COVID-19 Update for March 19, 2020 – 3:45pm

March 19, 2020

Across the provinces

While there have been many similarities, each Canadian province has its own approach to the COVID-19 crisis. Nearly every province has declared a state of emergency and restricted gatherings over 50 people. Highlights of other measures:

British Columbia – Second only to Ontario in identified COVID-19 cases, BC is postponing all non-essential scheduled surgeries to free up hundreds of hospital beds, while instructing pharmacists to refill prescriptions
without requiring a new doctor’s prescription to reduce visits to doctors. BC’s governing NDP minority has a uniquely supportive Liberal opposition and more measures are expected to be announced soon.

Alberta – Per capita, Alberta is testing more people for COVID-19 than any other jurisdiction in North America. The province is also rolling out a series of measures to support individuals and businesses in a struggling
economy: allowing for protected leave for those isolating with no doctor’s note required; deferring corporate tax collection until August 31, deferring utility payment for 90 days, implementing a student loan repayment holiday; and emergency isolation
support for those who do not qualify for employment insurance, modelled on Québec’s program.

Saskatchewan – Saskatchewan fast-tracked legislation this week to ensure that anyone isolating or taking care of someone is able to take job-protected leave with no doctor’s note required. The province introduced a scaled-back budget yesterday, with a boost to health care (read Enterprise’s full analysis here), asserting that they’re not afraid to go into a deficit to protect the economy.

Manitoba – Consistent with other provinces, Manitoba is asking employers to allow employees to stay home, limiting hospital visitors, and closing schools. As the province braces for more COVID-19 cases, they are currently working on more health facility restrictions, which will be announced soon. After being delayed by a week as the result of NDP opposition tactics in the Legislature, Manitoba’s PC government is expected to finally introduce their budget later this afternoon.

Ontario – Ontario’s state of emergency mandated the closure of libraries, private schools, daycares, places of worship, bars, and restaurants. The province recalled the Legislature to pass emergency legislation and has introduced job-protected leave retroactive to January 25. By comparison, Alberta and Saskatchewan’s are only retroactive to early March.

Québec – Pushing its provincial tax deadlines back, Québec also introduced a program for weekly payments supporting those self-isolating but ineligible for federal supports. Although closing places where people congregate including bars, cinemas, pools, gyms, Québec is allowing restaurants to stay open at 50-per-cent capacity at this time.

New Brunswick – New Brunswick’s Legislature is on indefinite leave. Municipal elections in the province, which were supposed to be held on May 11, are now tentatively pushed back until May 2021.

Nova Scotia – Similar to other provinces, Nova Scotia has the same across-the-board closures and restrictions.

Prince Edward Island – PEI has approved a $25 million emergency fund. The province also announced further supports in a package that includes deferring loan payments due to Finance PEI and a temporary $200/week allowance for anyone who has seen their working hours drop.

Newfoundland and Labrador – Newfoundland and Labrador is implementing across the board closures and restrictions similar to other provinces.

Yukon –Yukon announced an extensive stimulus package for businesses and workers, including waiving, reimbursing or delaying government fee collection, and support for the tourism and cultural sectors.

Northwest Territories –The Northwest Territories is testing anyone who returns to the territory including those only returning from a domestic location and shows any cold or flu symptoms.

Nunavut –Nunavut is recommending that everyone arriving in Nunavut from outside the territory after March 15 self-isolate for a full 14 days, whether or not they have symptoms.

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