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October 28, 2021

Your CFA Update on COVID-19

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Ontario moving to ban non-compete clauses in employment contracts

Earlier this week Ontario introduced their pro-worker legislation on Monday. Working for Workers Act, 2021, which would ban the use of non-compete clauses in employment contracts.

The Bill will amend the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000 to prohibit the use of non-competition covenants in an agreement between employees and employers. These are covenants that would otherwise prohibit an employee from engaging in any business, work, occupation, profession, project or other activity that is in competition with the employer’s business after the cessation of the employment relationship between the employer and employee. According to the government’s news release, if the Bill is passed, Ontario would be the first jurisdiction in Canada to ban non-compete agreements in employment.

Non-solicitation covenants (i.e., provisions that generally seek to prevent employees from actively soliciting or pursuing customers/clients and/or other employees during employment and for a defined period post-employment) are not impacted by the Bill and would therefore still be permissible. Covenants protecting an employer’s confidential information and intellectual property would also continue to be permitted.

An exception to the non-compete prohibition would be in the context of a sale or lease of a business. If, as part of a sale/lease of a business or part of a business, (a) the purchaser and seller enter into an agreement that prohibits the seller from engaging in activity that is in competition with the purchaser’s business after the sale, and (b) the seller becomes an employee of the purchaser immediately following the sale/lease, then the prohibition against non-competition clauses will not apply.

For the text of the Bill 27 click here

The proposed change is outlined in Part XV.1 of the Act 

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Bank of Canada ends QE; moves up timeline for rate hike

The Bank of Canada ended its bond-buying stimulus program and accelerated the potential timing of future interest rate increases amid worries that supply disruptions are driving up inflation. 

In a statement on Wednesday, policy makers led by Governor Tiff Macklem announced they would stop growing holdings of Canadian government bonds, ending a quantitative easing program that has poured hundreds of billions into the financial system since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

They also signaled they could be ready to hike borrowing costs as early as April, as supply constraints limit the economy’s ability to grow without fueling inflation.

The Canadian dollar soared and bonds were hit hard. The loonie jumped to $1.2321 per U.S. dollar as of 10:39 a.m., up more than 0.5 per cent. Two-year benchmark yields rose about 20 basis points to 1.065 per cent

Macklem maintained his pledge not to raise the benchmark overnight policy rate until the recovery is complete, but officials now believe that will happen in the “middle quarters” of 2022, rather than the second half of next year as previously thought.

The language will reinforce market expectations the Bank of Canada is poised to quickly pivot to a tightening cycle amid growing price pressures. Investors are anticipating the Canadian central bank will start raising interest rates within the next six months, with markets pricing in four rate hikes next year.

“Shortages of manufacturing inputs, transportation bottlenecks, and difficulties in matching jobs to workers are limiting the economy’s productive capacity,” policy makers said in the statement. “Although the impact and persistence of these supply factors are hard to quantify, the output gap is likely to be narrower than the bank had forecast.”
 

REINVESTMENT PHASE

The Bank of Canada released details of how it will implement the “reinvestment phase” of bond purchases in a market notice. It said it would maintain keep its total stock of government of Canada bonds roughly constant, reducing its purchases in the primary and secondary markets. 

Most recently, weekly bond purchases had been $2 billion. Macklem is scheduled to provide more insight into his policy decision at an 11 a.m. press conference.

The Bank of Canada has been using two major tools to keep borrowing costs low: maintaining its policy interest rate near zero and buying up Canadian government bonds from investors to keep longer-term borrowing costs in check.

Click here for the Monetary Policy Report – October 2021

Ontario won't include COVID-19 on list of mandatory immunizations, top doctor confirms

Ontario will not require students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend school and will not add the vaccine to its list of mandatory immunizations, which includes illnesses like polio and measles, the province's top doctor says. 

The vaccine will not be integrated into the Immunization of School Pupils Act "at present," Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore said at a news conference Thursday.

N.B.  expands COVID-19 circuit breaker across Zone 2

Premier Blaine Higgs announced the circuit breaker will be expanded to include much of the Saint John region, as of Friday at 6 p.m., for two weeks.

The circuit breaker in Zones 1, 3 and 4, which was scheduled to end Friday, will be extended for at least seven days, said Higgs.

