COVID-19 Update – Extension of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy + WorkSafeBC Guidance for Employers

May 15, 2020

Article by: Sandra Guarascio

Today’s bulletin covers both Federal and Provincial COVID-19 updates including the extension of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, new guidance issued by WorkSafeBC for employers, news on the reopening of B.C. schools, and information on the Canada Emergency Student Benefit.

Extension of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

In his address to Canadians this morning, Prime Minister Trudeau announced that the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (the “CEWS”) will continue through the end of August. As discussed in previous bulletins, the CEWS is a wage assistance program through which the Federal Government covers up to 75% of an employee’s wages, up to a maximum benefit of $847 per employee per week, for eligible businesses.

The Federal Government had previously advised on May 8, 2020 the subsidy would be extended past June. Finance Minister Bill Morneau confirmed today that eligible businesses can continue to receive the subsidy until August 29, 2020.

Introduction of WorkSafeBC guidelines

In support of BC’s preparations to enter Phase 2 of its economic restart plan, WorkSafeBC has issued a number of guidelines.  Employers that have experienced work interruptions due to COVID-19 are required to develop a COVID-19 Safety Plan.  A six step process has been introduced by WorkSafeBC with a tool that has been developed to assist employers:

The 6 steps in the process involve:

    1. Assessing the risks in your workplace;
    2. Implementing protocols to reduce the risks (with reference to industry-specific protocols and guidelines and relevant orders, guidance and notices issued by the provincial health authority);
    3. Developing appropriate policies to manage the workplace;
    4. Developing communication plans and training plans;
    5. Monitoring the workplace and updating plans as necessary; and,
    6. Assessing and addressing risks from resuming operations.

Premier Announces Part-time, Voluntary Return to School for B.C. Students

In a press conference held this morning, Premier John Horgan announced that in-class learning will resume at B.C. schools for students in kindergarten through grade 12 on June 1.  The number of students in class will be limited and parents will have the choice of sending their children back to class.

Applications Open for Canada Emergency Student Benefit

Today is the first day post-secondary students, and recent post-secondary and high school graduates can apply for the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (“CESB”).  The CESB will provide a  payment of $1,250 for each 4 week period to unemployed students who do not qualify for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (“CERB”).

For more information on the above topics, please see our May 15, 2020, COVID-19 information bulletin:

COVID-19 Update – May 15, 2020