative measures aren’t continued, the death toll could be as high as 9,000. Public health officials noted that the current thinking is that the number of deaths will be closer to the lower estimate. Prime Minister Trudeau said Wednesday that people would learn more about a national model in the coming days, but did not provide a specific date. The prime minister said it's not yet clear exactly when Canada will reach a peak but said that strict adherence to critical public health measures — including physical distancing and staying home as much as possible — will help reduce the impact of the outbreak. It’s important to note that the federal modeling requires data from provincial health authorities. Some provinces have better data than others which hinders the development of a national level forecast.
    Quebec releases projections that suggest Covid-19 will kill between 1,200 and 9,000 in April.
    Public health experts with the Quebec government are projecting between 1,200 and 9,000 people could die of COVID-19 by the end of the month, although authorities hasten to add they believe the current trajectory for mortalities is toward the lower end of that range. Public health officials in Quebec had been reluctant to release the models because there is a still a huge amount of uncertainty involved in the calculations. Quebec released two scenarios about what could happen by April 30.
    • Optimistic scenario: projects 29,212 confirmed cases, with as many as 1,404 people in hospital at once and 1,263 deaths.
    • Pessimistic scenario: 59,845 confirmed cases, with as many as 3,208 people hospitalized at one time and 8,860 deaths. Ontario released projectionsOntario released projections late last week and federal officials, who have faced questions about projections and transparency, have indicated they plan to release some projections in the days ahead.
      $100M to train Quebecers
      Quebec Minister of Labour Jean Boulet announced Monday afternoon that the government has earmarked $100 million to cover the cost of training employees in new skills. The aim, he said, is to have an even stronger workforce once the economy is restarted. Quebec will cover as much as 100 per cent of employee salaries while those workers improve their skills — be that worker a chef learning a new culinary technique or a window-installer learning to do that job more efficiently. Independent businesses of all sizes are eligible for up to $100,000 in subsidies, with the goal of retaining employees and improving their skills and abilities.
      Quebec offers low-wage essential workers extra $100 weekly to stay on the job
      The Quebec government is giving low-wage workers an extra incentive to stay on the job during the COVID-19 pandemic. Finance Minister Eric Girard announced Friday the province will give up to $100 extra weekly to cashiers, grocery stockers, delivery people and everyone else who keeps the province running. The program is meant to ensure that those essential workers will earn more by working than by applying for the federal government's emergency benefits program (CERB), which provides Canadians struggling financially with $2,000 a month. The new program will be retroactive to March 15, for a maximum of 16 weeks. With this compensation, the worker will obtain, in addition to their wages, a taxable lump sum of $400 per month, or $1,600 for a period of 16 weeks. Workers can apply for this benefit through Revenu Québec's website starting May 19, and the direct deposits will start on May 27.
      Quebec announces $150 million to support small business
      Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon announced a new $150 million in funding for small and medium-sized businesses requiring less than $50,000 in assistance. This program is intended to provide temporary support for the working capital of businesses in all sectors, including cooperatives, non-profits and social economy enterprises carrying out commercial activities, whose financial situation became precarious because of COVID-19. The government of Quebec also announced a two-year extension of the Local Investment Funds (LIFs), until December 31, 2022, to enable RCMs to better meet the current needs of Québec businesses. New measures to ease the repayment terms of loans granted under the FLI are also planned.
      • Offers businesses an additional 3-month respite for the repayment of their loan (principal and interest).
      • These new measures are in addition to those announced on March 19 and bring the delay period for businesses to 6 months.
      Supports for Workers in Quebec The Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Solidarity Jean Boulet and the Minister of Finance Éric Girard also announced a temporary wage increase for low-income workers in essential services. This measure would affect close to 600,000 workers and more than 50 sectors. It is intended to compensate workers who earn less money to work than those who have access to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). Temporary benefit of $100/week retroactive to March 15, 2020. To access this benefit, workers must:
      • Demonstrate that they are working in an essential sector;
      • Prove to have worked during this period;
      • Have a gross weekly income of less than $550; and
      • Have a gross annual income of less than $28,500.
      The web form will be available as of May 19, 2020 and payments will be made by direct deposit.
