During the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) is closely monitoring updates and recommendations from government and public health officials. We understand that these are uncertain and challenging times for everyone. Closures and emergency measures are impacting all of our day-to-day activities and no community or sector is immune.
We are listening and seeking input from our members. We are in regular contact with our national, provincial and commodity partners in the agriculture and food sector, monitoring impact and communicating with provincial and federal governments on priority issues.
All OFA staff are now working from home offices following the implementation of a mandatory work from home strategy, and employees will be available during regular business hours (Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) to serve members at 1-800-668-3276. If you’re looking to contact your local Member Service Representative or another OFA staff member, visit ofa.on.ca/about-ofa.
To help our OFA members and community stay connected with up-to-date information related to the agri-food sector and COVID-19, we have compiled key information and resources on government announcements, industry updates, financial services, support programs, mental health etc.
This is a rapidly evolving situation and a new one for all of us. Disruptions in the supply chain could occur. We encourage you to call ahead to your regular input suppliers to be sure that they have the products and services you need. Confirm the current situation and expectations with both ends of your supply chain, including transportation, crop inputs, feed supply, equipment parts, and markets.
Farm and HR Management Resources – Farmers, Employers, Producers, Processors, Product Marketing etc.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC)
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) is closely monitoring developments related to COVID-19 and its impacts on the Canadian agricultural industry. The webpage contains an informative Q and A section that will help to ensure producers and processors can continue to operate effectively and keep supply lines open. Click here for more information.
Canadian Federation of Agriculture
The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) has assembled an extensive list of resources that you can find here.
Canadian Agricultural Human Resources Council (CAHRC)
The Canadian Agricultural Human Resources Council (CAHRC) has excellent resources for how to manage the risks of COVID-19 on the farm and farms with employees. The webpage has the latest recommendations, employee management tips, tools, posters, policies, and links to authorities. These resources will help you respond to the pandemic and limit the impact and spread of COVID-19 within your business. Click here for more information.
AgriHR Toolkit, developed by CAHRC
The AgriHR Toolkit, developed by CAHRC, offers employer assistance every step of the way with guides, templates, resources, and the critical questions that you need to ask and answer about your business.
OFA members receive a free annual membership to the AgriHR Toolkit ($99 value).
Log-in to the website below and use the following discount code during checkout.
Website for toolkit: https://hrtoolkit.cahrc-ccrha.ca/
Guide for Direct Sales to Consumers During COVID-19 and Beyond
Updated May 15, 2020
During these unprecedented times, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) recognizes that it is not ‘business as usual’. We hope to provide some support and guidance to help you continue to sell and market your agricultural products.
The updated Guide provides ideas for alternative market channels available to you, general health and safety protocols when selling direct, how to set up your operation, keep your workforce safe, and market your operation using social media and other online tools. We have also provided a number of resources from other organizations supporting farmers selling direct.
Click here to access the Guide.
Guide to Operating your Essential Farm Business during COVID-19
Updated May 15, 2020
There are many ways to manage risk and improve the safety and well-being of your farm business workplace, while doing your part to reduce the risk to public health and supply chain disruptions.
This Guide for farms and farm businesses is split into three parts: Facilitating Business Interactions on the Farm, Responding to Exposure to COVID-19, and Managing Risk during Business Operations. OFA recognizes that these new protocols and procedures can be overwhelming. Please review the document as needed and implement these procedures based on your farm and your situation.
Click here to access the Guide.
Crisis Management Tools by Farm Life
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve and farm businesses work to navigate these unprecedented times, the topic of farm business and contingency planning is increasingly on the minds of farmers. Through OFA’s partnership with Farm Life, we are providing resources for farm businesses offering tips, checklists and tools to help navigate this process.
Farm Life Resources:
For more details, visit ofa.on.ca/resources/crisis-management-tools-by-farm-life.
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) partnered with the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) to host two webinars focused on human resource management during this pandemic. The first webinar focused on the temporary foreign worker program, while the second covered tools and resources to tap into the local labour force.
Navigating the Temporary Foreign Worker Program During COVID-19
Tuesday April 28, 2020
This webinar focused on the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program. CAHRC was joined by the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) and the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association (OFVGA) to provide the latest updates and lobbying efforts to support TFW employers.
Tapping into the Local Labour Force During COVID-19
Wednesday April 29, 2020
In this webinar, CAHRC and AgCareers.com discussed the challenges and opportunities to tap into the local labour force. AgCareers.com is offering resources and free temporary job postings for employers. CAHRC has the AgriHR Toolkit that is free to OFA members. Click here for more information.
AgCareers.com: Free Postings for Temporary Jobs in Agriculture
AgCareers is offering farm businesses free temporary or seasonal job postings in agriculture that are posted on the AgCareers.com website using the code TEMPJOBSc19. For more information, visit www.agcareers.com/growing-concerns-of-labor-shortages-due-to-covid19.cfm.
AgCareers.com: COVID-19 Information and Resources for Agricultural Employers and Employees
AgCareers has created some resources and a page of links and tips for employees and employers in the agri-food industry.
For more information, visit vwww.AgCareers.com/covid19canada.
Ontario Agriculture and Food Jobs Portal
Website dedicated to helping the agr-food sector connect job seekers with recruiters.
For more information, visit www.ontario.ca/agfoodjobs
OFVGA information update
May 14, 2020
Agri-Food Workplace Protection Program – Producers
- Today OMAFRA announced a new funding program under the Canadian Agriculture Partnership to support growers address new and immediate health and safety issues directly related to COVID-19 impacts.
- The funding will cover 70% of eligible expenses up to $7,500/farm. Eligible expenses can be incurred starting May 14, 2020 and applications will be received on an ongoing basis as funding remains. Each farm business can only apply once.
Funding will fit within one of two categories:
1. Occupational Health and Safety Measures: For projects to implement occupational health and safety measures related to COVID-19 on farms with intensive use of labour
- Enhancing Healthy Workforce Access and Accommodation: For projects to address workforce access and accommodations as a result of an on-farm outbreak of COVID-19
- Full details and the application process can be accessed at: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/cap/capproducers.htm
Mandatory Isolation Support for Temporary Foreign Workers Program (MISTFWP)
- Most growers will be aware now that the details of the funding announced in April to support employers of TFW and SAWP workers are now available.
- Funding details and forms can be accessed at: http://www.agr.gc.ca/eng/agricultural-programs-and-services/mandatory-isolation-support-for-temporary-foreign-workers-program/?id=1588186409721
From the original materials, eligible costs have been expanded, and include:
o wages and benefits of the temporary foreign workers;
o offsite accommodations;
o transportation to and from offsite accommodations;
o food or food allowances;
o health and safety supplies; and/or
o other incremental costs directly associated to the mandatory 14-day quarantine period of temporary foreign workers.
- Eligible expenses can be incurred between March 26, 2020 and June 30, 2020.
- Growers have until June 30 to submit applications for funding, with claims due by August 14, 2020.
NOTE TO GROWERS: the above noted programs (Agri-Food Workplace Protection Program and MISTFWP) will not allow growers to receive more than 100% of reimbursement of a specific expense. Growers are encouraged to review programs carefully, including timing of eligible expenses, to determine how to allocate their eligible expenses incurred this spring across the two programs.
Production Insurance Enrolment EXTENSION
- Today, Agricorp posted on their website that they have extended the enrollment deadline to June1, 2020 for farmers to apply for coverage under Production Insurance or make changes to existing coverage. This applies to Production Insurance plans that normally have enrolment deadlines of April 1, May 1 and May 10.
- Growers are encouraged to review the status of business risk management tools, including production insurance (where applicable), to ensure their farm is adequately covered. This extension allows growers another opportunity to participate in production insurance where the deadline had otherwise recently passed.
- Full details of the extension can be found here: https://www.agricorp.com/en-ca/News/2020/Pages/ProductionInsurance-FarmersHaveIUntilJune1ToEnrol.aspx
- Last week Federal Minister of Agriculture announced that the federal government would be investigating with their provincial counterparts the possibility of including labour as a peril under production insurance plans. The OFVGA is encouraging OMAFRA to investigate options for this type of coverage given the tenuous nature of growers’ workforces given the risk of COVID-19 this season.
- Today, Agricorp posted on their website that Ontario farmers who apply for a 2020 AgriStability interim payment will now receive 75% of their estimated final payment, up from 50%.
- Details on this change, along with how to apply for an interim payment can be found here: https://www.agricorp.com/en-ca/News/2020/Pages/AgriStability-HowToApplyForAnInterimPayment.aspx
- Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada have created AgriStability Benefit Calculator that will help you determine the benefit you could receive. Growers can use the online tool, and, if applicable, discuss with your accountant or financial advisor to determine if registering for AgriStability will provide support for your operation.
- Growers are reminded that the deadline to apply for AgriStability has been extended to July 3, 2020.
- OFVGA and other industry stakeholders continue to advocate for supports for the horticulture sector, particularly through improvements to the AgriStability program that would hopefully see the trigger increased to 90% and for coverage to increase to 85%, as well as the removal of the reference margin limit.
- On May 12, 2020 the federal government announced a new, temporary policy that intended to drastically reduce the time it takes for a temporary foreign worker to start a new job.
- While this policy is in place, a worker who is already in Canada and has secured a new job offer, typically backed by a labour market test, can get approval to start working in their new job, even while their work permit application is being fully processed. This will cut what can often take 10 weeks or more, down to 10 days or less.
- The federal government has created Workplace guidance for sector employers and employees (not agriculture specific)
- Ontario Government Guidance for Agriculture health and safety during COVID-19
OFVGA information update SAWP/TFW
April 9, 2020
We remind those farms with workers that have arrived or will arrive soon, of the importance of following the mandatory non-working 14-day isolation for workers arriving from outside of Canada. It is vital that growers follow isolation requirements, to protect the program for future years, but also ensure that workers can continue arriving this season.
The adherence to public health protocols is essential for all growers and is being overseen by local health authorities, as well as the local police and by-law officers. All these entities have the power to lay charges. Anyone circumventing these protocols is subject to fines, and possibly criminal prosecution. In addition to this, it may also jeopardize your ability to access the temporary foreign workers program in the future. It must be recognized that the behaviour of everyone in our communities, including workers and employers, will be under extreme scrutiny. We must govern ourselves accordingly to avoid negative implications to your farm and the rest of the sector.
Further, even once workers have completed their 14-day non-working isolation period, the 2020 growing season will not be business as usual. Efforts must continue even beyond the isolation period to ensure social distancing measures are respected, including working and non-working times. Trips into town by workers should be avoided unless absolutely necessary (and are only possible after the isolation period). Growers should be making every effort to have food and other essentials provided to workers at the farm/bunkhouse throughout the 2020 season.
The OFVGA continues to add resources to its COVID-19 webpage to support the industry. Most recent additions include:
- List of Hotels offering accommodation for Seasonal Workers
- For growers needing to find alternative/additional housing for workers during isolation or throughout the season.
- Growers should work with their local health unit to ensure a hotel is an acceptable option in their region
- List of Grocery Services for Seasonal Workers
- For all growers as to support providing food and other necessities to workers during isolation AND throughout the 2020 season
- COVID-19 Essential Worker Letter Template
- Reminder that this template is available and should be used by growers for workers to carry in instances where workers and have already completed their 14-day isolation period, and have an essential reason to be off the farm
OFVGA update on Essential Seasonal Agricultural Workers
April 2, 2020
The following updates from OFVGA and FARMS provide clarity around worker isolation, pay, and an update on arrivals.
Please be aware that Ontario’s Ministry of Health released its own guidance regarding temporary foreign workers, which can be found here. The guidance follows the federal guidance, and has been sent by the Ministry of Health to all local health units. Employers should make themselves familiar with the document, and any other requirements placed by their local health units.
