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COVID-19 News Updates

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced changes to Canada’s sick-leave benefits under employment insurance Wednesday, to respond to concerns about COVID-19.

Here is a quick overview of how the program works and what these changes mean:

What are EI sick-leave

Eligible workers with no or limited paid-leave benefits through their employers can apply for up to 15 weeks of employment insurance if they cannot work for medical reasons such as cancer, a broken leg, or in this case, being quarantined in a public-health threat.

How is the government adjusting the program for COVID-19?

Normally, a worker who qualifies for the benefits has a one-week waiting period before payments start, so if you’re quarantined for two weeks you’d only get sickness benefits for one of those weeks. For people quarantined due to COVID-19, the government is eliminating the waiting period entirely, so you can get EI benefits for an entire 14-day quarantine. The government previously waived the waiting period, which was then two weeks, during the 2003 SARS epidemic.

Who qualifies for EI sick-leave benefits?

Employed Canadians who pay EI premiums, and self-employed people who register to participate in the EI program, will qualify if they cannot work because of a medical condition, have lost at least 40 per cent of their usual weekly pay, and worked a minimum of 600 hours in the year before the claim or since their last EI claim. If you are self-employed and pay into EI, you have to wait at least 12 months after registering to make a claim.

Do I need a doctor’s note?

Normally a medical certificate signed by your doctor is required to get sick-leave benefits but a spokeswoman for Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough said the government is waiving the note for patients required to go into quarantine by law or by a public-health official. People who are asked to self-isolate by their employers when public-health officials recommend it can also qualify.

The exact documentation required is still evolving, said Health Minister Patty Hajdu, but she said the goal is to minimize the effort required of a person who needs to go into quarantine.

What happens if I get sick and the quarantine period is extended?

If you are put into quarantine as a precaution and aren’t sick then, but later do test positive for COVID-19, a signed medical certificate confirming the diagnosis will be required for you to receive sick-leave EI benefits beyond the initial period of the quarantine.

How much will I receive from EI sick leave?

The current EI payment is 55 per cent of your earnings up to a maximum of $573 a week.

What if I don’t qualify for EI sick-leave benefits?

At the moment there is no program but the government is “exploring additional measures” to provide some kind of income support for Canadians not eligible for EI sickness benefits.

How much does the government think it will cost to do this?

The government is budgeting $5 million to waive the one-week waiting period. However Qualtrough acknowledged the cost could change depending on how widespread the outbreak is in Canada.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 11, 2020.

benefits?

The Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce is taking steps to help protect our staff, stakeholders, and members with regard to COVID-19. The situation is evolving rapidly and we continue to monitor public health authority websites.

We are following recommended guidelines and are taking responsible precautions in light of the World Health Organization’s pandemic declaration this week.

With this in mind, we will be postponing events through to mid-April and rescheduling these to a later date, this year. We will continue to advocate for business and provide you with information and updates via email, our website, and social media.

Please note if you have already registered for our upcoming events, your purchase will be transferred to the rescheduled date.

OSHAWA – In a Special Meeting of Council on Friday, March 13, Oshawa City Council implemented temporary preventative actions, including closures and cancellations for community and recreation facilities and programs.

“The safety, health and well-being of the Oshawa community is our top priority. We stand together with our neighbouring municipalities, the Region and the Province with measures in place to prevent the spread of the virus and keep our residents and staff safe,” said Mayor Dan Carter. “While not convenient, we appreciate the cooperation and patience of the community during this trying time and ask them to follow Health Canada’s COVID-19 best practices in their individual routines. The risk remains low in Durham Region; let’s do our best to keep it that way.”

To view the Mayor’s video message, visit www.youtube.com/OshawaCity.

Read the full list of temporary closures and cancellations online.

The City of Oshawa continues to work with its local and regional partners to share information and is monitoring the situation closely.

For updates on City closures and changes to programming and operations and how best to protect yourself, visit www.oshawa.ca/coronavirus.

For updates on the City of Oshawa, visit www.oshawa.ca and sign up for news, alerts and e-newsletters. Stay connected with us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube and Connect Oshawa.

The health, safety, and well-being of our staff, members and community are of the utmost importance to us. We have therefore made some changes to how we work until the public health risk related to COVID-19 reduces.

We have decided to opt for virtual meetings and suspend in-person activities for the time being.  This means we are suspending outside visitors to our offices and we will not participate in in-person events or activities. Our senior management team will continue to assess this position based on the best advice of public health officials and partners.

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) team is deeply committed to providing the highest levels of service to all our members and these changes only reflect how we work. Our services to our members, availability, and responsiveness remain unchanged. Contact information for all OCC staff is available here.

We will continue to monitor and assess new developments pertaining to COVID-19 closely and work with our members, partners and all levels of government to provide support to Ontario business.

We are all in this together

Tell us how we can best support you. We are taking concerns from the business community and communicating them to all levels of government. We are also preparing a business continuity toolkit which includes prevention techniques to limit the spread of disease and an explanation of legislation governing business continuity and staffing obligations.

Please contact Michelle Eaton, Vice President, Public Affairs, with any issues you are currently facing due to challenges related to COVID-19. She will work closely with our government partners to ensure your voice is heard.

If your company is working on any pandemic related initiatives to support public health efforts or your employees, please also let Michelle know.

If you or your employees are experiencing symptoms, I call upon Ontario businesses to heed expert advice and not overwhelm our medical system. The COVID-19 self asssement tool can be used if you are experiencing symptoms. Our emergency rooms should not be used as a first response. The Ontario Ministry of Health is asking the public to first contact Telehealth Ontario or their local public health unit if individuals are experiencing symptoms.

A Note on Non-Essential Travel

The Governments of Canada and Ontario have advised to avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada until further notice.

Many countries have put in place travel or border restrictions and other measures such as movement restrictions and quarantines. Airlines have cancelled flights. Additional screening measures are being implemented at airports. While Canada has not closed its borders, new restrictions may be imposed with little warning. For more information, please see: https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories.

Government of Ontario Response

The Government of Ontario has announced it will introduce legislation that will include protected leave and remove the requirement for employees to obtain sick notes prior to taking time off for self-isolation or quarantine.

Based on advice from Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, and the experts at the COVID-19 Command Table, the Minister of Education has issued a Ministerial Order to close all publicly funded schools in Ontario for two weeks following March break, in response to the emergence in Ontario of COVID-19. This means that Ontario schools have been ordered to remain closed from March 14 through to April 5, 2020.   

The Chief Medical Officer of Health issued a memo last week detailing Enhanced Public Health measures for COVID-19. Similar to recent guidance for long-term care and retirement homes, all licensed child-care centres are asked to actively screen children, parents, staff and visitors for any symptoms and travel history that may be related to COVID-19 based on the ministry’s case definition. The government has also recommended the immediate suspension of all large events and public gatherings of over 250 people. In addition, the Chief Medical Officer of Health issued a memo to Long-Term Care Homes, Retirement Homes, Supportive Housing, Hospices and other congregate care settings on allowing only essential visitors. 

The Government of Ontario is also working with its postsecondary institutions to ensure each campus has a COVID-19 response plan for academic continuity for students and faculty that does not put their health or personal well-being at risk, while ensuring students can continue to receive the world-class education our institutions provide.