The expanded and extended circuit breakers "may feel like a setback," he said, but it's a "cautionary move" to ensure cases and hospitalizations "don't get away from us."

The circuit breaker, which already included Havelock in Zone 2, will now also cover New River Beach and Lepreau to the west of the zone, north to the communities of Clarendon and Welsford, east to the community of Head of Millstream and including all communities in Saint John and Kings counties.

The areas affected by the extension include Zone 1, Moncton region, as far north as and including Sainte-Anne-de-Kent; the northern portion of Zone 3 from and including Deerville and Florenceville-Bristol, but excluding Hayesville and Parker Ridge, as well as all of Zone 4, the Edmundston region.

The Campbellton region, Zone 5, is also under a two-week circuit breaker, scheduled to end next Friday.

People who live in these areas must not have gatherings at private homes inside or outside with anyone who does not live at that home, with a few exceptions.

Click here to read more

Ontario PSW pay bump extended to March

The province also said Thursday it is extending a temporary wage increase for more than 150,000 publicly funded personal support workers until the end of March.

The boost of between two and three dollars an hour was introduced last October, and was due to expire at the end of the month.

The province brought in the raise in an effort to attract new employees and retain existing ones during the COVID-19 pandemic. The province said the extension will cost $373 million.

Eligible workers in home and community care and long-term care have had their wages boosted by $3, as have people providing personal and direct support for children, community and social services.

Personal support workers in hospitals have a temporary $2 per hour raise.

Sask. throne speech highlights addictions supports, investment growth and expansion of policing

Lt.-Gov. Russell Mirasty delivered the Saskatchewan government's speech on Wednesday afternoon. The speech featured plans to expand policing and increase support for people dealing with addictions, but no new initiatives to deal with the pandemic's fourth wave.

The speech was very thin when it comes to supporting businesses. The government said it will continue to encourage and attract new investment to the province by:

  • Enhancing the Saskatchewan Value-Added Agriculture Incentive;
  • Providing financing to Indigenous businesses through a new Saskatchewan Indigenous Investment Finance Corporation; and
  • Launching a new Sustainable Saskatchewan brand that will promote the high quality and environmental sustainability of products produced in Saskatchewan.

Click here to learn more about the Saskatchewan Throne Speech

2021 Diversity Disclosure Practices – Diversity and leadership at Canadian public companies

Canadian public company boards continue to add more women directors at a steady pace. Women now hold approximately 23.4% of board seats among TSX-listed companies disclosing the number of women on their boards, an increase of almost 2 percentage points over last year, according to our 2021 Diversity Disclosure Practices report. Members of visible minorities also made some small inroads onto Canadian boards, as approximately 6.8% of board positions of Canadian Business Corporations Act (CBCA) corporations are held by visible minorities, compared to 5.5% last year.

When it comes to Aboriginal peoples and persons with disabilities, the results are more disappointing. Among the more than 2,200 board positions of the 316 CBCA companies that provided disclosure, there were only 8 positions held by Aboriginal peoples (compared to 7 last year). Based on the disclosure provided, the number of director positions held by persons with disabilities also remained exceptionally rare, at only 9 positions (up from 6 last year).

Osler’s seventh annual comprehensive report on diversity disclosure practices covers disclosure by TSX-listed companies and CBCA corporations subject to disclosure requirements. We analyze year-over-year trends across various industries, spotlighting success stories as well as areas of opportunity. The report also highlights some examples of excellence in disclosure.

Read the 2021 Diversity Disclosure Practices report

B.C. Premier John Horgan to have biopsy surgery after discovering growth on throat

B.C. Premier John Horgan has announced he will undergo biopsy surgery on Friday after discovering a lump on his throat several months ago.

The premier spoke about his health at an impromptu news conference on Thursday. He said he's been told his condition is treatable and that he is not stepping down as premier.

The premier said he has appointed Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth as deputy premier as a precaution, in the event he needs help with his duties. 

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COVID-19's impact on the world is creating waves across all sectors and industries.

Every member of the CFA community is dealing with an issue that is affecting the world, our industries, our communities, our businesses, and our people.

We would like to hear from you if you have any topics, issues or questions to navigate turbulent times in order to support you further: 

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