- Worker Isolation Obligations for Employers:It is important that all growers are aware of their obligations as employers during the 14-day self-isolation period under the COVID-19 circumstances.To clarify your obligations please carefully read the following:The 14-day isolation period for workers upon arrival is absolutely essential. At the time of this update, we have been advised by the federal government that workers shall not work during this isolation period. We don’t expect this to change, but if it does, we will advise employers of any changes.
- The SAWP Employment Contract stipulates that the worker is to receive payment for a minimum AVERAGE of 40 hours per week OVER THE TERM OF EMPLOYMENT. This means that when the worker’s term of employment is complete, the employer must make sure they have been paid an average of 40 hours per week from the start date of employment to the end date. This calculation needs to include the 14 day isolation period.
- This is what is meant by “going by the SAWP contract”.
- Other TFW Program obligations: Workers employed under the Ag Stream Low Skill and Low Wage programs must be paid a minimum of 30 hours per week during the 14 day self-isolation period.
- FARMS Flight Arrival Information: MEXICO – Approval was received early yesterday from the Mexican Government officials that farm workers will be travelling, as soon as measures are in place to complete the process of contacting workers. CanAg Travel will be advising employers directly as flights are finalized. JAMAICA – The first flight arrived yesterday with subsequent flights scheduled for Friday and Sunday of this week. FARMS apologizes for short notices about flight arrivals given to employers.
Issues backgrounder on Essential Seasonal Agricultural Workers – OFVGA
Ontario farmers are struggling to get skilled international essential labour to help plant, grow and harvest crops for the 2020 season. This is an issue affecting Ontario’s food security.
About 8,000 seasonal and other temporary workers are working in Ontario right now, primarily in greenhouses. Approximately 4,600 more workers were scheduled to arrive by mid-April until travel restrictions were put in place on March 18, 2020. An additional 8,800 workers are expected by mid-June. Spring work includes pruning fruit trees and planting crops. If these skilled essential workers are not in Ontario at the beginning of the season to help with spring work, there will not be a crop to harvest later in the season.
Click here to read the full OFVGA document on the importance of Seasonal Agricultural Workers to Ontario.
For more information, visit www.ofvga.org/covid-19.
Guidance for Employers of Temporary Foreign and Seasonal Agricultural Workers regarding COVID-19
Federal requirements for employers of temporary foreign workers, including seasonal agricultural workers, during the current COVID-19 pandemic have been released. The document was circulated by the Western Agricultural Labour Initiative (WALI) on March 28, 2020.
As the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Marie-Claude Bibeau noted in a recent press conference, employers who do not follow these requirements could lose their rights to apply for Temporary Foreign Workers or Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program workers in the coming years.
In addition to federal requirements, employers must also follow provincial/territorial public health requirements.
Click here to view the document outlining Guidance for Employers of Temporary Foreign Workers.
Essential Worker (seasonal and domestic) – Template Letter
OFA understands that farms and agri-businesses have many questions and concerns about being considered ‘Essential Workplaces’ as per the guidelines released by the Government of Ontario. To prove your status as a farm business owner, your first option can be the OFA member card. If you have any concerns about other workers on the farm being asked to prove their involvement in the operation at this time, OFA has developed a template letter that can be modified to suit your business and printed for others to use when travelling off the farm for work-related reasons or for travelling from field to field. The letter incorporates language related to the seasonal worker’s completion of the required 14-day self-isolation protocol upon arrival to Canada.
The template letter is available in English and French for both essential seasonal workers and essential domestic workers.
For a complete list of all essential work categories, visit www.ontario.ca/page/list-essential-workplaces#section-3.
The Ontario Fruit & Vegetable Growers’ Association have compiled a list of hotel housing options to accommodate seasonal agriculture workers with the mandatory 14-day quarantine. OFVGA states, “This list does not constitute an endorsement of any specific business on the list. The information is provided to support growers as they look at options for housing workers. Employers should work with their local health unit to ensure hotel housing is an acceptable option in your region.”
Click here to access the list of hotel housing options.
Guidelines for Agriculture Health and Safety
Find resources, best practices and information to help keep your workers safe and healthy, and your business in operation, during COVID-19.
Agriculture sector guidance: https://www.ontario.ca/page/agriculture-health-and-safety-during-covid-19
General business advice: https://www.ontario.ca/page/covid-19-support-businesses#section-5
Posters for industry: https://www.ontario.ca/page/resources-prevent-covid-19-workplace
Agriculture sector posters:
Workplace Safety & Prevention Services
Health and Safety Guidance for Agricultural Workers during COVID-19
This is not a legal document and employers are advised to seek legal advice.
Employers and constructors have obligations to protect workers from hazards in the workplace as set out in the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and its regulations and the directives coming from the Chief Medical Officer of Health.
Workers should raise any concerns to their:
- joint health and safety committee
- health and safety representative
This will help ensure the employer has taken all reasonable precautions.
Ontario is currently in the midst of a global pandemic. While the COVID-19 situation is changing rapidly, the legislation and regulations used to govern Ontario’s workplaces are not.
Under Ontario law, employers have the duty to keep workers and work sites safe and free of hazards. Workers have the right to refuse unsafe work.If health and safety concerns are not resolved internally, a worker can seek enforcement by filing a complaint with the ministry’s Health and Safety Contact Centre at 1-877-202-0008. Failure of the employer or constructor to comply with the OHSA and its regulations could result in a stop-work order upon inspection by the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development.
As a result of cancelled in-class learning, the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks announced that Ontario growers and vendors whose pesticide safety certification expires on or after January 1, 2020, will be extended until December 31, 2020.
For more information, read the full news release here.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, both the Canadian government and the Ontario government have announced financial assistance measures for individuals and businesses, including farm businesses. OFA has developed a summary of existing programs and new financial assistance measures that may be relevant to Ontario farm businesses.
Please note this summary is provided for information purposes only and program details may have been amended since this summary was drafted. Therefore, we recommend you rely on official program guidelines instead of this summary when applying (E&OE).
Canada enhances Youth Employment and Skills Program (YESP)
Overview: Increased funding of $9.2 million is to assist in helping to create up to 700 new positions in agriculture for youth (ages 15 to 30). The YESP will provide agriculture employers up to 50% of the cost of hiring a Canadian youth up to $14,500. Ag employers will receive up to 80% of their costs for indigenous applicants and applicants facing barriers.
Who is eligible: Farmers, agri-businesses, and industry associations are eligible. Employers may apply for funding retroactive to Apr 1, 2020, with projects to be completed by Mar 31, 2021.
Website for more details: https://www.canada.ca/en/agriculture-agri-food/news/2020/05/government-of-canada-enhances-youth-employment-and-skills-program-to-help-create-new-positions-for-youth-in-the-agriculture-sector.html
How to apply: Applications are available through the Youth Employment and Skills Program: http://www.agr.gc.ca/eng/agricultural-programs-and-services/youth-employment-and-skills-program/step-3-how-to-apply/?id=1558438660663, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or call: 1-866-452-5558
Ontario-Canada Agri-Food Workplace Protection Program
Overview: Governments announced $2.25 million through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) to help farmers enhance health and safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Farm businesses can apply for 70 per cent funding (up to a maximum of $7,500) for initiatives like purchasing personal protective equipment, enhanced cleaning and disinfection, and redesigning workstations. Farm businesses can also apply for funding for unexpected costs for housing and transportation because of a COVID-19 outbreak among on-farm employees.
Who is eligible: A registered Ontario farm business, with a valid FBR number or allowable exemption, with intensive use of labour where employees may operate within close proximity of one another, or where the operator is responsible for accommodating workers on- or off-site.
Website for more details: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/cap/capproducers.htm
How to apply: Email a completed electronic application with all supporting documentation to email@example.com. Applications are online: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/cap/capproducers.htm.
Canada’s Agriculture and Food Business Solutions Fund
Overview: The federal government announced $100 million for Farm Credit Canada to be the sole investor in a new Venture Capital Fund, in partnership with Forage Capital Inc. This Fund can provide companies with the stability and flexibility they need to rebuild their business models during challenging times. The fund will primarily offer convertible debt investments, as well as other flexible financing solutions. Convertible debt investments give companies the flexibility of paying down debt or providing the investor with equity in the business.
Who is eligible: The Fund will consider investments along the entire Agri-Food system with a focus on companies that have suffered a significant disruption to their business model and have a well-defined need for new capital.
How to apply: Contact Forage Capital Inc. (http://www.foragecapitalpartners.com/)
Canada’s Regional Relief and Recovery Fund
Overview: The federal government announced a $962 million fund specifically targeted to those businesses and organizations that have been unable to access existing support measures. The initiative includes $675 million to support regional economies, businesses, organizations, and communities across Canada and $287 million to support Community Futures Development Corporations to specifically target small businesses and rural communities.
Who is eligible: Businesses and organizations unable to access existing support measures.
Website for more details: https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/icgc.nsf/eng/h_07682.html
How to apply: For loans up to $40,000, contact your local Community Futures Office: https://cfontario.ca/find-cfdc-office-pf-en;
For loans over $40,000, contact your Regional Development Agency, in Southern Ontario: http://www.feddevontario.gc.ca/eic/site/723.nsf/eng/h_02581.html?OpenDocument;
in Northern Ontario: http://fednor.gc.ca/eic/site/fednor-fednor.nsf/eng/h_fn04591.html
Canada’s Emergency Processing Fund
Overview: The federal government announced $77.5 million to help food producers access more personal protective equipment (PPE), adapt to health protocols, automate or modernize their facilities, process, and operations, and respond to emerging pressures for Covid-19 so they can better supply Canadians with food during this period.
Who is eligible: Details still to be released.
How to apply: Application details still to be released.
Canada’s AgriRecovery (cattle & hog) Initiatives
Overview: The federal government launched national AgriRecovery initiatives of up to $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. This new federal funding will help beef and pork producers and processors adapt to a changing market, and help farmers and ranchers keep their animals longer before marketing.
Who is eligible: Details still to be released.
How to apply: Application details still to be released.
Canada’s Surplus Food Purchase Program
Overview: The federal government announced an initial $50 million fund designed to help redistribute existing and unsold inventories, which could include products such as potatoes and poultry, to local food organizations who are serving vulnerable Canadians.
Who is eligible: Details still to be released.
How to apply: Application details still to be released.
Ontario-Canada Agri-Food Open for E-Business Initiative
Overview: Eligible agriculture, agri-food and agri-products businesses/organizations (such as farmers, processors, individual farmers markets, on-farm markets, retailers, garden centres, greenhouses, nurseries and agricultural associations) that are looking to bring their business online quickly can apply for a Canadian Agricultural Partnership grant of up to $5,000 in order to capture business opportunities and address marketing challenges through a new, expanded or enhanced online e-business and marketing presence.
Who is eligible: An applicant must have a Canada Revenue Agency Business Number; be involved in the agriculture, agri-food and agri-products sectors; and be engaged in the project and be contributing cash towards the project.
Website for more details: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/cap/ebusiness.htm#eligible
How to apply: Email a completed electronic application form with all supporting documentation to firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications are online http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/cap/ebusiness.htm or call OMAFRA (877) 424-1300.
Ontario-Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program
Overview: Announced $900 million to help Ontario business tenants through forgivable loans to eligible commercial property owners experiencing potential rent shortfalls because their small business tenants have been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. The forgivable loan would be conditional on the property owner and tenant entering into a rent forgiveness agreement (including a moratorium on eviction for three-months) pursuant to which the property owner would reduce the tenant’s monthly rent to 25 per cent of rent that relates to fixed costs for three months. The property owner would be responsible for the remaining 25 per cent.
Who is eligible: An eligible small business tenant is one that: Pays monthly rent not exceeding $50,000 in gross rent payments; and is, A non-essential small business that has temporarily closed, or who is experiencing a 70 per cent drop in pre-COVID-19 revenues (determined by comparing revenues in April, May or June to the same month in 2019 or alternatively compared to average revenues for January and February 2020).
