Payroll News Canada - Employment Articles

July 2020 - Welcome to the latest edition of The Payroll News! As always, please feel free to forward this newsletter to your friends and associates who are interested in keeping up with the latest changes in Canadian payroll, employment and HR News. Federal and Provincial news items are listed immediately below followed by our Featured Article.

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Tip of the Month

July 2020 - COVID-19 Small Business Help Centre - The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) has released a web-based resource guide that provides businesses with a thorough list of questions and answers about navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. Numerous topics are covered from work sharing, CEBA, Canada Summer Jobs, CEWS, TWSE, MISTFWP, and many more. Click Here to view this useful guide.

Looking for past tips? Please visit our Tip of the Month archive for historical tips other useful information that will assist with your payroll and HR tasks.

Canadian Federal Payroll and HR News

July 23, 2020 - 1 Million Jobs Return - But Canada Is Still in Hot Water - The unemployment rate in Canada fell to 12.3% in June 2020 from the record-setting 13.7% in May. According to Statistics Canada, nearly one million jobs, or 952,900 jobs to be exact, were added to the economy. The country is starting to rebuild as more provinces are gradually reopening following the havoc brought by COVID-19. (Full Story)

July 23, 2020 - Foreign workers replace unpaid labour: report - One of the lingering arguments against temporary foreign workers is that they take jobs from ordinary Canadians. In Canada's agriculture sector that's often not the case, says a University of Calgary immigration expert. The evidence shows that foreign workers frequently replace unpaid labour on farms, especially on cattle ranches, grain farms and livestock operations. (Full Story)

July 22, 2020 - Payroll, HR partnership best way to support workers during COVID: CPA - Payroll and HR should no longer function separately, as both are equally important to ensuring the most optimal employee experience, especially during the outbreak and lockdown of COVID-19, says Peter Tzanetakis, president of the Canadian Payroll Association in Toronto, which recently released a report on the topic. (Full Story)

July 20, 2020 - Government introduces legislation to support Canadian workers, businesses and persons with disabilities - The Government of Canada is taking immediate, significant and decisive action through Canada's COVID-19 Economic Response Plan to support Canadians and protect jobs during the global COVID-19 pandemic, and to position them for a strong and safe economic restart in the wake of the crisis. The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) protects jobs by helping businesses keep employees on the payroll and encourages employers to re-hire workers previously laid off. (Full Story)

July 18, 2020 - Are you an essential worker? In Canada, it depends on where you live - Just how essential you are and how much of a federal government bonus you receive for your hard work during the pandemic depends entirely on what province you live in. The program, announced in early May, was meant to provide top-up pay to essential workers, with the federal government putting $3 billion on the table and asking the provinces to chip in as well. (Full Story)

July 17, 2020 - Supporting Canadian Workers and Businesses with a redesigned Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy - The Government of Canada is taking immediate, significant and decisive action through Canada's COVID-19 Economic Response Plan to support Canadians and protect jobs during the global COVID-19 pandemic, and to better position them for a strong recovery. The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) protects jobs by helping businesses keep employees on the payroll and encouraging employers to re-hire workers previously laid off. (Full Story)

July 14, 2020 - Trudeau extends wage subsidy scheme to aid employment rebound - As more Canadians head back to work, the federal government vows to continue supporting employers by extending the country's wage subsidy scheme until the end of 2020. Businesses and nonprofit groups under the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program will receive funding of up to 75% of their employees' wages - or a maximum of $847 per week per employee - until December. (Full Story)

July 13, 2020 - Who's hiring? A look at the Canadian job market - Jobs lost during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic are coming back - but not all at once, and not in the same order they disappeared. Statistics Canada reported July 10 that more than 950,000 jobs were added in the country in June. While only a small fraction of the three million or so positions that were lost as lockdowns were imposed in March and April, the number represents a record increase as those measures are lifted. (Full Story)

July 13, 2020 - Canada's June Employment Nearly +1 Million; Claw-back Ratio 41% - Between February and April, Canada's total employment contracted by 3.0 million jobs and the seasonally adjusted (SA) unemployment rate soared from 5.6% to 13.0%. The economy, more or less voluntarily, stopped in its tracks and hunkered down at home to slow the advance of the coronavirus contagion. In May, a first step in jobs recovery was taken with an employment increase of +290,000. In June, according to Statistics Canada, the bounce back was much stronger, at +952,000 jobs. (Full Story)

