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Guidance for employers of temporary foreign workers regarding COVID-19

Canada

Guidance for employers of temporary foreign workers regarding COVID-19 (Updated 22 April 2020)

Context

  • Further to recent announcements by the Government of Canada to facilitate the entry of foreign workers while taking steps to minimize the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), this document outlines the Guidance for employers of temporary foreign workers
  • Like all Canadians, most temporary foreign workers entering Canada are required to follow certain obligations, including quarantine (visit the Resources section of www.canada.ca/coronavirus to learn more). Employers must not prevent workers from meeting those requirements in any way
  • In addition, employers have an important role to play in helping to prevent the introduction and spread of COVID-19. This document is intended to assist employers in understanding how to fulfill that role, with a view to helping to protect the health and safety of Canadians and workers
  • As the situation regarding COVID-19 continues to evolve, it is recommended that the following website be consulted regularly for the latest public health information: www.canada.ca/coronavirus

Criteria for all employers

  1. The worker’s period of employment begins upon their arrival to Canada and includes the initial mandatory quarantine period. This means that the employer must comply with all laws, policies and Guidance for employers regarding the employer-employee relationship during that period
  2. The employer is required to not do anything that prevents the worker from meeting their requirements of orders under the Quarantine Act, including the mandatory quarantine. This includes not making the worker interact with workers or others who are not in quarantine and could include assisting the worker with arranging access to food, medicine, and/or basic supplies
  3. The employer must pay the worker regular pay and benefits for the quarantine period. Specifically, the employer must pay the worker for a minimum of 30 hours per week at the hourly rate of pay specified on the Labour Market Impact Assessment and/or offer of employment. The employer can withhold standard contract deductions (for example Employment Insurance, housing, transportation, etc.) as per applicable Program stream requirements. The employer is not allowed to deduct any additional amounts due to the quarantine period unless agreed to by the worker (such as for food). Proof of wages paid should be kept. This requirement also applies to workers in the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) and the 14-day period of paid quarantine will be in addition to the minimum 240 hours of pay as specified in the SAWP contract
  4. In most cases, the employer cannot authorize the worker to work during the quarantine period, even if requested by the worker. There are exceptions for those deemed as providing an essential service by the Chief Public Health Officer. In addition, the employer cannot ask the worker to perform other duties during that period, such as building repairs or administrative tasks
  5. The employer is asked to monitor the health of workers who are in quarantine, as well as any employee who becomes sick after the quarantine period. If a worker becomes symptomatic at any time, the employer should contact local public health officials.
  6. The employer is asked to provide workers with the tools needed to practice good hygiene. This includes access to facilities that enable them to wash their hands often with soap and warm water, providing soap, and providing an alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water are not available and hands are not visibly soiled
  7. The employer is asked to provide information to the worker on COVID-19 (see www.canada.ca/coronavirus for resources) either on or before their first day of quarantine. With a view to promoting understanding by all workers, it is suggested that information be provided in a language the worker understands, and that consideration be given to providing this information in writing and/or orally (for example by phone, etcetera), as appropriate. Several resources are available online. In addition, the Public Health Agency of Canada has some materials available in several languages for use, which can be accessed by calling 1-833-784-4397 or emailing
  8. Like all Canadians, the employer is asked to report a violation to the Quarantine Act on the part of a worker in quarantine or isolation to local law enforcement. This includes workers that do not respect the mandatory quarantine period
  9. Throughout the course of this pandemic, all people in Canada, including employers, are expected to follow the latest public health requirements and/or guidance from the Government of Canada and the province/territory in which they operate. Importantly, the employer is required to not do anything that prevents the worker from meeting their requirements under provincial/territorial public health laws related to COVID-19. In addition, as per Guidance for employers, employers are required to follow all applicable federal and provincial/territorial employment and health and safety laws. This includes new provisions in several jurisdictions for job-protected sick leave as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic

Additional criteria for employers who provide accommodations

  1. The employer is required to house quarantining workers in accommodations that are separate from those not subject to quarantine. This may require finding alternate accommodations (for example hotel) if this requirement cannot be met
  2. The employer can house workers who are subject to quarantine together, but the housing must enable them to be 2 meters apart from each other at all times. For example, beds must be at least 2 meters apart. Shared facilities (for example bathroom, kitchen, living space) are allowed, provided that there is sufficient space in the accommodations for workers to respect the quarantine requirements. If this requirement cannot be met, alternate accommodations (for example hotel) may be required. In the best interest of all parties, it is recommended that date-stamped photos be taken of the facilities, including the bedroom, to demonstrate compliance
    • Note: If new workers are housed for quarantine in the same accommodations as others who are in quarantine, the clock resets to the day the most recent worker arrived. This is to account for the potential exposure of the new person from outside of the country to those already here
  3. The employer should ensure that surfaces in the accommodations are cleaned and disinfected regularly. It is suggested that surfaces in bathrooms, kitchens, and common areas be cleaned and disinfected daily, or more often as required and that a log be maintained. Workers can do this, as it constitutes essential care. The employer can also use the services of a professional cleaner if desired. Regardless, the employer is required to provide the cleaning materials (e.g. paper towels, household cleaning and disinfection products, dish soap, and laundry soap)
  4. The employer is asked to post information about preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the accommodations, including information that outlines best practices for workers in maintaining the bathroom and other washing facilities. It is suggested that such information be posted in bathrooms, kitchens, and common areas and that it be posted in the language of the worker. Several resources are available online (visit the Resources section of www.canada.ca/coronavirus).  In addition, the Public Health Agency of Canada has some materials available in several languages for use, which can be accessed by calling 1-833-784-4397 or emailing
  5. For the duration of the quarantine period, the employer is asked to ensure that the accommodations do not prevent the worker from avoiding contact with older adults (65+) and those with medical conditions who are at risk of developing a serious illness.
  6. If a worker becomes symptomatic at any time, the employer is required to immediately provide accommodations that enable the worker to be isolated from others, including a private bedroom and private bathroom

source: canada.ca

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Canadians to help develop, test potential COVID-19 vaccine by Chinese company

Canada’s public sector scientists and labs to play key roles

Amina Zafar · CBC News · Posted: May 12, 2020 1:51 PM ET | Last Updated: 2 hours ago

Chinese vaccine maker CanSino Biologics’ sign is pictured on its building in Tianjin, China in 2018. The company is already conducting human clinical trials for its vaccine. (Reuters)

The National Research Council of Canada said Tuesday it will work with a Chinese company to try to develop its potential vaccine for COVID-19 more quickly.

The Chinese company, CanSino Biologics, is already conducting human clinical trials for its vaccine.

Federal governments the world over have said vaccines are urgently needed to allow mass gatherings to resume. But that’s only if clinical trials in thousands of human volunteers show safety and efficacy before shots go into the arms of vast swaths of the general public.

As of April, five vaccine candidates have moved into clinical development in early stage human trials, including CanSino’s, called Ad5-nCoV.

The collaboration announced on Tuesday will allow Canada’s publicly funded research council to try to scale up the technology needed to produce enough of the candidate vaccine to protect Canadians.

Matthew Herder, director of the Health Law Institute at Dalhousie University’s law school in Halifax, evaluated contracts for the Canadian Ebola vaccine. That vaccine followed a similar path from the lab bench to mass production. Herder welcomed the NRC announcement and awaits the details.

“I think it showcases the power of the public sector … to play a key role in the development of vaccines,” he said.

Herder wants to ensure Canadians will have access to all of the safety and efficacy data, both from trials conducted in China as well as here.

There could also be strings attached on pricing, how much manufacturing can be done in Canada to meet both domestic and international needs, and equity of access, he said.

The NRC plans to use a cell line its scientists developed during Ebola vaccine research. The federal government’s previously announced $44 million for upgrades to the NRC’s facility in Montreal also aims to allow for domestic production if the vaccine candidate pans out as hoped.