    LAST UPDATED: August 5, 2020

    Saskatchewan COVID-19 Update

    City of Regina recommends mask use indoors, in public vehicles
    Regina's mayor and some city councillors came together Thursday to recommend mask use. Mayor Michael Fougere said the city would look at a mandatory mask policy in the coming days, weeks or months. He wouldn't commit to timelines on a decision. Fougere said the province was not opposed to municipalities creating their own bylaws around mask use.
    No mandatory masks or reduced class sizes planned for school reopening in Saskatchewan
    Saskatchewan will send its K-12 students back to school next month without requiring them or their teachers to wear masks and without a plan to reduce class sizes, although the Ministry of Education says it's planning to buy masks in case the COVID-19 situation worsens. The province's back-to-school task force has been reviewing proposed plans from boards in recent weeks. Regina Catholic Schools, Saskatoon Public Schools and Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools are among the school boards that publicly released their submitted plans immediately after the ministry's announcement. All of the province's school board plans account for four potential "levels" of precautions, the province said in a release. It did not detail what would prompt a school board to go from one level to another. Level 1 does not call for masks, reduced class sizes, or on-site testing and screening. Students going back as early as Sept. 1 will do so under "Level 1," meaning "as close to normal as possible, with additional health measures and precautions." Level 2 would involve mask usage if the province's chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, thought it was necessary, according to the release. Level 3 would see a reduction in "school capacity." Level 4 would involve "transitioning to mandatory remote learning." The province also announced that, as of Tuesday, daycares can take in up to 25 children, up from a previously limit of 15.
    Saskatchewan: Phase 4 of reopening plan
    The Saskatchewan government announced the easing up some of the COVID-19 precautions Tuesday, such as allowing the return of door-to-door canvassing and sales, as well as 24-hour gyms and yard or garage sales. Salespeople or others going door-to-door are asked to maintain adequate physical distance, practise regular hand-washing and not share pencils or other supplies. For yard and garage sales, the government guidelines recommend getting adequate physical distancing, keeping group size limitations in order and holding single household sales rather than group sales. The current limit on groups of people in Saskatchewan is 30, with adequate physical distance up to 150 people, or less in some areas. As of Tuesday, there reduced the distancing requirements for several activities:
    • Drive-in theatres: distance between vehicles reduced to two metres, down from five metres.
    • Retail guidelines, libraries and places of worship: the length of time that returned or donated items must be held has been reduced to 24 hours, down from 72 hours.
    • Fitness facilities: 24-hour access to fitness facilities is permitted, but the gym should ensure registration of guests to facilitate contact tracing, if required.
    • Campgrounds: laundry facilities are now able to open following under guidelines for safe operation.
    Saskatchewan: Libraries, museums, galleries, movie theatres, live theatres can reopen on Monday
    Libraries, museums, galleries, movie theatres and live theatres in Saskatchewan will be able to reopen next Monday under the second part of Phase 4 of the province's reopening plan. Movie theatres and live theatres will be allowed a maximum of 30 per cent of normal capacity, up to a maximum of 150 people, per room, as long as physical distancing can be maintained, the province's guidelines say. The reopening of other activities such as indoor pools, indoor rinks, indoor sports and activities, casinos and bingo halls will be announced in the next two weeks, according to a Tuesday news release. The province said as of June 26, parks and campgrounds will be able to open to 100 per cent capacity for overnight stays and limited-term campsites. Washroom and shower facilities can be accessed, but increased cleaning and disinfection must take place. If physical distancing can be maintained, sports games and other activities can now begin. The province said for sports that can't maintain physical distancing, such as full-contact sports, mini-leagues should be formed to allow teams to safely return to playing games, while helping mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19. Restaurant staff and workers at fitness facilities and personal care services that cannot maintain two metres of distance must wear a non-medical mask. Locker rooms, shower facilities and change rooms are now permitted to open in places like gyms and fitness facilities, beaches, campgrounds, golf courses and facilities where outdoor sports and activities are played. Change rooms in clothing and retail stores can now move to 100 per cent occupancy.