Website for more details: https://news.ontario.ca/opo/en/2020/4/ontario-canada-emergency-commercial-rent-assistance-program.html
How to apply: Applications are online: https://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/finance-and-investing/covid19-cecra-small-business
Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Quarantine Assistance Program
Overview: The federal government announced $50 million to help farmers, fish harvesters, and all food production and processing employers with temporary foreign workers (TFWs) with the costs associated with the measures necessary to follow the mandatory 14-day isolation period required of all workers arriving from abroad. Up to $1,500 per TFW will be provided to employers or those working with them to ensure isolation protocols are fully met.
Who is eligible: Above-noted employers with TFWs adhering to the upon-arrival 14-day isolation protocol.
How to apply: Online applications are available on the above-noted website.
Canada’s $5 billion increase to Farm Credit Canada’s lending capacity
Overview: Farm Credit Canada (FCC) received an enhancement to its capital base that will allow for an additional $5 billion in lending capacity. Focus will be on assisting the industry in addressing cash flow challenges so that businesses can remain focused on business-critical functions.
Who is eligible: Farmers, agri-businesses, and food processors.
Website for more details: www.fcc-fac.ca/en/covid-19.html
How to apply: Customers facing financial pressure may contact their FCC relationship manager or the FCC Customer Service Centre at 1-888-332-3301.
Canada’s Advance Payment Program
Overview: The federal government announced up to $173 million in loan repayment deferrals under the Advance Payments Program (APP) to help farmers with an APP loan due by April 30. Who is eligible: Farmers with APP loans.
Website for more details: www.agcreditcorp.ca/what_advance_payments_program_app
How to apply: APP borrowers in Ontario should contact the Agricultural Credit Corporation
Canada’s Income Tax Payment Deferral
Overview: All businesses can defer, until August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after March 18 and before September 2020. This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as installments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period.
Who is eligible: All businesses owing income taxes.
Website for more details: ww.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/campaigns/covid-19-update/covid-19-filing-payment-dates.html
How to apply: Check the above website for extended filing dates.
Canada’s Work-Sharing Program
Overview: Work-Sharing is an adjustment program designed to help employers and employees avoid layoffs when there is a temporary reduction in the normal level of business activity that is beyond the control of the employer. It provides income support to employees eligible for
Employment Insurance benefits who work a temporarily reduced work week while their employer recovers. Effective March 15, 2020 to March 14, 2021, and not limited to one specific sector or industry, the government is introducing temporary special measures, including the extension of the maximum possible duration of an agreement from 38 weeks to 76 weeks.
Who is eligible: The measure provides income support to employees eligible for Employment Insurance benefits who work a temporarily reduced work week.
Website for more details: www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/work-sharing.html
How to apply: Ontario employers should email their completed applications (available on the website noted above) to ESDC.ON.WS-TP.ON.EDSC@servicecanada.gc.ca
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)
Overview: The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) is a temporary wage subsidy for employers that aims to prevent further job losses, encourage employers to re-hire workers previously laid off as a result of COVID-19. It will cover up to 75% of an employee’s salary on the first $58,700 earned – amounting to up to $847 a week. Funds will be retroactive to March 15. If able, employers can pay employees the remaining 25% of salaries. For employers that are eligible for both the CEWS and the 10% Temporary Wage Subsidy (noted below) for a period, any benefit from the 10 per cent wage subsidy for remuneration paid in a specific period would generally reduce the amount available to be claimed under the CEWS in that same period.
Who is eligible: Individuals, taxable corporations, partnerships consisting of eligible employers, non-profit organizations and registered charities, may be eligible if they see a drop of at least 15 per cent of their revenue in March 2020 and 30 per cent for the following months.
How to apply: Applications are online: https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/subsidy/emergency-wage-subsidy/cews-how-apply.html#h-2.
Canada’s 10% Temporary Wage Subsidy for Employers
Overview: Organizations that do not qualify for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (noted above) may qualify for the previously announced wage subsidy of 10 per cent of remuneration paid from March 18 to before June 20, 2020. The Temporary Wage Subsidy for Employers is a three-month measure that will allow eligible employers to reduce the amount of payroll deductions required to be remitted to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The subsidy is equal to 10% of the remuneration you pay from March 18, 2020 to June 19, 2020, up to $1,375 for each eligible employee and to a maximum of $25,000 total per employer.
Who is eligible: Eligible employers are individuals, partnerships, non-profit organizations, charities, or Canadian-controlled private corporation (including a cooperative corporation), who are eligible for the small business deduction: and have an existing business number and payroll program account with the CRA on March 18, 2020; and pay salary, wages, bonuses, or other remuneration to an eligible employee.
How to apply: Whoever is responsible for making your payroll remittances must manually calculate the subsidy. Your current payroll remittance of federal, provincial, or territorial income tax that you send to the CRA can be reduced by the subsidy amount.
Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
Overview: To support workers and help businesses keep their employees, this benefit would provide $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CERB would replace the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit.
Who is eligible: The CERB covers Canadians who have lost their job, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, as well as working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures. The CERB would apply to wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who cease working for reasons related to COVID-19 for at least 14 consecutive days within the four-week period in which they apply for the payment, and for those who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI). Workers earning up to $1,000 a month and those who have recently run out of employment insurance will now also be eligible. Eligibility is proposed for seasonal workers who have exhausted their EI benefits and can’t find their usual seasonal work as a result of the pandemic.
Website for more details: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/cerb-application.html
How to apply: Apply online (website above) through either Service Canada or the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Apply online on the website noted above.
Canada’s Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP)
Overview: The BCAP will support access to financing for Canadian businesses in all sectors and regions. Although no limit exists for a single business, the BDC, EDC and participating financial institutions will continue to employ internal risk management practices for granting credit. Through BCAP, Business Development Canada and Export Development Canada will provide more than $65 billion in loans and other forms of credit support and enhancement at market rates to businesses with viable business models.
Who is eligible: All credit-worthy businesses with viable business models whose activities fall within the mandate of either BDC and/or EDC are eligible to benefit from BCAP.
How to apply: Contact your financial institution.
Canada Emergency Business Account
Overview: The Canada Emergency Business Account is an interest-free loan of $40,000 for qualifying businesses. Up to $10,000 of that amount will be eligible for complete forgiveness if $30,000 is fully repaid on or before December 31, 2022.
Who is eligible: Businesses and not-for-profits are eligible if their total employment income paid in the 2019 calendar year was between $20,000 and $1.5 million. (Update: May 19, 2020) Eligibility criteria was expanded to include many owner-operated small businesses.
Website for more details: https://ceba-cuec.ca/
How to apply: Contact your financial institution.
Canada’s Deferral of HST Remittance and Customs Duty Payments
Overview: Businesses, including self-employed individuals, can defer until June 30, 2020 their remittances of the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), as well as customs duties owing on their imports. The deferral will apply to GST/HST remittances for the February, March and April 2020 reporting periods for monthly filers; the January 1, 2020 through March 31, 2020 reporting period for quarterly filers; and for annual filers, the amounts collected and owing for their previous fiscal year and instalments of GST/HST in respect of the filer’s current fiscal year. For GST and customs duty payments for imported goods, deferral will include amounts owing for March, April and May.
Who is eligible: Business who must remit HST and Customs Duties. Note that GST/HST rebates that are late filed may be considered for processing. They will be reviewed on a case by case basis when operations resume.
Website for more details: www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/campaigns/covid-19-update/frequently-asked-questions-gst-hst.html
How to apply: New deadlines apply automatically.
Ontario’s suspension of electricity time-of-use rates for 45 days
Overview: From March 24, 2020 until May 31, 2020, residential and small business customers on time-of-use (TOU) pricing will pay 10.1 ¢/kWh regardless of when the electricity is consumed.
Who is eligible: Residential, farm and small business customers on time-of-use pricing.
Website for more details: https://ofa.on.ca/resources/ontario-energy-board-covid-19-update-regarding-time-of-use-pricing/
How to apply: Pricing applies automatically – no customer action is required.
Ontario’s Electricity Disconnection Ban Extension
Overview: The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) extended the winter ban on electricity disconnections for non-payment for residential customers to July 31, 2020. Low-volume, small business customers will now also be protected by the ban. In addition, the OEB is calling on distributors to be more flexible on arrears payment arrangements.
Who is eligible: Residential, farm and low-volume small business electricity customers.
Website for more details: https://www.oeb.ca/newsroom/2020/oeb-covid-19-update
How to apply: Contact your electricity utility.
Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Ins. Board’s Financial Relief Package
Overview:The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) will defer premium payments for six months for all businesses in the province. Additionally, the WSIB will cease interest accrual on all outstanding premium payments. They will not charge penalties during this six-month deferral period. There will be no negative consequences for businesses who defer premium reporting and payments. The WSIB will continue to fully cover workers at eligible workplaces.
Who is eligible: All employers covered by the WSIB’s workplace insurance are automatically eligible for the provisions of the relief package and can defer premium reporting and payments until August 31, 2020. They will not be required to opt in to receive this benefit.
Website for more details: www.wsib.ca/en/financialrelief
How to apply: WSIB will automatically enroll all WSIB’s insured workplaces. Employers are not required to apply.
Ontario’s Risk Management Program (RMP) (including SDRM)
Overview: Ontario’s Risk Management Program (RMP) provides financial assistance when market commodity prices fall below established support levels for eligible livestock and grains and oilseeds commodities. As part of the RMP program, Self-Directed Risk Management (SDRM) accounts enable eligible horticultural producers to receive Ontario government contributions when producer deposits are made, up to the maximum indicated on the deposit notice. The SDRM deposit maximum is based on eligible Allowable Net Sales.
Who is eligible: Livestock, grains & oilseed, edible horticulture producers of eligible commodities can participate in the RMP program. Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria outlined in the program guidelines. The program guidelines are available from Agricorp.
Website for more details: www.agricorp.com/en-ca/Programs/RMP/Pages/Overview.aspx
How to apply: Contact Agricorp at 1-888-247-4999
Canada/Ontario’s Agri-Invest Program
Overview: The Agri-Invest program allows farmers to make an annual deposit into an account based on their Allowable Net Sales (ANS) and then receive matching government contributions up to a maximum government contribution of $10,000 per year. Participants can withdraw funds from their account at any time after the matching funds have been received.
Who is eligible: Farmers reporting farming income for tax purposes are eligible. However, a yearly minimum ANS of $25,000 is required to trigger the minimum matchable deposit of $250. Also, sales of supply-managed commodities are excluded from the Allowable Net Sales calculation.
Website for more details: www.agricorp.com/en-ca/Programs/AgriInvest/Pages/Overview.aspx
How to apply: To participate, farming individuals must submit a T1163 income tax form to Canada Revenue Agency. Corporations must submit a Statement A to Agricorp.
Canada/Ontario’s Agri-Stability Program
Overview: The Agri-Stability Program is a whole-farm, margin-based program available to eligible farmers regardless of the commodities they produce. Under the Agri-Stability Program, a farm operation’s current year margin (eligible income minus eligible expenses) is compared to the farm operation’s reference margin. A government payment is made to the farmer when the farm’s margin in the current year (program year margin) is lower by an amount that exceeds 30% of the farm’s reference margin.
Who is eligible: Farmers reporting farming income for tax purposes are eligible as long as they have completed a production cycle and have completed at least six consecutive months of farming activity in the program year.
Website for more details: https://www.agricorp.com/en-ca/Programs/AgriStability/Pages/Overview.aspx
How to apply: Contact Agricorp at 1-888-247-4999. Participants who apply for a 2020 AgriStability interim payment will now receive 75 per cent of their estimated final payment (https://www.agricorp.com/en-ca/News/2020/Pages/AgriStability-HowToApplyForAnInterimPayment.aspx).
