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April 29, 2021

Your CFA Update on COVID-19

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Ontario introduces paid sick leave program

On Wednesday, the Ontario government has announced a plan to provide three (3) paid sick days. The program will run from April 19 to September 25, 2021. The sick days would not need to be taken consecutively and no sick note is required.

The Ontario COVID-19 Worker Protection Benefit Program will require employers to pay up to $200 per day for workers who are sick, have symptoms, have a mental health issue or need to be vaccinated.

Employers can claim reimbursement for paid leave provided

Eligible employers can apply for a reimbursement of up to $200 per employee day taken, from the Ontario government. If the employee’s regular rate of pay is less than $200 day, the employer will only be eligible for a reimbursement of the employee’s regular rate of pay.

Eligible employers would need to make their application for reimbursement within 120 days of the paid leave. Sources indicate that the program will be administered through the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board

For more information on the Ontario COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit

B.C. guarantees workers 3 hours paid leave for COVID-19 vaccine appointments

Workers in B.C. are now guaranteed three hours of paid leave to receive each dose of their COVID-19 vaccine. The update to B.C's Employment Standards Act applies to full- and part-time workers and is retroactive to April 19, 2021.

A statement from the province said the legislation is an improvement on the change announced in early April, which provided unpaid job-protected leave for workers to take the time they need to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

"This unpaid leave remains in place to supplement the new paid time off, for example, to accompany dependant family members to get vaccinated or in the event a worker needs more than three hours of paid leave to travel to their vaccine appointment," read the statement.

Alberta adopts new 'targeted' public health restrictions

Alberta will adopt new "targeted" public-health measures. "Effective tomorrow, we are implementing targeted public-health measures for hot spots across the province," Kenney said at a news conference. "These are communities or regions where there are more than 350 active cases per 100,000 people and that have a floor of at least 250 total active cases.

The list of targets includes Fort McMurray, Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer, Grande Prairie, Airdrie and Lethbridge, along with Strathcona County, Kenney said.

All junior and senior high schools to at-home learning in these communities starting Monday

Indoor fitness and indoor sports will be shut down effective Friday. The mandatory restrictions will remain in effect for a minimum of two weeks, Kenney said.

"After two weeks, communities will go back to the provincial measures, currently Step 1, as soon as they dip below the 350 case rate per 100,000," the premier said.

The CFA's 2021 Annual Accomplishments Report is available now

Focusing on each of the four pillars of the CFA’s strategic plan, this report outlines our Association accomplishments over the past year, including many exciting “firsts,” in the key areas of community, education, advocacy, and lead generation. Read it here! 

Retail sales up 4.8% in February, boosted by car dealers, gas stations

Canadian retail sales climbed in February, boosted by sales at new car dealerships, gas stations and clothing stores, but economists cautioned the pandemic's third wave will again dent sales.

Statistics Canada said Wednesday that retail sales rose 4.8 per cent to $55.1 billion in February, while core retail sales — which exclude gas stations and motor vehicle and parts dealers — climbed 3.8 per cent in February, the first increase in three months. It also said that its preliminary estimate for March suggested a gain of 2.3 per cent for the month, but cautioned the figure would be revised.

Statistics Canada said sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers rose five per cent in February, boosted by a 5.6 per cent increase at new car dealers and a 9.2 per cent increase at automotive parts, accessories and tire stores.

Boosting core retail sales was a 6.1 per cent gain at general merchandise stores.

Sales at clothing and clothing accessories stores also rose 23.7 per cent, the first gain for the category since September 2020, as clothing store sales rose 20.8 per cent, shoe store sales added 43.1 per cent and the jewelry, luggage and leather goods subcategory climbed 25.4 per cent.

Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores saw a 23.5 per cent increase in sales for the month, while furniture and home furnishings stores gained 18 per cent.

In volume terms, overall retail sales rose 4.3 per cent in February.

