Daily COVID-19 Update: April 7, 2020
Supports for Business
Changes to Employment Standards
The Government of Alberta is allowing greater flexibility for employers to appropriately respond to public health measures and at the same time allow employees to remain attached to jobs and have the ability to access federal assistance programs. The changes will:
- Provide employees access to unpaid job-protected leave if they are caring for children affected by school and daycare closures or ill or self-isolated family members due to COVID-19.
- Increase the maximum time for a temporary layoff from 60 days to 120 days.
- Remove the 24-hour written notice requirement for shift changes and the two weeks’ notice for changes to work schedules for those under an averaging agreement.
- Remove the requirement to provide the group termination notice to employees and unions when 50 or more employees are being terminated.
- Streamline the process for approvals related to modifying employment standards.
The changes above take effect immediately and will be in place as long as government determines it is needed and the public health emergency order remains.
Supports for Individuals
Emergency Isolation Support closure
The Government of Alberta's Emergency Isolation Support program is now closed. The purpose of the program was to bridge the short period until the Government of Canada announced its own support program. The Government of Canada’s new Canada Emergency Response Benefit is available and accepting applications. Payments for eligible applicants are retroactive to March 15.
Community Supports and Resources
New Visitor Restrictions in All Continuing Care Facilities
The Chief Medical Officer of Health is ordering a province wide ban on visitors to long-term care centres, licensed group homes and other facilities as part of the ongoing work to limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect Albertans. Under an amended public health order, no visitors will be allowed unless a resident is dying or the visitor is essential for delivering care that cannot be delivered by staff. Read more.
Provincial MLAs Called Back to Legislature
Government House Leader Jason Nixon has called Alberta MLAs back to the legislature to debate important legislation related to the COVID-19 pandemic and supporting vulnerable Albertans. Members will consider several pieces of legislation on issues ranging from municipal emergency preparedness to providing increased support to survivors of human trafficking.
Emergency Management Act Amended
Government is taking immediate action to address the need to provide greater clarity and improved coordination between local and provincial response efforts by amending the Emergency Management Act.
Proposed amendments to the Emergency Management Act include:
- Allowing states of local emergency to last for 90 days.
- Providing clear language that it is an offence to be non-compliant with orders made under states of local or provincial emergency.
- Clarifying that the minister has the power to modify a state of emergency without terminating it.
- Clarifying that a provincially declared state of emergency can be for a pandemic in general, and not just for pandemic influenza.
The Emergency Management Act was amended on March 20 to allow local and provincial states of emergency to exist at the same time, helping communities and the province effectively respond to disasters. Prior to the amendment, a provincial state of emergency nullified a local state of emergency, taking some powers away from local officials. Read more.
Prime Minister Announces Domestic Production of Medical Supplies
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced further progress under Canada’s Plan to Mobilize Industry to fight COVID 19 that will help provide vital, made in Canada protective gear and medical equipment to respond to the outbreak.
The Government of Canada is building a secure, domestic supply of needed items to protect frontline health workers as they fight this global pandemic. Nearly 5,000 Canadian companies have offered their expertise and capacity as we work together on projects that include:
- Purchasing made-in-Canada ventilators from Thornhill Medical, CAE, Ventilators for Canadians, and StarFish Medical and other manufacturing partners, including Linamar, through an accelerated process. The Government of Canada is working with these companies to produce up to 30,000 ventilators. These purchases will help secure increased domestic capacity in producing these life-saving machines.
- Working with one of Canada’s Nobel Prize-winning researchers, Dr. Art McDonald, who is leading a team of scientists at national laboratories TRIUMF, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, and SNOLAB to develop an easy-to-produce ventilator using off-the-shelf, easily accessible parts. The goal is to develop a ventilator model to meet current needs that can be constructed quickly and reliably in Canada.
- Using innovative alternative materials, which have been authorized through Health Canada’s expedited regulatory process, to augment the supply of medical gowns. Stanfield’s Limited will use a fabric developed by Intertape Polymer Group to supply protective medical gowns. The Government of Canada has signed a purchase order with Stanfield’s, which will use its Canadian manufacturing platform to fulfill the order. The government has also signed a letter of intent to support AutoLiv as it works to repurpose material traditionally used for air bags to provide additional fabric for medical gowns. Using these alternative materials will significantly increase the number of medical gowns that can be made in Canada.