Legislators at Queen’s Park will resume for an emergency session today. Last week, they unanimously passed a motion that would allow them to avoid returning to the legislature if the COVID-19 outbreak worsens.

The March 25 provincial budget will be reduced to a fiscal update with the full budget to be released at a later date. 

Government of Canada Response

The Government of Canada is set to make announcement at 1:00 pm today.

Last week, the Government of Canada announced $10 billion available through the Credit Facility Program to the BDC and EDC for Canadian businesses. This is in addition to the $1 billion COVID-19 Response Fund announced on March 11th.

On Friday, March 13th, the Bank of Canada announced it has lowered its target for the overnight rate by 50 basis points to ¾ percent. The Bank will provide a full update of its outlook for the Canadian and global economies on April 15. As the situation evolves, the Governing Council of the Bank of Canada stands ready to adjust monetary policy further if required to support economic growth and keep inflation on target.

In addition, the Office of Superintendent of Financial Institutions announced it is lowering the Domestic Stability Buffer by 1.25%. This means an increase of lending capacity, resulting in an additional $300 billion for bank loans.

The House of Commons and Senate and their related committees will adjourn until mid-April. They will continue to work virtually to take additional actions and may be recalled together on an emergency basis as required.

We will continue to provide updates as they become available and please let us know how else we can support you.

All my best,

Rocco Rossi
on behalf of the entire OCC Team 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Monday that Canada will be closing its borders to foreign travellers in an attempt to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Speaking to reporters from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Trudeau said Canada is taking “increasingly aggressive steps” and will be closing its borders to people who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada.

“I know that these measures are far-reaching,” Trudeau said. “They are exceptional circumstances calling for exceptional measures.”

Trudeau said the restrictions will come into effect Wednesday but that exceptions will be made for air crews, diplomats, immediate family members and U.S. citizens.

Trudeau said that second, air operators will ban anyone who is showing symptoms of the virus from getting on a plane.

“That means anyone who has symptoms will not be able to enter Canada,” he said.

Trudeau said the government will set up a support program to assist asymptomatic Canadians seeking to return home.

“Canadian travellers will be able to get financial assistance to help them with the costs of returning home or temporarily covering their basic needs while they wait to come back to Canada,” Trudeau said.

Third, Trudeau said only four Canadian airports will receive international flights.

According to Trudeau, Pearson International Airport in Toronto, Vancouver International Airport, Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport and Calgary International Airport will receive international flights.

He said domestic flights and flights from the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean will not be affected and that the measures do not apply to commerce or trade.

 

“We will continue to ensure the supply of important goods to Canada,” Trudeau said.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Transport Minister Marc Garneau said certain kinds of workers who need to cross the Canada-U.S. border will be exempted from requirements to self-isolate.

He said that includes airline, train and marine crews, truck drivers and other people whose professions require cross-border travel.

Deputy prime minister Chrystia Freeland, who also spoke at the conference, was unable to specifically state why U.S. citizens were not barred from entering the country, but said that when it came to the Canada-U.S. border “we need to act with real care, with real delicacy and with real precision.”
 
“This is a situation we are reviewing constantly,” she said, adding that forcing American tourists to self-isolate for 14 days was already a severe step.

Trudeau also reiterated the government’s recommendation that Canadians abroad return home via commercial means while they remain available.

“Let me be clear: if you are abroad, it’s time for you to come home,” he said. “If you have just arrived, you must self-isolate for 14 days.

“And finally, all Canadians, as much as possible, should stay home. By staying home, you can not only protect your health and that of those around you but ensure that our health-care professionals and our health-care systems can focus on those who need their help,” he added.

When asked by reporters about the decision to close the borders, Trudeau said we have “now come to a point where the best advice from public health officials is that additional border measures on top of the social distancing measures that we are encouraging domestically is the right combination to move forward now.”

As of 9 a.m. Monday, there were 324 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Canada and 17 probable cases.

The Public Health Agency of Canada reported that 13 per cent of those cases required hospitalization.

Almost three-quarters of the cases were people who travelled outside of Canada recently, but public health officials also stressed there is community transmission happening now more frequently.

— With files from Global News’ Emerald Bensadoun and the Canadian Press

TORONTO — As the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 rises in Canada, many employers are grappling with questions concerning how they can protect their employees from the virus while keeping their businesses afloat.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has asked that all employees who are able to work from home do so as he introduced the federal government’s plan to provide financial support to individuals and businesses amid the pandemic.

While many companies have directed their employees to work remotely or have temporarily closed their doors, others are still operating and their owners are facing difficult decisions concerning how to balance their employees’ right to a safe work environment with the health of the business.

To provide some clarity on the matter, employment lawyer Daniel Lublin breaks down what employers should know amid the pandemic.

What can they ask employees?

If an employer suspects one of their employees might have contracted the new coronavirus, Lublin said there are several questions they’re allowed to ask them without violating their right to privacy.

These questions include:

  •  Are you exhibiting any symptoms of the illness?
  •  Have you come into close personal contact with anyone who’s exhibiting any of the symptoms?
  •  Have you travelled to an affected area?
  •  Have you been in close personal contact with anyone who has travelled to an affected area?

Lublin said employers should be careful, however, not to only ask these questions to employees of a certain race, religious background, or ethnicity.

Can they ask for proof of illness?

Under normal circumstances, Lublin said employers are within their rights to ask a worker to produce a doctor’s note if they’re going to be home sick for a period of time.

However, during the current health emergency, Lublin said employers shouldn’t ask employees to visit a doctor for a note. He said some provincial governments are already drafting legislation that would abolish the right of employers to ask for a sick note under the current conditions.

“That’s all about to go out the window,” he told CTV’s Your Morning on Monday.

Do they have to pay an employee who has become ill?

If an employee is staying home in isolation because they have become ill, Lublin said their employers are not obligated to pay them during the absence. Employees do, however, have other options to recover some of their lost compensation.

Some of these other options include paid vacation time, federal employment insurance, sick leave pay, workplace safety insurance claims, and short-term disability benefits.

Can they force an employee to come in to work?

According to occupational health and safety legislation, employees have the right to refuse to come in to work if they have reasonable grounds to believe there is a danger to their health and safety.

Under Part II of the Canada Labour Code, a danger is defined as “any hazard, condition or activity that could reasonably be expected to be an imminent or serious threat to the life or health of a person exposed to it before the hazard or condition can be corrected or the activity altered.”

If an employee exercises their right to refuse to work, it’s the employer’s obligation to investigate the situation in the presence of that employee. If the employer doesn’t think a danger exists, the employee can apply to have the Labour Ministry conduct another separate investigation of the workplace conditions.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, federal and provincial governments have urged businesses to be flexible and allow employees to work remotely if they have the ability to do so.

However, they’re not obligated to allow employees to work remotely, unless the workplace poses a danger to the health and safety of those workers.  

Do they have to pay employees who aren’t ill, but told to stay home?

If a company shuts down or tells an employee not to come into work as a precaution, Lublin said they should be paid. He said employers who refuse to compensate symptom-free workers risk human-rights complaints or constructive dismissal lawsuits.

“If those employees are ready, willing, capable, and able to work, at least for the short-term, they should be paid as long as they can be,” he said.

Should they worry?

