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COVID-19 Updates | Weekly Workplace Recap from September 12 to September 30, 2020

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Below are the key announcements from the FederalOntario, Saskatchewan, Alberta and BC governments that touch on workplace issues from September 12 to September 30, 2020.


Bill C-4: Three New Recovery Benefit Programs for Workers

Bill C-4, An Act relating to certain measures in response to COVID-19 (Bill C-4) passed in the House of Commons this morning. The bill has two main objectives, the implementation of three new benefit programs for workers unable to work for reasons related to COVID-19, and the amendment of the Canada Labour Code provisions concerning COVID-19-related leaves of absence. 


1. Three New Recovery Benefit Programs for Workers

Bill C-4 replaces the CERB with the creation of three new recovery benefits to provide support to Canadians who continue to face financial hardship. The three new benefits are effective from September 27, 2020 for one year and are meant to provide support for people who would not traditionally qualify for EI. 

  • Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB): Provides $500 per week, for up to 26 weeks to workers who are not eligible for EI, mainly the self-employed and including those working in the gig economy.
  • Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB): Provides $500 per week, for up to 2 weeks for workers who are unable to work because they are sick, have underlying health conditions or other illnesses, or must self-isolate due to COVID-19. 
  • Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB): Provides $500 per week, for up to 26 weeks per household to Canadians who are unable to work because they have to care for a child under the age of 12 or another family member because schools, day cares, or care facilities are closed because of COVID-19 or because the individual receiving care is sick or must quarantine.

If Bill C-4 is passed by the Senate, Canadians will soon be able to apply for the CRB, CRSB, and CRCB through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for one year, up until September 25, 2021.

Click the respective links for details on eligibility and applications for each benefit. 


2. New Protected Leaves of Absence for Federally Regulated Employees

Bill C-4 also amends the Canada Labour Code with respect to the reasons for which federally regulated employees are entitled to take protected leaves of absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These include: 

  • A leave of absence of up to two weeks for workers who are unable to work for reasons related to COVID-19, as set out above, to qualify for the CRSB

  • A leave of absence of up to 26 weeks to care for a child under the age of 12 or a family member who requires supervised care for the reasons set out above to qualify for the CRCB.

These amendments to the statutory leaves are clearly in line with the new recovery benefit programs introduced by Bill C-4 and are intended to protect workers who will have to take time off work for these reasons. 

Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough estimated the new measures will cost $34 billion. Bill C-4 also includes $17 billion in other COVID-19-related spending.

For more information on Bill C-4, check out this news release

Extends CEWS & Boosts Training Initiatives

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program has been extended until the summer of 2021. The government says that with the extension, it will work with businesses to ensure the CEWS meets the needs of the health and economic situation as it evolves. 

The government will also make the largest investment in Canadian history in training for workers. Working with the provinces and territories, the training will include:

  • Supporting Canadians as they build new skills in growing sectors.
  • Helping workers receive education and accreditation.
  • Strengthening workers’ futures by connecting them to employers and good jobs, in order to grow and strengthen the middle class.

For more information, check out this article


Ontario Implements Mandatory Screening for Workplaces

Ontario Regulation 530/20 requires businesses to comply with any advice, recommendations, and instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health on screening for COVID-19.

This includes the recommendations set out in COVID-19 Screening Tool for Workplaces.  Highlights of the mandatory recommendations include:

  • Screening is required for any workers (staff, students, contractors, volunteers) or essential visitors (individuals providing a service in the workplace who are not employees or patrons, such as delivery, maintenance, contract workers) entering the work environment.
  • Screening is not required for patrons entering a workplace or for emergency services or other first responders entering a workplace for emergency purposes.
  • Screening should occur before or when a worker enters the workplace at the beginning of their day or shift, or when an essential visitor arrives.
  • Three screening questions should be used "at a minimum". Each individual subject to the Screening Tool is to be asked:

  1. Whether the individual has any new or worsening symptoms or signs of COVID-19.
  2. Whether the individual has travelled outside of Canada in the past 14 days.
  3. Whether the individual has had close contact with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19.

These screening questions should be applied before or at the time a worker enters the workplace at the beginning of their workday or shift, or when an essential visitor arrives.

Information on how to proceed with the results of these screening questions can be found in the  COVID-19 Screening Tool for Workplaces.

Ontario Launches Recovery Program for Northern Businesses impacted by COVID-19

The new short-term Northern Ontario Recovery Program (NORP) has been created to help businesses adapt to new COVID-19 public health guidelines and protect employees and customers.

Businesses can apply to NORP for assistance with projects that help them adjust to the impacts of COVID-19, that include but are not limited to:

  • Building renovations and new constructions
  • Customer and employee safety installations
  • Equipment purchases, including personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Marketing for new business initiatives
  • Restructuring of business operations

Applications will be open from October 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020, with the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) administering the new program. 

For more information, check out this news release


WorkSafe Saskatchewan Resources for Employers

Helpful resources for employers and employees can be found at the WorkSafe Saskatchewan website. Resources include but are not limited to:


Changes to Alberta's Employment Standards will Reduce "Red Tape" for Employers

On July 29, Bill 32: Restoring Balance in Alberta Workplaces Act, 2020 became law. The Bill implements a variety of important changes to both the Employment Standards Code (the code) and the Labour Relations Code.

Effect November 1, 2020, Bill 32 will make changes to the code with respect to the following areas: 

  • Hours of work
  • Termination pay
  • Holiday pay
  • Deductions from earnings
  • Vacation accrual
  • Jobs for young people

Details of each of these changes can be found here

The goal of these changes is to reduce "red tape" from employer's daily operations and ensure jobs are available for Albertans. 

British Columbia

State of Emergency Extended until October 13

The state of emergency has been extended through the end of the day on October 13, 2020. The extension will allow the BC government to continue to take the necessary actions to keep British Columbians safe and manage immediate concerns, such as recent outbreaks in some areas of the province.

Click here for more information on the extension and recent action in BC. 

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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