Federal Government announces response to COVID-19 global pandemic

On March 11, 2020, the Federal Government announced it was pulling out all the stops and is launching a $1 billion response fund to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak which has now been deemed by the World Health Organization to be a global pandemic.

The federal government announcement includes, among other things:

  • Waiving the one week waiting period for Employment Insurance sickness benefits for workers in quarantine or who have been directed to self-isolate so that they can immediately receive EI benefits. Such sick leave benefits likely do not cover workers who have voluntarily chosen to self-isolate and are not ill or do not have a legitimate reason to be self-quarantined. Guidance on when to quarantine should be taken from the BC Centre for Disease Control local public health office or Health Link (call 811).
  • Introducing enhancements to the Work Sharing program to help support employers who have suffered a downturn in business by doubling the work-share time from 38 to 76 weeks.
  • Increased funding to the Public Health Agency of Canada to support purchases of personal protective equipment such as surgical masks, face shields and isolation gowns to support provinces, territories and federal needs.
  • Increased funding to provinces and territories to support critical health care system needs and mitigation efforts so that financial concerns are not a barrier to health system preparedness.
  • Support federal public health measures including increased testing and ongoing support for preparedness in First Nations and Inuit communities.
  • Increasing investment in federal lending agencies such as the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada and providing flexible arrangements for businesses needing to make payments to the Canada Revenue Agency to aid business affected by the downturn in business.

Note to our Readers: Information regarding COVID-19 is rapidly evolving. We are working to bring you up-to-date articles as the legal issues develop and to keep our previous posts updated. Given that the legal issues related to COVID-19 are constantly changing, if you are looking for legal advice or are dealing with an issue in relation to COVID-19, please contact your Harris lawyer or a member of our COVID-19 response team: Sari Wiens, Ilan BurkesNicole Toye or Jessica Fairbairn.

To read our most recent articles and other updates on COVID-19, visit our COVID-19 Updates page.