Lublin stressed that employers shouldn’t panic right now. Instead, he advised them to think of alternative arrangements that might “soften the curve” of the current predicament. He said this could mean having people work remotely, reducing business hours, or offering limited services.

“I think we can’t panic right now,” Lublin said

Significantly Enhanced Measures will Help Contain Spread of Covid-19
 
TORONTO – Today, the Government of Ontario announced that it is taking decisive action by making an order declaring an emergency under s 7.0.1 (1) the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. In doing so, Ontario is using every power possible to continue to protect the health and safety of all individuals and families.
“We are facing an unprecedented time in our history,” said Premier Ford. “This is a decision that was not made lightly. COVID-19 constitutes a danger of major proportions. We are taking this extraordinary measure because we must offer our full support and every power possible to help our health care sector fight the spread of COVID-19. The health and wellbeing of every Ontarian must be our number one priority.”
As a result of this declaration and its associated orders, the following establishments are legally required to close immediately:
  • All facilities providing indoor recreational programs;
  • All public libraries;
  • All private schools as defined in the Education Act;
  • All licensed child care centres;
  • All bars and restaurants, except to the extent that such facilities provide takeout food and delivery;
  • All theatres including those offering live performances of music, dance, and other art forms, as well as cinemas that show movies; and
  • Concert venues.
Further, all organized public events of over fifty people are also prohibited, including parades and events and communal services within places of worship. These orders were approved by the Lieutenant Governor in Council and will remain in place until March 31, 2020, at which point they will be reassessed and considered for extension, unless this order is terminated earlier.
“We are acting on the best advice of our Chief Medical Officer of Health and other leading public health officials across the province,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “We know these measures will affect people’s every day lives, but they are necessary to ensure that we can slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect our people. We’re working with all partners across the system, from public health to hospitals and community care, to do everything we can to contain this virus and ensure that the system is prepared to respond to any scenario.”
“Our government is taking an important step to protect Ontarians by declaring a provincial emergency through the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, establishing Ontario’s ability to quickly implement and enforce orders in the public interest,” said Solicitor General Jones. “Our government will continue to respond to this outbreak by limiting the exposure of individuals to COVID-19 and ensure the health and well-being of all Ontarians.”
Ontario is also investing up to $304 million to enhance the province’s response to COVID-19 by providing the following:
  • $100 million for increased capacity in hospitals to assist with the effective treatment of COVID-19 patients both in critical care and medicine beds.
  • $50 million for more testing and screening through public health, including additional funding to support extraordinary costs incurred to monitor, detect and contain COVID-19 in the province. This includes contact tracing, increased laboratory testing capacity and home testing.
  • $50 million to further protect frontline workers, first responders and patients by increasing the supply of personal protective equipment and other critical supplies and equipment to protect them.
  • $25 million to support frontline workers working in COVID-19 assessment centres, including the creation of a new fund to provide respite care, child care services and other supports as they are needed.
  • $50 million for long-term care homes&nb sp;to support 24/7 screening, additional staffing to support infection control and additional supplies.
  • $20 million for residential facilities in developmental services, gender-based services and protective care for children and youth to support additional staffing, respite for caregivers impacted by school closures, personal protective equipment and supplies and transportation costs to minimize client exposure and to support social distancing, as well as additional cleaning costs.
  • $5 million to protect seniors in retirement homes through increased infection control and active screening procedures.
  • $4 million for Indigenous communities to support transportation costs for health care professionals and the distribution of critical supplies.

 QUICK FACTS 

  • The increased funding includes investments from Ontario’s previously-announced COVID-19 Contingency Fund, as well as funding provided by the federal government.
  • Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more serious respiratory infections like bronchitis, pneumonia or severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
  • There is no vaccine available to protect against the 2019 novel coronavirus, but there are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses. To find out more visit Ontario’s website
Calling All Suppliers – Help Canada Combat COVID-19
 
ACTION:
Government of Canada is seeking information from suppliers on their ability to provide products and services in support of Canada’s response to COVID-19
 
BACKGROUND:
Products:
  • Disposable N95 masks
  • Disposable Surgical masks
  • Nitrile gloves
  • Vinyl gloves
  • Gowns
  • Bottles of hand sanitizer
  • Other prevention products
Services:
  • Guard / security services
  • Nursing services
  • Food services
  • Laundry services
  • Accommodation maintenance services
  • Personal services
  • IT support services
  • Other services
 
NEXT STEPS: 
Fill out this form if you can provide items from the list above, or any other product or services not listed.
TIMELINE: 
As soon as possible
PLEASE DIRECT INQUIRIES TO:
Your local Provincial Senior Business Advisor or Strategic Account Manager
 
For inquiries regarding the Government of Canada Call for Suppliers
Martin Montreuil: martin.montreuil@tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca / Tel: 613-793-3594
Alain Dorion: alain.dorion@tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca / Tel: 613-790-0974

See link below for a letter written to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Ford, from John Henry, Regional Chair and CEO.

03172020 – Prime Minister Trudeau_Premier Ford – Support for DR Businesses_COVID-19 Pandemic

  • $27B of direct support for Canadian businesses
  • $55B to meet liquidity need through tax deferrals
  • $82B combined support ( =3% of Canada’s GPD)
  • For people without access to paid sick leave:
  • ‘Emergency Care Benefit’, paid for 14 weeks, comparable to EI, applicable to most illness-related or quarantine stay-at-home needs
  • For people without access to EI:
  • Emergency Support Benefit for everyone that loses their job but don’t qualify for EI. Will also apply to self-employed workers.
  • Will provide employers and small businesses a temporary wage subsidy of 10% of all wages for 3 month period (to help keep employees)
  • For taxes: New deadline of August 2020 to pay any taxes owed. Also working on more targeted assistance in coming months for specific groups of individuals.
  • Families with young children: Will temporarily boost the Child Care Benefit in the coming months.
  • Lower-Income Individuals: Supplement the GST credit, to offset the consumer tax they pay. Qualifying adults, will receive $300 + $150 per child
  • 6-month interest-free moratorium for student loans
  • For those in situations of domestic or gender-based violence, provide funds for sanctuary where isolating at home is not an option
 
Additional measures for businesses:
  • EDC will provide support to Canadian companies
  • For Farmers and food producers: Boosting Farm Credit Canada
  • Exploring opportunities to help all businesses through ‘The Canada Account

TORONTO — The federal government is offering new financial support for Canadians whose jobs have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Wednesday that the government will provide up to $27 billion for workers and businesses.

For workers, the most notable parts of the government’s action include enhanced eligibility for employment insurance (EI) and two new emergency benefits.

According to the government, those who are unable to work because they have been directed to self-isolate or quarantine will not have to wait the usual one week to receive EI sickness benefits.

Additionally, the sickness benefits can be accessed without the usual requirement of a doctor’s note or other medical certificate.

More information about applying for EI sickness benefits is available on the government’s website.

Newly announced Wednesday were the creation of an emergency care benefit and an emergency support benefit.

The emergency care benefit will provide up to $900 every two weeks, for up to 15 weeks, to help Canadian workers who cannot go to work, do not have paid sick leave and do not qualify for EI sickness benefits. This includes those who are sick themselves, as well as those who are staying home to look after others who are sick or children who are not in school.

The emergency support benefit will offer payments of undisclosed amounts to unemployed workers who are not eligible for EI.