Canada/Ontario’s Production Insurance Program
Overview: Production Insurance coverage provides financial compensation for production losses caused by eligible perils. Some of these eligible perils include drought, flood, wind, frost, excessive rain, heat, snow, uncontrolled disease, insect infestations and wildlife. (Update: May 5, 2020) Governments are exploring possibilities for expanding this program to include labour shortages as an eligible risk for the horticulture sector. This would insure against lost production due to an insufficient workforce, should producers be unable to find enough labour to harvest.
Who is eligible: Farmers producing an insurable agricultural commodity.
Website for more details: www.agricorp.com/en-ca/Programs/ProductionInsurance/Pages/Default.aspx
How to apply: Contact Agricorp at 1-888-247-4999. For plans with typical enrolment deadlines of April 1, May 1, and May 10, Ontario farmers have until June 1, 2020, to apply for coverage under Production Insurance or make changes to existing coverage.
Ontario’s Food Donation Tax Credit for Farmers
Overview: Provides farmers with a tax credit worth 25% of the fair market value of the agricultural products donated to eligible community food programs
Who is eligible: Ontario farmers (or their spouse or common-law partner) who have donated agricultural products to an eligible Ontario community food program. This tax credit is also available to Ontario Farm Corporations.
Website for more details: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/about/info-taxcredit.htm
How to apply: This credit can be claimed on personal/corporate income tax returns.
Canadian Chartered Banks
Canada’s six largest banks announced plans to provide financial relief to Canadians impacted by the economic consequences of COVID-19. Effective immediately, Bank of Montreal, CIBC, National Bank of Canada, RBC Royal Bank, Scotiabank and TD Bank made a commitment to work with personal and small business banking customers on a case‑by‑case basis to provide flexible solutions to help manage financial challenges due to COVID-19.
Click here for more information.
Canadian Credit Unions
Canada’s member-owned credit unions provide the same services as banks. If you are experiencing financial hardship as a result of the crisis, please reach out to your credit union or find a credit union near you.
Click here for more information.
Mental Health Resources
Ontario’s current health environment is changing rapidly and has forced our industry to be fluid and flexible. As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, we will monitor its progress closely and provide updates when necessary. These are unprecedented times around the world. We recognize that the uncertainty can be unsettling. We encourage people to be respectful of social distancing, and thankfully we have technology to help us stay connected. Please take the time to reach out to your friends, family and neighbours, especially those who may be particularly isolated or vulnerable.
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, please call 911.
Managing Farm Stress during COVID-19
If you or anyone close to you requires support at this time, please check the resources available on the OFA website at: ofa.on.ca/issues/mental-health. OFA has also developed a list of resources to help farmers with managing stress during the COVID-19 pandemic: ofa.on.ca/resources/managing-farm-stress-during-covid-19.
Mental Health Kit for Farmers – OMAFRA
This is a challenging time for everyone, including Ontario’s hardworking farmers. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has a Mental Health Kit for Farmers that is available at: http://omafra.gov.on.ca/english/about/mental-health.htm.
Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA)
If your farm business and employees are feeling anxious or concerned about the COVID-19 situation, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) developed a resource specifically for Canadian employers recommending 6 tips for responding to employee anxiety:cmha.ca/news/6-tips-to-respond-to-employee-anxiety-about-covid-19.
8 Domains of Well-Being…COVID-19 Style
Unquestionably, these are tough days. The COVID-19 pandemic has required us to make significant changes professionally and personally, in a very short period of time, while also attending to our feelings around the disease. For many of us, we may be having trouble partaking in usual activities that support our well-being. This resource was designed to help stimulate ideas for well-being activities during COVID-19.
To access the resource, visit https://ofa.on.ca/resources/8-domains-of-well-being-covid-19-style.
Government Relations Updates – provided by Enterprise Canada
Provincial Update: May 21
Last month, Ontario announced the $20-million Ontario COVID-19 Rapid Research Fund, to be put towards Ontario-based research projects looking into various aspects of COVID-19. Today Ford announced the first phase of these projects, an investment of $7.2 million. The first phase involves 15 proposals accepted by the government, including a rapid testing method put forward by St. Joseph’s Healthcare in Hamilton, a McMaster University study of recovered patients to examine antibodies and if they help prevent the spread of COVID-19, a food security project at Western University and a proposal from the University of Guelph to advance a vaccine. “The key to beating this virus once and for all is finding a vaccine, finding a cure, I want the vaccine to be discovered in Ontario,” stated Ford.
Ontario is also leading the country with 22 clinical trials underway investigating COVID-19 treatments and vaccines.
Ford said more information is coming next week on increased testing in Ontario, noting his desire for more tests done on asymptomatic people and in specific sectors. Specifically, he said truckers, taxi and Uber drivers, front-line long-term care workers, meat processing plants and the automotive sector will be tested. “We have to start going to the broader public and start testing as many asymptomatic people as possible. Until we do that, and I’m no medical expert, I’ve said that a million times, we can’t get our hands around the whole system.”
Ford added he is confident we will see testing numbers increase.
Ontario’s COVID-19 case numbers have been inching back up after the Victoria Day long weekend, but Ontario will continue to rely on professional medical advice regarding the conditions in Stage 1 and when, or if, we will be able to move to Stage 2. Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams is cautioning that the path to recovery is a slow, gradual path and that despite the past week we are still on a gradual downward trend.
Provincial Update: May 19
The Premier stated that after careful consideration and consultation with health experts, his government has decided that they are not going to open public-funded schools at this point in time, but they have a plan to ensure that children’s education can continue outside the classroom.
All students who were on track to graduate from secondary school before the initial school closure order was made in March will be able to graduate, and all students will receive report cards. The government is also working to make sure child-care centers can open safely during stage two of the re-opening process.
The Premier and his cabinet ministers also unveiled an expanded seven-point summer learning plan emphasizing that online learning would continue for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year. Premier Ford stressed that he is not willing to take unnecessary risks when it comes to the safety of children.
Summer day camps will be allowed to open in July and August with strict public health measures in place. However, Ford emphasized that overnight camps will remain closed. “Unfortunately, we just can’t have camps with 500 kids living together right now,” said the Premier.
The government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, has extended all emergency orders, including restrictions on social gatherings, until May 29. While extending the emergency orders, the Ontario government also announced Tuesday it will now allow people to attend drive-in religious gatherings, as long as a series of strict guidelines are followed.
The Ontario Government is launching an independent commission to examine the province’s long-term care homes and the circumstances that led to the deaths of more than 1,300 seniors during the COVID-19 crisis. The provincial government says the commission’s work will begin in September, but crucial details — such as the terms of reference, membership, leadership of the commission and reporting timelines — are still being finalized.
An independent commission would be able to hold public hearings, deliver a publicly accessible report and could finish its work much faster than a public inquiry.
Provincial Update: May 12
The Legislature resumed this afternoon for its fourth emergency session, allowing MPPs to debate Bill 190, a new COVID-19 emergency bill. Bill 190 is designed to extend the emergency order until June 2 and press the government on its response to the pandemic.
The Premier also noted that Ontario will enter stage one of the province’s three-stage recovery plan on Thursday. The government is working closely with MPPs in all parties to hold local stakeholder consultations in their ridings, so they can hear ideas from people across the province on how best to re-open the economy.
Ford confirmed rumors that the 2020 Canadian National Exhibition will be cancelled because of COVID-19. The Premier reminisced about his days as a child at the Ex, stating, “We all grew up there. It’s part of our culture here. It’s part of our heritage going back over a hundred years.” It’s only the second time in 142 years that the Ex didn’t take place.
Federal Update: May 11
The new Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility, which comes with certain terms and conditions, will allow big companies to access additional liquidity so they can keep their operations going, retain workers on payroll and avoid bankruptcy.
Eligible companies with large financing needs and annual revenues of $300 million or more across all sectors of the economy will now be able to access these loans. Trudeau warned that these are meant to be bridge loans, not bailouts.
The federal government is also expanding the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) to mid-sized companies with larger financing needs. Support for mid-market businesses will include loans of up to $60 million per company and guarantees of up to $80 million. The government will also continue to provide financing to businesses through Farm Credit Canada, the BDC and EDC, including through the Canada Account, to effectively respond to the needs of large employers facing high risks, and establish stricter terms to adequately protect taxpayers.
“The objective of this aid package is to avoid bankruptcies, keep workers on the payroll and keep Canadian companies up and running,” said Trudeau. “We will not allow millions of people to lose their livelihoods because of unprecedented events beyond their control.”
Federal Update: May 8
The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy will be extending past June, with more details to be announced next week. Trudeau said that “Canadians want to work” and urged employers to use the subsidy to keep employees on the payroll or re-hire them.
The Prime Minister also announced that Innovation, Science and Industry Minister Navdeep Bains will be leading a new Industry Strategy Council, which will “will take a deeper dive into how the pandemic is affecting specific sectors and how to best support them.” More details are expected in the near future.
Prime Minister Trudeau teed-up Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault to provide more details today about how the government’s $500 million package to support art, culture and amateur sports is being rolled out. The Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations was announced in April and is being administered by Canadian Heritage and its partners.
Federal Update: May 4
Here is a summary of the latest measures being implemented by the nation’s provinces and territories:
British Columbia – The BC government is expected to unveil its plans for provincial re-opening this week. Although it will be coming later than almost every other province, it’s worth remembering that BC did not have the same degree of lockdown that others did. In other news, the provincial government has extended the temporary layoff period to 16 weeks for COVID-19 related reasons, up from the 13 weeks that previously existed in the province’s Employment Standards Act.
Alberta – On Friday, the Government of Alberta launched the ABTraceTogether app for mobile phones. Using Bluetooth technology, the app helps identify if a user is in close contact with someone who has tested positive. The app aims to accelerate contact tracing efforts, which is otherwise done by interviewing patients – a process that is both labour intensive and prone to gaps as it relies on memory to determine where someone has been and who they have been in contact with.
Saskatchewan – The first phase of Saskatchewan’s re-opening plan goes into effect today, marking the beginning of a gradual process. The Government of Saskatchewan made minor updates to the plan, including clarifying that retailers can accept returned merchandise provided they follow certain protocols.
Manitoba – The first phase of Manitoba’s re-opening plan, goes into effect today, opening the doors for several non-essential businesses that had been closed. Manitoba’s re-opening plan is one of the more ambitious plans.
Ontario – Premier Doug Ford announced today that the province has massively increased daily lab testing, exceeding the 16,000 daily test target. Today also marked the first phase of re-opening, with select non-essential businesses allowed to open their doors provided they’re following strict guidelines, as announced last Friday.
Québec – Premier François Legault today announced that the government is pushing back the re-opening of non-essential businesses in the Montréal area to May 18. The province remains the hardest hit in Canada. Meanwhile, Québec’s party leaders have come to an agreement on the resumption of legislative business. In-person Question Period returns on Wednesday, May 13, while virtual parliamentary committee hearings will continue until May 22. The National Assembly will then return with three sitting days during the week of May 25 and four during the weeks of June 1 and June 8.
New Brunswick – The province is marking a milestone, with 15 consecutive days of no new cases. Measures including restrictions on interprovincial travel remain in effect though, as neighbouring jurisdictions don’t have similarly positive news.
Nova Scotia – While the Government of Nova Scotia is still working on its re-opening plan, expected to be announced soon, the province did lift restrictions on several outdoor activities this weekend, including for provincial and municipal parks, trails, garden centres, golf driving ranges, and drive-in religious services.
Prince Edward Island – While schools in the province remain closed, select designated schools will re-open on May 11 to support students in the province in need of individualized supports.
Newfoundland and Labrador – To support businesses, the Newfound and Labrador Liquor Commission announced several measures, including waiving liquor license fees for the 2020-21 fiscal year and implementing a wholesale pricing discount for licensees.
