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May 11, 2021

Your CFA Update on COVID-19

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Call for Co-Chairs for the 2021 CFA Virtual Franchise Law Day

The CFA invites Canada-based franchise lawyers and in-house counsel to submit an expression of interest to Co-Chair the upcoming CFA Virtual Franchise Law Day scheduled for September 23, 2021.

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Canada's economy lost 207,000 jobs in April

Canada's economy lost 207,000 jobs in April, as a new round of government-ordered lockdowns forced businesses to lay off workers. Statistics Canada reported Friday that 129,000 full-time jobs were lost, along with an additional 78,000 part-time positions.

The jobless rate ticked up to 8.1 per cent from 7.5 per cent a month earlier.

While economists were expecting jobs to be lost in the month, the figure came in worse than the 175,000 losses expected. Half of the job losses were young workers, those between 15 and 24 years old. Most of the job losses were in hard-hit sectors that employ a lot of young people: retail, food services and information, culture and recreation.

Almost all the job losses were concentrated in Ontario and British Columbia, two provinces that implemented strict coronavirus control measures to try to keep a lid on rising COVID-19 numbers. Ontario lost 153,000 jobs and the jobless rate rose to nine per cent. B.C., meanwhile, lost 43,000, while the jobless rate held steady at 7.1 per cent.

Saskatchewan and New Brunswick added a small number of jobs, and in every other province the job market was basically flat.

COVID-19 Rapid Screening Initiative: Free Rapid Tests Available for Small-and Medium-Sized Businesses (SMEs) under 150 employees

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Ontario and Canadian governments launched the COVID-19 Rapid Screening Initiative. Through this initiative, participating chambers of commerce and boards of trade will be distributing free rapid tests for small-and-medium-sized businesses across Ontario. 

The goal of the program is to identify asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 in the workplace that might otherwise be missed, helping to curb the spread in the workplace, at home, and around the community.

Over 760,000 rapid tests will be going out to communities across Ontario with 28 of our chambers already participating in rolling this program out.

To order rapid tests for SMES in your community, click here to see which chambers and boards of trade are participating in the program.

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! 

Manitoba launches COVID-19 paid sick leave program, offers up to 5 days off

On Friday, Manitoba announced it has created a new paid sick leave program for employees who have to miss work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will provide employers with up to $600 per employee for up to five full days of sick leave related to COVID-19, and the days do not have to be taken consecutively.

The eligible sick leave related to COVID-19 includes testing, vaccinations and side effects, self-isolation due to COVID-19 symptoms, or caring for a loved one in any of the above circumstances.

Employers who currently provide paid sick leave to their employees are not eligible, while private-sector, non-profit and charitable employers can qualify for assistance. Workers who live in Manitoba and are paid on a full-time or part-time basis are eligible.

The program eligibility begins today and will run until at least Sept. 25. Applications will be available here shortly. 

B.C. to give workers 3 paid days off for absences related to COVID-19

Today the BC government announced a new paid sick leave program that will support workers to stay home when they are sick during the pandemic along with a permanent paid sick leave program after the pandemic.

COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Program

The program will apply to part- and full-time workers who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, who need time off to self-isolate or who are waiting for a test result. Employers will be required to pay workers their full wages. For employers without an existing sick-leave program, the government has promised to reimburse up to $200 per day for each absent worker.

The short-term paid sick leave related to COVID-19 will bridge the gap for workers between when they first feel sick and when they can access the federal Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit. B.C.’s COVID-19 paid sick leave will continue to protect workers longer - to Dec. 31, 2021.

To support this leave, WorkSafeBC will set up and, beginning next month, administer the employer reimbursement program on behalf of the Province. For employers that have a highly paid workforce, but do not already have paid sick leave, those employers will be required to cover any remaining wages owed above $200 for each COVID-19 sick day taken.

The program will be in effect from the date the legislation passes in the legislature until Dec. 31. By that time, Bains said, "the pandemic should be behind us."

Permanent Paid Sick Leave Program

The legislation will also create a permanent paid sick leave for workers who cannot work due to any illness or injury beginning Jan. 1, 2022. The number of paid sick days and other supports will be determined following consultations with the business community, labour organizations, Indigenous partners and other stakeholders.

Manitoba proposes three hours of paid leave for COVID-19 vaccination

Manitoba's finance minister tabled legislation Tuesday that would ensure workers don't lose wages if they need to get vaccinated for COVID-19 during a shift. The change will be done through an amendment to the Employment Standards Code that would require employers to give all employees up to three hours of paid leave to get vaccinated during work hours. The leave would apply to a person's first- and second-dose appointments.

The paid leave would cover a worker's regular wage rate. For people whose wage varies, such as those paid on commission, the paid leave would be their average wage according to the news release.

Employers could require workers to give "reasonable verification" of needing the paid leave, but they will not need a doctor's note. The paid leave caps out at three hours. Anyone who needs more travel time for a vaccination appointment, or who suffers from side-effects after receiving the shot, could take a longer unpaid leave, the release says.

Manitoba extends grants for businesses

Another round of bridge grants is being made available to businesses and organizations impacted by COVID-19 and the latest restrictions that have shut down or severely curtailed many operations.

