August 12, 2020
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August 12, 2020

Your CFA Update on COVID-19



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Higgs proposes deal to avoid general election until 2022 or end of COVID-19 pandemic

Premier Blaine Higgs has made a dramatic offer to the three opposition parties, committing to putting off a snap election and listening to their policy ideas if they agree to keep his minority government in power for another two years. Higgs released a letter Monday to the other party leaders, asking that all four of them agree to avoid forcing an early election until the scheduled date in October 2022 or until the COVID-19 pandemic is over. Higgs has been hinting for weeks that he would trigger a campaign, justifying the threat by saying the province needs stability to manage the pandemic and continue restarting the economy.

Liberal Leader Kevin Vickers welcomed the premier's offer.

Under the proposed deal, three byelections expected this fall would go ahead as planned.

Ontario's projected deficit will grow to a record $38.5 billion this year

Ontario's projected deficit will grow to a record $38.5 billion this year, as the province takes a significant financial hit from the effects of COVID-19, forcing the government to increase its pandemic rescue package to $30 billion in 2020-2021.

During the height of the pandemic provincial tax revenues dropped by $10.7 billion, largely owing to declines in personal income and corporate tax revenue, as well as lower income from the gasoline and fuel tax. Ontario’s net decline in revenue comes in at $5.7 billion, thanks to $6.2 billion in transfers from the federal government.

At the same time the province's program spending saw a dramatic $13.1 billion increase, to a total of $30 billion, which includes:

  • $2.4 billion for municipalities and transit (paired with $1.7 billion from the federal government as part of the Safe Restart agreement)
  • $1.5 billion for the temporary pandemic pay program ($1.1 billion from the federal government, $424 million from the province)
  • $610 million to purchase personal protective equipment for healthcare workers
  • $218 million for Long-Term Care, to increase capacity in the sector during the pandemic, and protection for staff
  • $176 million for to provide hydro users around-the-clock off-peak electricity prices
  • $241 million contribution for the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program for small businesses

Ontario's economy is expected to a significant hit in 2020 with Gross Domestic Product (GDP) expected to decline by 6.6 per cent, which is "the largest annual real GDP decline on record." The province also said the pace the of economic recover "cannot be predicted with certainty". One of the reasons behind a slower-than-expected recovery, the government said, is the high infection rate in the United States which could impact exports, supply chains and consumer confidence.

To help businesses deal with the extended closures the province is extending its tax deferral policy for another month, giving businesses until October 1, 2020 to pay their taxes. The government says the exemptions would apply to: Employer Health tax; Tobacco tax; Fuel tax; Gas tax; Beer, Wine and Spirits tax; Mining tax; Insurance Premium tax; International Fuel Tax and the Race Tracks tax.

Blanchet will push for election if Trudeau, Morneau, Telford won't resign

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet says he will try to trigger a fall election if the prime minister, his chief of staff and his finance minister don't resign. Blanchet said the government is not "worthy" of the public's trust in the wake of the WE Charity controversy, which was sparked by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau failing to recuse themselves from cabinet talks involving the organization despite family ties to it.

While his preference is to see the trio step down, Blanchet said he's prepared to table a motion of non-confidence in the government if they remain in their jobs. If that motion passed with the support of other parties, it would lead to an election campaign in the midst of a pandemic.

NDP MP Charlie Angus accused Blanchet of throwing a "hissy fit" and said Canadians want the opposition parties to press the government to do what's best for Canadians.

CFA Comment: The risk of the motion passing is fairly low as the Conservatives, NDP and Bloc would all have to vote together to topple the Trudeau government.

Start of B.C. school year being pushed back

The start of B.C.'s upcoming school year is being pushed back to a yet-undecided date, Education Minister Rob Fleming revealed Tuesday. Speaking to reporters from the provincial legislature, Fleming said teachers and staff will need some time on school grounds without students present to ensure they're properly implementing the pandemic guidelines put out by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

That means pushing back the previously announced start date of Sept. 8, though it's unclear exactly when classes will begin. Fleming said the details are still being worked out, but that he expects a gradual start to the school year. The province previously said most students across B.C. from kindergarten through Grade 12 would be able to resume classes after the Labour Day weekend, as they would any other year. But there was swift pushback, including from the B.C. Teachers' Federation, which argued more time was needed to address concerns around returning to work in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fleming noted that B.C.'s back-to-school plan was never finalized, and that changes were to be expected as the stakeholders in its steering committee continued ironing out the details.

The province has promised to share final details by Aug. 26.

Government of Canada Sets National Temporary Minimum Unemployment Rate For EI Benefits Calculations

As the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is set to wind down at the end of August, the federal government has temporarily adjusted the Employment Insurance (EI) program’s unemployment rate to 13.1%, which will be applied nationally (except for in areas where the actual rate is higher). This temporary measure will set a uniform eligibility requirement for EI regular benefits, provide a minimum entitlement of 26 weeks of benefits and set the number of best weeks of earnings used in the calculation of the weekly benefit rate at 14.

More Information

Transport Canada says if you can't wear a mask for medical reasons, prove it

Non-medical masks have been required for air travellers in Canada since mid-April to prevent the spread of COVID-19. A ministerial order issued Friday closes a loophole that may have made it easier for some flyers to avoid face coverings. 

There are medical reasons that could make wearing a mask difficult, from certain lung conditions to anxiety disorders. Passengers who are unable to wear a face mask due to a medical condition must now present an official doctor's note stating that they are exempt from the rule, or they will be denied boarding. 

Travellers who want to fly without a mask, they must provide a medical note that:

  • has been issued by a medical professional.
  • is on official letterhead.
  • is dated.
  • clearly states the passenger's name and that they have a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask.

Since April 20, it's been mandatory for air travellers to cover their mouth and nose during airport screenings while boarding and at all times during a flight, unless while eating, drinking or taking oral medication. Infants are not required to wear masks. 

Webinar Series On Demand


Back to Basics: What Covid-19 has taught us about employment essentials


Speakers: Matthew Badrov and Allyson Lee, Sherrard Kuzz LLP

Covid-19 brought about a significant amount of change for Canadian employers that had to be dealt with in very short period of time. In this webinar, experts Matthew Badrov and Allyson Lee from Sherrard Kuzz gives practical advice on what you need to consider in best practices in management your employment related risks.






Feedback from our Members

“My husband, Jim and I would like to thank everyone at the CFA who has worked so hard and tirelessly to provide us with updated information on the Covid-19 crisis, for the webinars, lobbying for change and for all of the support you provide to members on a regular basis. We are sincerely grateful. To everyone at the CFA, take care and stay healthy.”

 - Nadine Cartman, CEO, Chicken Delight of Canada Ltd

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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