Yukon – Hospitals are increasing the number of non-urgent and elective surgeries and procedures while restrictions otherwise remain in place for the foreseeable future.
Northwest Territories – The territorial government is expected to release its plan for lifting restrictions at the end of this week.
Nunavut – Starting Thursday, anyone who chooses to travel outside Nunavut while a travel ban is still in effect will have to cover their own costs for the required 14-day isolation period at any of the Government of Nunavut’s isolation sites. The fee per individual in a room runs $2,100 for the 14-day period. Any additional family member in the room requires an extra $1,050.
Provincial Update: April 28
Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction Prabmeet Sarkaria announced the launch of the COVID-19 Tackling the Barriers web portal, aimed at helping organizations and businesses to clear “hurdles” during the pandemic. Through the portal, businesses can request a temporary regulation or policy change to aid in the following:
- Assist the health-care system meet the needs of the emergency.
- Assist businesses in retooling or producing essential or health-related products and supplies.
- Make it easier for businesses trying to operate remotely or in a non-traditional fashion and are facing unexpected challenges.
In an effort to help Ontario businesses focus on overcoming the challenges posed by COVID-19, the province is also “pausing or extending any existing public consultations, delaying non-urgent related consultations while the emergency situation remains in place, and considering extending deadlines for reports and audits.”
The Financial Accountability Office released its preliminary review of the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the Ontario health sector, with a special focus on hospital capacity.
Provincial Update: April 27
According to the Framework for Reopening our Province, the province’s response to COVID-19 is split into three distinct phases: 1) Protect and Support; 2) Restart; 3) Recover. While Ontario is still in the Protect and Support phase, it is moving towards the Restart phase.
Within the Restart phase, the framework cites three distinct stages, as outlined in this diagram:
In determining when to move forward in each phase/stage, decisions will be based on guidance from public health officials, with a number of factors being considered these include:
- Virus spread and containment – A consistent two-to-four week decrease in the number of new daily COVID-19 cases.
- Health system capacity – Sufficient acute and critical care capacity, including access to ventilators and ongoing availability of personal protective equipment.
- Public health system capacity – Approximately 90 per cent of new COVID-19 contacts being reached by local public health officials within one day, with guidance and direction to contain community spread.
- Incident tracking capacity – Ongoing testing of suspected COVID-19 cases, especially of vulnerable populations, to detect new outbreaks quickly.
Yesterday, Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced that all publicly-funded schools will remain closed until at least May 31, 2020. However, he promised that students will still be able to complete the school year. You can read the full announcement here.
The government has also extended the closure of Ontario’s provincial parks and conservation reserves to the end of May.
Federal Update: April 27
Trudeau reported that the CEWG portal is now live and accepting applications. Companies who apply today can expect to get their first payment by May 7. He noted that since the portal went live at 6:00 this morning, nearly 10,000 businesses have already applied. You can access the application portal here.
The PM confirmed that Parliament will have its first virtual sitting tomorrow and an in-person sitting on Wednesday. Members of Parliament will be meeting to legislate the aid package for students that was announced last week.
As provinces and territories continue to unveil plans to gradually re-open their respective economies, Trudeau reiterated that his government is working collaboratively with them on “shared guidelines…for clear, coordinated efforts.” He stressed that they will not be federal guidelines, but instead a framework for provinces and territories to reference as they determine their own re-opening strategies.
Federal Update: April 24
The Prime Minister noted that the federal government has reached a cost-sharing agreement with all provinces and territories to implement the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program for small businesses that have been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will provide forgivable loans to qualifying small commercial property owners to cover 50 percent of monthly rent payments for April, May and June. The loans will be forgiven if the owner agrees to reduce eligible businesses’ rent by at least 75 per cent for the three months.
All businesses that have had to temporarily cease operations and pay less than $50,000 per month in rent or have experienced at least a 70 per cent drop in pre-COVID-19 revenues will be eligible for the rent relief. The program is also being made available to nonprofits and charities who have been impacted by the pandemic.
Updates on rent relief for larger corporations are expected to be announced in the coming days.
Trudeau said that he will discuss the reopening of the Canadian economy during his upcoming First Minister’s meeting, emphasizing that Canada is a large country with a vast economy, and it will take time to get back to the status quo. He pointed out that his government will be working closely with all provinces and territories to establish principles and guidelines to gradually reopen the economy. “We are not out of the woods yet, and it is very important for all Canadians to follow the recommended instructions provided by our public health officials,” he said. Trudeau added, “That is the only way for us to make it through this together.”
Provincial Update: April 23
As Canada passes 40,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, here is a summary of the latest measures taken by each of the provinces and territories:
British Columbia – Yesterday, Premier John Horgan said “I think the public can expect that I’ll have something to say about how we open up sooner than the middle of May,” but did not give further details. In the meantime, BC has made changes allowing companies and non-profits to hold annual and special meetings electronically. Changes under the Emergency Program Act override existing restrictions against electronic meetings in the Business Corporations Act, Societies Act and Cooperative Association Act, including overriding a corporation’s own existing rules.
Alberta – Yesterday, Premier Jason Kenney said that details on timelines and considerations for re-opening the Alberta economy could come as early as next week. His remarks came during an announcement launching the Alberta Cares Connector tool to match organizations in need with volunteers, and the Alberta Northern Lights Volunteer Recognition Program to recognize the volunteer work of “everyday heroes.”
Saskatchewan – Today, Premier Scott Moe and Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab unveiled details of the five-phase Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan:
- Phase 1: Re-opening medical services, angling/boat launches (May 4), golf courses (May 15), parks and campgrounds (June 1).
- Phase 2 (May 19): Re-opening retail and personal care services.
- Phase 3 (dates TBD): Re-opening restaurants, food services, fitness facilities, and childcare facilities.
- Phase 4 (dates TBD): Re-opening recreation and entertainment facilities.
- Phase 5 (dates TBD): Consider lifting long-term restrictions.
You can read the full plan by clicking here. Prior to the announcement, last night Moe delivered a televised address teeing up the plan.
Manitoba – Premier Brian Pallister announced the launch of the $120 million Manitoba Gap Protection Program (MGPP) to support small and medium businesses ineligible for federal supports. The MGPP offers a $6,000 loan that will be forgiven if the business does not receive any federal supports by December 31. The Government of Manitoba is also working on plans to re-open the economy, with an announcement expected as early as next week.
Ontario – Premier Doug Ford today unveiled a new “COVID-19 Action Plan for Vulnerable Populations.” The Ontario government has also extended all emergency orders until May 6. A list of emergency orders being extended can be found here.
Québec – Premier François Legault indicated that he is looking at a phased approach to returning to normal, with details to be announced next week. The province currently accounts for half of all confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada.
New Brunswick – The Government of New Brunswick has launched a secure web portal for COVID-19 test results with the support of Canada Health Infoway. Meanwhile, plans for the economic recovery and returning to normal are set to be discussed at an all-party cabinet committee meeting this week.
Nova Scotia – Starting today, the Government of Nova Scotia is covering extra dispending fees for Pharmacare clients. As an example in the government’s announcement, “government will cover the second and third refill dispensing fees for prescriptions typically dispensed for 90 days.”
Prince Edward Island – Premier Dennis King indicated that the province could begin re-opening as early as May 1 through the “Re-opening PEI, Together” plan. Meanwhile, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison is reminding Islanders that they still need to follow public health measures even as restrictions gradually begin to be lifted.
Newfoundland and Labrador – Following several days of low or no new COVID-19 numbers, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald is cautioning against relaxing rules. She said during a video briefing this week that “as long as COVID-19 is still in our community, an outbreak can occur at any time.”
Yukon – As of yesterday, the Yukon is still able to successfully trace every COVID-19 case in the territory to its origin and there are no indications of community transmission yet.
Northwest Territories – Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Kami Kandola indicated that the government is “looking at ways loosening our restrictions only where it makes the most sense” but did not specify more details or timelines.
Nunavut – Nunavut’s Department of Economic Development and Transportation is working with the Nunavut Development Corporation to create non-medical masks for public use.
Federal Update: April 23
Trudeau announced $1.1 billion for a national medical and research strategy related to COVID-19, on top of the $275 million in research funding announced in March.
- $115 million for research into vaccines and treatments under development in hospitals and universities across Canada;
- $662 million to support clinical trials of vaccines and treatments in Canada;
- $350 million to expand national testing and modelling
The PM noted that the country is now carrying out over 20,000 COVID-19 tests daily, almost double from the start of April, but said this must be expanded further before restrictions can be safely lifted. He committed to testing at least one million Canadians in the next two years.
The PM also announced a COVID-19 Immunity Task Force led by top doctors and scientists to focus on blood testing to track and understand immunity to this novel coronavirus. The task force will include Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, and Dr. David Naylor, who in the past has advised Liberal and Conservative governments on health and science issues.
Addressing the crisis unfolding in long-term care homes across Canada, the Prime Minister called the situation “unacceptable” and said Canadians are right to feel “angry, frustrated and scared.”
Trudeau confirmed that the federal government will be responding to requests from Ontario and Quebec and will be sending in support from the Canadian Armed Forces to assist in long-term care facilities. Trudeau emphasized that this is a short-term solution, stating, “it’s not up to the military to take care of our elders.”
Provincial Update: April 22
Premier Doug Ford announced that the province will make a formal request to the federal government for additional resources to aid in fighting COVID-19. The formal request will include requesting assistance from the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Armed Forces. These additional resources will be provided to the five long-term care homes that have been hit the hardest by COVID-19 and will be providing staffing relief, helping with medical care and logistics.
Minister of Long-Term Care Merrilee Fullerton announced that the province is increasing testing on symptomatic and asymptomatic patients in all long-term care facilities, having tested over 11,000 so far. Fullerton also thanked the public health teams from hospitals which are now supporting over 100 long-term care homes in the province and noted that 20 long-term care homes that were previously considered to be in an outbreak are now outbreak-free.
Premier Ford was asked about the remainder of the school year and said he expects Education Minister Stephen Lecce to provide an update in the upcoming days.
Provincial Update: April 20
- Health experts say that the COVID-19 outbreak has likely peaked in Ontario. Projections show that Ontario’s COVID-19 outbreak matches the best-case scenario projection.
- While earlier models predicted a peak in cases in May, public health interventions have accelerated the peak to now.
- Spread in long-term care and other congregate settings is a major issue and seems to be growing.
- Latest projections are for fewer than 20,000 cumulative cases in this province. (This is significantly lower than earlier projections, but Ford – anticipating Ontarians possibly reading into the lower numbers that the crisis has passed – emphasized that it is too early to let down our collective guard.) The previous projections estimated Ontario having roughly 80,000 COVID-19 cases over the course of the pandemic, with between 3,000 and 15,000 deaths. Officials did not provide an update on projected deaths due to ongoing outbreaks in long-term care homes.
- If the best-case scenario or medium scenario occur, the COVID-19 demand for ICU beds may drop to zero by May 20. Officials cautioned that this is only possible if Ontarians continue to adhere to public health measures, including social distancing.
- If restrictions were lifted today, Ontario would track towards a scenario similar to what Italy experienced, pushing the peak out drastically and resulting in an aggressive surge in hospitalizations and deaths.
Premier Ford said his government is focusing resources and efforts on prevention and management of COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care homes. This includes aggressive testing, screening and surveillance for residents and staff.
In addition, the province will continue implementing enhanced public health measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 and further flatten the curve.
Ford has asked the Jobs and Recovery Committee to develop a framework for the gradual, and safe reopening of Ontario based on the best available data. Ford noted that the framework will include key criteria that must be met before restrictions can begin to be lifted, and reiterated that the health and safety of Ontarians must remain the number one priority.
