Planning the Return to Work Process

With the pandemic situation continuously evolving, it can be difficult to think about anything besides the immediate response. The early days of the pandemic required employers to act fast and make quick decisions to protect workers, safeguard client/customer relationships, and stabilize operations. But, as restrictions are gradually lifted, and we move beyond the immediate crisis phase, employers across Canada need to carefully plan how to reopen workplaces, resume operations, and get people back to work. A carefully planned and deliberate approach to reopening is required to protect workers in the short-term and remain resilient in the long-term.

This installment of The Canadian Employers’ Reopening Playbook will address key issues employers should consider when planning to reopen physical workspaces.

Legal Consideration for Reopening

1.       When will my workplace be allowed to reopen?

The exact timeframe for reopening depends on the province and the nature of the business.

Employers should look to their provincial government(s) for guidance on when they can legally reopen their workplaces. Every province has released a formal framework for the resumption of economic activity based on the impact and severity of COVID-19 in their jurisdiction, with the exception of Nova Scotia, which has announced a phased reopening without a formal plan.

For example, the government of Ontario has released a plan proposing the reopening of workplaces in three stages. While restrictions have been gradually lifted as early as May 6, the first stage of the plan commenced on May 16:

ONTARIO REOPENING TIMELINE

Early Actions Stage 1
(PRESENT STAGE)
Stage 2
(TBD)
Stage 3
(TBD)

May 6: The government announced it would expand “essential construction” to allow below-grade multi-unit residential construction projects to begin and existing above-grade projects to continue

May 7: Hospitals to begin planning for the gradual resumption of scheduled surgeries and procedures, with actual timelines varying between hospitals, conditional on approval by regional oversight bodies

May 8: Professional sports training facilities with established health and safety protocols

May 8: Garden centres and nurseries, under the same guidelines as grocery stores and pharmacies

May 9: Hardware stores and safety supply stores

May 11: Retail stores with street entrances, offering curbside pickup and delivery, as well as provincial parks and conservation reserves with access restricted to walking, hiking, biking, and birdwatching

Select workplaces that can meet current public health guidelines

“Essential gatherings” of a limited number of people

Some outdoor spaces

Continued protections for vulnerable populations

Specifically:

May 16: Golf courses with restricted access to clubhouses and restaurants, marinas, boat clubs, public boat launches, private parks and campgrounds, and board animal businesses (i.e., stables)

May 19: Remaining construction sites, retail services with separate street-front entrances, vehicle dealerships and retailers, certain media industries, libraries (pick-up or delivery only), religious services (drive-in only), certain recreational activities/sports for individuals or single competitors, certain professional services related to research and experimental development (physical, engineering, and life sciences), emissions inspection facilities, animal services including pet groomers and veterinary services, indoor and outdoor household services, maintenance/repair and property management services, and certain health and medical services including in-person counselling and scheduled surgeries

More workplaces with significant mitigation plans
More public spacesSome larger public gatherings

Continued protections for vulnerable populations

All workplaces opened “responsibly”

Relaxed restrictions on public gatherings

Continued protections for vulnerable populations

Visit the following links for provincial reopening plans and guidance on when you can expect to reopen your business:

2.      Are there any restrictions or requirements I need to consider as part of my reopening plan?

Once employers have determined if, and when, they can reopen, employers need to assess whether their workplaces can be reopened in compliance with public health and occupational health and safety requirements. In lifting restrictions, many provinces have released sector-specific health and safety guidelines, offering recommendations on how to keep workers and customers/clients safe.  These guidelines address best practice health and safety protocols, including:

  • Physical distancing;
  • Limits on gatherings;
  • Cleaning and sanitization;
  • Use of personal protective equipment (“PPE”); and
  • Infection, prevention, and exposure control.

For all intents and purposes, these guidelines are requirements that employers must comply with. Businesses that fail to adequately address these public health and occupational health and safety guidelines may face significant liability under local law, including prosecution, and/or unexpected workplace inspections and orders mandating compliance.