- Establishing and securing new supply chains to produce medical gowns from new Canadian sources. The Government of Canada has signed letters of intent with a total of 22 apparel manufacturers, including Arc’teryx and Canada Goose, to produce needed medical gowns for Canadian health care workers using newly-sourced Canadian material.
- Purchasing and producing masks to protect our health care workers. The Government of Canada has placed orders for millions of surgical masks from various companies, including Medicom, Surgo Surgical Supply, and Breathe Medical. The government is also supporting Medicom’s work to increase its capacity to produce tens of millions more surgical and N95 masks per year right here in Canada.
- Purchasing hand sanitizer from Canadian companies, including Fluid Energy Group Ltd. and Irving Oil. The Government of Canada is also supporting the Hand Sanitizer Manufacturing Exchange established by Cosmetics Alliance Canada, the Canadian Consumer Specialty Products Association, and Spirits Canada. In addition, the government is working to increase hand sanitizer supply by matchmaking companies, and by identifying and guiding new producers through the licencing and procurement process. In the last three weeks, Health Canada has expedited the authorization of more than 400 new hand sanitizer products to help limit the spread of COVID 19.
Complementary to these domestic efforts, the Government of Canada is also working through over 22,000 submissions to Public Services and Procurement Canada from companies interested or able to sell to Canada. All efforts are being made to secure contracts and deliveries as quickly as possible.
Alberta Chamber of Commerce
The Alberta Chambers of Commerce wrote to the provincial Government last week to express the concerns that given the critical need for economic recovery, we strongly urged the Alberta government to address concerns with the current legislation in the context of an unforeseen pandemic, particularly as it pertained to the notice prescribed and how it would fit within the “unforeseeable circumstance” exception described in the Employment Standards Code, as well as the 60-day temporary layoff period and the fact that this timeframe was too short in the context of COVID-19. Read the letter here.
Healthy at home
Albertans are encouraged to stay healthy at home by maintaining their physical and mental health during COVID-19. Tips and ideas are available from a variety of online sources, including Active for Life. Post your wellness activities by using the hashtag #HealthyAtHomeAB.
Canada Life has compiled a guide of effective mental health strategies for the workplace. Included in the guide are resources to help you and your employees build resilience and plan for stressful situations.
The Government of Canada has also prepared information to help you take care of your mental health during this COVID-19 outbreak.
Please share your stories with us, send us your questions or connect with us online.
"The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members." – Coretta Scott King
For more resources visit our COVID-19 page
On Demand Webinars
YXH Business Support (Recorded Facebook Live): Amy Zuk, F&S Safety Buzz, “Alberta Occupational Health & Safety Impacts in our Workplace During COVID-19”. Watch Now.
The Importance of Human Resources & Being Strategic When Your Business is Being Temporarily Impacted. Watch Now.
How to cope with the impacts of COVID-19 on your business. Watch Now.
Destination Canada: The Visitor Economy: Watch Now.
Rent Relief in a World of the Coronavirus: Watch Now.
Webinars Series from the Calgary Chamber of Commerce. Watch Now.
Webinar Series from the Conference Board of Canada, Mental Health and COVID-19. Watch Now.
For the CPHR Alberta Webinar Series: HR Pandemic Essentials, click here.
For the Conference Board of Canada Webinar Series, Mental Health and COVID-19, click here.
April 8: COVID-19 Gov't Support for Business Owners. Register here.
April 8: Human Resource Planning. Register here.
April 8: A conversation with the Honourable Melanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages. Register here. Register here.
April 9: Restructuring and turning around. Register here.
April 13: Business Development in Trying Times. Register here.
April 7, 2020: Preparing Your Startup for the Impact of COVID-19. Register here.
April 13: Business Development in Trying Times. Register here.
April 16: Self Care 101 for Entrepreneurs webinar. Register here.
April 22: Communication and Conflict Management for Business Families. Register here.
Constant Contact Webinar Series: View the line up of sessions and register.