July 13, 2020 - Atlantic Canada lost fewest jobs due to coronavirus  - The closure of non-essential services to slow the spread of COVID-19 was devastating for the Canadian labour market, but the country's employment rate rebounded in June. Recent figures provided in the June issue of BMO's Labour Market Card suggest that Canada has now recovered 41 per cent of the jobs lost due to the coronavirus pandemic. Current unemployment rates in Canada were at 12.3 per cent in June, up 6.7 per cent since last year. (Full Story)

July 10, 2020 - Canadian economy adds 953,000 jobs in June, unemployment rate falls - Nearly one million more Canadians had jobs in June, Statistics Canada says, as businesses forced to close by the pandemic began to reopen and the country continued to recoup steep losses over March and April. Statistics Canada's labour force survey released Friday showed 953,000 jobs were added last month, including 488,000 full-time and 465,000 part-time positions. The unemployment rate fell to 12.3 per cent after hitting a record-high of 13.7 per cent in May. (Full Story)

July 2, 2020 - Government Introduces Draft Regulations Providing Relief for Registered Pension Plans - The Government of Canada is taking immediate, significant and decisive action through Canada's COVID-19 Economic Response Plan to support Canadians and protect jobs during the global COVID-19 outbreak. The draft regulations would help employers who sponsor a Registered Pension Plan (RPP) or salary deferral leave plan for their employees to manage and maintain their benefit obligations through the crisis. (Full Story)

June 23, 2020 - The Government of Canada temporarily extends time periods given to employers to recall employees laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic - COVID-19 has created challenges on many fronts for Canadian workers and employers. The Government of Canada wants to ensure that as many Canadians as possible have a job to return to and that businesses can grow and stay strong as the economy restarts. The temporary changes will help protect the jobs of federally regulated private-sector employees and support employers facing economic hardship as a result of the pandemic. (Full Story)

June 16, 2020 - High unemployment means diminishing EI qualifications across Canada - The surge in unemployment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will mean Canadians will need to work fewer hours to qualify for employment insurance (EI), and they will be able to collect it for longer. Economists are wondering what effect that may have on people returning to the workforce. (Full Story)

June 26, 2020 - Stats show strange drop in women working in construction - After several years of gains, the number of women in trades dropped in 2019, according to a recent Statistics Canada's Labour Force report. In 2019 there were 182,000 women in the construction sector out of a total work construction sector workforce of 1.463 million. That's down from 2018 when there were 186,300 women out of 1.437 million. While there were fewer women - albeit only 4,300 - the number of men working also grew by 26,000. (Full Story)

June 15, 2020 - More small businesses can soon access the Canada Emergency Business Account - Minister of Finance Bill Morneau announced that as of Friday, June 19, 2020, applications will be accepted so that more small businesses can access the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA). This means that owner-operated small businesses that had been ineligible for the program due to their lack of payroll, sole proprietors receiving business income directly, as well as family-owned corporations remunerating in the form of dividends rather than payroll will become eligible this week. (Full Story)

Provincial Payroll and HR News (Choose a province to expand the articles)

July 18, 2020 - Alberta women shoulder disproportionate economic toll as pandemic forces mothers out of workforce - While the level of total employment in Alberta remains about 10 per cent below where it was in February, according to new data released by Statistics Canada last week, men's employment hovers at nine per cent below pre-pandemic levels while women's employment is 12 per cent below pre-pandemic levels. And while the unemployment rate has risen for both women and men, it seems that it is women, not men, who are making the decision to opt out of the workforce entirely. (Full Story)

July 16, 2020 - Funding boost for unemployed apprentices - Eligible apprentices under the Apprentice Training Award will now receive $1,500 during their classroom instruction period, up from $1,000 offered when the program began in 2016. Financial support is designed to assist apprentices who are unemployed continue in their apprenticeship program. The funds are intended to help apprentices manage costs like tuition, books, material fees, tools, transportation and living expenses during their classroom instruction period. (Full Story)