    Saskatchewan: Timing of Phase 4 for reopening
    Saskatchewan will soon see its parks, outdoor pools and sports fields become increasingly busy as Phase 4 of the province's reopening plan is set to start Monday. Many of the services opening on Monday will be encouraging people — especially children — to get outside in a more organized fashion, and experts say it's a logical time for these types of activities to start.
    Saskatchewan: Government forecasts record-high $2.4B deficit
    The Saskatchewan government is forecasting a record-high $2.4 billion deficit — what Finance Minister Donna Harpauer is calling a "pandemic deficit" — for 2020-21. Adjusted for inflation, the forecast is in line with the late 1980s deficits of the Saskatchewan Progressive Conservative government. A more recent comparison is 2016-17, when the province posted a $1.2 billion deficit. The province released its full budget Monday afternoon, nearly three full months after it was originally expected. On March 18, Harpauer announced the government's spending plan but held off on revenue projections because of the March oil price collapse and the COVID-19 pandemic. At that time, the province projected $14.15 billion in expenses, with an additional $1.3 billion in expenses from across other government entities, for a total of $15.5 billion. Non-renewable resource revenue is forecasted to drop by 43 per cent or $753 million, to the lowest point in two decades. Revenue is projected to be $13.6 billion, down 8.3 per cent from last year. Expenses are projected to be $16.1 billion, up 7.2 per cent from last year's budget.
    Commercial Rent – Banning of Evictions in BC, AB, QC, SK and ON
    The governments in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Quebec and Alberta banned commercial evictions in light of increasing reports of tenants being evicted.
    Saskatchewan to open bars, restaurants in Phase 3 reopening, set for June 8.
    Saskatchewan's bars, restaurants and many other businesses will be allowed to reopen June 8 when Phase 3 of the government's reopening plan starts. However, eateries and licensed establishments will have to operate at 50 per cent capacity to comply with physical distancing rules in the COVID-19 era. In addition to restaurants, gyms and fitness facilities will also be able to open for business. Childcare facilities and places of worship will also be allowed to open their doors. The additional list of personal service businesses that will be allowed to open include: • Estheticians. • Tattoo artists. • Make-up applicators. • Electrologists. • Manicurists. • Pedicurists. • Sun tanning parlours. The amount of people allowed to gather will also be increased as part of Phase 3. Indoor gatherings of up to 15 will be permitted, along with outdoor gatherings of up to 30. Phase 2 of the reopen plan began Tuesday, allowing many retail stores to reopen.
    Emergency Support Program For Saskatchewan Small Businesses Extended
    On Friday, the Government of Saskatchewan announced the Saskatchewan Small Business Emergency Payment (SSBEP) program will be extended to the month of May for businesses that are required to remain closed or substantially curtail operations after May 19, 2020. Businesses will not need to reapply to the program. Businesses that qualify for the program will automatically receive a second payment after May 19. Launched on April 13, 2020, the SSBEP program is a $50 million program providing financial support to small and medium businesses that have had to temporarily close or substantially curtail their operations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible applicants receive a payment of 15 per cent of their sales revenue from April 2019 or February 2020, up to $5,000, to help businesses with expenses including fixed costs such as rent. To date, the SSBEP has processed more than 4,700 applications and provided more than $15 million in support to Saskatchewan businesses. For more information and the SSBEP application, businesses can visit www.saskatchewan.ca/covid19-businesses.
    Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec lifting some COVID-19 restrictions
    Ontario took its first steps Monday with the reopening of some businesses, including lawn care and landscaping, garden centres for curbside pickup, automatic and self-serve car washes, auto dealerships by appointment, and many construction projects. Manitobans can now visit everything from hair salons to museums to restaurant patios (with fewer seats than normal) provided everyone is following public health rules. In most of Saskatchewan, non-urgent medical offices are allowed to reopen and rules around some outdoor activities — including fishing and boating — are being loosened. But one owner of a physiotherapy clinic told CBC Saskatchewan she's got mixed emotions about opening up. Newfoundland and Labrador plans to move to alert Level 4 on May 11, meaning a relaxation of some public health measures to allow more social and business activities. The province followed New Brunswick's lead and allowed families to come together in "bubbles" made up of two households . Alberta took its first strides toward the large-scale resumption of public life under COVID-19 this weekend as provincial parks and golf courses opened under the government's phased economic relaunch. Alberta began to ease some public health restrictions on Friday, with provincial parks and boat launches reopening with limited services. Alberta has three stage plan starting May 14 called Opening Soon: Alberta’s Relaunch Strategy .