When asked for his thoughts on an actual timeframe for the reopening to commence- Ford did not answer. He acknowledged he has heard that the global automotive sector is considering May 4 to start gradually resuming operations, but insisted no decision has been made and none will be made until health officials declare it safe.
Federally, the Conservatives (the official opposition) have introduced an amendment to the Liberal proposed plan for how the House of Commons will be convened going forward. The Conservative amendment offers two in-person and one virtual meeting every week. However, it will likely be defeated and the original proposal (one in-person sitting, plus 90-minute virtual sittings) will be adopted.
Federal Update: April 16
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a new Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program to aid businesses and commercial property owners who are facing unique challenges, including small businesses who were unable to cover their rent for April, May and June. The assistance is being rolled out in collaboration with the provinces and territories.
The federal government is also now expanding the eligibility criteria for the Canada Emergency Business Account. To help more Canadians benefit from CERB, the government will be changing the 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 partake in 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.
Now, companies who paid between $20,000 and $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019 will be eligible to receive a loan (before the range was $50,000 – $1 million). To date, the government has approved more than 195,000 loans and almost $7.5 billion in credit to help small- and medium-sized businesses in this difficult time.
The Prime Minister met with the G7 leaders this morning and said that they all remain committed to do whatever it takes to help people rebound. Trudeau noted that Canada is working together with domestic and international counterparts to develop a vaccine, expand treatment, and will be extending a helping hand to more vulnerable countries hit hard by the crisis. “It’s a global crisis and demands a global response.”
Prime Minister Trudeau will be meeting with the provincial and territorial premiers to discuss salary top-ups for certain essential front-line health workers as well as how to provide better care for our elderly impacted by long-term care outbreaks. He also noted that more “help” — including financial assistance and medical supplies for the targeted groups — is on the way.
Trudeau was asked if the government would be providing military support to the provinces. He noted that the Public Safety Minister received an official request for support from Quebec in long-term care centres. That support could include the military, volunteers, and the Canadian Red Cross. Discussions and planning with Quebec are ongoing.
Provincial Update: April 16
In his opening remarks, the Premier noted that COVID-19 “is a ruthless killer and preys on the most vulnerable.” As a result, his government will be further enhancing protective measures and expanding Ontario’s testing capacity to protect the most vulnerable sectors. This will include expanding testing for many priority groups such as Ontarian’s in long-term care, retirement homes and developmental charities and shelters including special testing for pregnant women and the homeless. As of today, more than 9,000 COVID-19 tests have been administered in Ontario per day, and the government hopes to increase testing to 14,000.
The Minister of Health noted that the government is working directly with hospitals across the province to make more beds available and is expanding both the health human resources and medical care capacity as part of its plan to prepare for a possible surge. The province has added 1,035 acute care beds and 1,492 critical care beds and has taken special steps to ensure hospitals have the staff available to care for a sudden surge in patients.
The Financial Accountability Office released a new report this morning detailing the economic impact of COVID-19. The report states that 1.2 million Ontarians have had their job status impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, which is equivalent to one in six jobs.
Statistics Canada had already indicated that 403,000 Ontarians lost their jobs in March as a result of government measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Federal Update: April 13
Federal Minister of Seniors, Deb Schulte, released the government’s updated guidelines for long-term care homes. Even though these facilities fall under provincial and territorial jurisdiction, the new recommendations from the Public Health Agency of Canada will help ensure consistent guidance across Canada.
The guidelines were drafted in consultation with the provinces and territories and are based on the experience in other countries. Key recommendations include:
- Restricting visitors and volunteers
- Screenings before shifts for staff and before any essential visitor enters
- Prohibiting staff with symptoms from coming to work
- Mandating masks and other personal protective equipment
- Limiting employees to working in a single facility
- Cancelling any non-essential outings
- Maintaining physical distance during meals.
You can find the complete list of recommendations here.
Health Canada has approved a new rapid test for the coronavirus by Ottawa-based Spartan Bioscience. The test can show results in less than an hour and uses a portable hand-held device, which means there is no need to send samples to a lab. The government will prioritize distribution of these tests for remote areas that have less access to more centralized laboratories – specifically northern and Indigenous communities.
Ontario has ordered nearly one million testing kits. Health Canada gave the device the greenlight on Saturday and Spartan says it will begin shipments “immediately.”
Spartan says the test can be operated by non-laboratory personnel in a variety of locations such as airports, border crossings, doctors’ offices, pharmacies and clinics.
Federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie-Claude Bibeau announced a $50 million program to assist farmers and food processors in implementing the necessary measures associated with the mandatory 14-day quarantine. All temporary foreign workers are required to quarantine once they arrive from abroad.
This program will help employers cover the costs of accommodations and other costs associated with the 14-day quarantine period. Additionally, the federal government is offering a $1,500 subsidy to employers for each temporary foreign worker to further assist in covering these costs.
Each year nearly 60,000 temporary foreign workers come to work in Canada’s food production supply chain. Minister Bibeau reiterated that all workers coming from abroad must self-isolate for 14 days and employers or workers that do not comply with this mandate will face severe sanctions.
Federal Update: April 9
BC’s government is taking provincial action to better enforce the federal Quarantine Act for returning international travelers. Starting tomorrow, provincial officials will be on site at Vancouver’s International Airport and land border crossings to review self-isolation plans and follow-up plans with returning travelers.
Premier Jason Kenney spoke to the province in a televised address on Tuesday night, speaking to the “triple threat” facing the province: the COVID-19 pandemic, the shutdown of the economy, and the oil price crash. Kenney gave an overview of the anticipated and elevated scenarios for the pandemic and indicated that current measures will likely be in place through May. Yesterday, he followed up by unveiling the province’s modelling data.
Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro and BC Health Minister Adrian Dix have also issued a rare joint statement today urging Albertans and British Columbians not to travel over the long-weekend.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority yesterday released its modelling data for the COVID-19 response. The province modelled a number of scenarios, ranging from 153,000 to 408,000 infections.
Manitoba’s government has established a $5 million research fund to support clinical trials on whether commonly used drugs can be safely applied to combat COVID-19. Meanwhile, the province has hit pause on previously planned Manitoba 150 celebrations.
Ontario is extending construction hours for essential construction projects, such as critical projects in the health-care sector, to 24 hours a day. Premier Doug Ford yesterday also announced that grocery stores will be closed on Good Friday and Easter Sunday to give frontline workers a much-needed break.
Quebec has exempted truck drivers from legislative and regulatory obligations related to driving and rest hours, so long as they are transporting food, medical supplies, sanitization equipment or other pandemic-related necessities.
Ahead of Easter weekend, New Brunswick is reminding people that restrictions on gatherings apply to religious services. The province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Jennifer Russell, is also directing people not to hold family gatherings.
The Nova Scotia Securities Commission has launched a new website to provide information on investing during COVID-19. The page covers everything from warnings about COVID-19 related investment schemes to information on stock market volatility.
Prince Edward Island
PEI this week announced actions to support vulnerable Islanders. Through the Island Producers Helping Islanders initiative, Amalgamated Dairies Limited, the PEI Potato Board and the provincial government are providing care packages to families in need. The province also established a Special Cabinet Committee on Family Violence Prevention to ensure that those at risk have access to resources.
Newfoundland and Labrador
The province has made changes to its tax filing deadlines. International Fuel Tax Agreement returns for 2020 Q1 are being pushed to June 1. All other tax returns per the Revenue Administration Act and Regulations are now due on June 23.
All face-to-face school classes in the Yukon are now officially suspended for the rest of the school year. The new at-home learning program begins on April 16.
The NWT Compliance and Enforcement Taskforce launched this week with a strict mandate to enforce the territory’s public health orders. As their first stated action, the Taskforce will be mobilizing officers from across government to enforce public health orders and actively investigate non-compliance across all communities. Premier Caroline Cochrane this week also announced that she will be assuming the Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs portfolio to more effectively manage the COVID-19 response.
Teachers in Nunavut are expected to return to work on April 21 to develop learning plans should the territorial school closure be extended.
Federal Update: April 7
The Trump administration and 3M announced late yesterday that they had reached a deal to import 166.5 million from its manufacturing facility in China to the United States over the next three months. As part of this deal, 3M will be allowed to send respirators to Canada and Latin America. This morning, the Prime Minister confirmed that 500,000 N95 masks from 3M will arrive in Canada tomorrow. When asked if an exception had been granted to Canada under President Trump’s executive order, Trudeau would not provide a definitive answer and said constructive talks continue.
For further information, 3M’s announcement can be found here.
Trudeau stated that the government has been working with a number of industry partners to develop supplies to help Canada combat COVID-19. Partnerships include:
- Thornhill Medical, CAE, Ventilators for Canadians and a consortium led by Starfish Medical to produce 30,000 Canadian-made ventilators. Medicom is also increasing their production of N95 masks.
- Arc’teryx, Canada Goose and Standfield’s (apparel companies) have been retooling their production lines to produce PPE.
- Automotive parts manufacturer Autoliv is making medical gowns from materials used to produce airbags.
The Prime Minister also announced that Canadian Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Art McDonald, will be leading a team of scientists to develop a type of ventilator that will be easier to manufacture.
Proposed legislation to bring in a wage subsidy for employers has been shared with opposition parties and debate is underway. Trudeau noted that amendments to the Income Tax Act will be required. While particulars have not been released, the Department of Finance has set up a website that provides a detailed background piece.
As a reminder, if you are eligible for the CERB and your birthday falls in April, May or June, you can apply today on the government’s online portal.
Federal Update: April 3
Citing growing shortages of food for vulnerable individuals, Trudeau announced a $100 million cash injection into organizations that buy and deliver food to those that need it most, including Indigenous communities. Recipients of this funding include Food Banks Canada, the Breakfast Club and the Salvation Army.
Trudeau acknowledged that the province of Quebec has requested assistance from the Canadian Armed Forces to support northern communities in the province. The PM confirmed that he has agreed to provide them with military assistance.
The federal government is fast-tracking a previously announced GST/HST Credit to April instead of May. Additionally, Trudeau stated that the government has been working with major banks on direct deposit for the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit and encouraged Canadians to visit their bank’s website to enrol for the CERB direct deposit.
Trudeau will be hosting a live video conference for children with Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer. He asked Canadians to submit their questions through CBC Kids.
Late yesterday, President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to stop the shipping and exporting of personal protective equipment (PPE) to countries outside of the United States, including Canada. When asked about the blockage, Trudeau said he has been working very closely with the United States and that the level of integration between both economies is mutual. He noted it would be a “mistake” to reduce the amount of trade across the border and hinted that the government is considering retaliatory measures. Earlier this morning, 3M — a medical company that produces ventilators in the U.S — issued a response that aligns with the Prime Minister’s position.
Trudeau announced that the federal government has signed an agreement with Amazon Canada to manage the distribution of personal protective equipment to the provinces and territories.
Provincial Update: April 3
Public health officials Matthew Anderson (President and CEO of Ontario Health), Adalsteinn Brown (Dean of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto), and Dr. Peter Donnelly (President and CEO of Public Health Ontario) provided projections and scenarios based on the data that is currently available. Highlights from the data report:
- The Ontario government is projecting between 12,500 and 80,000 COVID-19 cases in the province, with between 3,000 and 15,000 deaths over the course of the entire pandemic.
- The low numbers of this prediction is if full intervention is implemented whereas high numbers of deaths are predicted with the measures currently in place
- Without any action, Ontario would have faced an upwards of 100,000 deaths
- Ontario’s mortality rate for populations aged 60-79 is projected at 2.9%. For people 80 and over it is 15.9%.
- Testing has now taught up and there is no longer a backlog. COVID-19 testing can now be used strategically and focus on forward planning.
You can read the full data report here.
