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May 13, 2021

Your CFA Update on COVID-19

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Quebec announces changes to the language laws – could impact franchised businesses

The Quebec government has tabled a bill that seeks to change the Canadian Constitution to include a specific clause reiterating the Quebec nation's French-language rights. The sweeping new bill that, if passed, would become the most stringent law to bolster the status of the French language in Quebec since Bill 101 passed in 1977.

Much of the 100-page bill is targeted at bolstering the use of French in public and workplaces after a series of studies by Quebec's French-language watchdog, the OQLF, found that French in Quebec is in decline. 

The bill, called Bill 96, includes the following proposed measures:

  • Applying Bill 101 to businesses with 25-49 employees and federal workplaces. Under Bill 101, adopted in 1977, companies with more than 50 employees have to have a francization program and show that French is the language of business in their establishment. That will be expanded to included smaller businesses under the Bill 96.
  • Forcing all commercial signage that includes non-French-language trademarks to include a "predominant" amount of French on all signs.
  • Adding clauses to the Canadian Constitution, saying Quebec is a nation and that its official and common language is French.
  • Capping the number of students in English CEGEPs at 17.5 per cent of the student population. Quebec's Minister Responsible for the French Language Simon Jolin-Barrette says anglophones will be given admission priority for English CEGEPs.
  • Giving access to French language training for those who aren't obligated by law to go to school in French.
  • Removing a municipality's bilingual status if census data shows that English is the first language for less than 50 per cent of its population, unless the municipality decides to maintain its status by passing a resolution to keep it.
  • Creating a French Language Ministry and the position of French-language commissioner, as well as bolstering the role of the French-language watchdog, the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF). 
  • Provincially appointed judges will not be required to be bilingual.
  • Requiring that all provincial communication with immigrants is in French, starting six months after they arrive in Quebec.

The new bill pre-emptively invokes the notwithstanding clause of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to protect it from legal challenges.

Impact on franchised businesses

Franchised businesses may be affected by the provisions in bold above which could require signage changes and the change in the business size threshold. Under Bill 101, adopted in 1977, companies with more than 50 employees have to have a francization program and show that French is the language of business in their establishment. The reduction in the threshold to businesses with more than 25 employees will mean more franchisors and franchisees will be subject to Bill 101s francization requirements.

Bank of Canada sees increasing dollar as an economic headwind

The Bank of Canada is closely monitoring recent gains in the nation’s currency, to ensure the appreciation doesn’t create headwinds for the nation’s economic outlook, according to the central bank’s head.

At a press conference Thursday, Governor Tiff Macklem said the recent appreciation reflects in part higher commodity prices, which are good for the nation’s economy. Still, a continuation of the gains could begin to pose a risk to the central bank’s most recent forecasts released last month, which assumed an exchange rate of US$0.8 per Canadian dollar.

The Canadian dollar is up 4.9 per cent so far this year, the best performing major currency. It weakened after Macklem’s comments, falling to $1.2179 per U.S. dollar, or US$0.8211 per Canadian dollar at 1:12 p.m. in Toronto trading.

“If it moves a lot further that could have a material impact on our outlook and it’s something we’d have to take into account in our setting of monetary policy,” Macklem said Wednesday. “If the dollar were to continue to move — particularly if its not reflecting good developments for Canada — that could become more of a headwind on our export projection.”

Greyhound shutting down all bus service in Canada

Greyhound Canada is shutting down all of its remaining bus routes in Canada, permanently as of midnight Thursday.

Ontario and Quebec routes had been pause due to COVID-19. Greyhound shut down operations in Western Canada in 2018. 

Greyhound's U.S. parent will continue to operate five cross-border routes that either start or finish in the U.S. They are:

  • Toronto to Buffalo, N.Y.
  • Toronto to New York City.
  • Montreal to Boston.
  • Montreal to New York City.
  • Vancouver to Seattle.

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! 

Ontario extends Stay at Home Order to June 2

Ontario's stay-at-home will remain in place until "at least" June 2, Premier Doug Ford announced Thursday.

Ford said the province should be able to lift restrictions on outdoor recreation by that date, with more details on reopening plans to follow in the days and weeks after that.

B.C. moves to refuse driver's licence renewals for those who don't pay COVID fines

New legislation introduced Tuesday could see people with unpaid fines have their efforts to obtain or renew a driver's or vehicle licence blocked by ICBC. If passed, the Motor Vehicle Act will be changed to trigger an RTI or "refuse to issue" restriction to people with outstanding fines levied under the Emergency Program Act and COVID-19 Related Measures Act. RTIs will be applied retroactively to unpaid fines, and notice will be served through ICBC ahead of a licence expiry or renewal date.

In March, B.C. more than doubled the base fine for COVID order non-compliance, boosting it from $230 to $575. The fine for hosting or organizing a prohibited event is $2,300.

Drivers can appeal an RTI decision through the superintendent of motor vehicles.

The change is set to come into effect July 1.

Alberta: Medical exemption letter now required for those who don't wear masks in public

Alberta is clarifying rules for people who don't wear masks in public places because of medical conditions, the province's chief medical officer of health said Thursday.

"Effective today, in order to verify that someone has a medical condition that makes them unable to wear a mask, Albertans with these conditions will require a medical exception letter from a health professional," Dr. Deena Hinshaw told a news conference. "This letter is important to have, especially if requested by enforcement officials for not complying with the legal requirement to wear a mask in indoor public spaces." 

The list of health conditions includes people with sensory processing disorders, developmental delay, cognitive impairment, some mental illnesses, facial trauma or recent surgery, contact dermatitis or allergic reactions to mask materials, and clinically significant respiratory distress.

The letter must come from a physician, a nurse practitioner or a psychologist, Hinshaw said. She said Alberta's new approach is modelled on rules in use in Manitoba and Quebec.

Alberta: Helping local businesses access COVID-19 testing

Alberta is offering rapid antigen testing kits to all chambers of commerce provincewide to help identify pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic cases. Local chambers will work with all businesses and not-for-profit organizations in their communities. A chamber membership is not required.

Participating businesses or organizations are responsible for ensuring that anyone administering the test is adequately trained. To assist with this, Alberta has made training resources available online.

Businesses will need to report back to their local chamber weekly about the number of tests performed and how many had a positive result and how many were confirmed by PCR testing. This information will be shared with Alberta Health.

Nova Scotia: New travel application process in effect Friday

A new travel application process for people trying to enter Nova Scotia comes into effect Friday at 8 a.m. The application process is required for anyone entering the province. No one can enter until their application is reviewed and approved.

People can apply through the province's already-established Nova Scotia Safe Check-In form online.

Anyone who had already completed the check-in form and received approval does not need to reapply, as long as they are travelling on or before May 19.

Starting May 20, only approvals through the new process will be accepted. Only applications for permanent residents and people travelling for essential reasons will be considered.

People should apply about a week before they intend to travel, and applications will be reviewed within three business days. Applications for child-custody arrangements and exempt travellers, such as military members, first responders and people accessing essential health care, will be approved automatically.

The province announced further border restrictions on May 7, barring any non-essential travel from outside the province, including residents from Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador who had previously been allowed to enter. The border also closed to anyone moving to Nova Scotia. Those measures, came into effect on May 10,


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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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