Applications for both benefits will open in April, at a date to be determined. When that happens, Canadians will be able to apply for them through CRA MyAccount or My Service Canada Account or by calling a toll-free number that has not yet been made public.

The Government of Canada is taking immediate, significant and decisive action to support Canadian businesses facing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On March 13, 2020, Minister of Finance Bill Morneau, Governor of the Bank of Canada Stephen Poloz, and Superintendent of Financial Institutions Jeremy Rudin outlined a coordinated package of measures to support the functioning of markets, the resilience of our financial sector, and continued access to financing for Canadian businesses. These actions will significantly increase the availability of credit to businesses of all sizes, sustain liquidity in key financial markets, and provide flexibility to businesses experiencing hardship.

On March 18, 2020 the government and its partners announced further measures to support businesses. These actions are part of Canada’s whole-of-government response to COVID-19, and the significant stimulus program developed to stabilize Canada’s economy, support businesses and to protect Canadians.

Supporting Canadian Business through the Canada Account

The government is changing the Canada Account so that the Minister of Finance would now be able to determine the limit of the Canada Account in order to deal with exceptional circumstances. The Canada Account is administered by Export Development Canada (EDC) and is used by the government to support exporters when deemed to be in the national interest. This will allow the government to provide additional support to Canadian companies through loans, guarantees or insurance policies during these challenging times.

Helping Businesses Keep their Workers

To support businesses that are facing revenue losses and to help prevent lay-offs, the government is proposing to provide eligible small employers a temporary wage subsidy for a period of three months. The subsidy will be equal to 10% of remuneration paid during that period, up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer. Businesses will be able to benefit immediately from this support by reducing their remittances of income tax withheld on their employees’ remuneration. Employers benefiting from this measure will include corporations eligible for the small business deduction, as well as non-profit organizations and charities.

Flexibility for Businesses Filing Taxes

The Canada Revenue Agency will allow all businesses to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today and before September 2020.  This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as instalments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period. 

The Canada Revenue Agency will not contact any small or medium (SME) businesses to initiate any post assessment GST/HST or Income Tax audits for the next four weeks. For the vast majority of businesses, the Canada Revenue Agency will temporarily suspend audit interaction with taxpayers and representatives.

The Liaison Officer service offers help to owners of small businesses to understand their tax obligations. Traditionally available in-person, this service is now available over the phone and will be customizing information during these challenging times by ensuring small businesses are aware of any changes such as filing and payment deadlines, proactive relief measures, etc.

Ensuring Businesses Have Access to Credit

The Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) will allow the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC) to provide more than $10 billion of additional support, largely targeted to small and medium-sized businesses. This will be an effective tool for helping viable Canadian businesses remain resilient during these very uncertain times. BDC and EDC are cooperating with private sector lenders to coordinate on credit solutions for individual businesses, including in sectors such as oil and gas, air transportation and tourism. The near term credit available to farmers and the agri-food sector will also be increased through Farm Credit Canada.

The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) announced it is lowering the Domestic Stability Buffer by 1.25% of risk-weighted assets, effective immediately. This action will allow Canada’s large banks to inject $300 billion of additional lending in to the economy.

The Bank of Canada also took a series of actions to support the Canadian economy during this period of economic stress, enhance the resilience of the Canadian financial system, and help ensure that financial institutions can continue to extend credit to both households and businesses. This included cutting the interest rate to 0.75% as a proactive measure in light of the negative shocks to Canada’s economy arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent sharp drop in oil prices.

Supporting Financial Market Liquidity

As a further proactive and coordinated measure to bolster the financial system and the Canadian economy, the government announced on March 16 that it is launching an Insured Mortgage Purchase Program (IMPP). Under this program, the government will purchase up to $50 billion of insured mortgage pools through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This action will provide long-term stable funding to banks and mortgage lenders, help facilitate continued lending to Canadian consumers and businesses, and add liquidity to Canada’s mortgage market. Details of the terms of the purchase operations will be provided to lenders by CMHC later this week.

The IMPP enhances the already substantial set of measures announced on March 13 to support the economy and the financial system. CMHC stands ready to further support liquidity and the stability of the financial markets through its mortgage funding programs as necessary.

Further, the Bank of Canada has announced that it will adjust its market liquidity operations to maintain market functioning and credit availability during the current period of uncertainty in which conditions are evolving rapidly.

The Bank of Canada also announced that it will broaden eligible collateral for its term repo facility to include the full range of collateral eligible under the Standing Liquidity Facility, with the exception of the non-mortgage loan portfolio. This expansion of eligible collateral will provide support to funding conditions for financial institutions by providing a backstop to regular private funding.

The Bank also announced that it stands ready, as a proactive measure, to provide support to the Canada Mortgage Bond (CMB) market so that this important funding market continues to function well. This would include, as required, purchases of CMBs in the secondary market. Similar to the increase in Government of Canada bond buybacks, this will support market liquidity and price discovery.

Emergency Sitting Sees Two Critical Pieces of Legislation Receive Unanimous Consent
 
TORONTO ― Today, the Ontario government took unprecedented action to respond to COVID-19 by convening an emergency sitting of the legislature and passing two pieces of legislation which will protect the jobs of employees who self-isolate or quarantine, help keep store shelves stocked and give municipal councils the flexibility to continue operations while maintaining social distance.
The legislation passed with unanimous consent by only 26 MPPs. The number of members participating in this extraordinary session was intentionally kept small in order to practice social distancing and help prevent the spread of COVID-19. A first in Ontario history.
 
“I want to thank all parties for coming together to pass this important legislation so we can deliver immediate relief to Ontario workers and families,” said Premier Doug Ford. “The health and safety of the people of Ontario is our number one priority and that’s why we are protecting the jobs of workers and making sure that essentials like groceries, household basics, and medicine can arrive on store shelves. We must work together as Team Ontario to slow the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve.”
 
The Employment Standards Amendment Act (Infectious Disease Emergencies), 2020 provides job-protected leave for employees who are in isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19, or those who need to be away from work to care for children because of school or day care closures or to care for other relatives. These measures are retroactive to January 25, 2020, the date the first presumptive COVID-19 case was confirmed in Ontario. The legislation will also make it clear employees cannot be required to show sick notes.
“During this time of great uncertainty, the last thing employees should have to worry about is job security,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. “People can’t be punished for following the advice of our leading medical health professionals.”
 
The Municipal Emergency Act, 2020 will ensure that for the near future, the delivery of goods to Ontario’s businesses and consumers isn’t impacted by municipal noise by-laws that may unintentionally be impeding such deliveries when they are most urgently needed. The legislation also gives municipalities the ability to fully conduct Council, local board and committee meetings electronically when faced with local and province-wide emergencies, empowering the government’s municipal partners to respond quickly when in-person meetings cannot be held.
 
“These changes will assist in getting goods to market in a more expeditious manner. Our government wants to do everything we can to help connect distribution centres with grocery stores and pharmacies to replenish empty shelves more quickly,” said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “As well, we are helping communities respond to this crisis by allowing councils to conduct meetings remotely. These changes empower municipalities to respond quickly and continue to function when in-person meetings cannot be held, and council decisions need to be made.”