July 14, 2020 - Alberta's unemployment among still highest in Canada as Calgary, Edmonton job losses climb - Alberta's unemployment rate remained among the highest in Canada in June as COVID-19 continued to take its toll on the provincial economy. According to Statistics Canada's latest Labour Force Survey, the jobless rate in Alberta held steady at 15.5 per cent in June, the same it had been one month prior. (Full Story)

July 8, 2020 - ‘Having trouble getting staff': Alberta stakeholders say CERB keeping workers at home - The Canada Emergency Response Benefit helps Canadians who lost income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, paying $2,000 a month to recipients. However, concerns are being raised in Alberta that the program may be serving as a disincentive to work for some. Shameer Suleman, the owner of several successful hotels and restaurants in Waterton, a popular area for tourists in southern Alberta, says CERB has benefited many Canadians and the wage subsidy program has even greatly assisted a few of his businesses. (Full Story)

July 7, 2020 - Restoring balance in Alberta's workplaces - If passed, this legislation could save job creators an estimated $100 million per year by reducing red tape from daily operations - helping them keep their doors open - and provide jobs for hard-working Albertans. Bill 32 will provide employees and employers with clearer and more transparent rules promoting fairness and productivity, including more clarity about rest periods and temporary layoff notices. (Full Story)

July 7, 2020 - Alberta farms feel the pinch of seasonal worker delays - Many Alberta farmers rely on the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program program, said Willard de Wilde, president of Alberta Farm Fresh Producers Association. Even though the federal government did allow air travel ban exemptions for temporary foreign workers in agriculture after March 18, some of the producers who use the program report slow processing, or visas not arriving at all, according to de Wilde. When workers do arrive, they have to isolate for 14 days before they can work. In all, it's left producers scrambling and, in some cases, losing out on expected revenue this year. (Full Story)

July 20, 2020 - Online tool speeds up temporary layoff application process - Employers and workers who need to extend temporary layoffs due to COVID-19 can more easily apply for a variance using the Employment Standards Branch's new online application. In June, government extended the time period for temporary layoffs related to COVID-19 to a maximum of 24 weeks, expiring on Aug. 30, 2020. This is expanded from 16 weeks, to give employers and workers more flexibility. (Full Story)

July 18, 2020 - B.C. care homes looking to recruit, retrain laid-off hospitality workers to help solve staffing shortages - An organization that represents the long-term care sector in B.C. is looking at recruiting people laid-off from the hospitality sector to help solve a staffing shortage exacerbated by COVID-19. The province has set a goal of providing each resident of a care home with 3.36 direct care hours per day. The most recent report from the seniors advocate shows the average was 3.13. (Full Story)

July 17, 2020 - Updated publication outlines safe work practices in residential construction - The newly updated Safe Work Practices in Residential Construction is a comprehensive resource for preventing injuries and disease in the construction industry. It provides key health and safety information for prime contractors, homeowners, employers, and contractors. Safe Work Practices in Residential Construction provides up-to-date information on working safely on residential construction sites, with a focus on the three main phases: planning, site preparation, and construction. Other topics include the hazards workers face when working at elevation, and tool and equipment safety. (Full Story)

July 17, 2020 - Foreign workers, B.C. efforts saved season, Island farmers say - Temporary foreign workers from Mexico - and the provincial government's efforts to get them here amid the pandemic - are being credited with saving the season for several farms in the capital region. Terry Michell said that Michell Farms would have only been able to plant and harvest about half its 450 acres and 30 crops if foreign workers were prevented from coming into the country because of COVID-19 concerns. (Full Story)

July 16 2020 - Ottawa commits to national paid sick leave program championed by Horgan - British Columbia Premier John Horgan took credit Thursday for pushing the rest of the country to endorse a new $1.1-billion federally funded paid sick leave program to help Canadians avoid spreading COVID-19 at their jobs. A $19-billion “safe restart agreement” has been reached with the provinces and territories, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced earlier in the day, meant to fund efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic for the next six to eight months. (Full Story)

July 15, 2020 - Updated resources help reduce risks in patient handling - Moving and handling people are leading causes of injury among workers in health care and social services. Three resources have been updated and are now available to help reduce the risk of injury to health care workers. Workers who manually move or handle people are at significant risk of musculoskeletal injuries (MSIs) such as sprains or strains. The updated bulletins focus on the use of overhead and floor lifts to reduce the risks. (Full Story)

