March 26, 2020 COVID-19 Update

Yesterday, the Federal and Saskatchewan governments made important COVID-19-related announcements that will impact employers and employees. We set out a summary of these changes as follows in our ninth COVID-19 update. 


Saskatchewan Expands Workplace Closures to All Non-Essential Businesses


The Saskatchewan government has announced, effective today, Thursday March 26, 2020, the closure of all workplaces deemed non-essential. A list of the businesses that may remain open is set out here:


The government also announced all public gatherings in Saskatchewan will be limited to 10 people, down from a previous limit of 25 people.


We will provide more updates when further information is released.


Employee Access to Emergency Funds


The Federal government established the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). This benefit provides $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CERB is designed to assist workers, whether eligible for Employment Insurance or not, who have lost their job, have been laid off, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19. It also assists working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures. The CERB applies to wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance. 


The CERB replaces the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit, which we detailed in our fifth update. It is expected the portal for accessing the CERB will be available in early April. CERB payments are expected to be made within 10 days of application. They will be payable every four weeks and available from March 15, 2020 until October 3, 2020.


It is unclear how the CERB may affect current or planned Supplemental Unemployment Benefits and Work Share programs. Neuman Thompson intends to address these and other issues arising from the legislation in a future update. More information about the CERB may be accessed here:


The new, federal legislation also amends the Income Tax Act to provide eligible employers with a wage subsidy for the period between March 18, 2020 and June 19, 2020. It also amends the Canada Labour Code (applicable only to employers and employees in federally regulated industries such as: interprovincial transportation,  grain handling, banking, and telecommunications) to allow for medical leaves and leaves for Compassionate Care and Critical Illness without the need for the employee to provide a certificate from a health care practitioner. It also provides federally governed employees with up to 16 weeks of job protected leave related to quarantine. For those employees, pension, health and disability benefits and seniority continue to accumulate during the leave.


Please look to future updates for a more detailed summary of the new legislation, which may be accessed here:




It remains the case these are unprecedented and challenging times, both for employers and employees. We remain prepared to apply our decades of cumulative expertise to help navigate this fast-moving environment and to ensure businesses meet the challenge of today while preparing for tomorrow.


Do not hesitate to contact our team 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.