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced a new plan to mobilize businesses and manufacturers to help fight the spread of COVID-19 and boost the health sector’s stockpile of life-saving supplies, and says the government is working with airlines to help those stranded abroad to come home.

In taking these next steps, Trudeau is also calling on Canadians to take physical distancing and self-isolation seriously, but said he is not ruling out taking stricter lockdown measures if it comes to that.

“We are looking at all possible different measures,” Trudeau said, emphasizing that nothing is off the table in the COIVD-19 fight and thanking the millions of Canadians who are heeding advice and helping keep themselves, their families, and the frontline workers safe.

The manufacturing plan is meant to help industry accelerate ways to pivot their production lines to help at this critical time by mass-supplying various life-saving medical supplies, considered by some doctors who have called for more supplies being freed up, a “war-like effort.”

“There are people who are talking about historical echoes, whether it was war time or the Great Depression, we’re focused on what we need to do right now,” Trudeau said.

This effort to mobilize industry includes building up the manufacturing capacity and reprioritizing existing innovation and research programs to prioritize the COVID-19 fight through the Strategic Innovation Fund and the National Research Council of Canada.

Talks had been ongoing between the federal government and industry representatives about how companies can pivot to producing equipment like ventilators, face masks, and sanitizer in anticipation that the outbreak worsens in Canada and hospitals need additional supplies.

But also, the government is working on agreements with industry to produce more diagnostic testing products and other disease tracking technology.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam has said there has been no specific request for ventilators yet and there is enough supply for the current level of demand. But 550 more ventilators have been ordered, as Health Minister Patty Hajdu indicated on Friday that she anticipates that the surge is coming.

Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand said that an additional 11.3 million N95 masks have been ordered and are in the process of being delivered to the front-line health staff who rely on them to protect themselves and their patients. Additional personal protective gear is also on its way, she said.

The federal government has also been in talks with the provinces and territories to get a clear picture of where there is a gap in their resources.

Specifically calling out to businesses who are wondering how they can help, Trudeau said that Canadians need them and the government wants to work with them to maximize their impact, and output.

“Canada has never faced a situation like this and we will face through it together,” Trudeau said.

Industry Minister Navdeep Bains said that he’s been in contact with businesses looking to help daily, and now it’s on them to increase domestic supply.

“This country’s industrial policy will be refocused for the time being to prioritize the fight against COVID-19,” Bains said.

The Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME) are applauding the industry mobilization plan.

“Canadian manufacturers want to play a critical role in supporting Canada’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. They can and want to contribute to flattening the outbreak curve,” said CME President and CEO Dennis Darby, in a statement.

“We are pleased the government is adopting CME’s recommendation of helping to scale-up businesses that are already part of the supply chain, which will enable a rapid response from businesses,” said Darby.  

Appearing once again from self-isolation, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is speaking to the next steps Canada is taking towards combatting the spread and impacts of COVID-19.

It has been a week of morning addresses from Rideau Cottage, to a population that’s largely been working from home or in self-isolation on the advice of public health officials pleading for people to take the risk seriously.

Working with airlines

Trudeau said the government is in talks with Canadian airlines, to help bring back the thousands of Canadians who are having difficult times getting back to Canada given the restrictions in the countries they are currently in.

The prime minister said more is coming in terms of flights to get stranded Canadians back home in the coming days. The first flight will be repatriating Canadians stuck in Morocco this weekend.

While early on in the outbreak, the government chartered flights to repatriate Canadians, for weeks those abroad have been told to take a commercial flight home while they still could, though others remain stuck on cruise ships that have been unable to dock.

Canada-U.S. border closing at midnight

Trudeau also announced that Canada-U.S. border will close to non-essential travel as of midnight Friday. That means, come Saturday, tourists and visitors will not be allowed in.

The prime minister said there will also new protocols for irregular migrants, who will now be turned around if they appear at the border, rather than allowing them in and isolating them, as the plan had been earlier this week.

EI claims skyrocket

Parliamentarians are set to reconvene early next week to pass legislation allowing financial assistance to flow to Canadian families and businesses who are already feeling the economic impacts of the pandemic.

Trudeau said the public service has been inundated with applications, at far higher rates than usual. He said the government has received over 500,000 Employment Insurance applications so far this week, and staff is working around the clock to process these requests for assistance.

The federal government has committed to temporarily boosting the Canada Child Benefit, and is introducing an emergency care benefit of up to $900 bi-weekly for 15 weeks for those who have to stay home and don’t have paid sick leave, such as those who can’t access EI and are sick, or who are taking care of a child or someone who is sick. These are in addition to several other aid measures Canadians and businesses may be eligible for, including relaxing tax and loan repayment deadlines.

As of Friday afternoon there were 943 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Canada. 

To support residents and businesses during this difficult time, the City of Oshawa is waiving tax payment penalties and interest for 60 days for all residents and businesses, effective with the April tax installment.

“The City of Oshawa is committed to helping our community members, families and businesses. We’ve taken action to support our businesses and residents by providing some financial relief as we work together to overcome this global pandemic and rebuild our economy,” said Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter.

The two-month grace period, until June 30, is for the April 27, 2020 installment with no penalties or interest charged. Insufficient funds and pre-authorized payment related fees will be waived.

Additionally, the first installment of the final residential billing scheduled for June 26, 2020 will be delayed by one month to July 24, 2020. The final commercial billing date is July 27, 2020.

New Measures to Further Protect the Health and Safety of the People of Ontario

Office of the Premier

TORONTO — To further contain the spread of COVID-19, the Ontario Government will order the mandatory closure of all non-essential workplaces effective as of Tuesday, March 24th at 11:59 p.m. This closure will be in effect for 14 days with the possibility of extending this order as the situation evolves. A full list of businesses that are permitted to stay open will be released tomorrow.

“This was a tough decision, but the right decision, as this is no time for half measures,” said Premier Doug Ford. “But I have said from day one we will, and we must, take all steps necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19. The health and safety of every Ontarian must come first. The health of you, your children, your grandparents and friends depends on all of us doing our part.”

Businesses that can continue operations with employees working remotely, or through other contingency measures, are being given approximately 36 hours to prepare and adapt. Essential services may continue their operations to maintain supply chains and ensure the people of Ontario have access to necessities, including groceries, medicines and other essential products.

A 1-800 number and website will be made available on Wednesday for any inquiries.

“Based on the advice of Dr. Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, and the experts at our Command Table, Ontario is taking further action to contain the spread of COVID-19,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “These enhanced measures are necessary to protect the health and well-being of Ontarians. Nothing is more important.”

“Our top priority must be to protect the health of the people of Ontario,” said Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance. “Slowing the spread of COVID-19 will allow the people and the businesses of Ontario to move forward from this unprecedented situation.”

“Our government is listening to our public health officials to ensure we take the right actions to support the health and safety of Ontario job creators and workers,” said Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. “We are working directly with businesses and workers across all sectors to support them in any way possible through this crisis. We urge the business community to share their innovative ideas and capabilities to fight COVID-19 through our new portal Ontario Together at www.ontario.ca/OntarioTogether.”

Additional Resources

  • Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19.

Province suspending time-of-use rates for 45 days

Office of the Premier

TORONTO – To support Ontarians through the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation, the Government of Ontario is providing immediate electricity rate relief for families, small businesses and farms paying time-of-use (TOU) rates.