July 14, 2020 - Workers' compensation changes to better support workers - Changes to the Workers Compensation Act will provide better support to injured workers and their families and enhance WorkSafeBC's ability to investigate workplace incidents, while keeping premiums low. The proposed changes focus on improving supports for injured workers, while also advancing worker safety. (Full Story)

July 10, 2020 - B.C. jobless rate down to 13%, but recovery slower for women and youth - The jobless rate in British Columbia dropped slightly last month, reaching 13 per cent as the economy continued its rebound from the shutdown triggered by the pandemic. Finance Minister Carole James, speaking at a Friday morning news conference, said the newly released data from B.C., which captures employment information from June 14 to 20, "paints a picture of cautious optimism, with a long road ahead." (Full Story)

July 10, 2020 - Employment rises sharply in June in B.C.'s accommodations and food-services industry - The COVID-19 pandemic contributed to the loss of about 400,000 jobs in British Columbia in March and April. But in June as the economy continued to recover and B.C. entered the third phase of its restart plan, an additional 118,100 new jobs were created in the province. The greatest gains by far were on the services-producing sector, led by accommodation and food services (54,800); professional, scientific, and technical services (17,600); and wholesale and retail trade (14,100). (Full Story)

June 25, 2020 - Temporary layoff provisions for workers, employers extended - Following conversations with business and worker representatives, the Province of British Columbia has extended the temporary layoffs provisions to a maximum of 24 weeks expiring on Aug. 30, 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. The extension will give employers and workers additional flexibility to support economic recovery in the province with the expectation that businesses honour their obligations to workers and reach agreement with their employees in the event a further extension is required. (Full Story)

June 23, 2020 - Hundreds sign petition for paid sick leave in B.C. - As the BC Legislature reopened its doors to politicians Monday, a petition with more than 700 signatures was being handed over to the B.C. government calling for paid sick leave for all workers in the province. The Retail Action Network and the BC Employment Standards Coalition were outside B.C. Finance Minister Carol James' constituency office Monday morning looking to hand over the petition. (Full Story)

June 22, 2020 - B.C. employment affected by COVID-19 more than any other province: poll - More than half of British Columbians' employment has been interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, more than any other province. That's according to a new poll, released Monday by Ipsos, which said 24 per cent of people in B.C. are working reduced hours or receiving reduced pay, while 16 per cent have lost their jobs. Another 17 per cent said someone in their household has lost their job, while 11 per cent say someone in their household is working reduced hours or receiving reduced pay. (Full Story)

July 16, 2020 - Medium to Large Employers - Return to Work Best Practices - Every successful Return to Work program is based on productive and positive relationships in an organization. When all stakeholders understand their roles and responsibilities, these relationships are easy to develop. Stakeholders include the employer, the injured worker, co-workers and the WCB. Check out what else employers are responsible for. The most successful Return to Work programs are those where the employer also has a designated contact person or Return to Work Coordinator. (Full Story)

July 15, 2020 - Province Expands `Back To Work' Wage Subsidy Program - As part of #RestartMB, Manitoba's roadmap to recovery, the Manitoba government is expanding its ‘Back to Work' wage subsidy program and providing additional financial support for businesses to bring more Manitobans back. The enhanced Back to Work program will reimburse up to $5,000 for up to 10 new workers to a maximum of $50,000 per business, not for profit or charity. Businesses that have already benefited from provincial summer wage subsidies are eligible for this new wage subsidy benefit to hire or bring back an additional 10 employees. (Full Story)

July 14, 2020 - Province Calls On Federal Government To Redesign Cerb Program To Encourage Canadians To Return To Work Full Time - The Manitoba government is calling on the federal government to change the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) so it does not penalize Canadians wanting to return to work, Premier Brian Pallister announced today. Manitoba recognized this disincentive early on and created the Manitoba Job Restart Program to provide direct payments of up to $2,000 in financial support to those Manitobans who voluntarily came off CERB and took full time work. (Full Story)