This is the fourth round of payments worth up to $5,000 to help small and medium-sized businesses, not-for-profits, charities and home-based businesses, as the third wave of the pandemic sweeps through the province.

The total financial support available in the fourth round is $71 million. That brings the total of the four rounds so far to $286 million.

Eligible businesses that received prior bridge grant payments will automatically receive a fourth payment of up to $5,000 beginning as early as Friday and will be notified of the deposit via email, the province said in a news release.

Restaurant Top Up

Premier Pallister also announced a $2,000 top-up for restaurants in addition to the $5,000 bridge grant to help cover the costs of food waste, employee wages, maintenance and insurance. Approximately 1,800 restaurants will qualify for the top-up, which the province expects to total about $3.6 million.

An additional $2 million is also being provided to the dine-in restaurant relief program to help restaurants shift their operations toward a delivery model. A rebate will help offset costs related to delivery services, whether a restaurant provides its own delivery service or uses a third-party delivery company.

Alberta and Ontario pausing AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

Ontario will be pausing the rollout and administration of first doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine, effective Tuesday, due to concerns over rare but serious blood clots. Dr. David Williams, Ontario's chief medical officer of health, made the announcement at a news conference on Tuesday. He said the decision was made out of an abundance of caution because of increased instances of vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT).

Alberta Health says the province has stopped administering first doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine in favour of other brands because supply of the vaccine is expected to become scarce. Alberta's existing supply of AstraZeneca will be used as second doses, the provincial health department confirmed on Tuesday. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, said it's unclear when Alberta will get additional shipments of AstraZeneca, and that lack of supply prompted provincial health officials to alter the immunization strategy.

The remaining supply of AstraZeneca will also be reserved for people who have a medical condition that makes them ineligible for messenger RNA vaccines, also known as mRNA vaccines, which are produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. 

Across Canada at least 12 cases of VITT have been confirmed out of more than two million doses given. Three women have died in connection with the condition. Ontario said it has 49,280 doses of the shot remaining in the province out of more than 707,000 received.

What if I’ve already received a shot of AstraZeneca?

Ontario is preparing guidance for people who already received a first dose of AstraZeneca on what to do next, Williams said. He stressed that AstraZeneca recipients made the right decision, based on the advice available at the time, to get that vaccine.

What happens when people get two different COVID-19 vaccines?

Ontario's plan to overhaul Blue Box program stalls

Ontario's plan to make product producers responsible for the province's recycling program appears to have hit a snag. After announcing the overhaul nearly two years ago, stakeholders are still waiting for the final version of rules that will govern both what Ontarians can throw in their recycling bins — and who will pay to take care of it. 

The plan is to move from a system where product producers and municipalities roughly split the cost of recycling programs to something called extended producer responsibility (EPR.) With EPR, producers take on the full financial and operational responsibility for where the packaging they sell to Ontarians ends up.

A draft of the legislation was released this past fall, with the province's environment minister telling municipal officials the final regulation would be ready in mid-February. It has yet to be revealed. Officials with the Ministry of the Environment said work on that changeover is continuing, but gave no firm timeline for the release of the final version. 

"The ministry is working on finalizing the Blue Box Regulation and continues to consider all stakeholders' feedback to ensure the Blue Box Program is affordable for consumers and producers, and right for municipalities and Indigenous communities," it said in an emailed statement. 

Some issues of concern are

  • the plan to expand the materials allowed in Ontario recycling bins. 
  • the inability of the province's recycling infrastructure to process the kind of waste Ontarians are producing. 

Vaccine passport could be required for going to work, restaurants, Quebec's economy minister

Businesses in Quebec should be able to use vaccine passports to make their workplaces safer for staff and clients, Quebec's economy minister said, offering a first glimpse of how the controversial system might work in the province.

Starting Thursday, Quebec will begin issuing digital proof, in the form of a QR code, to people who have received a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. A QR, or quick response, code is a barcode that can be scanned using a cellphone app to get a link, or a piece of information. 

Health Minister Christian Dubé has insisted that the QR code, which will supplement the paper document already being distributed, is not itself a vaccine passport. But he has said the digital code is a necessary technological step the province would need to take first before implementing a vaccine passport system.

In a recent interview with Radio-Canada, Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon said the QR code, or an eventual passport, would be an important tool allowing businesses to resume normal operations.

Quebec business group urges roll out vaccine passport in time for summer

The federation of Quebec chambers of commerce said in a statement Tuesday that it is urging the Quebec government to "rapidly" implement a vaccine passport system to regulate who can get into restaurants, stores and events. The group says that restricting some businesses to clients and staff who have been vaccinated would allow them to reopen earlier.

"Proof of vaccination would make it easier to reopen restaurant dining rooms and hold events that would greatly help the tourism sector with summertime approaching," said the statement by the the federation, which represents around 50,000 businesses in Quebec.

It is also pitching the passport system as a way to revive downtown cores around the province by allowing workers to head back to the office and fans to attend sporting events.

Business Recovery Summits On-Demand Videos Now Available for Purchase!

Session recordings from the Business Recovery Summit Series are now available for purchase! Choose from the Franchisee Recovery Summit, Franchise Recruitment Summit, Operations & Franchisee Support Summit, and Franchise Marketing Summit! View On-Demand Library

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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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