COVID-19 Update for March 30, 2020 – 12:00pm

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

In his daily briefing, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provided more details on the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy that he first announced last Friday. This subsidy replaces the initial announcement of a 10% wage supplement.

The subsidy will not be based on the number of employees. Any company, large or small, as well as non-profits and charities whose revenues decrease by 30% or more will be eligible. The government will cover up to 75% of an employee’s salary on the first $58,700 earned – amounting to up to $847 a week – as “a bridge to better times.” Funds will be back-dated to March 15.

The Prime Minister encouraged businesses that have the means to pay the remaining 25% of salaries. He also cautioned those who might consider taking advantage of this subsidy or making fraudulent claims with a clear warning “there will be serious consequences” for anyone trying to cheat the system.

Trudeau said the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Small Business will provide further details at a press conference tomorrow.

Canadian Armed Forces

The Prime Minister reiterated that, for the time being, the federal government has received no requests from provinces for the Canadian Armed Forces to respond and provide aid. He said that if this were to change, the army is ready to respond to the call immediately.

A press conference scheduled for this afternoon will provide more details on a potential military response.

If you have any questions about this update, please let us know.

The Enterprise Team

COVID-19 Update for March 29, 2020 – 12:00pm

New Mental Health Support for the Vulnerable

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed the nation’s children today, acknowledging the tension and anxiety that kids and their families are feeling. He announced that the government is investing $7.5 million in Kid’s Help Phone to provide more trained counsellors and volunteers. He encouraged young people to contact Kid’s Help Phone if they are looking for support.

The Prime Minister said that, with his Minister of Seniors Deb Schulte, the government will be announcing $9 million in funding to the United Way for the New Horizons for Seniors Program. This funding will help support a range of services for seniors, including health check-ins and grocery delivery. Trudeau also reiterated the government’s $200 million commitment to various shelters, including those for the homeless and people fleeing family or sexual violence.

The Prime Minister suggested further support would be coming to help other charities and non-profits working to help vulnerable Canadians. He also asked Canadians to consider lending a hand, either through a charitable donation or volunteering.

The Prime Minister was asked if the government is considering using the Canadian Armed Forces to assist with quarantine efforts. He said there have been no requests from cities or provinces at this time. He said there are currently no plans to do so although all options are on the table for future consideration.

If you have questions about this update please let us know.

The Enterprise Team

COVID-19 Update for March 28, 2020 – 2:00pm

Premier Doug Ford’s daily briefing focused on two main updates: reinforcing commitments to crack down on price gouging and lowering the limit for gatherings from 50 people to five.

Ford started his remarks by praising frontline workers – in health care, child care and manufacturing – for their “heroic” response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He also recognized the many Ontarians who are doing their part to flatten the COVID-19 curve, but noted that there are “a few bad apples out there.” He took specific aim at companies and individuals who are hiking prices on essential goods and vowed to fight this “with a vengeance.”

Protecting Ontarians from price gouging

Effective immediately, the government has issued an emergency order that retail businesses and individuals in Ontario cannot charge unfair prices for essential goods (including safety equipment and materials).

Individual offenders can face a fine of $750, or, if summoned to court and convicted, a maximum penalty of a $100,000 fine and one year in jail. If convicted, a company director or officer could face a fine of up to $500,000 and up to a year in jail, and a corporation could face a fine of up to $10 million.

The Premier said he is doing this with the support of the Retail Council of Canada and the Independent Grocers. He encouraged Ontarians to report instances of price gouging to a new government hotline: 1-800-889-9768.

With his impassioned remarks the Premier warned retailers who violate these rules, “we are coming after you and we will shut you down.”

New emergency orders

The other major measure Premier Ford announced at his early afternoon briefing, based on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, is a pending reduction in non-essential gatherings from 50 people to five people. (Exemptions for essential business, child care facilities and families of more than five would apply).

Ford’s cabinet will discuss this measure this afternoon, and if approved it will come into effect tonight.

If you have questions about this update please let us know.

