April 14, 2020 COVID-19 Update

As the COVID-19 situation in Canada and around the world continues to develop rapidly, we are providing our thirteenth update to employers. Below is an important update on the passage of legislation enabling the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy through the federal Parliament, as well as updated details about Alberta COVID-19 testing and continuing care facilities. We will continue to provide information as it becomes available and we remain available to you to answer any specific questions you may have.
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Legislation Passed
On Saturday, April 11, 2020, Parliament passed Bill C-14, the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act, No. 2. The legislation amends the Income Tax Act to create the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy ("CEWS"), announced by the federal government on March 27, 2020. 
As previously announced, the CEWS provides eligible employers 75% of an employee's wages (up to a maximum of $847 per week per employee) for up to 12 weeks, retroactive to March 15, 2020. Eligible employers include individuals, taxable corporations, and partnerships consisting of eligible employers, non-profit organizations and registered charities. Public bodies are not eligible for the CEWS. 
New from the initial announcement, the government has determined that eligible employers that see a drop of 15% of their revenue in March will be eligible, compared to minimum revenue decreases of 30% for the following months. Additionally, employers will be able to opt to use either the corresponding month from 2019 or the average revenues from January and February, 2020 to determine loss of revenue. For questions about calculating revenues, we suggest you speak with your accountant. Alternately, we would be happy to refer you to appropriate expertise. 
Employers are expected, where possible, to make efforts to top-up the remaining portion of employees' wages. 
Also new from the initial announcement, the government has also included a 100% refund of some employer-paid contributions to EI, CPP, and where applicable, QPP and QPPIP. This refund is designed to cover 100% of employer-paid contributions for eligible employees for each week of the CEWS-eligible period that the employees are on leave with pay. This means that for businesses whose operations have been severely impacted or completely shuttered as a result of COVID-19, employers may be eligible for a refund of employer contributions. Employers will continue to be required to remit these payments, but can apply for a refund at the same time as they apply for the CEWS. 
Employers will be able to apply for the CEWS through the Canada Revenue Agency's My Business Account online portal. Applications are not yet open, but we expect applications to open in the coming weeks. It is not yet clear how long it will be until employers receive payments through the CEWS, or when employers with significantly reduced revenues can comfortably recall laid-off workers through the CEWS program. 
Alberta Expansion of COVID-19 Testing Eligibility
Yesterday, Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, announced that the eligibility criteria for COVID-19 testing has been expanded to include all Albertans who are symptomatic. As a reminder, this includes fever, cough, shortness of breath, runny nose or sore throat. This is a sweeping expansion of testing eligibility, and employers may wish to share this information with their workforce. 
New Rules for Alberta Continuing Care Facilities
Effective Wednesday, April 15, 2020, health care workers providing direct patient care or working in patient care areas are required to wear surgical/procedure masks at all times and in all areas of the workplace when they are either involved in direct patient contact or cannot maintain a physical distance of 2 meters from the patient and co-workers. The Chief Medical Office of Health continues to urge the judicial use of all PPE supplies to conserve supplies and ensure availability.
Also, and in a significant change that reflects changing policies in other Canadian jurisdictions, effective April 23, 2020, workers employed by the operators of health care facilities will only be allowed to work at one health care facility location. This rule applies to those sites that are designated as health care facilities. This requirement may be implemented as of April 16, 2020 but not before. For more information on how this change may impact your worksite, do not hesitate to contact us. We are working with many employers in this field to react and comply with these changes.
We will continue to provide you with updated information as it becomes available.  As always, do not hesitate to contact us if you have specific questions about your workplace.

The information in this update is intended as general information and should not relied on as legal advice.