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November 10, 2020

Your CFA Update on COVID-19

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Toronto to extend prohibition on indoor dining at bars and restaurants, order continued closure of casinos and meeting spaces

Indoor dining will not resume at Toronto bars and restaurants this weekend as planned and a number of other businesses, including meeting spaces, movie theatres and casinos, will be ordered to remain closed amid the recent rise in COVID-19 cases.

The additional restrictions were announced by Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa during a briefing at city hall on Tuesday afternoon.

She said that as of 12:01 a.m. on Saturday the city will formally be moved into the “red” zone in the province’s tiered framework but will face a number of additional restrictions that she is issuing under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act.

Those restrictions include the prohibition of all indoor dining at bars and restaurants as well as all indoor group fitness and exercise classes for at least the next 28 days.

Gyms that have been shuttered since last month will be allowed to reopen but will be required to adhere to a capacity limit of 10 people or less, as per the restrictions outlined by the province for red zones.

Movie theatres, meanwhile, will be required to remain closed as they are not permitted to operate in red zones.

Premier Doug Ford announced last week that Toronto would be moved into the orange level in the province’s tiered framework as of Nov. 14, allowing most businesses to reopen and indoor dining to resume with additional restrictions.

Alberta – Improving Workplace Safety Laws

A new bill introduced by the Alberta government would reinstate a cap on maximum earnings used to calculate worker's compensation benefits, and end a requirement for an organization to reinstate an injured worker. 

Bill 47, the Ensuring Safety and Cutting Red Tape Act, is the latest legislation proposed by the government that would roll back workplace safety measures and changes to workers' compensation board rules implemented by the previous NDP government. 

Labour and Immigration Minister Jason Copping said measures in the bill are required to reinstate "balance" to the Workers' Compensation Board system and manage costs. 

The bill would end the mandatory requirement for employers to reinstate injured workers with more than 12 months of service, which was legislated by the previous government.

The previous NDP government ended the insurable earnings cap in 2017. Bill 47 would reinstate that cap to either 90 per cent of a worker's net earnings at the time of the injury or a maximum that would be set by the WCB using a formula. 

The bill proposes to close the independent Fair Practices Office and Medical Panels Office set up by the NDP to help injured workers make their way through the WCB system.

If the bill is passed, only first responders such as firefighters, police officers, corrections officers and paramedics would get presumptive coverage under WCB for injuries related to trauma. The previous government extended that coverage to all workers. 

Copping said the changes were required to make WCB more sustainable. 

Sask. Premier Scott Moe announces significant cabinet shuffle

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe announced a significant shuffle to the provincial cabinet on Monday. This is Moe's first major cabinet shake-up since becoming party leader in January 2018 with changes in health, education, justice and social services.

The most relevant for CFA members are

  • Donna Harpauer becomes Deputy Premier and retains the Finance portfolio
  • Jeremy Harrison remains Minister of Trade and Export Development and Minister of Immigration and Career Training while adding responsibility as Minister Responsible for Innovation Saskatchewan and Minister Responsible for Tourism Saskatchewan.
  • Don Morgan becomes Minister of Crown Investments Corporation and becomes Minister responsible for all major crown corporations, including SaskEnergy, SGI, SaskPower, SaskTel, SaskGaming and SaskWater.  Morgan remains Minister of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety and Minister Responsible for the Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board.
  • Jim Reiter becomes Minister Responsible for Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority. 
  • Warren Kaeding becomes Minister of Environment.

Manitoba: Social gatherings banned, non-critical businesses closed as province moves to red alert level

Widespread shutdowns are coming as Manitoba's premier and top doctor order the entire province into the red, or critical, level of the provincial pandemic response plan. Among the "short, sharp set of restrictions" is a ban on social gatherings of any kind starting Thursday, and that could last into December

Non-essential retail stores, gyms, movie theatres, salons and churches will close. All recreational facilities and sports activities will be shut down and non-essential travel is discouraged. Schools and child-care centres will remain open because, despite hundreds of cases, there have been only a small number of confirmed transmission events or outbreaks in the K-12 system.

Retail stores considered critical may remain open at 25 per cent capacity, while non-essential stores will only be able to function on a pick-up or delivery basis.

The orders don't affect regulated health professions such as massage therapy, physiotherapy and the dentist.

Supports for businesses

To help the Manitoba government the Manitoba bridge grant, which will provide $5,000 before Christmas to businesses that apply, with the possibility of another $5,000 in the New Year if necessary,

He announced changes to a provincial gap funding initiative, which he said 10,000 small businesses that didn't qualify for the federal wage support previously received.

That program is changing from a conditional loan to a grant that employers will not have to pay back.

