COVID-19 - News and Government Updates
- CERB applications are expected to open online on Monday April 6th.
- Direct deposit payments will be made withing three to five days of applying, with cheques taking approximately 10 days.
- Canadians who have already applied for EI do not need to apply again - applications will be automatically enrolled in CERB.
Government announced details on the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy
The Canadian Government announced further details of the proposed Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy.
- The program would be in place for a 12-week period, from March 15 to June 6, 2020.
- Eligible employers would be able to access the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy by applying through a CRA online portal. Employers would have to reapply each month.
- Government will work with non-profit organizations and registered charities to ensure the definition of revenue is appropriate to their circumstances.
- The government expects employers will receive the wage subsidy six weeks after applying.
Updated March 31 4:00 pm - The Prime Minister announced new partnerships with Canadian Industries to fight COVID-19 Click here for more information.
Updated: March 30 2:00 PM - The Work-sharing Program maximum duration has been extended from 38 weeks to 76 weeks. Click here for Guidelines and Application. Further to Friday's announcement regarding a 75% wage subsidy: "More details on eligibility criteria will start with the impact of COVID-19 on sales, and will be shared before the end of the month (March)."
Updated: March 27 10:30 AM - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today more help for small and medium-sized businesses. In an effort to keep employees on payroll the Prime Minister announced a 75% wage subsidy, increased from 10%, and guaranteed interest-free loans. Wage subsidies will be backdated to March 15th, 2020. The government will also guarantee loans of up to $40,000 for small businesses which will be interest free for the first year. Click here for the announcement.
Alberta Chambers of Commerce sent a letter to Premier Jason Kenney outlining key recommendations to support Alberta's business community during Covid-19.
- Freeze collection of insurance premiums tax.
- Require commercial landlords to amortize deferred rent payments.
- Mandate municipalities to defer property taxes and utility services payments.
- Freeze municipal franchise fees at current rates until at least 2022.
Updated: March 24 3:00 PM - The Alberta Government announced three new decisions yesterday to support Albertans and employers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Education property tax freeze
- Education property tax deferral for business
- WCB premiums deferral for private sector businesses and support for small and medium businesses.
The Government of Canada announced new supports for farmers and agri-food businesses:
- Farm Credit Canada will receive support from the Government of Canada that will allow for an additional $5 billion in lending capacity to producers, agribusinesses, and food processors.
- All eligible farmers who have an outstanding Advance Payments Program (APP) loan due on or before April 30 will receive a Stay of Default, allowing them an additional six months to repay the loan.
Updated: March 20 12:00 PM - For ongoing general updates: www.canada.ca .For general business information: www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan.html#business .The Government of Canada offers the Work-Sharing Program, which is 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. For more information check the Work-Sharing program website or call the employer Contact Centre at 1-800-367-5693. www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/work-sharing.html .The Government of Canada offers benefits for individuals who may qualify if they have lost their job. http://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei.html .
- Covid-19 EI claims can be made at 1-833-381-2725.
- Income Support Program: https://www.alberta.ca/income-support.aspx
- Information on employment rules for layoffs and terminations: http//www.alberta.ca/tempory-layoffs.aspx and https://www.alberta.ca/Layoff-and-recall-directive.aspx
- Flexibility regarding filing taxes: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2020/03/canadas-covid-19-economic-response-plan-support-for-canadians-and-businesses.html#Flexibility_for_Tax-filers
Updated: March 19 3:30 PM - Important information from Canadian Chamber of Commerce regarding announcements from the Prime Minister and Minister Morneau yesterday. On top of the $55 billion to support Canadian businesses and households, here are other measures for businesses.
- Essentially eliminating the payroll tax for three months by providing a 10% wage subsidy.
- Helping businesses with cash flow by deferring tax payments until August 31st, 2020.
- Increasing credit available to farmers through Farm Credit Canada.
- Introducing a new Emergency Care Benefit of up to $900 bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks for self-employed people who are not eligible for EI sickness benefits.
Visit Government of Canada's website of business for information about supporting your employees and your business. Download the Canada Business App to find tailored supports. Consult the Canadian Chamber's pandemic preparedness guide to help prepare your business in the days and weeks to come.
Updated: March 19 9:00 AM - The Provincial Government announced new supports for Albertans and businesses. Premier Jason Kenney announced a new set of economic measures to help stabilize the economy during this challenging period. These measures, delivered as part of the Alberta Government's financial relief measures, will provide support to Alberta workers and businesses. Visit COVID-19 info for Albertans for the most recent Government of Alberta updates.
- Support for Albertans (Immediate relief for Albertans affected by the COVID - 19 pandemic)
- Supports for employers (Covid-19 support for Employers and Employees)
- New public health measures (Prevent and Prepare)
Updated: March 18 - The Federal Government announced new supports for Canadians and businesses. The Prime Minister announced a new set of economic measures to help stabilize the economy during this challenging period. These measures, delivered as part of the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, will provide up to $27 billion in direct support to Canadian workers and businesses.