Ontario to expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all adults by end of May

Ontario plans to substantially expand eligibility for COVID-19 vaccines in May, officials said Thursday, with shipments to the province expected to ramp up in the coming weeks. The revised outlook, based only on scheduled deliveries of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, breaks down like this:

  • Week of April 26: All Ontario adults age 55 and up; those 45 years old and up in hot-spot communities; and licensed child-care workers.
  • Week of May 3: Ontario adults over the age of 50; adults age 18 and up in hot-spot communities; those with health conditions deemed "high risk"; and some people who cannot work from home.
  • Week of May 10: Ontario adults over the age of 40; those with health conditions deemed "at risk"; and more individuals who cannot work from home.
  • Week of May 17: Ontario adults over the age of 30. 
  • Week of May 24: Ontario adults over the age of 18. 

Ontario fiscal watchdog says insolvencies actually dropped last year, despite pandemic

The Ontario Financial Accountability Office (FAO) said insolvencies in the province dropped by 24 per cent last year despite the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The decline is unusual for a recessionary period and is due to a combination of  factors.

The FAO says high levels of government aid, low interest rates and lender payment deferrals all helped keep businesses and households from declaring bankruptcy.

The report notes that insolvencies did jump in a number of sectors including educational services; information, culture and recreation; and real estate.

The watchdog says insolvencies could increase over the medium term because of ongoing economic challenges presented by the pandemic and the pace of withdrawal of government support.

Ontario reported the third-smallest rate of decline of total insolvencies in 2020, behind Alberta and Manitoba.

Quebec is making COVID-19 vaccines available to the general population

Starting Friday, Quebecers in their 50s can begin making appointments to receive a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and soon after, the rest of the adult population will be able to do so as well. All adults in the province will soon be able to book an appointment at a vaccine clinic through Clic Santé, the province's online portal, in the coming days and weeks.

Vaccines had previously been reserved for priority groups more vulnerable to the virus. With 2.5 million vaccine doses scheduled to arrive by the end of May, Quebec is now in a position to dramatically increase its vaccination rate. Appointment slots will be available (the schedule is based on age, not year of birth):

  • April 30 - age 50 to 59.
  • May 3 - age 45 to 49.
  • May 5 - age 40 to 44.
  • May 7 - age 35 to 39.
  • May 10 - age 30 to 34.
  • May 12 - age 25 to 29.
  • May 14 - age 18 to 24.

In this next phase of the vaccination campaign, businesses and pharmacies will be called on to play a supporting role, alongside the large clinics that have been set up in such places as the Olympic Stadium and the Palais des congrès.

Provincial officials also said they were exploring extending the opening hours of vaccine clinics, especially on weekends, and they expect to announce a drive-thru clinic project next week.

Atlantic bubble on hold

The four Atlantic premiers say they are deferring conversations about reforming the Atlantic bubble, according to a joint news release sent Wednesday evening. The release said the Council of Atlantic Premiers met by teleconference to discuss the outbreaks underway within the region.

"Premiers agreed that recent outbreaks of COVID-19, accelerated by emerging variants of concern, have made it necessary to maintain restrictions on non-essential travel within the Atlantic region. Premiers will revisit the re-opening of the Atlantic Travel Bubble when the threat of further outbreaks has been reduced, based on advice from the region's Chief Medical Officers of Health."

The provincial leaders had initially planned to open the bubble on April 19, and then pushed that date to May 3 based on regional case numbers. As case numbers are significant which lead the Premier’s to put the talk of the bubble on hold.

Nova Scotia opens up AstraZeneca vaccinations to people aged 40-54

Nova Scotia has announced it is opening up appointments for the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine to people aged 40 to 54 later this week. Premier Iain Rankin said at a briefing that the plan is to open up AstraZeneca-Oxford appointments across the province for the 40-54 age group by Friday. It is currently available to people between 55 and 64 years old.

Extending the opening hours of vaccine clinics, especially on weekends, and they expect to announce a drive-thru clinic project next week.

Alberta making rapids testing easier and less expensive

Businesses and service providers that want to access free rapid tests from the Government of Alberta will no longer need to have a health-care provider oversee their screening program. This means organizations will be able to participate in the rapid testing program completely independently and without the burden of finding and paying for a health-care provider. This change will also free up health-care professional capacity at a time when it is most needed.

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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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