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COVID-19 Updates | Weekly Workplace Recap from July 17 to July 23, 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 July 17 to July 23, 2020.


Proposal to Extend and Overhaul the CEWS

On July 17, 2020, the Canadian government released draft legislative proposals that would broaden the reach of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program and provide better targeted support for businesses. The draft legislative proposals would:

  • Allow the extension of the CEWS until December 19, 2020, including redesigned program details until November 21, 2020.

  • Make the subsidy accessible to a broader range of employers by including employers with a revenue decline of less than 30% and providing a gradually decreasing base subsidy to all qualifying employers.

  • Introduce a top-up subsidy of up to an additional 25% for employers that have been most adversely affected by the pandemic. 

For more information, check out this news release and backgrounder.

Bill C-20: An Act Respecting further COVID-19 Measures

Bill C-20, An Act respecting further COVID-19 measures, was introduced in the House of Commons on July 20, 2020. The bill:

  • Amends the Income Tax Act to revise the eligibility criteria and extend the CEWS to November 21, 2020, with the ability to extend it by regulation no later than December 31, 2020.
  • Amends various Acts to authorize the disclosure of information for the purpose of the administration of a program to provide a onetime payment to persons with disabilities for reasons related to COVID-19.
  • Enacts the Time Limits and Other Periods Act (COVID-19), which suspends certain time limits for court proceedings for a maximum of six months, and enables the suspension or extension of time limits under various Acts.

For more information, check out this news release.

Mandatory Mask Requirements for Ontario, Alberta & BC

Each province has taken varied approaches to mandatory mask requirements to assist in the ongoing battle against the spread of COVID-19. 


While the Ontario government announced that it would not make wearing masks mandatory across the province, the following regions and municipalities have enacted their own bylaws or public health orders which require masks to be worn in indoor commercial establishments.

Refer to each regions link for applicable mask bylaw/orders.

Toronto Brant County Grey & Bruce Counties
Durham Brandford  Sudbury & Districts of Sudbury and Manitoulin

Windor-Essex County

Thunder Bay
St. Catharines Middlesex-London Timiskaming
Halton Hills Waterloo Renfrew County
Burlington  Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Ottawa
Kingston, Frontenac, and Lennox & Addington County Brampton Eastern Ontario 
Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Caledon Porcupine & Timmins


Wearing masks in not currently mandated in Alberta. The Chief Medical Officer has advised—but not ordered—Albertans to wear a mask as an additional precautionary measure where it's not possible to practice physical distancing. 

However, various orders do require masks be worn in specific circumstances. For example, long-term care homes, staff providing direct resident care, and licensed residential addiction treatment centres, where adequate physical distancing cannot be maintained. 

On July 21, 2020, the Calgary City Council voted in favour of implementing a temporary face coverings bylaw effective on August 1, 2020. The bylaw will require individuals to wear a face covering while on public transit, in public vehicles (e.g. taxis, ride sharing vehicles) and in all public indoor spaces.


The BC government has not enforced any laws or bylaws that require mandatory wearing of masks. However, BC’s provincial health officer strongly recommends masks be worn in all indoor public spaces where physical distancing cannot be maintained, especially on public transit.

WorkSafeBC has also noted that employers in non-health care settings should consider requiring employees to wear masks as a fourth control measure.


Businesses Unable to Open should Submit Reopening Proposals 

Businesses that haven't been able to open or resume full activities due to Stage 3 restrictions, or those that have ideas to safely amend Stage 3 restrictions or requirements, should submit a reopening proposal on the Government’s website.

Submitting proposals is encouraged as a sector may be allowed to reopen or resume Stage 3 activities based on proposals submitted by businesses.

For more information on the restrictions that will remain in place during Stage 3, visit Reopening Ontario.

British Columbia

Extend a COVID-19 Temporary Layoff with a Variance

Employers and workers who need to extend temporary layoffs due to COVID-19 beyond August 30, 2020, can now easily apply for a variance using the Employment Standards Branch’s new online application.

An application deadline of August 25, 2020, has been set to ensure that all applications will be processed by the August 30 expiry date. 

To apply, employers must complete 2 steps:

  • Survey their workforce to obtain more than 50% support from workers before applying. Workers will receive information about the variance, including what their rights are and can provide their support using a new online response tool.

  • Once worker support is documented, employers complete the online form and submit the document in a new portal directly to the Employment Standards Branch.

New supportive templates are available to assist employers and workers in taking these steps. 

Employers: Apply to extend a temporary layoff. 

Workers: Get information about your options. 

For more information, check out this news release. 

State of Emergency Extended to August 4

BC has formally extended the provincial state of emergency through the end of the day on Tuesday, August 4, 2020. This extension will allow the continuation of extraordinary powers under the Emergency Program Act to support the province's COVID-19 pandemic response.

For more information, check out this news release

New Rules on Restuarants, Bars & Nightclubs

Amid rising COVID-19 numbers in BC, the provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry stated on July 22, 2020 that new measures will be introduced in restaurants, bars and nightclubs to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

Under the new measures, "all patrons in restaurants, bars and nightclubs will be required to be seated, alcohol self-service will not be available (that means no ordering from the bar), and dance floors will be closed".

Henry also emphasized that groups at restaurants should be limited to six, and people should not be pushing tables together or engaging in behaviour that puts staff at risk.

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