For a 45-day period, the government is working to suspend time-of-use electricity rates, holding electricity prices to the off-peak rate of 10.1 cents-per-kilowatt-hour. This reduced price will be available 24 hours per day, seven days a week to all time-of-use customers, who make up the majority of electricity consumers in the province. By switching to a fixed off-peak rate, time-of-use customers will see rate reductions of over 50 per cent compared to on-peak rates.

To deliver savings as quickly and conveniently as possible, this discount will be applied automatically to electricity bills without the need for customers to fill out an application form.

“During this unprecedented time, we are providing much-needed relief to Ontarians, specifically helping those who are doing the right thing by staying home and small businesses that have closed or are seeing fewer customers,” said Premier Doug Ford. “By adopting a fixed, 24/7 off-peak rate, we are making things a little easier during these difficult times and putting more money in people’s pockets for other important priorities and necessities.”

The Government of Ontario issued an Emergency Order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act to apply the off-peak TOU electricity rate for residential, small businesses, and farm customers who currently pay TOU rates.

“Ontario is fortunate to have a strong electricity system we can rely on during these exceptional times, and our government is proud to provide additional relief to Ontarians who are doing their part to stay home,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines.

“We thank the Ontario Energy Board and our partners at local distribution companies across the province for taking quick action to make this change and provide immediate support for hardworking people of Ontario,” said Bill Walker, Associate Minister of Energy.

Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19.

Quick Facts

  • The Ontario Energy Board sets time-of-use electricity rates for residential and small business customers through the Regulated Price Plan.
  • Time-of-use prices as of November, 2019 ― Off-Peak: 10.1₵/kWh, Mid-Peak: 14.4₵/kWh, On-Peak: 20.8₵/kWh
  • Depending on billing cycles, some customers will see these changes on their next electricity bill. TOU customers whose billing cycle ended before their local distribution company implemented this change will receive the reduced rate as a credit on a future bill.
  • The Ontario Electricity Rebate (OER) will continue to provide a 31.8 per cent rebate on the sub-total bill amount for all existing Regulated Price Plan (RPP) consumers.
  • There are approximately five million residential consumers, farms and some small businesses billed using time-of-use (TOU) electricity prices under the RPP.
  • The Ontario Energy Board has extended the winter ban on disconnections to July 31st.

Office of the Premier

The province has launched a toll-free line 1-888-444-3659 to provide support to Ontario businesses who have questions about the province’s recent emergency order to close at-risk workplaces following recommendations by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.

On Monday, the province issued an emergency order to close at-risk workplaces and encourage non-essential businesses to find ways to help their employees work from home. The government also reminded businesses to put in place protocols for physical distancing and regular hand-washing in order to protect the health and safety of employees and the general public.

Businesses who have questions about closures of at-risk workplaces or how emergency measures impact their business or employment can call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659. 

Help is available from Monday to Sunday, from 8:30 a.m.―5:00 p.m.

A complete list of essential services is available on the Government of Ontario’s website.

Additional Resources

  • Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19 and how to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.

March 25, 2020 – Ottawa, Ontario – Department of Finance Canada

The Government of Canada is taking strong, immediate and effective action to protect Canadians and the economy from the impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic. No Canadian should have to choose between protecting their health, putting food on the table, paying for their medication or caring for a family member.

To support workers and help businesses keep their employees, the government has proposed legislation to establish the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). This taxable benefit would provide $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CERB would be a simpler and more accessible combination of the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit.

The CERB would cover Canadians who have lost their job, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, as well as working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures. The CERB would apply to wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI).

Additionally, workers who are still employed, but are not receiving income because of disruptions to their work situation due to COVID-19, would also qualify for the CERB. This would help businesses keep their employees as they navigate these difficult times, while ensuring they preserve the ability to quickly resume operations as soon as it becomes possible.

The EI system was not designed to process the unprecedented high volume of applications received in the past week. Given this situation, all Canadians who have ceased working due to COVID-19, whether they are EI-eligible or not, would be able to receive the CERB to ensure they have timely access to the income support they need.

Canadians who are already receiving EI regular and sickness benefits as of today would continue to receive their benefits and should not apply to the CERB. If their EI benefits end before October 3, 2020, they could apply for the CERB once their EI benefits cease, if they are unable to return to work due to COVID-19. Canadians who have already applied for EI and whose application has not yet been processed would not need to reapply. Canadians who are eligible for EI regular and sickness benefits would still be able to access their normal EI benefits, if still unemployed, after the 16-week period covered by the CERB.

The government is working to get money into the pockets of Canadians as quickly as possible. The portal for accessing the CERB would be available in early April. EI eligible Canadians who have lost their job can continue to apply for EI here, as can Canadians applying for other EI benefits.

Canadians would begin to receive their CERB payments within 10 days of application. The CERB would be paid every four weeks and be available from March 15, 2020 until October 3, 2020.

This benefit would be one part of the government’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, to support Canadian workers and businesses and help stabilize the economy by helping Canadians pay for essentials like housing and groceries, and helping businesses pay their employees and bills during this unprecedented time of global uncertainty.

“We know that people are worried about their health, their jobs and their financial situations. Our government is doing whatever it takes to protect the health and safety of Canadians, and to support workers, families and businesses. The Canada Emergency Response Benefit would make sure that money gets in the hands of workers as quickly as possible to support them in their time of need, and would help businesses keep their employees during this difficult period. Canadians can rest assured that the government stands ready to take any and all necessary actions as we continue to confront these challenging times together.”

– Bill Morneau, Minister of FinanceTweet

“Through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, the Government of Canada would be helping support those Canadians who are unable to work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is during these difficult times that Canadians should not have to choose between protecting their health and continuing to support their families. We recognize this, and are there for them.”

– Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability InclusionTweet

“The government understands that the outbreak of COVID-19 is having a significant impact on all Canadians. Through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, we would provide much-needed financial support to those who have lost their income because of COVID-19. The Canada Revenue Agency is playing an important role by getting benefit payments to Canadians quickly and efficiently.”

– Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of National Revenue

Premier Ford and Minister Phillips Announce Additional Health Care Resources and Support for People, Jobs and Employers

Ministry of Finance

TORONTO — Today, Finance Minister Rod Phillips released Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19 (March 2020 Economic and Fiscal Update).

The government’s action plan is a first step in its response to COVID-19 and includes $7 billion in additional resources for the health care system and direct support for people and jobs. It also will make available $10 billion in support for people and businesses through tax and other deferrals to improve their cash flow, protecting jobs and household budgets.

This $17 billion response is a critical first step to ensure our health care system, communities and economy are positioned to weather the challenges ahead. The plan includes historic levels of prudence, including a dedicated $1 billion COVID-19 contingency fund, as part of the additional health care investments, as well as an unprecedented $2.5 billion reserve and an increased contingency fund of $1.3 billion to provide continued flexibility to respond to changing global circumstances.

The plan includes $3.3 billion in additional health care resources to protect the health and well-being of the people of Ontario.

“As Finance Minister, my number one priority right now is ensuring that our front-line health care professionals have the resources they need to fight the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Minister Phillips. “The people of Ontario can have confidence that we will do whatever it takes to protect their health and well-being. These additional resources will enhance hospital capacity, protect our loved ones in long-term care, and support our public health officials’ work to flatten the curve and slow the spread.”