The Enterprise Team

COVID-19 Update for March 28, 2020 – 12:00pm

In his daily address, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a new measure to slow the spread of COVID-19: As of Monday at noon, anyone showing any signs of COVID-19 will be denied boarding planes or trains for domestic trips within Canada. This rule will be enforced by Transport Canada.

When asked by reporters Trudeau said that the government is not looking at closing provincial borders at this time.

Stay Home!

The Prime Minister reiterated, multiple times, his message that anyone showing symptoms should stay home.

He again urged all Canadians to continue to avoid any trips away from home that are not absolutely necessary. He noted some promising news out of B.C in terms of flattening the COVID-19 curve but cautioned that we need to continue on the current track to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Canada.

As of this morning there are 4,757 confirmed cases across the country according to Health Canada.

Call for Canadians to pre-register for support

The Prime Minister also provided an update on the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which will provide up to $2,000 a month for four months to those who have lost income as a result of the pandemic. Trudeau encouraged eligible Canadians to register in advance for this benefit on the Canada Revenue Agency website – to set up an account and ideally to arrange direct deposits to speed up the process once administration of CERB applications starts in a few days.

The Enterprise Team

COVID-19 Update for March 27, 2020 – 12:00pm

New support for small and medium size businesses

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced new fiscal policy measures to support small and mid-size Canadian businesses this morning, asking them to keep employees on their payroll and consider rehiring employees who may have been laid off.

  • Payroll subsidies announced last week, are increasing from 10 per cent of remuneration paid to 75 per cent, backdated to March 15.
  • The government is launching the Canada Emergency Business Account, which will allow banks to provide loans of up to $40,000, secured by government, to qualified businesses. The loans will be interest-free for the first year and up to $10,000 will be forgivable for those that qualify.
  • GST and HST payments and duties and taxes on imports are deferred until June, amounting to $30 billion in interest-free loans to support businesses.
  • An additional $12.5 billion in support will go to Export Development Canada and the Business Development Bank of Canada to help small and medium with operational cash flow requirements.

The Prime Minister said additional details will be available Monday.

Bank of Canada lowers interest rate

The Bank of Canada has made a second unscheduled cut to its benchmark interest rate, lowering it to 0.25 per cent to lower short-term borrowing costs.

Prior to today, Canada had the highest central bank rate in the developed world at 0.75 per cent.

When asked about the sudden decision to lower the rate and bring in new support programs, Bank Governor Stephen Poloz said “some may suggest this is using a lot of firepower but I think a firefighter has never been criticized for using too much water.”

A federal budget?

When asked if the federal government would release a federal budget as planned next week the Prime Minister avoided answering the question directly. He responded that the focus right now is on support programs such as the ones announced today.

If you have any questions about this update, please let us know.

The Enterprise Team

COVID-19 Update for March 26, 2020 – All Province Update

Across Canada update

With over 3,500 confirmed COVID-19 cases across Canada to date, provinces and territories are continuing to take steps to address the unfolding pandemic. Here are the most recent major actions from provincial governments.

British Columbia – Premier John Horgan and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth today announced that BC is establishing a new Provincial Supply Chain Coordination Unit to co-ordinate goods and services distribution. The province is also restricting the resale of food, medical, cleaning, and other essential supplies. In another significant move, the province is waiving existing bylaws restricting food delivery.

Alberta – Alberta yesterday became the latest province to introduce stiff monetary penalties for those ignoring public health guidance on social distancing. Fines from peace officers and police start at $1,000 for those who travel abroad and don’t isolate for 14 days, those who exhibit symptoms and don’t isolate (regardless of travel), and those who don’t isolate after they’ve been around someone who tested positive. Meanwhile, in more serious situations, courts can issue fines of up to $100,000 for a first offence and $500,000 for subsequent offence.

Saskatchewan – Saskatchewan yesterday outlined a comprehensive list of “allowable business services.” Effective today, businesses not on the allowable list can no longer provide public-facing services.