A Phase 1 trial for the Ebola vaccine took place at the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology in Halifax and the coronavirus vaccine will also be tested in human volunteers there.CBC’s Journalistic Standards and Practices|About CBC NewsReport Typo or Error

source : CBC

Canadian real estate markets hit hard by pandemic

Tough times are forecast after COVID-19 measures slow sales

Greg Rasmussen · CBC News · Posted: Apr 09, 2020, 1:00 AM PT | Last Updated: 9 hours ago

Vancouver real estate agent David Hutchinson pulls out some bright blue medical gloves and tugs them onto his hands before entering a condo that’s coming onto the market.

“It’s uncharted territory, a completely different ballgame, and we’re learning everything on the go,” he said as he got his cellphone ready to do a virtual showing from the empty unit.

Welcome to selling real estate during a pandemic.

While Hutchison continues to work, albeit with adjustments, Canada’s real estate industry appears to be heading into a deep freeze despite the warming spring weather. Though sales figures started off relatively strong in March in many parts of the country, they fell swiftly as the COVID-19 pandemic grew and stricter protective measures were put in place.

Greater Vancouver’s real estate board, for example, released figures showing sales for the month overall were up 46 per cent compared to last March.

But by the end of the month, weekly statistics showed a dramatic slowdown, falling by about half compared to the first part of the month.

It was the same in Toronto, where home sales were up 49 per cent in the first 14 days of March compared to last year, but they plummeted by 16 per cent as the month closed. 

It was the same in Toronto, where home sales were up 49 per cent in the first 14 days of March compared to last year, but they plummeted by 16 per cent as the month closed. 

This graphic shows how real estate sales tumbled in Toronto’s 416 area code as the epidemic took hold. (Scott Ingram)

Hutchison thinks April “is just going to fall off a cliff.”

Toronto chartered accountant and real estate agent Scott Ingram agrees. He expects April sales to be “far below historical averages.” 

“Not in my time watching the Toronto real estate market have I seen sales slow right down as quickly as this,” he wrote in an email exchange. “Not even back in April 2017, when the Ontario government brought in its Ontario Fair Housing Plan with the 15 percent non-resident speculation tax,” among other measures. 

source : CBC News

Even with strict containment measures, COVID-19 could claim 22,000 lives, federal officials project

Physical distancing, quarantines and other measures could be in place several months

Kathleen Harris · CBC News · Posted: Apr 09, 2020 8:52 AM ET | Last Updated: 36 minutes ago

Federal health officials are saying there could be nearly 32,000 cases of COVID-19 and between 500 and 700 deaths in Canada by April 16 — and anywhere from 11,000 to 22,000 deaths over the course of the pandemic, even with relatively strong control measures in place.

That projection emerged Thursday morning as officials released modelling on how the COVID-19 crisis could unfold in the country, and suggested that containment measures, such as physical distancing and quarantines, could be in place for months to come.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau conceded that it won’t be easy to continue those measures because the first wave of the virus could last until the summer, with other outbreaks erupting after that.

Trudeau said he could not predict how long those measures will be required, but said some experts estimate it will take six to eight months to develop a vaccine, while others suggest it could take a year to 18 months.

He pleaded with Canadians to step up to meet what he called the “challenge of the generation” and said Canada is at a “fork in the road” between the best and worst outcomes.

“This will be the new normal until a vaccine is developed,” he said.

Longer-term projections look at scenarios involving strong controls (one to 10 per cent of the population infected, called the “green zone” scenario), weaker controls (25 to 50 per cent of the population infected, the “blue zone”) and no controls at all (70-80 per cent infected, the “red zone”).

If about 2.5 to five per cent of the population became infected, that would mean between 934,000 and 1.9 million cases. That would also mean up to 22,000 deaths and between 23,000 and 46,000 ICU admissions.

If no containment measures had been taken (which was not the case in Canada), officials said there would have been about 300,000 deaths. 