Health

  • Committing to a dedicated $1.0 billion COVID-19 contingency fund for emerging needs related to the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Investing $935 million for the hospital sector, including $594 million to accelerate progress on the government’s commitment to address capacity issues, as well as $341 million for an additional 1,000 acute care and 500 critical care beds and additional assessment centres.
  • Increasing public health funding by $160 million to support COVID-19 monitoring, surveillance, and laboratory and home testing, while also investing in virtual care and Telehealth Ontario.
  • Investing $243 million for surge capacity in the long-term care sector, as well as funding for 24/7 screening, more staffing to support infection control, and supplies and equipment to help tackle the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Investing $75 million to supply personal protective equipment and critical medical supplies to front-line staff to tackle COVID-19.

As part of the action plan, the Province also announced $3.7 billion to directly and urgently support people and to protect jobs.

“During this global pandemic, I want the people of Ontario to be focused on their health — not worrying about losing their job or how to make ends meet as they deal with unexpected additional expenses,” said Minister Phillips. “We are helping make life a little more manageable for every person in Ontario, while providing additional support to those who need it the most.”

Key initiatives in the government’s plan to strengthen its response to the COVID-19 outbreak and support people, families, workers and employers include:

People and Jobs

  • Helping families pay for the extra costs associated with school and daycare closures during the COVID-19 outbreak by providing a one-time payment of $200 per child up to 12 years of age, and $250 for those with special needs, including children enrolled in private schools.
  • Proposing to double the Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) payment for low-income seniors for six months.
  • Supporting more affordable electricity bills for eligible residential, farm and small business consumers, by providing approximately $5.6 billion for electricity cost relief programs in 2020-21, which is an increase of approximately $1.5 billion compared to the 2019 Budget plan.
  • Further supporting more affordable electricity bills by setting electricity prices for residential, farm and small business time-of-use customers at the lowest rate, known as the off-peak price, 24 hours a day for 45 days to support ratepayers in their increased daytime electricity usage as they respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, addressing concerns about time-of-use metering.
  • Cutting taxes by $355 million for about 57,000 employers through a proposed temporary increase to the Employer Health Tax (EHT) exemption.
  • Providing $9 million in direct support to families for their energy bills by expanding eligibility for the Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) and ensuring that their electricity and natural gas services are not disconnected for nonpayment during the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Providing emergency child care options to support parents working on the front lines, such as health care workers, police officers, firefighters and correctional officers.
  • Expanding access to the emergency assistance program administered by Ontario Works to provide financial support to people facing economic hardship and help more people meet basic needs such as food and rent during this public health emergency.
  • Enhancing funding by $148 million for charitable and non-profit social services organizations such as food banks, homeless shelters, churches and emergency services to improve their ability to respond to COVID-19, by providing funding directly to Consolidated Municipal Service Managers and District Social Service Administration Boards who would allocate this funding based on local needs.
  • Providing six months of Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loan and interest accrual relief for students, leaving more money in people’s pockets.
  • Helping to support regions lagging in employment growth with a proposed new Corporate Income Tax Credit, the Regional Opportunities Investment Tax Credit.
  • Providing additional supports of $26 million to Indigenous peoples and communities, including emergency assistance for urban Indigenous people in financial need, and costs for health care professionals and critical supplies to reach remote First Nations.

The government’s plan also includes measures that will make available $10 billion in support for people and businesses through tax and other deferrals to improve their cash flows over the coming months, including:

  • Making available $6 billion by providing five months of interest and penalty relief for businesses to file and make payments for the majority of provincially administered taxes.
  • Over $1.8 billion by deferring the upcoming June 30 quarterly municipal remittance of education property tax to school boards by 90 days, which will provide municipalities the flexibility to, in turn, provide property tax deferrals to residents and businesses, while ensuring school boards continue to receive their funding.
  • Making available $1.9 billion by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) allowing employers to defer payments for up to six months.

“We’re taking responsible steps to lessen the burden for businesses and people,” said Minister Phillips. “Together, these actions can free up as much as $10 billion in cash flows for businesses and people in these uncertain times, helping protect jobs and household budgets.”

Quick Facts

  • The March 2020 Economic and Fiscal Update provides planning assumptions for the year ahead. The government will provide regular updates of the Province’s fiscal and economic outlook throughout the year.
  • The Province is projecting a deficit of $9.2 billion in 2019–20, an improvement of $1.1 billion relative to the 2019 Budget. As a result of the response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the government is planning for a deficit of $20.5 billion in 2020–21.
  • Ontario’s $2.5 billion reserve in 2020–21 is the highest ever in history.
  • The government will release a multi-year provincial Budget by November 15, 2020. This responsible approach will allow the government to continue assessing the economic situation and put forward a long-term outlook based on the most recent and reliable data.

Additional Resources

In his fifth video message to the community on the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Dan Carter urges everyone to continue to do their part to reduce the spread of coronavirus by practicing physical distancing and limiting gatherings, washing their hands frequently and often, and following the recommendations of health officials.

Join Mayor Carter on Instagram Live weekdays at 5:00 p.m. “Live at Five” with Mayor Carter airs weekdays at 5:00 p.m. on the City’s Instagram account (@cityofoshawa).

Questions and stories can be shared during the Live, or emailed in advance to Mayor@oshawa.ca. Follow the City on Instagram now and turn on all notifications for Live videos to receive an alert when the Live begins.

Community members are also invited to share their stories and photos illustrating the spirit of Oshawa and acts of kindness amid COVID-19 on social media using #OurOshawa.

To view the Mayor’s video message, visit www.youtube.com/OshawaCity.

Information and City Updates

The City continues to post updates to its dedicated Coronavirus webpage. For a list of closures, changes to services, more information and F.A.Q.s, visit www.Oshawa.ca/Coronavirus.

Although our City facilities are temporarily closed to the public, City staff continue to serve the community.

Service Oshawa is available by:
Phone: 905-436-3311
Email: service@oshawa.ca
Live Chat: www.oshawa.ca/city-hall/Contact-Us
Online Services: www.oshawa.ca/online-services 

Community members concerned about their health are asked to use the Ontario COVID-19 self-assessment tool to determine if they need to seek care or refer to Lakeridge Health’s COVID-19 Assessment Clinic.

New financial measure will allow insurance premium payment deferrals for six months

TORONTO – The Ontario Government is enabling $1.9 billion in relief for employers to reduce the financial strain on business brought on by COVID-19. The measure, which will run through the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), will see premium payments deferred for six months for all businesses in the province.

“During this unprecedented period of uncertainty and hardship, our government is doing everything possible to support businesses and protect jobs,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. “By making this change today, we are building upon the substantial financial help we are providing business owners and workers. The top priority is to keep people safe.”

All employers covered by the WSIB’s workplace insurance are automatically eligible for the provisions of the relief package and can defer premium reporting and payments until August 31, 2020. They will not be required to opt in to receive this benefit.

Additionally, the WSIB will cease interest accrual on all outstanding premium payments. They will not charge penalties during this six-month deferral period. There will be no negative consequences for businesses who defer premium reporting and payments. The WSIB will continue to fully cover workers at eligible workplaces.

