Our last installment focused on preparing physical workplaces for reopening, having regard to public health and occupational health and safety requirements. At this point, employers following along are alive to critical legal considerations that are unique to physical workplaces. In this installment of The Canadian Employers’ Reopening Playbook we discuss complex legal and practical considerations to return workforces to “COVID-prepared” workplaces. Continue Reading The Canadian Employers’ Reopening Playbook (Part 3)

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. Continue Reading The Canadian Employers’ Reopening Playbook (Part 2)

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.

Continue Reading The Canadian Employers’ Reopening Playbook (Part 1)

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.

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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