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COVID-19 Updates | Weekly Workplace Recap from August 14 to August 20, 2020

COVID-19 Resources for Small Business

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Below are the key announcements from the FederalOntario, and BC governments that touch on workplace issues from August 14 to August 20, 2020.


$37 Billion for CERB Transition to New Benefits

The Canadian government announced this afternoon that $37 billion in fresh spending will go towards new and revamped federal income support programs for workers affected by the pandemic. 

The current CERB program will be extended by an additional four weeks for a maximum of 28 weeks worth of emergency benefits. In addition, new measures include broad, if temporary, changes to the EI program as well as the creation of three new benefit programs for workers who do not qualify for EI. 

Most of the EI changes and the three new benefits will kick off on September 27 and remain active for one year. Senior government officials say the expected cost to taxpayers will be:

  • $8 billion for the one-month extension of CERB
  • $7 billion for the planned modifications to the EI program
  • $22 billion for the new benefit programs.

For more details, check out this news release

Applications Open for Enhanced CEWS 

The Government implemented changes to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), which was created to help businesses affected by COVID-19 keep employees on their payroll or bring them back from temporary layoffs.  Program changes include the following:

  • Extension of the CEWS to November 21, 2020
  • Increased eligibility (all employers who experienced a drop in revenue can qualify for a base subsidy)
  • Employers who are hard-hit will qualify for a top-up of up to 25%.

The Minister of National Revenue stated on August 17, 2020 that:

"As of today, more eligible employers can apply to receive funding. I encourage any employer who is struggling because of COVID19 to use the CRA’s CEWS calculator to see what kind of subsidy they could qualify for.”

For more information, check out the official CEWS webpage

Free Online Course for Employers: "Pandemic Planning: Reopening for Business" 

Pandemic Planning: Reopening for Business is a brand new, free online course thats been released by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) to help businesses across Canada safely return to work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This awareness course guides employers, managers and workers on how to prepare for a safe return to work, along with what controls must be put in place to minimize the impact of the pandemic.

Completion of the E-Course will help you:

  • Understand how coronavirus spreads and the symptoms of COVID-19
  • Know employer and worker duties in a COVID-19 return to business plan
  • Be able to describe the role of hazard identification and risk control
  • Know what measures are used to control the virus, including how to safely clean and disinfect surfaces
  • Understand how to safely manage the workplace and prepare workers for a return
  • Understand the impacts on mental health

Sign up for the free, online Pandemic Planning: Reopening for Business course today. On average, the course takes approximately 30 minutes to complete.


More than $2 Billion in New Support Measures

The government of Ontario announced the following investments in COVID-19 support this week:

  • $1.6 billion in emergency funding for Ontario's municipalities to address additional pressures related to COVID-19, including in relation to operating pressures, transit systems, and support for vulnerable persons
  • More than $500 million dollars to assist school boards with the safe reopening of schools in September 2020
  • $8 million in funding for amateur sports
  • $149,200 invested in Made-in-Ontario Physician Scheduling Technology in the Fight Against COVID-19.

For more information, check out this news release

British Columbia

Reminder to Apply for Temporary Layoff Extensions - August 25 Deadline

Workers and employers who need to extend temporary layoffs beyond August 30 can jointly apply for a variance using the Employment Standards Branch’s new online application by Tuesday, August 25.

The temporary layoff variance process is intended to maintain ongoing relationships between businesses and their employees. Under B.C.’s Employment Standards Act, temporary layoffs related to COVID-19 can last up to 24 weeks, or until August 30, before the layoff becomes permanent.

For more information, check out the COVID-19 Temporary Layoff Variance

State of Emergency Extended until September 1

The B.C. government has extended the provincial state of emergency until September 1, 2020 to further allow extraordinary powers under the Emergency Program Act to support the Province's COVID-19 pandemic response.

For more information, check out this news release.

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Sarah Visca
Sarah Visca is the Operations Manager at ConnectsUs HR, a company that provides tools & resources to quickly set up a Human Resources department.  
You can contact her here