“We have worked closely with the Government of Ontario to help Ontario businesses as they face this unprecedented challenge,” said Elizabeth Witmer, Chair of the WSIB. “We’re here to help.”

The relief program is part of a $17 billion package included in Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19.

The government’s action plan will make available $10 billion in support for people and businesses through tax and other deferrals to improve their cash flow, protecting jobs and household budgets.

Additionally, through the WSIB, the government reduced costs to employers by a new rate framework and the elimination of the unfunded liability charge, putting more than $2 billion back into the economy.

“Our government is working day and night to provide Ontarians with certainty and support during this difficult time. This Relief Package being implemented by the WSIB will help sustain businesses, protect our economy and save jobs,” said Minister McNaughton.

The new measure builds on the government’s previous actions to support business and protect jobs.

Quick Facts

  • The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board covers over five million people in more than 300,000 workplaces across Ontario.
  • Businesses are not required to inform the WSIB that they will be taking advantage of this financial relief package.
  • The deferred premiums will amount to an average $1,760 for approximately 275,000 Ontario businesses.

Additional Resources

Whitby, Ontario, March 26, 2020 – Durham Region Health Department has received confirmation of the Region’s second and third COVID-19-related deaths. The second individual is a male in his 80s, who had a history of travel. He was hospitalized at Lakeridge Health Oshawa on March 23 and passed away on March 24. The third individual is a male in his 40s who had no history of travel. He was hospitalized at Lakeridge Health Oshawa on March 19 and passed away on March 25.

“We are truly saddened to learn of these two additional deaths in our community,” said Dr. Robert Kyle, Durham Region Medical Officer of Health. “Our sincere condolences are extended to the families of these two individuals and our thoughts are with them during this very difficult time.

“As we know, the third case had no known travel history, which indicates that community spread is occurring. We implore everyone to be especially vigilant and continue to encourage all area residents to take the practice of social and physical distancing very seriously. Please take the necessary precautions to protect yourself and others in our community. Everyone’s help is urgently needed, and we have to work together to ensure community safety.”

The Health Department continues to urge residents to take every precaution to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of the community, especially those who are most at risk. Social and physical distancing, keeping at least two metres, or six feet away from others, is one of the best ways to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including COVID-19. It is also strongly recommended that you:

·         Wash your hands often with soap and water or hand sanitizer even when hands are not visibly dirty.

·         Cough or sneeze into your sleeve or elbow and encourage others to do the same.

·         Wash your hands after handling nose and throat secretions (e.g. after throwing out used facial tissues).

·         Avoid touching your face and cleaning hands before touching eyes, nose or mouth.

·         Clean and disinfect surfaces, especially those that are high-touch areas.

·         Do not share water bottles, straws, eating utensils, cigarettes, toothbrushes, toys or anything else that has been in contact with saliva, nose or throat secretions.

·         If you are ill, stay at home and keep yourself away from others.

·         Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.

·         If you are ill and must visit a health care provider, call ahead or tell them right away when you arrive that you have a respiratory illness and wear a mask while waiting to be seen.

·         Practice physical distancing: do your best to keep at least two metres (six feet) away from others.

·         If you are able, avoid all non-essential activity as recommended and declared by the province of Ontario.

·         If you think you may have COVID-19 symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has it, first self-isolate and then use Ontario’s Self-Assessment Tool to see if you need to seek further care.

·         If you need further assistance, call TeleHealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 or your health care provider. You can also call Durham Health Connection Line at 905-668-2020 or 1-800-841-2729.

·         If you or someone you know is experiencing severe symptoms, please call 911 immediately.

Area residents are encouraged to get updated information on COVID-19 by regularly reviewing credible sources of information. A list of these sources can be found by visiting durham.ca/novelcoronavirus.

Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19

Avoiding layoffs

Extending the Work-Sharing program

We are extending the maximum duration of the Work-Sharing program from 38 weeks to 76 weeks. The Work-Sharing program is offered to workers who agree to reduce their normal working hours because of developments beyond the control of their employers.

Apply to the Work-Sharing program


Providing small business with wage subsidies

We announced an up to 75 per cent wage subsidy for qualifying businesses, for up to 3 months, retroactive to March 15, 2020. This will help businesses to keep and return workers to the payroll.

More details on eligibility criteria will start with the impact of COVID-19 on sales, and will be shared before the end of the month.

Access to credit

Establishing a Business Credit Availability Program

We established a Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) to provide $65 billion of additional support through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC).

BDC and EDC are working with private sector lenders to coordinate on credit solutions for individual businesses, including in sectors such as oil and gas, air transportation, exportation and tourism.

This program includes:

Canada Emergency Business Account

The new Canada Emergency Business Account will provide interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits, to help cover their operating costs during a period where their revenues have been temporarily reduced.

To qualify, these organizations will need to demonstrate they paid between $50,000 to $1 million in total payroll in 2019.

Loan Guarantee for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises

EDC is working with financial institutions to issue new operating credit and cash flow term loans of up to $6.25 million to SMEs.

Co-Lending Program for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises

BDC is working with financial institutions to co-lend term loans to SMEs for their operational cash flow requirements.

Eligible businesses may obtain incremental credit amounts of up to $6.25 million through the program.

These programs will roll out in the three weeks after March 27, and interested businesses should work with their current financial institutions.

Learn more about the Business Credit Availability Program

Support for farmers

Increasing credit available

We are supporting Farm Credit Canada by allowing an additional $5 billion in lending capacity to producers, agribusinesses, and food processors. This will offer increased flexibility to farmers who face cashflow issues and to processors who are impacted by lost sales, helping them remain financially strong during this difficult time.

Learn more

Supporting financial stability

Launching an Insured Mortgage Purchase Program

We launched an Insured Mortgage Purchase Program, in which we will purchase up to $150 billion of insured mortgage pools through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

This action will provide long-term stable funding to banks and mortgage lenders, help facilitate continued lending to Canadian consumers and businesses, and add liquidity to Canada’s mortgage market.

Learn more


Bank of Canada actions

The Bank of Canada is acting in several ways to support the economy and financial system and stands ready to take any and all actions that it can to protect the well-being of Canadians during this difficult time. The Bank has responded by lowering interest rates, intervening to support key financial markets and providing liquidity support for financial institutions.

Learn more


Lowering the Domestic Stability Buffer

The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions announced it is lowering the Domestic Stability Buffer by 1.25% of risk-weighted assets. This action will allow Canada’s large banks to inject $300 billion of additional lending in to the economy.

More flexibility

More time to pay income taxes

We are allowing all businesses to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after March 18 and before September 2020. This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as instalments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act.

No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period. 

Learn more


Deferral of Sales Tax Remittance and Customs Duty Payments

We will allow businesses, including self-employed individuals, to defer until June 30, 2020 payments of the Goods and Services Tax / Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST), as well as customs duties owing on their imports.

The deferral will apply to GST/HST remittances for the February, March and April 2020 reporting periods for monthly filers; the January 1, 2020 through March 31, 2020 reporting period for quarterly filers; and for annual filers, the amounts collected and owing for their previous fiscal year and instalments of GST/HST in respect of the filer’s current fiscal year.

For GST and customs duty payments for imported goods, deferral will include amounts owing for March, April and May.

These amounts were normally due to be submitted to the Canada Revenue Agency and the Canada Border Services Agency as early as the end of this month.