Provincial Workplace Guidelines published as of May 22, 2020:

Alberta
British Columbia
Manitoba
New Brunswick
Newfoundland & Labrador
Ontario
Prince Edward Island
Quebec
Saskatchewan

Healthy and Safety Considerations for Reopening

3.       In addition to guidelines, are there any other health and safety obligations I need to consider as part of my reopening plan?

In deciding whether to reopen workplaces, employers must be mindful of their obligations under provincial occupational health and safety legislation. Across Canada, employers have a duty to:

  • Take all reasonable precautions to protect the health and safety of workers;
  • Ensure that equipment, materials and protective equipment are available and maintained in good condition; and
  • Provide information, instruction, and supervision to protect the health and safety of workers.

These obligation, among others, requires employers to assess the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace.

4.       How do I assess the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in my workplace, and what measures should I implement to eliminate or minimize hazards related to COVID-19, if any?

Generally, a COVID-19 risk assessment requires employers to:

  • Recognize and identify COVID-19 related hazards in the workplace;
  • Determine which workers may be exposed or potentially exposed to the hazard; and
  • Assess the hazard to determine how it can be controlled.

The purpose of the assessment is to identify and eliminate existing and/or potential hazards relating to COVID-19. Any hazards that cannot be eliminated completely, must be controlled. Control can be applied at the source of the hazard, along the path between the source and the worker, or at the worker. Methods of control include:

a.             Engineering controls: reconfigure/redesign the workplace to control the hazard at the source (e.g., use of barriers or partitions, removing seats from lunch rooms and common areas, one-way foot traffic etc.)

b.             Administrative controls: change the way people work (e.g., staggered schedules, restricting meetings, health questionnaires, temperature scans, encouraging sick workers to stay at home, policies for safe work practices in light COVID-19, travel restrictions, limiting hours of operations, providing adequate supplies and reminders for hygiene, increased frequency of cleaning, etc.)

c.             Personal protective equipment: minimize exposure to workers by using personal protective equipment (e.g., gloves, eye protection, gown, face protections, masks etc.)

The necessary precautions to eliminate or mitigate the risk of transmission will depend on each worksite. To evaluate the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace, employers should perform a physical walkthrough of their workplace. In doing so, employers should consider the risk of exposure in individual and shared spaces, including elevators, offices, cubicle areas, production lines, bathrooms, stairwells, hallways, breakrooms, etc. Some common reasonable precautions to mitigate the risk of transmission include:

  • Allowing employees to work from home, where possible;
  • Mandating physical distancing in the workplace through the use of floor markers, and posters reminding workers to avoid gatherings and close contact greetings such as handshakes;
  • Providing information on proper hand hygiene, including handwashing techniques;
  • Limiting the sharing of workplace equipment, where possible;
  • Providing and mandating the use of personal protective equipment in the workplace;
  • Staggering start times, shifts, breaks and lunch times;
  • Screen workers regularly for COVID-19 symptoms; and
  • Restricting the number of people in areas where people gather, such as elevators, lunch rooms, and meeting rooms.

Employers should develop, post, and communicate written policies and procedures highlighting the measures adopted to control COVID-19 in the workplace. Any health and safety policies adopted in response to COVID-19 should indicate that it is required for occupational health and safety and public health initiatives, and violations of the policies may result in disciplinary action. In addition to adopting the policies and procedures, employers should ensure that managers and supervisors are adequately trained and understand the importance of strictly enforcing the adopted policies and procedures. By doing so, the employer will mitigate the risk of transmission while promoting a culture of safety in the workplace.

Employers should remember that any hazard assessment and/or response should be done in consultation with joint health and safety committees, health and safety representatives, and/or union representatives (if any). Doing so will ensure compliance and minimize exposure to complaints under occupational health and safety legislation, human rights legislation, at common law, or under collective agreements. If the employer is a party to a collective agreement, the employer should review the operative agreement prior to implementing changes that alter and/or impact terms of the agreement. If a policy and/or procedure impacts a collective agreement, employers should consider entering into Letter(s) of Understanding with the union to address the change in practice to mitigate the risk of grievance arbitrations.

The Government of Canada has released risk-informed decision-making guidelines to help employers determine the specific health and safety actions required during the COVID-19 pandemic. Employers can use this guideline to identify and mitigate against COVID-19 related risks in their workplace.