Manitoba – Manitoba today called on the Government of Canada to immediately establish an emergency credit agency to borrow on the provinces’ behalf because the federal government can borrow at a much lower rate than the provinces. Manitoba is also issuing a plea to businesses to assist in providing products and supplies that can help in the COVID-19 fight.

Ontario – Ontario yesterday unveiled a fiscal update on what would have been their Budget Day (read Enterprise’s full analysis here). Ontario’s Action Plan delivered by Minister Rod Phillips outlines a comprehensive provincial response to COVID-19, with emphasis on extra funding for health care and supports for businesses and employees impacted by the shutdown.

Québec – As the province surpassed 1,629 confirmed cases of COVID-19 Premier François Legault issued an appeal today for volunteers in the fight against the pandemic. The Premier joined his Minister of Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Solidarity Jean Boulet to announce the launch of a web platform where anyone across Québec can register their name and get in touch with organizations and other volunteers to assist with food delivery.

New Brunswick – Premier Blaine Higgs and the Government of New Brunswick announced a series of measures to support workers and businesses impacted by COVID-19, including: income support for workers, job protection, up to $25 million in working capital for small business owners, up to $25 million in working capital for medium and large employers, and the deferral of interest and principal payments on government loans.

Prince Edward Island – In partnership with Sobeys Inc., the Government of Prince Edward Island announced an Employee Gift Card program to offer a $100 Sobeys gift card to any PEI employee laid off as a result of the pandemic.

Nova Scotia – Nova Scotia announced further emergency measures, including increased testing and the doubling of lab capacity, expanded virtual care for physicians and nurse practitioners, and requirements for regulated health professions to only remain open for emergency cases while non-regulated professions, such as naturopaths, must close.

Newfoundland and Labrador – Newfoundland and Labrador convened an urgent legislative sitting to pass a series of contingency measures. These include $200 million in contingency funds, borrowing authority for $2 billion, job-protected leave for employees, and a ban on evictions from rental properties if there’s a COVID-19 related reason for not making rent.

Yukon – The Yukon government has launched a COVID-19 Business Advisory Council comprised of 21 individuals, to advise Economic Development Minister Ranj Pillai.

Northwest Territories – The territorial government established a Mutual Aid Agreement to ensure no electricity disruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nunavut – Nunavut has restricted travel. As of yesterday, those seeking to enter Nunavut are required to self-isolate at designated facilities for a period of 14 days, except for critical employees not exhibiting symptoms. Those returning to Nunavut require the approval of the Chief Public Health Officer.

The Enterprise Team

COVID-19 Update for March 26, 2020 – 12:00pm

Good morning, please find the daily update from Ottawa below.

Quarantine Act for Returning Travellers

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that he is invoking the Quarantine Act, mandating that all returning Canadian travellers must self-isolate for 14 days. Trudeau noted that a stiff penalty or even prison time is on the table for those who do not comply. “This kind of conduct is not just disappointing; it’s dangerous,” he noted.

G20 Teleconference

The Prime Minister joined other G20 leaders on a videoconference this morning to discuss the need for a coordinated approach to flatten the global curve of COVID-19. The conversation focused on expanding manufacturing, securing supply chains and working together to protect the global economy. Trudeau noted, “COVID-19 is a global crisis and demands a global response.”

The Prime Minister also acknowledged that diplomat Kirsten Hillman has been appointed to the position of Ambassador to the United States on a permanent basis. Hillman is currently the acting ambassador in Washington and was instrumental in the NAFTA negotiation process.

COVID-19 Emergency Response Act

Prime Minister Trudeau confirmed that the federal government’s Emergency Act received royal assent and came into law yesterday evening. The $107 billion aid package, including the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, is in the process of being brought online and Canadians will receive help within 14 days of applying. Trudeau also warned Canadians about a recent text message scam regarding the Emergency Response Benefit, reminding Canadians to go to the government’s website for more information.

Other News: Alberta’s New Enforcement Measure

Yesterday, Alberta became the latest province to introduce monetary penalties for those ignoring public health guidance on social distancing.