    Saskatchewan Plan for reopening released
    The Saskatchewan government is to outline a plan Thursday for how some businesses and services could be allowed to resume next month if the number of cases there stays low. The plan introduces five phases to methodically, gradually and cautiously re-open businesses and services beginning May 4, 2020.
    • Phase One – Beginning May 4, 2020 – Re-opening of medical services restricted under the current public health order, and the resumption of low-risk outdoor recreational activities, including fishing and boat launches, golf courses and a fixed date for parks and campgrounds. The size restrictions of public and private gatherings will remain at a maximum of 10 people.
    • Phase Two – May 19, 2020 – Re-opening of retail businesses and select personal services that were previously not deemed allowable. The size restrictions of public and private gatherings will remain at a maximum of 10 people.
    • Phase Three – Date To Be Determined – Re-opening of remaining personal services, along with the re-opening of restaurant-type facilities, gyms and fitness facilities, licensed establishments and childcare facilities. Capacity limits will remain in some facilities, such as limits to 50 per cent of regular capacity for restaurants and licensed establishments. Other than in allowable businesses, the size of public and private gatherings will increase to a maximum of 15 people.
    • Phase Four – Date To Be Determined – Re-opening of indoor and outdoor recreation and entertainment facilities. All businesses and customers will be expected to maintain physical distancing practices, guidelines and recommendations. Other than in allowable businesses, the size of public and private gatherings will increase to a maximum of 30 people.
    • Phase Five – Date To Be Determined – The fifth phase will be implemented following an evaluation of transmission patterns of COVID-19 and the preceding four phases, and will include the consideration of lifting long-term restrictions.
    Saskatchewan releases Preliminary Revenue Impacts of Covid-19
    Saskatchewan Premier Moe and Minister of Finance Donna Harpauer held a news conference to announce three scenarios of projected revenue impacts related to the economic impact of COVID-19. The potential revenue decline in 2020-21 ranges from $1.3 billion to $3.3 billion, depending on the duration of pandemic-related economic restrictions. The potential revenue declines are based on three economic scenarios. Each scenario includes assumptions on a number of economic factors, including the duration of current economic restrictions, how soon resource prices may recover and anticipated consumer behaviour once restrictions are lifted. Real GDP scenarios for 2020 are all negative and range from a decline of 4.1 per cent under the most optimistic scenario to a decline of 14.9 per cent in the most pessimistic scenario. At this time, the Government is managing spending within the amounts allocated in the budget estimates released on March 18, 2020. Saskatchewan was on track for a surplus in 2019-20 and 2020-21 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and oil price collapse. Saskatchewan has maintained the second highest credit rating in the country, continues to have among the lowest net-debts as a percentage of GDP and continues to maintain a solid cash position.
    Saskatchewan – Schools not likely to reopen soon
    Saskatchewan's Premier Scott Moe said today that it isn't likely schools in that province will reopen this academic year.