Premier Ford thanked everyone who has listened to the advice of health professionals, noting, “It’s working so far.” He announced that Ontario is taking a number of steps to further enhance prevention measures, including reducing the number and types of essential workplaces from 74 to 44. The new list will go into effect at 11:59pm on Saturday, April 4th.
Notably removed from the list are cannabis stores and most construction projects, including non-critical industrial construction. Only necessary infrastructure projects like hospitals and transportation will continue and no new residential construction will be permitted to start.
You can see the revised list here.
Ford also touched on his conversation with the US Ambassador to Canada, Robert Lighthizer, this morning. The Premier reiterated his disappointment with the US administration’s decision to hold back medical supplies from Canada and was planning for a call with the President of 3M later this afternoon.
Ford vowed to never rely on “President Trump or the Prime Minister or President of any other country ever again,” for essential health care supplies.
In their presentation, the public health officials noted that there will be a number of additional prevention measures put in place in the coming days. These include:
- Enhanced focus on enforcement and fines for non-compliance.
- Expanded direction/guidance on physical distancing, including retail settings.
- Enhanced support for the elderly, homeless and other vulnerable populations and communities.
- Considering entry restrictions in some communities including First Nations.
- Changes in human resource management (the movement of health care workers between settings).
- Use of technology to reinforce self-isolation (including alerts).
- Further public education and communication – emphasizing shelter-in-place with few exceptions.
Provincial Update: April 2
Premier Doug Ford announced that Ontario is providing emergency funding of up to $12 million to immediately expand online and virtual mental health support for Ontarians. This extends to front line workers as well.
- Bounce back: A guided self-help program using workbooks with phone coaching support.
- Help Phone: 24/7 virtual support service offering professional counselling as well as information and referrals in both official languages.
- Internet-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): Online CBT courses, support by therapists, in French and English
- CBT for frontline health care workers: Online CBT for frontline health care workers experiencing burnout, anxiety or PTSD.
Additionally, Premier Ford announced that the government is launching the Mental Health Wellness Program by investing $2.6 million to hire new psychologists and mental health workers to provide OPP personnel with support. To read the entire announcement, please click here.
Premier Ford has asked that medical experts provide a full briefing to the public tomorrow, warning that the figures will provide a stark assessment of where the province has been, where we are now, and where we might be going.
The Premier stated that the release will be “a real wake up call… a real sobering discussion” and will provide Ontarians with the same information that he has and is using to make decisions.
He said figures could not be released until now as people were still returning to Ontario from other countries and the Chief Medical Officer needed to have them here to provide an accurate assessment.
This update will walk the public through various scenarios on how COVID-19 can spread and its potential impact on the province.
When asked about limited access to protective equipment for healthcare workers and the need to build a stronger supply chain of medical products in Ontario, Premier Ford commented that “We won’t rely on the rest of the world to provide PPE (personal protective equipment). We can never be put in this position again where we rely on the rest of the world.”
With nearly 10,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases across Canada, provinces and territories are continuing to roll out new measures for economic assistance while trying to limit the spread of the disease. Here are the latest updates of how each jurisdiction is dealing with the crisis.
British Columbia – BC has announced new relief measures for electricity bills. Residential customers who can’t work because of the pandemic are receiving a credit for their bills valued at 3 times their average monthly bill. Small businesses forced to shut down are having their power bills waived by BC Hydro from April through June. Major industries can defer their bills for three months.
Alberta – Alberta released a comprehensive list of essential services. With that list in place, the province is expanding child care services for anyone who works in an essential service. (Until now, childcare spaces were limited to frontline health care and critical infrastructure workers).
Saskatchewan – To address extra cost pressure emergency shelters are experiencing, Saskatchewan unveiled a one-time additional funding of $171,000
Manitoba – Manitoba is boosting its frontline health care by allowing former nurses to practice again, through changes allowing the College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba to waive or modify registration requirements. Meanwhile, all non-critical businesses have been ordered to close between April 1 and April 14, save for critical exemptions detailed in the new public health order.
Ontario – Ontario has launched its new one-time $50 million Ontario Together Fund, to support businesses in retooling existing machinery to make essential medical supplies such as masks, swabs and testing equipment.
Québec – Almost all Québec businesses will be closed this coming Sunday, including grocery stores. The only exemptions will be gas stations, pharmacies, convenience stores and takeout restaurants. Premier François Legault stated earlier this week that Sunday closures will allow employees (particularly grocery workers) a day of rest.
New Brunswick – Relatively good news came out of New Brunswick, including confirmation that their personal protective equipment supply is meeting demand. After being temporarily closed, select Service New Brunswick locations reopened yesterday to handle essential requests, albeit with precautions in place including limiting how many people can be inside at a time.
Nova Scotia – Nova Scotia unveiled a new COVID-19 Employer Assessment online tool to clarify for businesses and non-profits if they can stay open, and how to best comply with public health orders.
Prince Edward Island – PEI today announced that eviction orders will not be enforced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Newfoundland and Labrador – The province is facing steep fiscal troubles with the COVID-19 pandemic compounding other escalating economic troubles. Premier Dwight Ball released a letter he’d recently sent Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking for help, as the province would have been unable to borrow.
Yukon – The Government of Yukon announced a new Temporary Support for Events Funding Program to help businesses recover costs from major events cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Northwest Territories – The NWT government this week announced a series of measures to support businesses and individuals, including waiving professional fees for medical professionals, waiving interest charges on all late tax returns between March 15 and June 30 (including payroll tax), and support for the hospitality and restaurant industries by offering to buy back any unopened alcohol stock.
Nunavut – Nunavut remains without any confirmed or presumptive COVID-19 cases and intends to keep it that way. The latest measure includes barring all visitors from long-term care facilities and Elders’ Homes.
Federal Update: April 2
Prime Minister Trudeau acknowledged the anxiety Canadians are feeling about the lack of analysis being released by the government and promised that he will release scenarios on how COVID-19 can impact Canada in the coming days.
When asked why the projections have not been released yet, he said that the government continues to “crunch the numbers” and will be able to provide realistic models soon.
The Prime Minister pleaded with Canadians to follow public health guidelines, saying that these models will be heavily influenced by the behaviour of each and every Canadian.
Trudeau announced that he will be chairing a First Ministers meeting with the Premiers tonight to discuss the continued shipments of much-needed supplies and ensure that there is alignment in the data being used for models and predictions.
Wednesday night, the government received a shipment of one million masks, which are currently being inspected in a Hamilton warehouse. This shipment is in addition to the 10 million masks already received that are currently being distributed to the provinces and territories. The Prime Minister thanked Bauer Hockey, which has retooled production to create hundreds of thousands of face masks.
Trudeau was asked about the rumours of Personal Protective Equipment being diverted to the United States. He has asked his Ministers to follow up on this issue.
When asked if he would implement a mandatory stay at home policy under the Federal Emergencies Act, he said it would only be done if and when the provinces have exhausted all of their options. Trudeau added that “We are not quite there yet”.
Health Minister Patty Hajdu announced today on social media that Health Canada has released a new app to provide up-to-date news on COVID-19. This app includes a self-assessment tool and information on financial supports that are available.
The app can be downloaded here: https://ca.thrive.health/.
Provincial Update: April 1
Premier Ford announced that the Ontario government will invest $50 million in the Ontario Together Fund to assist factories in retooling their production lines to make the supplies needed. Additionally, Ford announced that the government has placed an order with O2 Technologies for 10,000 Ontario made ventilators.
Premier Ford reinforced how important our actions over the next few weeks will be in pushing back the oncoming surge of COVID-19 patients. Ford noted that “Thousands of lives are at stake,” and the further we can push back the surge, the more prepared our health-care system will be.
A number of reporters asked why the government hasn’t released best- and worst-case scenarios on the potential deaths associated with COVID-19. Premier Ford answered that the government does not have the data yet to make accurate predictions. He added that for the time being we must prepare for anything. Minister Elliott stated that in the next day or so, the testing backlog will be cleared, and the government will have a better idea of when the province’s health-care system can expect the surge.
Last night, the Solicitor General advised the public that under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, the public will now be required to identify themselves to law enforcement when asked, and they could be charged with breaking an emergency order during the COVID-19 outbreak.
According to the release, failing to correctly identify oneself carries a fine of $750. A fine of $1,000 is possible for anyone obstructing any person in exercising a power if a provincial offences officer issues a ticket.
In addition to fines given for failure to identify, there are severe penalties for those who fail to comply with emergency orders. Punishments include up to one-year imprisonment or a fine of up to $100,000 for an individual, $500,000 for a director of a corporation, or $10,000,000 for a corporation itself.
Earlier today, the Chief Medical Officer for Ontario released a memo to municipalities strongly urging all local medical officers of health to use their authority under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act. Enacting this would further empower medical officers of health to ensure cases and contacts of COVID-19 are isolated.
Federal Update: April 1
Trudeau remained tight-lipped regarding the details surrounding the CEWG, noting that a press conference will be held later this afternoon by Bill Morneau (Finance Minister), Mary Ng (Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade), and Navdeep Bains (Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry). More CEWG details will follow this afternoon’s announcement.
Trudeau took a moment to address business owners directly, emphasizing that, “this money is for workers” and promised stiff and severe penalties for those trying to take advantage of the program. Employers who sign up for the subsidy will need to provide evidence that proves they are doing everything they can to pay the remaining 25 percent of their employees’ salaries.
Trudeau called the federal government’s measures to-date the “largest economic program in Canadian history” and, as a result, he has asked the House Leader and the Deputy Minister to reach out to other parties to bring back Parliament. The government’s decision to recall Parliament was likely triggered by the expansion of the CEWG program, which increased from covering 10% to 75% of salary coverage.
This afternoon, Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau, provided an update on Canada’s Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS). Details regarding the administration of these funds is still being worked out by the Federal government. Morneau noted that applications will be taken through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) website, and the specific portal for CEWS will “soon be launched.”
At this point, it appears that eligible businesses will apply through the portal to claim up to 75% of each employee’s pay. A condition of this funding will be that the business will have to attest that it is doing everything possible to pay the remaining 25% of the employee’s salary. Once approved, the funds will be available in approximately six weeks. Businesses will have to show that they have paid their employees before receiving money from CEWS.
The program will be in place for three months – March, April and May, and is retroactive to March 15. Businesses will need to re-apply monthly.
Morneau announced that the cost of the CEWS will be $71 billion and that it is– “the largest economic program in Canadian history.” The subsidy aims to enable businesses to keep staff on the payroll during the COVID-19 crisis, and Morneau’s message to Canadian businesses is to “get ready to rehire people.”
To qualify for the CEWS program, a business will have to demonstrate a decline in gross revenue of 30% or more and will use the same month from the previous business year as the reference point.
All private businesses, large and small, are eligible, as are nonprofits and charities. Public sector organizations are not eligible.
The subsidy will apply to the first $58,700 earned per employee (up to $847 per week per employee).
Morneau reiterated Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s warning that there will be severe consequences for “bad actors” filing fraudulent claims.
Organizations that do not qualify for the CEWS may still be eligible for the Temporary Wage Subsidy for Employers, which covers 10% of remuneration paid from March 18 to June 20, with a maximum subsidy of up to $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer.
The federal government will work with non-profit organizations and charities who are impacted by a loss of revenue to ensure the definition of revenue is applicable to their circumstances.
The Department of Finance also notes that they are considering additional support for nonprofits and charities, specifically those involved in the front-line response to COVID-19.
Morneau also outlined the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) for individuals out of work because of COVID-19. The CERB extends to contract workers and those still employed but earning no income.
Launching April 6, through a CRA portal, the CERB will provide up to $2,000 monthly for up to four months. Specific details regarding the application process have not yet been announced.
As previously mentioned, Morneau confirmed that the CEWS will cost $71 billion, and the CERB will cost $24 billion with a combined total of $105 billion.
