September 15, 2020
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September 15, 2020

Your CFA Update on COVID-19

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New Brunswick Progressive Conservatives win majority

New Brunswick's Progressive Conservatives won re-election Monday night with a majority government for Premier Blaine Higgs, who last month called a snap election, the first provincial vote to be held during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The PCs were elected in 27 ridings, two more than the 25 needed for a majority. The victory ends a streak of four consecutive single-term governments. 

The Liberals, under first-time leader Kevin Vickers, were elected in 17 ridings, four fewer seats than 2018. Vickers lost his first run at a seat, losing to People's Alliance candidate Michelle Conroy, who took the riding of Miramichi in the last election. 

Green Leader David Coon was re-elected in Fredericton South, and the party maintained its three seats in the legislature. Kevin Arseneau held Kent North and Megan Mitton retained Memramcook-Tantramar. However, the party couldn't muster the gains it sought during the campaign. Coon said the party was confident it could double the size of its caucus.

Federal Cabinet retreat wraps up

Over the past two days, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his ministers gather for a two-day retreat, where they fleshed out plans for a Sept. 23 throne speech. Media reports suggest that the throne speech will , which will include three priorities:

1. Health measures needed to avoid another lockdown

2. Economic aid needed as the pandemic continues; and

3. Long-term measures needed to rebuild the economy.

The PM will be speaking with NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh later this week about the NDPs priorities for the throne speech. No word on whether or not the PM will be speaking with new Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole or BQ Leader Yves-François Blanchet.

Canada Employment Insurance Commission sets 2021 Employment Insurance Premium Rate and Maximum Insurable Earnings

The Canada Employment Insurance Commission (CEIC) today set the 2021 Employment Insurance (EI) premium rate at $1.58 per $100 of insurable earnings for employees and $2.21 for employers who pay 1.4 times the employee rate, which is unchanged from the 2020 premium rate.

Each year on or before September 14, the CEIC is responsible for setting the annual premium rate based on the seven-year break-even rate forecasted by the EI Senior Actuary. The Senior Actuary forecasted the seven-year break-even premium rate to be $1.93 per $100 of insurable earnings, an increase of 35 cents. The forecasted increase is mainly attributable to a rise in unemployment resulting from the pandemic, that is the Government of Canada’s response through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (29 cents) and temporary measures to support transition back to the EI program (6 cents).

The CEIC also announced that the Maximum Insurable Earnings (MIE) for 2021 will increase to $56,300 from $54,200 in 2020. The MIE is indexed on an annual basis and represents the ceiling up to which EI premiums are collected and the maximum amount considered in applications for EI benefits. The maximum annual EI contribution for a worker will increase by $33.18 to $889.54 (up $46.46 for employers to $1,245.36 per employee).

Self-employed Canadians who have opted-in to the EI program, the annual earnings required in 2020 will increase to $7,555 for claims filed in 2021. The level of earnings required for self-employed Canadians to be eligible for EI special benefits is indexed annually to the MIE.

The premium rate in 2021 for residents of Quebec covered under the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP) will be $1.18 per $100 of insurable earnings, while their employers will pay $1.65 per $100 of insurable earnings. The maximum annual contribution for a worker in Quebec will increase by $13.94 to $664.34 (up $19.52 for employers to $930.08 per employee). EI premium rates are different for residents of Quebec, because the province of Quebec administers its own parental insurance plan, which is financed by Quebec workers and their employers.

Summary of the Actuarial Report on the Employment Insurance Premium Rate

Quebec: Legault calls situation 'critical' as province increases alert level in 4 regions

Quebec has a seven-day moving average of 28 cases per million inhabitants, far surpassing the 20 cases per million public health had set as a threshold last month.

Legault announced that four regions classified as green under Quebec's colour-coded alert system — Montreal, the Montérégie, Lower Saint-Lawrence and Chaudière-Appalaches — were moved up to the yellow level under the province's regional alert system.

Quebec City, the Eastern Townships, the Outaouais region and Laval are already designated as yellow.

Several regions, including Quebec City and the Lower Saint-Lawrence regions, are being watched closely, and could move to the orange — or "moderate alert" — level next week, sources told Radio-Canada.

