News Article

Industry Update - Coronavirus / COVID-19

March 11, 2020

 

Over the last few weeks you've know doubt heard about the spread of the Coronavirus / COVID-19. We wanted to let our members know of how this pandemic can affect their business, what steps they should be taking and to provide them with a few resources.

What is Coronavirus

Coronavirus, or COVID-19, is a highly-communicable disease that poses the biggest threat to those who are aged 65 and over, those with compromised immune systems or those with underlying medical conditions.

While as of March 11 so far there have only been 93 confirmed cases of Coronavirus in Canada (and none in Manitoba), this could change rapidly, and it's important to remain vigilant to avoid spreading the disease. *Update - the first presumptive case came to Manitoba on March 12*

The Government of Canada is constantly updating this page with information, precautionary measure to take, and statistics on the disease you may find valuable.

How can it affect my business?

Health organizations and the government are suggesting that anyone who has potentially come in contact with someone who is infected with the Coronavirus (likely through travel) should self-quarantine for a period of 14 days. This could lead to employees requiring to work from home during this period of time if possible, or needing time off from work altogether.

Our friends at TDS Law have provided a resource outlining what employers need to know both from a legal standpoint as well as some steps you can take to prepare.

What's the government doing about it?

Earlier today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $1 billion in federal money in response to the disease. 

The measures include:

  • Waiving the one-week waiting period for employment insurance to assist workers and businesses affected by the disease
  • $50 million for Public Health Agency of Canada's COVID-19 communications and public education efforts.
  • $500 million to provinces and territories for critical health care system needs and to support mitigation efforts, including access to testing, equipment and to enhance surveillance and monitoring. 
  • Enhancing Canada's Work-Sharing program to support employers and their employees who experience a downturn due to COVID-19, doubling the length of time can use Work-Share from 38 to 76 weeks.
  • $100 million to support federal public health measures such as enhanced surveillance, increased testing at the National Microbiology Laboratory
  • Additional $50 million to help vulnerable countries prepare for and respond to the virus, supporting efforts of the World Health Organization and other partners.

We highlighted two of the measures above we think are most relevant for our members from a business point-of-view. For more information of the Work-Sharing program, click here.

The pandemic has also caused quite the disturbance in markets around the world, and could very well affect work in Canada and Manitoba. The government has plans to provide financing to businesses through Crown lending agencies, like the Business Development Bank of Canada, to help companies access credit to handle the economic shock of the outbreak.

I've been travelling or have plans to travel. What should I do?

Most Canadian cases of Coronavirus have come from recent travel. The government has advised Canadians to avoid all cruise ships for the time being, and to keep up on travel advisories. You can find the most up-to-date information at travel.gc.ca.