Compensation Considerations for Reopening

5.      What compensation related arrangements should be considered, and what impact will these arrangements have on eligibility for government programs?

The return to work process should happen gradually to allow time to test preventative measures and ensure compliance with public health and occupational health and safety requirements. Employers should review government-funded wage subsidies or other assistance programs to determine how to best organize the workforce, and structure the return to work. Available programs include:

Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (“CERB”)
  • What is it? Income support program for workers who are not able to work due to COVID-19.
  • How much does offer? $500 a week up to 16 weeks between March 15 and October 3, 2020.
  • How does this impact my plan for return to work? Employer should think about how transitioning back to work will impact each employee’s eligibility for the CERB or repayment obligations for returning to work sooner than later.
Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (“CEWS”)
  • What is it? Wage subsidy intended to prevent layoffs and encourage the rehiring of laid off employees.
  • How much is it? This subsidy will cover 75% of wages paid to employees, up to a maximum of $58,700 per employee, between March 15 to August 29. This subsidy also provides for a 100% refund of employer-paid payroll contributions for employees on leave.
  • Who is eligible for it? Employers of all sizes and across all sectors, excluding the public sector, who have experienced a decline in gross revenues of at least 15% in March, and 30% in each month from April to August, when compared to the same month in 2019. Eligible employees are limited to those employees who have not been without remuneration for more than 14 consecutive days during the eligibility period.
  • How does this impact my plan for return to work? Eligible employers should consider whether this subsidy will help stabilize their operations, help prevent further losses, and better position the company to resume normal operations following the crisis.

Employers should note that CEWS payments will be reduced by other government assistance benefits, including the temporary wage subsidy (see below), and payments provided as part of the work-sharing program.

Temporary Wage Subsidy (“TWS”)
  • What is it? Temporary wage subsidy is 10% subsidy available to employers in the form of a tax deduction. Employers calculate the subsidy and reduce income taxes remittances by the subsidy amount.
  • How much does it cover? This subsidy will cover 10% of remuneration paid to employees, up to maximum of $1375 per employee, and $25,000 for the employer between March 18, 2020 and June 19, 2020.
  • Who is eligible for it? Eligible employers include individuals (sole-proprietors), non-profit organizations, certain partnerships, registered charities, and Canadian controlled private corporations eligible for a small business tax deduction.
  • How does this impact my plan for return to work? Eligible employers should consider whether this subsidy will help stabilize their operations, help prevent further losses, and better position the company to resume normal operations following the crisis.

It is possible to simultaneously participate in the TWS program and the CEWS program, but doing so will likely reduce the amount available under the CEWS in the same period.

Wage Top-ups for Essential Workers (Premium Pay)
  • What is it? Government funded hourly wage top-up for front-line and essential workers required to work during the pandemic.
  • How much is it? This depends on the jurisdiction. Provincial governments have discretion over the amount and disbursement of the top-up. Ontario and Quebec have announced $4.00 wage increases while Saskatchewan has announced a $400 monthly wage supplement.
  • Who is eligible for it? This depends on the jurisdiction. Provincial governments have discretion to determine who qualifies as a front-line or essential worker.
  • How does this impact my plan for return to work? Employers reopening at this stage are unlikely to qualify for the top-up. However, employers should consider whether wage cuts or increased wages are necessary at this time.

Employers who reduce wages should obtain meaningful consent from affected employees. Employers who temporarily increase wages should clearly confirm, in writing, the gratuitous-basis for the payments, the duration of the payments, and specify any conditions for the payment.

Stay tuned for the next installment of The Canadian Employers’ Reopening Playbook, where we will discuss how to implement your return to work plan to bring employees back into physical workplaces.

Why Have a Playbook?

As provincial governments move towards reopening their economies and taking steps to return to normal, employers must balance a range of important – and, at times, conflicting – considerations.

Some of the key questions may seem obvious:

  • Are we allowed to reopen and if so, when, and with what restrictions?
  • What steps are required to keep employees and all other individuals who come into or onto our premises safe?
  • How do we get our employees back to work, and what if they don’t want to return at this time?
  • How will reopening impact the availability of government support programs for us and our employees?