Under the new rules announced by Premier Jason Kenney fines are $1,000 per occurrence with courts having the ability to issue fines of up to $100,000 for a first offence and $500,000 for subsequent offences. Community peace officers and police both have the ability to issue tickets under the new regulatory change.

Who can expect to get fined under the new rules?

  • Anyone who travels abroad and does not self-isolate for 14 days. Anyone who exhibits COVID-19 symptoms regardless of their travel (including cough, runny nose, and sore throat).
  • Anyone who has been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Anyone non-essential visiting a long-term care facility. Anyone violating the public health order against gatherings over 50 people.

If you have any questions about this update, please let us know.

The Enterprise Team

Enterprise’s analysis of today’s Fiscal Update – March 25th

Read Enterprise’s analysis of Ontario’s Action Plan – the economic and fiscal update delivered by Minister Rod Phillips in response to COVID-19.

Ontario Fiscal Update 2020

Download Here

Ontario Fiscal Update 2020: An Enterprise Briefing – March 25th, 6:00pm

Join the Enterprise team for a webinar to unpack all the relevant details as Ontario responds to the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis.

We invite you to participate in a briefing and Q&A with the Enterprise public affairs team as we provide timely analysis of the Economic and Fiscal Update. This update has replaced Budget 2020 and is expected to include extraordinary fiscal support for the people and businesses of Ontario.

Details:

Ontario Fiscal Update 2020

Wednesday March 25, 2020 @ 6:00 p.m. EDT

https://zoom.us/j/339958221

Webinar ID: 339 958 221

+1 647 558 0588 or 855 703 8985 (toll free)

E-mail questions in advance: information@enterprisecanada.com

COVID-19 Update for March 25, 2020 – 12:00pm

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s daily update focused on Bill C-13, the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act, that was tabled and passed in the House of Commons at about 6 a.m. this morning after a 14-hour delay. The Act is now being debated in the Senate and is expected to receive royal assent later this afternoon.

A number of modifications were made to the proposed legislation in Tuesday’s marathon session in the House, including removing the government’s ability to raise taxes unilaterally and shortening the period in which the government can take emergency spending measures without Parliament’s approval from two years to six months.

The centrepiece of the aid package is the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which provides $2,000 a month, for the next four months to workers who lose their income because of COVID-19.

The benefit also applies to people who are self-employed, sick or quarantined, must stay home to look after children or who still have a job but are not receiving an income.

The benefit combines the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and the Emergency Support Benefit.

Prime Minister Trudeau said that the government aims to have an online portal live by April 6 and cheques out to Canadians within 10 days of applying.

Bill C-13: The COVID-19 Emergency Response Act

The modifications include removing the Liberals’ ability to raise taxes unilaterally and shortening the period in which the government can take emergency spending measures without Parliament’s approval from two years to six months.

During those six months, the new spending authority is limited to specific categories including income support for Canadians, the purchase of medical supplies, public health-related programs, covering expenses incurred by the government and helping provinces and territories pay for emergency response needs.

Provinces and territories are also receiving an extra $500 million in federal funding.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau is given some new powers, including the ability to authorize the borrowing of money without Parliament’s approval if it is needed for legislatively-approved payments or to “maintain the efficiency of the financial system in Canada.” This authority, too, is only valid through the end of September and requires Morneau to report to MPs within 30 days of any borrowing.

The Motion

To ensure unanimous consent on Bill C-13, MPs agreed to an omnibus motion that included:

  • Adjourning the House of Commons until April 20 with the option to extend longer if it is in the public interest to stay adjourned or to be recalled to consider additional measures.
  • Allowing the Standing Committees of Finance and Health to convene (remotely) once a week to review evidence concerning the government’s response.
  • Requiring the Finance Minister to report on a bi-weekly basis to the Finance committee.

The House of Commons Finance committee will conduct a study of the Emergency Response Act within six months.

Aid for Journalists and Media

The Prime Minister also announced that the government will be providing additional measures to support journalists and media companies in Canada during the crisis. Minister of Canadian Heritage Steven Guilbeault will make an announcement later this afternoon.

If you have any questions about this update, please let us know.

The Enterprise Team