Officials said the caseload in Canada is doubling every three to five days, which is considered a relatively positive trajectory compared to other countries. Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said that is in large part because of lessons learned from other countries about how strong control measures can limit the spread of the virus.

Tam said she is hopeful that Canada can stay in the green zone and keep infections and deaths relatively low. 

source :CBC News

Ontario conducting fewer COVID-19 tests daily as cases keep climbing

Public health experts urge province to test more widely, while health minister promises increase ‘soon’

Mike Crawley · CBC News · Posted: Apr 08, 2020 5:00 AM ET | Last Updated: 19 minutes ago

The number of COVID-19 tests completed in Ontario each day has dwindled steadily over the past week, raising concerns that the province is missing cases of the illness and failing to capture the true spread of the novel coronavirus. 

Data from the Ministry of Health shows there were just 2,568 new test results provided on Tuesday. That’s roughly half the daily target of 5,000 that the government promised to achieve in late March, and far short of the 19,000 tests per day promised for the third week of April. 

The slower-than-promised pace continued Wednesday, with Ontario announcing 3,237 new test results.

To best combat, the spread of COVID-19, experts in public health and epidemiology say Ontario needs to be testing more rather than less. 

“I am a little bit concerned that we don’t have a very good handle of what’s happening with this epidemic right now,” Dr. Jeff Kwong, a professor of public health and family medicine at the University of Toronto, told CBC News.

“If we can identify more of the cases that are in the community it will help give us a better idea of what’s going on.” 

Ontario is testing a smaller portion of its population than anywhere else in Canada. Quebec, B.C. and Alberta are each testing at double the province’s rate.  

The reason for the shortfall appears to be that Ontario continues to restrict who gets tested by recommending against testing people who have not recently travelled internationally, even if they have symptoms of COVID-19.   

Canadian Forces call back ships, cut missions short due to COVID-19

‘We will do everything we can to ensure our sailors return home as safely as possible,’ says spokesperson

David Burke · CBC News · Posted: Apr 06, 2020, 6:00 AM AT | Last Updated: 3 hours ago

The Canadian military is taking what it calls “unprecedented measures” to protect its members from COVID-19 and prevent the spread of coronavirus, all while making sure it can still conduct essential operations.

To do that, it has cut missions short, recalled ships, sequestered sailors in a hotel and put in a range of self-isolation rules.

The worldwide spread of COVID-19 is impacting operations across all regions, Andrée-Anne Poulin, a spokesperson for the Department of National Defence, said in an email.

“We will do everything we can to ensure our sailors return home as safely as possible,” she said.

DND has more than 2,000 personnel deployed on approximately 20 missions, many of which have had to alter their activities in response to the pandemic.

Four navy ships with a total of about 160 people on board had to scrap the remainder of their international missions and head home from Africa, the Caribbean and the eastern Pacific.

The sailors aboard HMCS Glace Bay and HMCS Shawinigan are returning from Africa after two international military exercises were canceled. Those ships will arrive in Halifax by mid-April.

Meanwhile, the crews of HMCS Nanaimo and HMCS Whitehorse are on their way home from the Caribbean basin and the eastern Pacific Ocean, where they were helping American forces stop trafficking by organized crime. They weren’t originally supposed to be back in Canadian waters until mid-May, but will now drop anchor off the B.C. coast in early April.

But it’s unclear if the sailors will stay aboard their ships in case they’re needed, or whether they will return home and self-isolate for 14 days.

“Our chain of command is discussing the different options for the crews’ return to Canada and consulting with our health-care team on what is best for our sailors and their families,” Poulin said.

Federal COVID-19 benefits program portal opens today: Here’s how to apply

If applying by phone, Canadians can call the toll-free line at 1-800-959-2019

CBC News · Posted: Apr 06, 2020 4:00 AM ET | Last Updated: 11 hours ago

The federal government is launching an application portal on Monday where Canadians facing unemployment due to the COVID-19 crisis can apply for emergency income support benefits. 