Red-zone restrictions to continue in Quebec

Quebec Premier  François Legault has ruled out the possibility of lifting red-zone restrictions early, with two weeks remaining in the second 28-day partial lockdown.

Legault said Tuesday the spread of the virus is particularly concerning in certain regions, including Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Lanaudière, Mauricie-Centre-du-Québec and the Gaspé.

P.E.I.'s minimum wage increasing to $13 in 2021

Prince Edward Island's minimum wage will increase to $13 per hour on April 1, 2021. This marks an increase of 15 cents, up from $12.85. The increase announced Tuesday is lower than the increase announced at the same time last year, which was a 60-cent increase.

Conference Board: Canada’s Two-Year Outlook Summary

Canada’s economy bounced back in recent months following the economic plunge sparked by the COVID-19-related shutdown in March and April. At its trough in April, real GDP was at 82 per cent of February’s (pre-COVID) level, 3 million Canadians were out of work (a 15.6 per cent decline in employment), and total hours worked had plummeted a staggering 28 per cent.

As health restrictions began being lifted in May, the rebound set in. Statistics Canada estimates that July’s economic activity was at 94 per cent of February levels, and by August, 1.9 million jobs had been recovered. Still, a gaping chasm remains to be closed before Canada’s economy is back to normal.

While economic activity is fully restored in some sectors, many will not see a return to normal until a vaccine is available to the wider public, both in Canada and globally. And for some industries, difficulties will persist beyond that and the business environment might never fully return to normal.

The arrival of colder weather, coupled with a rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, is expected to continue to disrupt Canada’s recovery. The health measures and testing currently in place should prevent another full shutdown of economic activity, but we do expect localized or regional shutdowns to continue to flatten the path of recovery.

We assume that a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus is found and widely available to Canadians by June 2021, after which most domestic-driven industries will recover. Globally, a vaccine is unlikely until the fall of 2021. This will keep international travel suppressed, further hurting industries like air travel, accommodations, and arts and culture.

A flattened recovery means that businesses and households will continue to rely on extraordinary monetary and fiscal measures put in place since the start of the crisis. The Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy was adjusted in August to support businesses that have lost varying amounts of revenue. Though set to expire by the end of this year, we assume it will be extended through to the second quarter of 2021.

Households have benefited from the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, which is set to be replaced by an updated employment insurance system and the Canada Recovery Benefit. These programs will help boost real household disposable income by a record 9 per cent this year, despite the recession and massive loss in labour income.

Unable or unwilling to spend in the second quarter of this year, households let their balance sheets swell, as the aggregate household savings rate jumped to over 28 per cent. Spending has since rebounded, helping to bring retail sales back to more normal levels over the summer. But consumers remain worried about future job prospects and the resurgence in COVID-19 cases, suggesting that the pace of recovery will slow in coming quarters.

Global real GDP will decline by 4.7 per cent this year, crushed by the downturn in the second quarter. Assuming that a second wave of the virus doesn’t derail the global economy, we expect a rebound next year. The U.S. recovery depends crucially on Congress and the president agreeing to additional stimulus measures to keep the economy on track over the next few months. Canadian exports have rebounded, but continued progress is tied to the U.S. and global recoveries.

Business investment has underperformed in recent years, and the COVID-19 crisis will take a further bite out of investment this year as firms delay any major investment decisions. One notable exception is the LNG Canada project, a multi-year, multi-billion-dollar project that will propel investment in British Columbia over the next few years.

Amid the carnage in Canada’s consumption, investment, and trade sectors, the housing sector has provided a ray of hope for the economy. Canada’s existing housing markets have largely recovered from spring lockdowns. The bounceback has been aided by ultra-low interest rates and strong job growth, combined with generous helpings of support from government and financial institutions. However, slowing economic momentum and weaker government support will soften housing markets early next year.

Federal and provincial governments face extraordinary deficits in fiscal 2020–21 and will add substantially to debt over the next two years. Luckily, interest rates in both Canada and the United States are expected to remain near zero, helping federal and provincial governments manage their debt-financing costs.

Overall, real GDP is forecast to shrink by 6.6 per cent in 2020. Still, that’s an improvement over our summer outlook, which called for an 8.2 per cent decline this year. Solid gains in 2021 and 2022 will not suffice to bring Canada’s economy back to full potential.

CASSELS: Updates to the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy Program

On November 2, 2020, the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy program was introduced as part of Bill C-9, An Act to Amend the Income Tax Act (Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy and Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy) for first reading before the House of Commons. The purpose of Bill C-9 would be to implement new, targeted support to help businesses that have experienced reduced revenues and increased costs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.



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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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