Over the coming days, through a series of client alerts, we will explore these questions and more, providing detailed and practical guidance that employers can draw upon and adapt for their specific workplaces. The Canadian Employers’ Reopening Playbook will break down common employment-related issues employers should consider when:

  1. Planning the return to work process;
  2. Implementing the return to work process; and
  3. Operating in a changed environment.

What Will Be Covered?

Relevant topics will include:

  • How to conduct workplace risk assessments to determine what changes need to be made in your workplace;
  • Recommended measures that employers can implement to reduce exposure and health risks;
  • Approaches to phased re-openings, including considerations when deciding how, when, and in what order to recall employees, contract personnel, and others;
  • Approaches to employees who wish to return to work but who may be in vulnerable populations, including employees with underlying medical conditions or over the age of 60;
  • What to do if employees are reluctant to return to work, engage in work refusals, or make accommodation requests;
  • How to implement new policies and procedures in unionized and non-unionized workplaces and the role of the Union, the Joint Health and Safety Committee, or Health and Safety Representative; and
  • Proactive steps that employers can take in anticipation of subsequent waves of closures and re-openings, including changes to employment agreements, contracts, pandemic policies, employee compensation or benefit plans, and work-sharing arrangements.

Where Are We Now?

Before exploring these issues, it is worth taking stock of the current situation and the varied approaches that governments have taken to their reopening strategies. On April 28, 2020, the Prime Minister and provincial and territorial premiers released a joint statement on restarting the economy. While the statement states that each jurisdiction “will take different steps at different times”, it identified specific criteria and measures as being core to the Canadian strategy:

  • Control of COVID-19 transmission, so as to avoid overwhelming the health care system;
  • Public health capacity to test, trace, isolate, and control the spread of COVID-19;
  • Health care capacity to support the needs of COVID-19 and non-COVID-19;
  • Support for vulnerable groups, communities, and “key populations”;
  • Support and monitoring of workplace protocols to protect employees;
  • Coordinated efforts to ease and manage restrictions on non-essential travel; and
  • Support for communities attempting to manage local disease activity.

The ministers also committed to scientific and evidence-based decision-making, ongoing coordination and collaboration between jurisdictions, continued accountability, transparency, flexibility, and proportionality.

As contemplated by the joint statement, each provincial government has taken their own approach to reopening. Given the nuances of these provincial plans, it is important for employers – particularly those who operate across Canada – to understand the specific guidelines, rules, and timelines that apply to their operations.

While it is beyond the scope of this alert to set out all of the applicable guidelines and rules, a sample of provincial timelines illustrates the challenges that may be faced by Canadian employers with cross-country operations.

Alberta, for example, took “early actions” as early as May 1st, with the first stage of reopening beginning on May 14th:

ALBERTA REOPENING TIMELINE

Early Actions

(as early as May 1)

Stage 1

(as early as May 14)

Stage 2

(TBD)

 

Stage 3

(TBD)

 

May 1: Access to boat launches in certain parks and vehicle access to parking lots and staging areas on public land and parks

May 2: Golf courses, with restrictions including keeping clubhouses and pro shops closed

May 4: Scheduled, non-urgent surgeries, as well as certain regulated health-care professionals

May 14: Alberta Parks’ online campground reservation system, for booking at select campgrounds starting on June 1

Post-secondary institutions may deliver programs online, in-person, or through blended means

Retail businesses such as clothing, furniture, and bookstores

Some personal services, such as hairstyling and barber shops

Museums and art galleries

More scheduled surgeries and dental procedures

Cafés, restaurants (minors allowed in liquor-licensed establishments) with no bar service, at 50% seating capacity

Some additional outdoor recreation

Daycares with limits on occupancy

Summer camps with limits on occupancy

Libraries

More scheduled surgeries, including backlog elimination

Personal services such as artificial tanning, esthetics, cosmetic skin and body treatments, manicures, pedicures, waxing, facial treatments, massage, and reflexology

