Federal Government Announces New Emergency Measures To Assist Workers and Businesses in Wake of COVID-19 Pandemic

On March 18, 2020, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced emergency measures to assist businesses and workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. This comes in addition to previously announced measures which include a credit fund accessible to businesses in order to assist them in their continued operations and a waiver of the one week waiting period to obtain COVID-19-related employment insurance.

What does this mean for Workers?

The Government of Canada enacted the Emergency Care Benefit to assists workers who are required to stay home as a result of self-isolation, caring for a loved one, or parents who are affected from the on-going school closures. The benefit applies to workers, including the self-employers, who do not have access to paid sick leave and are not eligible to receive employment insurance sickness benefits. Regardless of whether they qualify for employment insurance, parents who are unable to earn an income due to taking care of or supervising children during school closures are also eligible. Eligible persons will be provided up to nine-hundred dollars ($900) bi-weekly for up to fifteen (15) weeks.

The Government also enacted the Emergency Support Benefit to provide long-term income support to unemployed workers without access to employment insurance.

What is the impact on Businesses?

For businesses facing financial hardship due to the pandemic, the newly taken measures offer a ten-percent (10%) subsidy of employee wages of up to $1,375 per employee and $25,000.00 per employer to assist businesses in curtailing some of these financial hardships. This measure will hopefully provide options for businesses beyond relying on layoffs to deal with the ensuing economic slowdown, and should help preserve a greater number of employees’ jobs.

Along with the immediate benefit of reduced businesses’ remittances of income tax withheld on employees’ compensation, businesses will also be given the ability to defer income tax payments until after August 31, 2020 without the accumulation of interest or penalties. These benefits are complement the anticipated general economic support for employers, such as new tax credits and additional subsidies through the Business Development Bank of Canada.

Restricted Travel

The Government of Canada has announced that the border between Canada and the United States will be closing to all but essential travel, the definition of which is yet to be determined. Such a travel ban will have a serious impact on some businesses and some employees’ ability to work. Although the governments of both countries have said they do not wish to obstruct trade and commerce, self-isolation and quarantine measures will likely become stricter in the weeks to come.

Employers and employees should continue to check in with employment lawyers as to their changing rights and obligations during this difficult time.

Contact Us

The federal government’s new emergency measures are expected to be implemented in the very near future. If you are an employee or an employer who wants to learn more about your rights, options, and available support mechanisms under the federal government’s new COVID-19 emergency measures, our team of experienced legal professional at Achkar Law can help. Contact us by phone toll-free at  1-(800) 771-7882, or email us at [email protected] and we would be happy to assist.

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Disclaimer: This blog is not intended to serve as, or should be construed as legal advice, and is only to provide general information. It is in no way particular to your case and should not be relied on in any way. No portion or use of this blog will establish a lawyer-client relationship with the author or any related party. Should you require legal advice for your particular situation, fill out the contact form, call 1-(800)771-7882, or email [email protected].