Canadians can go to Canada.ca for information about the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). Service Canada and Canada Revenue Agency are jointly administering the CERB.

Applicants who set up a direct deposit are expected to receive the first payment within three to five days. Those who use mail should receive the first payment within 10 days. Payment is $2,000 a month for up to four months.

People can apply beginning at 6 a.m. ET on Monday.

People who are normally eligible for employment insurance (EI) can continue to apply through EI and Service Canada, and they will automatically be enrolled in CERB.

The CERB offers income support for people who have stopped working due to the pandemic, including those not eligible for EI, contract employees, and freelancers.

To ensure the portal can handle the expected high volume of applications and the system is not overloaded, the government has staggered application periods over the workweek based on an applicant’s month of birth. 

Canada’s economy was slowing even before COVID-19 hit, January GDP numbers show

Canada’s economy expanded by 0.1 per cent in January as manufacturing and the financial sector grew while transportation, mining, oil and gas and the retail sector all shrank.

Statistics Canada reported Monday that Canada’s gross domestic product expanded by 0.1 per cent during the month, slightly less than what economists were expecting. It’s also less than the 0.3 expansion seen in the previous month.

The spectre of COVID-19 was already casting a shadow on the economy in January as reduced trade with China and travel restrictions held back Canada’s economy two months before the full brunt of the outbreak hit North American shores.

Manufacturing grew by 0.8 per cent during the month, while construction activity picked up by 0.2 per cent from December’s level. Wholesale trade grew by 1.2 per cent while the financial sector expanded by 0.9 per cent.

On the downside, the mining and oil and gas sector shrank by 0.6 per cent, while the retail sector was down by 0.4 per cent. The transportation sector shrank most of all, by 1.7 per cent, largely because of winter storms wreaking havoc with travel plans.

Bank of Montreal economist Benjamin Reitzes did note expansion in one sector that he thinks could be poised to continue in the coming months. “One sector that picked up steam with its biggest gain in a year is public administration,” he said. “Expect a lot more of that as the federal and provincial governments step in to support the economy through the COVID-19 shock.”

“January numbers are ancient history now given how the economic landscape has drastically shifted,” he said. “While the year got off to a decent enough start, the near-total halt in activity in the second half of March will have a hugely negative impact.”

sources : CBC

Ontario COVID-19 cases near 2,000 as schools set to stay closed until at least May

Premier, education minister scheduled to make an announcement at 1 p.m. ET

Ontario confirmed 260 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the provincial total to 1,966 as families learn that students won’t be going back to class until at least May.

The tally includes 33 deaths and 534 cases that are considered resolved.

An additional 4,280 people are awaiting test results, while a total of 51,629 tests have been approved.

The province has also offered this breakdown of the total cases since Jan. 15, 2020:

  • 49.8 percent are male, while 49.5 percent are female.
  • The median age is 50, ranging in age from less than one to 100 years of age.
  • Greater Toronto Area public health units account for 59.1 percent of cases in Ontario.
  • 25.7 percent had traveled in the 14 days prior to becoming ill. 
  • 10.2 percent had close contact with a confirmed case.
  • 16.8 percent neither traveled or had closed contact
  • 47.3 percent of cases have exposure information pending.
  • 10.9 percent of the cases were hospitalized.

Meanwhile, a senior government official told CBC Toronto that elementary and high school students in Ontario will be out of class until at least May.

Publicly-funded schools have been closed since March 14 on a ministerial order from Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

Private schools were also closed a few days later as part of the province’s emergency declaration.

Schools were initially set to re-open on April 6, but both Premier Doug Ford and Lecce have conceded that the closures would need to be prolonged as the number of COVID-19 cases in Ontario continues to increase. 

Ford and Lecce are set to speak with reporters at Queen’s Park at 1 p.m. ET. The news conference will be livestreamed in this story.

Lecce is also expected to announce an e-learning plan for the province’s students during COVID-19 school closures.

The government has been looking at ways to keep course work going while school closures continue, including through online classes.