Click here for a complete list of:
Support for Canadians ( Income Support for Individuals Who Need it Most / Flexibility for Taxpayers / Mortgage Default Management Tools / Role of Financial Institutions )
Support for Businesses ( Supporting Canadian Businesses Through the Canada Account / Helping Businesses Keep Their Workers / Flexibility for Businesses Filing Taxes / Ensuring Businesses have Access to Credit / Supporting Financial Market Liquidity )
Update: March 17 - New Public health measures are now recommended to limit the time Albertans spend in large crowds and crowded spaces. Effective today: Mass gatherings are now limited to no more than 50 attendees. Albertans are prohibited from attending public recreation facilities and private entertainment facilities. Albertans are restricted from attending bars and nightclubs, where minors are prohibited by law. Sit-down restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, food courts and other food-serving facilities, including those with minors allowed liquor license, are limited to 50% capacity to a maximum of 50 people. Click here for more details.
Update: March 16 - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is urging Canadians abroad to come home while they still can, as Canada is shutting the border to non-Canadian citizens, with limited exceptions, to limit the spread of COVID-19. Permanent Canadian residents, the immediate family members of Canadian citizens, diplomats, air crews, and U.S. citizens are still being allowed into Canada at this time. Access to Canada will be restricted beginning March 18, at 12:01 a.m. EDT.
Update: March 15 - Effective immediately, student attendance at schools is prohibited. Post-secondary classes are cancelled. Campuses will remain open. All licensed child care facilities, out-of-school care programs and preschool programs are closed indefinitely. All long-term care and other continuing care facilities are advised to limit visitation to essential visitors only. Places of worship are no longer exempt from restrictions on mass gatherings.
Update: March 13 - Finance Minister, Bill Morneau, announced the federal government will establish a $10 billion credit facility to lend money to businesses under stress as a result of the spreading COVID-19 pandemic. This will be facilitated through Crown-owned entities, Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada, to help businesses access cash and keep exporting to markets. The governor of the Bank of Canada, Stephen Poloz, announced a cut to the bank rate by half a percentage point to 0.75 per cent, which will lower the cost of borrowing money for individuals and businesses. It was also announced that a fiscal package will be announced next week and that Ottawa is considering extending the deadline to file taxes beyond April 30. These measures build on the Government of Canada $1 billion COVID-19 Response Fund announced earlier.
The Chief Public Health Officer of Canada has recommended that Canadians should avoid and cancel non-essential travel outside the country with enhanced screening measures at airports to be announced. The federal budget has been postponed and will not be delivered on March 30. Parliament and the Senate stands adjourned until April 20.
On March 12, 2020 the World Health Organization announced that the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, has become a global pandemic. Currently, the risk level to Albertans is low and the cases in our province, and Canada, have been travel related and have been isolated to prevent further transmission.
What you need to know:
We encourage everyone to heed the advice of medical professionals and take these precautionary steps.
- Effective March 12, all Albertans currently outside Canada should self-isolate for 14 days when they return.
- If employees have visited a Italy, Iran or China’s Hubei province in the last 14 days, it is recommended they isolate themselves until two weeks have passed since that visit. This is recommended even if they are feeling well.
- Employees should self-isolate and call Health Link 811 for additional precautions and follow-up testing if they have travelled to anywhere outside of Canada and experienced any of the following:
- contact with someone who was suspected or confirmed to have the novel coronavirus
- were in a health-care facility
- have symptoms, such as cough or fever
If an employee does not meet the exposure criteria above, they do not need to stay away from work, and do not need any testing or a physician’s note to attend work.
If an employee has to self-isolate
- Employees and employers should work together to explore alternate working arrangements:
- Working from home or remotely
- Doing work that does not require the employee to contact other people in the community or at work
- If an alternate working arrangement is not possible, employees can use paid sick time if their employer offers this.
- Changes to the Employment Standards Code will allow employees who are required to self-isolate or are caring for a loved one with COVID-19 to take 14 days of paid job protected leave to cover the self isolation period being recommended by Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Health
- There will be no requirement to have a medical note for such leave or to have worked for an employer for 90 days to qualify for such leave.
Business continuity plans
Review or create a Business Continuity Plan for your organization, ensuring it contains:
Process to follow if an employee becomes ill;
Policies around travel;
Policies around sick leave;
How to mitigate risk so essential business functions can continue; and
Internal and external communications plans.
Guidelines: Government of Canada: COVID-19 Travel Advice
Preventative Measures for Business
- Encourage good hygiene practices. Encourage your staff to wash their hands frequently, and ensure that tissues and hand sanitizer are available throughout your property for all staff and visitors to use.
- Stay home if you aren’t feeling well. Encourage staff to stay at home and away from others if they are exhibiting flu-like symptoms, such as fever or a cough.
- Consider additional social distancing measures, such as working remotely.
- Posters: Handwashing, Work Station Cleaning, Vehicle Cleaning
- Guidelines: CDC: Keeping your workplace, school, and home safe
- Guidelines: Health Canada decision-making guidelines for mass gatherings during COVID-19
While it is important to be cautious and heed all medical advice from Chief Medical Officers and government it is also important to be measured in our response to this situation.