Restaurants, cafés, lounges and bars continuing to operate at reduced capacity

Some larger gatherings (number of people to be determined) in some situations

Movie theatres and theatres with restrictions

Potential Kindergarten to Grade 12 schools with restrictions

All businesses and services, with limited restrictions

Larger gatherings (number of people to be determined)

Arts and culture festivals, concerts and major sporting events with enhanced protection controls

Nightclubs, gyms, pools, recreation centres, and arenas with enhanced protection controls

Industry conferences with restrictions

(Source: https://www.alberta.ca/external/covid19-alberta-relaunch-strategy.pdf)

British Columbia, which did not impose the same lockdown measures as other provinces, moved forward with Stage 2 on May 19, with further reopenings expected between June and September:

BRITISH COLUMBIA REOPENING TIMELINE

 

Stage 1

(the “status quo” pre-May 19)

 

Stage 2

(as early as May 19)

Stage 3

(June – September)

 

Stage 4

(TBD)

 

Essential health care and health services

Non-health essential services providers

Law enforcement, public safety, first responders, and emergency response personnel

Vulnerable population services providers

Critical infrastructure

Food and agriculture service providers

Transportation

Industry and manufacturing

Sanitation

Communications and information technology

Financial institutions

(With restrictions)

Scheduled elective surgeries and medically-related services

Retail sector

Personal service establishments, including hair salons and barbers

In-person counselling

Restaurants, cafés, and pubs with sufficient distancing measures

Museums, art galleries, and libraries

Office-based worksites

Recreation/sports

Parks, beaches, and outdoor spaces

Childcare services

(With restrictions)

June: Hotels and resorts, some parks (including overnight camping), and partial return of Kindergarten to Grade 12 schools

June/July: Film industry, beginning with domestic productions

July: Select entertainment, such as movies and symphony

September: Post-secondary education (mix of online and in-person delivery) and full return of Kindergarten to Grade 12 schools

(Conditional on wide vaccination, community immunity or broad successful treatments)

Large gatherings, such as conventions, live audience professional sports, and concerts

International tourism

(Source: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/public-safety-and-emergency-services/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/gdx/bcs_restart_plan_web.pdf)

Ontario, which has been hit hard by COVID-19 and required the closure of all non-essential businesses, originally announced a reopening plan without any firm timelines. In subsequent weeks, the government allowed certain businesses to reopen on short notice and announced, on May 14, 2020, that the province would be entering Stage 1 in the coming days:

ONTARIO REOPENING TIMELINE
Early Actions

Stage 1

(mid-May)

Stage 2

(TBD)

 

Stage 3

(TBD)

 

May 6: The government announced it would expand “essential construction” to allow below-grade multi-unit residential construction projects to begin and existing above-grade projects to continue

May 7: Hospitals to begin planning for the gradual resumption of scheduled surgeries and procedures, with actual timelines varying between hospitals, conditional on approval by regional oversight bodies

May 8: Professional sports training facilities with established health and safety protocols

May 8: Garden centres and nurseries, under the same guidelines as grocery stores and pharmacies

May 9: Hardware stores and safety supply stores

May 11: Retail stores with street entrances, offering curbside pickup and delivery, as well as provincial parks and conservation reserves with access restricted to walking, hiking, biking, and birdwatching

Select workplaces that can meet current public health guidelines

“Essential gatherings” of a limited number of people

Some outdoor spaces

Continued protections for vulnerable populations

Specifically:

May 16: Golf courses with restricted access to clubhouses and restaurants, marinas, boat clubs, public boat launches, private parks and campgrounds, and board animal businesses (i.e., stables)

May 19: Remaining construction sites, retail services with separate street-front entrances, vehicle dealerships and retailers, certain media industries, libraries (pick-up or delivery only), religious services (drive-in only), certain recreational activities/sports for individuals or single competitors, certain professional services related to research and experimental development (physical, engineering, and life sciences), emissions inspection facilities, animal services including pet groomers and veterinary services, indoor and outdoor household services, maintenance/repair and property management services, and certain health and medical services including in-person counselling and scheduled surgeries

More workplaces with significant mitigation plans

More public spaces

Some larger public gatherings

Continued protections for vulnerable populations

All workplaces opened “responsibly”