    Saskatchewan announces $50 million Emergency Support Program for Small Businesses
    On April 9, Premier Scott Moe announced that small businesses will receive additional provincial support through the new Saskatchewan Small Business Emergency Payment (SSBEP). The $50 million program will provide financial support to small and medium-sized businesses that have had to temporarily close or significantly curtail operations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The SSBEP provides a one-time grant for small and medium-sized enterprises directly affected by government public health orders related to COVID-19. Grants will be paid based on 15 per cent of a business’ monthly sales revenue, to a maximum of $5,000. To give maximum flexibility to businesses, the grant is not dedicated to specific cost pressures. Through the consultation process, many businesses made it clear they are facing acute cash flow pressures in the immediate term due to fixed overhead costs, such as rent and lease payments. The SSBEP will help businesses address these immediate pressures. To be eligible for the SSBEP, a business must:
    • have been fully operational on February 29, 2020;
    • have ceased or curtailed operations as a result of the COVID-19 public health order;
    • have less than 500 employees; and
    • commit to reopen business operations following the cancellation of the COVID-19 public health order. The Government of Saskatchewan will be requesting that the federal government exempt the SSBEP from business income for tax purposes. The SSBEP supplements previously announced supports for businesses, including waiving penalties and interest charges for three months for late PST returns, zero-interest bill deferral for up to six months for all Crown utilities, and waiving Workers Compensation Board premium penalties until June 30, 2020. For more information on the supports Saskatchewan is providing click here
      AB, SK, NL and QC release provincial COVID-19 modeling
      Saskatchewan released its modelling on April 8, which shows the provincial government is planning for 3,000 to 8,300 deaths and approximately 20 to 200 daily intensive care admissions from COVID-19 at its peak. The data does not say when that peak is expected nor when distancing measures might be eased. Newfoundland and Labrador outlined its projections on April 8. Their prediction focused on intensive care capacity instead of expected deaths. They expect to exceed its 57 intensive-care capacity by the end of June if the spread of the virus continues its current rate of growth. The first assumes current restrictions remain in place and projects 32 per cent of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians infected over a two-year period. Under that scenario, the peak of the virus would occur in early November, and the province would have enough hospital beds and ventilators to weather the pandemic. The second model projects a scenario in which current restrictions are eased and assumes 52 per cent of people in the province infected over the same two-year period. In that scenario, the peak comes sooner — mid-September — and overwhelms hospital beds, intensive-care units and ventilators. Alberta’s Premier Jason Kenney outlined what he described as a "probable" scenario for Alberta on Tuesday that suggested the province won't see a peak in the virus until mid-May. That model suggested Alberta could see as many as 800,000 COVID-19 cases by the end of the summer with death figures ranging from 400 to 3,100. Another more "elevated" scenario pointed toward the possibility of both higher case numbers and between 500 and 6,600 deaths. On Tuesday, Quebec’s model predicts at least 1,200 COVID-19 deaths by the end of April, and if preventative measures aren’t continued, the death toll could be as high as 9,000. Public health officials noted that the current thinking is that the number of deaths will be closer to the lower estimate. Prime Minister Trudeau said Wednesday that people would learn more about a national model in the coming days, but did not provide a specific date. The prime minister said it's not yet clear exactly when Canada will reach a peak but said that strict adherence to critical public health measures — including physical distancing and staying home as much as possible — will help reduce the impact of the outbreak. It’s important to note that the federal modeling requires data from provincial health authorities. Some provinces have better data than others which hinders the development of a national level forecast.
      B.C. and Saskatchewan extend States of Emergency to mid April
      Saskatchewan announced it is extending its state of emergency for another two weeks to April 15. B.C.'s provincial state of emergency has been extended until April 14
      Saskatchewan is expanding the list of businesses that need to close during the COVID-19 outbreak
      Saskatchewan is lowering the number of people permitted at a public gathering to 10, down from 25. Read more about what's happening in Saskatchewan, including a plan in Regina to get bagged lunches to kids who are not in class.
    LAST UPDATED: May 21, 2020

    Yukon COVID-19 Update

    Yukon extends business relief program for 2 more months
    The Yukon government is extending a relief program aimed at keeping local businesses afloat through the COVID-19 pandemic. The Yukon Business Relief Program was announced last month and was set to expire on Friday. Economic Development Minister Ranj Pillai announced on Tuesday that it's been extended for another two months — to July 23. The program is aimed at businesses that have seen a reduction in revenue of at least 30 per cent due to lost business during the pandemic. Businesses can apply for up to $30,000 per month, to cover fixed costs including rent, water, sewer, electricity, internet, or insurance.
    Yukon gov't offers $10M in relief money to businesses hurt by pandemic
    The Yukon government says it's looking to keep local businesses afloat through the COVID-19 pandemic, with a new relief program worth up to $10 million. Businesses can apply for up to $30K per month for two months to cover fixed business costs including rent, water, sewer, electricity, internet, or insurance. It's aimed at businesses that have seen a reduction in revenue of at least 30 per cent due to lost business during the pandemic. The grant is available to cover a two-month period from March 23 — when the territorial government ordered many businesses to close — to May 22. The Yukon government expects there could be up to 4,000 applications under the program.

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