Federal Update: March 31
Trudeau voiced thanks to more than 3,000 companies who have already connected with Health Canada and noted that Thornhill Medical, Medicom and Spartan Bioscience are companies that have signed on to manufacture medical equipment, respirators, surgical masks and diagnostic materials.
He referenced that Letters of Intent have been signed by Precision Biomonitoring, Irving Oil, Calco, Stanfields and Fluid Energy Group. Updates on what these companies will be providing will be released in the coming days.
The Prime Minister mentioned a number of other companies that have donated equipment. He highlighted the Alibaba company- a Chinese e-retailer giant. Alibaba has sent Canada 500,000 surgical masks and 10,000 testing kits. Additionally, he referenced Bombardier, 3M, Medtronic and Toys R Us who are confirmed to be working with the government to provide resources.
Trudeau announced that the government is allocating $2 billion to the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE), including bulk purchases for the provinces and territories. PPE includes items such as face shields, masks, swabs and test kits.
In a non-COVID related announcement, Trudeau announced that he has appointed Ralph Goodale as Special Advisor to investigate the downing of Iranian flight 752.
Provincial Update: March 31
Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce, announced that schools and childcare centres will remain closed until May 4th to protect the health and safety of students and staff during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Public schools will remain closed to teachers until Friday, May 1st, 2020, and closed to students until Monday, May 4, 2020, when it is hoped classes will resume. However, this decision will be dependent on public health recommendations and will be reevaluated closer to the date and extended, if necessary.
Private schools, licensed child care centres and EarlyON programs in compliance with the Declaration of Emergency, will remain closed until April 13. If the Declaration of Emergency is extended for another two-week increment these facilities will remain closed. Select centres designated to support frontline health-care workers and first responders will remain open.
Minister Lecce recognized the toll COVID-19 has had on the mental health and well-being of students. He noted that the government is actively working with Kids Help Phone to provide support for kids in need. For more information please click here https://kidshelpphone.ca/get-involved/programs-resources/resources-caring-adults/supporting-the-young-people-in-your-life-during-covid-19. Lecce added that the government is working to “unleash the full support of mental health professionals” so they can connect with kids in a secure manner. More details on these mental health programs are expected to be announced in the coming days.
The Minister of Colleges and Universities, Ross Romano, announced three new initiatives that are effective immediately to support post-secondary institutions and their students:
- A six-month deferral of all OSAP loan repayments and a freeze on the accrual of interest is in place.
- An injection of $25M into all 45 colleges and universities in Ontario to assist them in addressing concerns surrounding the COVID-19 crisis.
- The retention of a third-party vendor that will maintain the integrity of examinations and gradings to ensure the reputation of degrees is protected during this period.
Late last night, the Ontario government issued a new emergency order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act to close all outdoor recreational amenities, such as sports fields and playgrounds, effective immediately.
Federal Update: March 30
Today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provided more details on the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy that was initially announced last Friday. The 10% wage supplement has been increased substantially. Eligibility for this wage subsidy is not based on the number of employees and is available to any company, large or small, as well as non-profits and charities whose revenues decrease by 30% or more as a result of COVID-19. The government will cover up to 75% of an employee’s salary on the first $58,700 earned – amounting to up to $847 a week – as “a bridge to better times.” Funds will be retroactive to March 15.
The Prime Minister encouraged businesses that have the means to pay the remaining 25% of salaries to do so. He also cautioned those who might consider taking advantage of this subsidy or making fraudulent claims warning that “there will be serious consequences” for anyone trying to cheat the system.
Trudeau said the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Small Business will provide further details at a press conference tomorrow.
The Prime Minister reiterated that the federal government has not received requests from the provinces or territories for the Canadian Armed Forces to respond and provide aid. Trudeau stated that if this were to change, the army is ready to respond to the call immediately. A press conference scheduled for this afternoon will provide more details on a potential military response.
Federal Update: March 26
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that he is invoking the Quarantine Act, which mandates that all returning Canadian travellers must self-isolate for 14 days. Trudeau emphasized that a stiff penalty or even prison time is on the table for those who do not comply.
The Prime Minister joined other G20 leaders on a video conference this morning to discuss the need for a coordinated approach to flatten the global curve of COVID-19. The conversation focused on expanding manufacturing, securing supply chains and working together to protect the global economy. Trudeau stated “COVID-19 is a global crisis and demands a global response.”
Prime Minister Trudeau confirmed that the federal government’s Emergency Act received royal assent and came into effect yesterday evening. The $107 billion aid package, which includes the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, is in the process of being launched online and Canadians will receive financial aid within 14 days of applying.
Yesterday, Alberta became the latest province to introduce monetary penalties for those ignoring public health guidance on social distancing. Premier Jason Kenney announced that fines are $1,000 per occurrence with the courts having the ability to issue fines of up to $100,000 for a first offence and $500,000 for subsequent offences. Both community peace officers and police have the ability to issue tickets under the new regulatory change. The new enforcement measure will apply to;
- Anyone who travels abroad and does not self-isolate for 14 days. Anyone who exhibits COVID-19 symptoms regardless of their travel (including cough, runny nose, and sore throat).
- Anyone who has been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
- Anyone non-essential visiting a long-term care facility. Anyone violating the public health order against gatherings over 50 people.
Provincial Update: March 30
- Access health care services
- Shop for groceries
- Pick-up medication at the pharmacy
- Walk pets when required
- Support the vulnerable
Today, Premier Doug Ford, assured Ontarians that the province is in the process of securing “massive, massive amounts” of medical supplies and protective equipment. However, he cautioned that production of these supplies will take some time, and that a surge in COVID-19 patients could seriously challenge the supply lines. The Premier reiterated the need for all Ontarians to stay home and to maintain social distancing when they do leave home for essentials. Ford expressed dismay at the “packed streets” he saw during warm weather this past weekend. He warned that the government is prepared to take harsher action if they do not see a slowdown in the spread of COVID-19 in the coming days.
The Premier acknowledged that the current lockdown will be extended for at least another two-week increment, and that any further steps will be a result of advice from the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the COVID-19 Command Table.
A key focus of today’s briefing was keeping Ontario’s seniors safe. This concern follows the news of a rising number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in a long-term care home in Bobcaygeon, Ontario. [The story was originally reported by the Globe and Mail]
The Premier announced a funding increase to $10 million, to help community organizations coordinate subsidized deliveries of meals, medicines and other necessities to seniors, and that the government is also working with grocers and pharmacists to prioritize seniors’ delivery orders and establish seniors-only shopping hours.
He reiterated that the Ontario Action Plan pledged $243 million in funding for long-term care homes and promised to put an “iron ring” around seniors in these facilities.
Provincial Update: March 24
Premier Doug Ford and Minister of Energy, Greg Rickford, announced that hydro rates will be held at the low-peak usage rates (10.1 cents per kilowatt hour), 24 hours a day. This rate applies to families, small businesses and farms paying time-of-use (TOU) rates. This rate change is effective immediately and will last for at least 45 days, with the option to extend. Minister Rickford noted that this $160 million investment equates to monthly savings of $20 for households, $150 for small businesses and over $300 for farms.
The Ontario government is implementing stricter measures to protect long-term care homes from COVID-19. Mandated as of this morning, residents of long-term care homes will no longer be able to leave their facilities to visit friends or family. Residents will be allowed outside as long as they remain on the facility’sies property and maintain a safe distance from all visitors.
The mandatory shutdown of non-essential businesses takes effect tonight at 11:59 p.m. and will last for 14 days, with the option to extend if necessary. Last night the provincial government released a list of businesses that are deemed essential and can continue operations. For more information, visit www.ontario.ca/page/list-essential-workplaces.
The provincial government listed construction sites as part of essential businesses that can continue operations. Premier Doug Ford announced today that he has put the construction “industry “on notice,” warning that sites must abide by public health guidelines or they will be shut down. Ontario’s Chief Prevention Officer has issued a notice outlining precautions job sites must take. Premier Ford added that Ministry of Labour inspectors are present at numerous job sites and will not hesitate to shut down sites that do not comply with all public health orders.
Federal Update: March 20
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced additional measures in response to the COVID-19 situation. The focus of today’s update was on migration between Canada and the U.S., getting Canadians home from abroad, and the actions the industry is taking to help in the fight against COVID-19.
- Restrictions banning non-essential travel for tourism and recreation between Canada and the U.S. come into effect at midnight tonight.
- Canada and the U.S have reached an agreement to return irregular migrants who are attempting to cross the border at any point.
- Discussions are underway with Canadian airlines to help Canadians come home, with the first flight from Morocco scheduled for this weekend.
The Canadian government will help manufacturers re-purpose their machinery to help aid in the fight against COVID-19. This includes:
- Assistance to manufacturers of ventilators, masks and other equipment to “massively increase” production;
- Assistance to other manufacturers, including automakers, to shift production to medical equipment
- Streamlining the procurement process.
The Prime Minister requested that business owners reach out to the government to find out how they can assist the government in responding to this pandemic.
Following the Prime Minister’s remarks, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Navdeep Bains provided more details on the plan to support industry.
To increase domestic capacity, the federal government is immediately accelerating the deployment of funds to the following programs:
- Strategic Innovation Fund
- National Research Council
- Innovation Superclusters Initiative
Later today a portal will go live on the Department of Innovation, Science and Industry’s website that will enable companies to notify the government that they are working on or ready to support the government’s efforts. Early information is available by following this link https://www.canada.ca/en/services/business/maintaingrowimprovebusiness/manufacturers-needed.html.
Provincial Update: March 20
Premier Doug Ford announced that the Learn At Home online educational portal is being launched today to ensure students have access to math and literacy resources to mitigate the impact of the province-wide school closure. This program is for kindergarten to grade 12 students and is available in both English and French. Additionally, certified tutors will be available through TVO to assist students.
Minister of Education Stephen Lecce assured that no student will have their high school graduation compromised due to COVID-19. Minister Lecce also noted that if schools remain closed past April 5, a second phase of Learn at Home will be launched to mitigate the impacts on students. All EQAO tests have been cancelled for this spring.
Premier Ford also provided an update on the measures Ontario has implemented to combat the virus, noting that 3,000 tests have been performed in the last 24 hours and 38 testing centres are now live across the province. The Ontario Cabinet is meeting later this afternoon and Ford suggested his government will be making an announcement regarding a support program that will provide child care resources for front-line healthcare workers and first responders.
Federal Update: March 19
Prime Minister Trudeau stated that measures to restrict non-essential travel between Canada and the United States are anticipated to come into effect between Friday night and Saturday morning. The Prime Minister assured Canadians that these closures will not impact trade.
The Prime Minister thanked the efforts of health-care workers across Canada and noted that blood donations are needed. Potential donors are encouraged to visit www.blood.ca for more information.
The Prime Minister stated the federal government is working closely with health and manufacturing companies to increase the supply of health products and protective equipment.
As of 9:00 a.m. today on March 19, 2020, Canada has 621 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 9 deaths. All Canadian provinces have a confirmed case of COVID-19.
Provincial Update: March 19
These measures include:
- Waiving noise bylaws to enable retailers to accept deliveries 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
- Suspending all eviction orders until further notice
- Suspending all renewals for driver’s licenses, license plate stickers and health cards
Additionally, it is likely that the province will waive the three-month waiting period for OHIP eligibility for those returning to Canada from abroad. Deputy Premier Christine Elliott alluded to this when responding to a question. Minister Elliott is also looking into methods to ensure that new Ontarians have access to the healthcare they need.
The Premier was asked a question regarding social distancing and whether he would be imposing sanctions on those not cooperating. The Premier responded by noting that if a bar or restaurant remains open there are enforcement options available, but the public has been cooperating thus far and therefore there is no need for additional measures in Ontario.
The Premier also voiced that it is the responsibility of every individual returning from abroad not to return to work and to self-isolate for 14 days.