Relaxed restrictions on public gatherings

Continued protections for vulnerable populations

(Source: https://www.ontario.ca/page/reopening-ontario-after-covid-19)

As a final example, Quebec has taken a region-specific approach to reopening its non-essential businesses, in recognition of the higher volume of cases in the Montreal and Joliette areas:

QUEBEC REOPENING TIMELINE

Stage 1

(May 4)

Stage 2

(May 11)

Stage 3

(May 25 / June 1)

 

Stage 4

(TBD)

 

Retail businesses outside of the Montreal area, with direct exterior access

Businesses outside the Montreal area providing goods or services required for supplying retail businesses

Non-essential mining and manufacturing, with strict limits on the number of employees (a maximum of 50 plus, if the regular number of employees is greater than 50, and extra 50% of the excess)

Non-essential construction businesses

Providers of goods and services to the mining, manufacturing, and construction sectors

Real estate brokers, land surveyors, inspectors and building appraisers, and chartered appraisers

School boards and private educational institutions, if required to provide educational support services

Preschools, elementary schools, and childcare services outside of the Montreal and Joliette areas

May 25: Retail businesses in the Montreal area, with direct exterior access

Businesses in the supply chains of retail stores in the Montreal area

Manufacturing companies throughout Quebec, with no restrictions on the number of employees

June 1: Childcare services in the Montreal and Joliette areas

Businesses outside the Montreal and Joliette areas providing private health care and body and beauty care services (including all dental care, businesses in the therapeutic care sector, pet grooming, and businesses in the personal care and beauty sector)

Businesses in the Montreal and Joliette areas providing dental care, therapeutic care, or pet grooming

Preschools and elementary schools in the Montreal and Joliette areas will remain closed until at least late August

Secondary schools will remain closed until at least the end of August

Further reopenings will be announced in subsequent weeks

(Source: https://www.quebec.ca/en/health/health-issues/a-z/2019-coronavirus/gradual-resumption-activities-covid19-related-pause/#c57361)

What’s Next?

As provinces begin reopening, employers must plan and prepare for employees to return to the workplace. Having a well-developed playbook will allow companies to safely and successfully restart their operations and adapt, not only to evolving government guidance and requirements, but also to an unprecedented health crisis that is likely to have far-reaching effects on our economy and communities. Through The Canadian Employers’ Reopening Playbook, we look forward to shedding some light on next steps and best practices as you navigate the “new normal.”

On May 15, 2020, the Government of Canada announced that the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (“CEWS”) will be extended for an additional 12-week period to August 29, 2020. At the same time, the government announced retroactive regulatory changes, and legislative proposals expected to come into force at a later date. These changes were introduced in an effort to promote employment and stimulate economic recovery as restrictions are gradually lifted across Canada.

Immediate Changes to CEWS Eligibility:

The government introduced a series of regulations extending eligibility for the CEWS to the following categories of employers:

  • Partnerships with one or more non-eligible members will be eligible so long as non-eligible entity partners control a minority of the partnership’s interests at fair market value during the qualifying period;
  • Indigenous government-owned corporations that are carrying on a business and are tax-exempt under paragraph 149(1)(d.5) of the Income Tax Act, their wholly-owned subsidiaries that are carrying on a business and are tax-exempt under paragraph 149(1)(d.6) of the Income Tax Act, as well as partnerships where the partners are members of Indigenous governments and eligible employers;
  • Non-public education and training institutions, including for-profit and non-profit private colleges, schools, and institutions (i.e., arts schools, language schools, driving schools, flight schools and culinary schools);
  • National-level Registered Canadian Amateur Athletic Associations that are tax-exempt under paragraph 149(1)(g) of the Income Tax Act; and
  • Registered Journalism Organizations that are tax-exempt under paragraph 149(1)(h) of the Income Tax Act.