Health Minister Christian Dubé said that would mean new restrictions, including the possible closure of bars and reducing the number of people allowed at private gatherings from 10 to six. For now, though, Dubé limited the new restrictions to the closure of kitchen service at bars after midnight.

People will also now be required to wear masks in private seniors homes.

A region's alert level is based on three criteria: the epidemiological situation, the rate of transmission and the capacity of the region's health-care system.

Defying mask rules in Quebec will now be punished with fines up to $6,000

Quebecers who do not comply with public health guidelines amid the COVID-19 pandemic -- particularly, those who don't wear masks inside public places and on public transit -- will now be subject to fines up to $6,000.

The measure came into effect on Saturday, but Premier Francois Legault made the announcement at a press conference in Quebec City on Thursday morning alongside Health Minister Christian Dube and the province's director of public health, Dr. Horacio Arruda. The decree specifies that masks must be adjusted properly so the nose and mouth are both covered.

Poll: 90 per cent of respondents supported keeping the border closed to Americans

A new poll by pollster Research Co. found that out of 1,000 Canadians surveyed online at the end of August, a whopping 90 per cent agreed with the current Canada-U.S. border closure to non-essential traffic. 

The Canada-U.S. border closure to non-essential traffic expires on Sept. 21. While American travellers — with the exception of some immediate family members — are barred from entering Canada, the U.S. still allows Canadians to fly to the country.

Both Ontario mayors predict the Canadian government will announce this week that it will extend the border closure for at least another 30 days. 

U.S. decision to drop aluminum duties

A statement from the U.S. Trade Representative's (USTR) said that after consultations with the Canadian government, the U.S. has determined that trade is expected to "normalize" in the last four months of the year, declining after "surges" experienced earlier in the year. "Accordingly, the United States will modify the terms of the 10 per cent tariff imposed in August on imports of Canadian non-alloyed unwrought aluminum," the statement reads.

The USTR's statement lays out shipment volumes for each of those four months, which will be monitored to ensure they aren't exceeded. If they do, the U.S. expects that imports would decline by a corresponding amount the following month.

The tariffs could be re-imposed if shipment volumes exceed 105 per cent of the stated volumes, the USTR said. "The United States will consult with the Canadian government at the end of the year to review the state of the aluminum trade in light of trade patterns during the four-month period and expected market conditions in 2021," the statement reads.

The Canadian government has welcomed the move. The government had said during the summer that unless the U.S. dropped its latest round of aluminum tariffs, Canada would impose $3.6 billion in counter-measures.

US – Return of Joint Employer in New York

Last week, the Southern District of New York invalidated the US Department of Labor’s (DOL) new joint employer rule. As you may recall, this rule was a significant milestone in IFA’s work to advance a thoughtful, narrow, and clear joint employer standard that supports franchise business owners, brands, and workers.

Franchisors and franchisees alike may have questions on how this decision can affect their operations. Pending an appeal of the decision, franchises could potentially again be bound by the harmful expanded joint employer standard that existed prior to the DOL’s new rule and four-factor test. IFA recommends that businesses consider contacting their legal counsel for any specific questions.

The CFA will keep members posted on the IFA’s next steps.

Webinar Series On Demand


Impact of COVID-19 on Banks & Lenders: Now how do you approach the bank

SPEAKERS: Paul daSilva, RBC; Joseph Pisani, BMO Bank of Montreal; Tom de Larzac, HSBC Bank Canada; and, Mohammed Jehangir, CIBC

In this webinar, learn how COVID-19 has impacted how Canadian banks are looking at business loans and what additional information they need. What programs and services have banks introduced to serve SMEs and how can they be accessed? What is the impact of the pandemic on  a bank's risk tolerances? Have banks changed how they will lend and for what they will lend? Are loan losses as government support programs taper off expected to tighten loan approval requirements? How do I take advantage of changes in the marketplace? How do i grow my franchise?


CFA’s Business Recovery Summit Series

Stay up-to-date with the latest news and developments with Canada’s financial institutions at CFA’s Business Recovery Summit Series throughout the month of October, where today’s speakers will present updates on financing and lending. Stay tuned for more information!


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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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