Continue Reading Federal Government Extends the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

We are pleased to share with you the BNN Bloomberg article, “Breaking down CERB guidelines.” Kevin Coon was interviewed for this Q&A regarding the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

Click here to view the article

This article was originally posted in BNN Bloomberg

As Ontario prepares to reopen the economy, the province is providing employers with safety guidelines to protect workers, customers, and the general public from COVID-19. The guidelines provide practical recommendations so that employers reopen in a safe and responsible way. Continue Reading Ontario Releases Safety Guidelines for Reopening to Protect Public from COVID-19

On April 25, 2020, the Ontario government announced that it is providing frontline staff with a temporary pandemic payment. The payment compensates frontline workers for dedication, long hours, and increased risk while working to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.

What does the payment include?

Eligible workers will receive an increase of four dollars per hour worked on top of existing hourly wages, regardless of the qualified employee’s hourly wage. In addition, employees working over 100 hours per month will receive lump sum payments of $250 per month.

Which workplaces are eligible?

Eligible workers include staff in:

  • Acute hospitals
  • Long-term care homes (including private, municipal and not-for-profit homes)
  • Licensed retirement homes
  • Home and community care
  • Homes supporting people with developmental disabilities
  • Intervenor residential sites
  • Indigenous healing and wellness facilities/shelters
  • Shelters for survivors of gender-based violence and human trafficking
  • Youth justice residential facilities
  • Licensed children’s residential sites
  • Directly operated residential facility ― Child and Parent Resource Institute
  • Emergency shelters
  • Supportive housing facilities
  • Respite/drop-in centres
  • Temporary shelter facilities, such as re-purposed community centres or arenas
  • Hotels/motels used for self-isolation and/or shelter overflow
  • Adult correctional facilities and youth justice facilities in Ontario

On April 28, 2020, the provincial government clarified that the payment also applies to respiratory therapists, mental health and addictions workers in hospitals and congregate care settings, public health nurses and paramedics.

The payment is designed to apply to frontline employees, and does not apply to management.

How long does the payment last?

The temporary payment begins immediately, and continues from April 24, 2020 until August 13, 2020.


We are closely monitoring the situation and will continue to provide updates as they become available.

Please contact your Baker McKenzie lawyers (above) for more information.

You can also access our Coronavirus Resource Center for information on the impact of this situation on your business and what you can do to manage these risks. It covers areas of immediate concerns such as employer obligations, contract issues, supply chain disruption, financing and force majeure, as well as more forward looking issues such as practical impact on transactions and IPO activity.

This is an update to our recent blog post summarizing the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (“CEWS”). You can find the first part of our post, which summarizes the government’s original announcement, here.

On April 11, 2020, the federal government passed Bill C-14, amending the Income Tax Act to create the CEWS. The subsidy provides financial support to eligible employers for wages paid to eligible employees for the period from March 15, 2020 to June 6, 2020 (divided into three qualifying periods), subject to a possible extension up to September 30, 2020.

*****

Q:        How does the program work?

A:        For each qualifying period, an eligible employer can claim, from the government, a capped wage subsidy for remuneration paid to each eligible employee.

Continue Reading Federal Government Creates Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

On April 1, 2020, the Canadian government provided further details about its plan to help Canadian employers by providing a 3-month, 75% wage subsidy, retroactive to March 15, 2020.

Parliament will likely soon be recalled to consider, debate, and pass legislation to create the wage subsidy program. For now, the preliminary plan for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy is as follows:

  • The subsidy will be 75% of the first $58,700 normally earned by employees, or a maximum benefit of $847 per week, per employee. There is no limit on the amount that employers can claim, although entitlement will be based on the actual wages paid to employees.
  • Employers of all sizes will be eligible to participate, provided they meet the remaining criteria. As a result, the program will be available to sole proprietors, taxable corporations, and partnerships. Special rules are expected for employees who do not deal at arm’s length with the employer. Public sector entities will be excluded from the program, but it is unclear if the program will apply to “quasi-public” or “broader public” sector employers who receive a small percentage of funding from the government.

Continue Reading Federal Government Plans to Create Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

All Canadian provinces have adopted emergency measures requiring the closure of non-essential businesses, and today the Ontario government revised its list of “essential businesses”. To help you keep up with these changes, we have provided a chart below that includes a hyperlink to the current essential service list in each province, and lists the potential penalties for failure to comply in each jurisdiction. Continue Reading Non-Essential Business Shutdowns Across Canada