July 10, 2020 - Manitoba Releases Labour Force Statistics For June - The latest Labour Force Survey from Statistics Canada shows Manitoba leads the country in student employment and has recorded an increase of 28,900 in overall employment from May to June, Finance Minister Scott Fielding announced today. New Manitoba labour force statistics show the province fared better than the national average in key categories. Total June employment in Manitoba increased by 28,900, a 4.9 per cent increase from May, when employment increased by 13,100. The provincial labour force increased by 23,600 people in June. (Full Story)

July 3, 2020 - Province extends 5 days of unpaid leave to hundreds of non-unionized workers - The Manitoba government is ordering 560 employees to fall in line and take five days off without pay to save money during the COVID-19 pandemic. The province previously negotiated the same five days of unpaid leave this fiscal year with several unions, which affected thousands of employees. As of Monday, the same order came into effect for non-unionized government employees, after the lieutenant governor signed off on cabinet's decision, the government said in an email. (Full Story)

June 30, 2020 - Province Invests In Over 7,000 Student Jobs To Support Manitoba's Covid-19 Recovery - The Manitoba government has facilitated the creation of more than 7,100 student jobs this summer as part of the province's COVID-19 response and recovery efforts. Engaging students in work provides them with experience and opportunities to become inspired to follow career paths. Students bring real value to employers, including fresh perspectives and additional hands on deck as businesses adjust their operations to follow public health orders such as sanitization protocols and physical distancing measures, the premier noted. (Full Story)

June 23, 2020 - Manitoba back-to-work funding has CERB catch - Premier Brian Pallister announced on Tuesday an initiative to help residents get back to work, but there's a catch involving the federal COVID-19 benefit. The province unveiled the Manitoba Job Restart program, which will give direct payments of up to $2,000 to help qualified Manitobans return to work. Pallister said in order to be eligible, however, Manitobans have to stop collecting the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), and instead will collect the Manitoba Restart Benefit. (Full Story)

June 18, 2020 - Adjusting Your Payroll Estimate Throughout the Year - Your business may experience changes throughout the year that can impact your annual payroll. With the current COVID-19 pandemic, your business may have experienced more dramatic changes than anticipated, particularly if you've had to issue temporary lay-offs. If your payroll changes at any point in the year after you provide the WCB with your annual payroll estimate in February, it's important to let us know. This will ensure that your premium payments appropriately reflect your coverage level. (Full Story)

June 15, 2020 - Manitoba Government Provides Update On Student Summer Employment - The Manitoba government is reminding employers of the various supports available to hire students to help rebuild the provincial economy. Minister Ralph Eichler provided an update on the Student Summer Jobs Recovery Program, which launched April 24. Since then, more than 1,300 employers have applied for $14.8 million in supports for nearly 3,000 student positions with numbers consistently climbing daily. (Full Story)

July 17, 2020 - New Brunswick extends program supporting women in trades - A New Brunswick program aimed at supporting and mentoring women in apprenticeable trades has been extended by three years. The program, entitled “New Boots: Progressing Women in Trades,” has been running since April 2018 following a 30-month pilot project and has since expanded from a cohort of 14 tradeswomen to more than 250. The New Boots program has benefited hundreds of female trades workers around New Brunswick. (Full Story)

July 14, 2020 - Amendments made to essential worker wage top-up program - The provincial government has made amendments to the federally funded essential worker wage top-up program. The program now includes private sector home care support workers and early learning and childcare enhanced support workers who provide direct client care. Private sector home care support workers who provided direct, in-home personal care to clients of the Department of Social Development during the period from March 19 to July 9 will be eligible to receive the benefit. (Full Story)

July 14, 2020 - See the updated COVID-19 safety and operational guide for workplaces - WorkSafeNB has released "Embracing the New Normal" - a 23-page guide designed to offer the guidance that New Brunswick workplaces need to help get business back up and running safely considering the pandemic. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions necessary to reduce risk, workplaces will not be the same as earlier, and everyone will need to adjust. New normals will need to be established at workplaces, including an added layer of health and safety measures (physical distancing, screening, handwashing, etc.). (Full Story)

July 10, 2020 - New Brunswick's economy adds 22,000 jobs in June - As the first province to begin easing COVID-19 restrictions, New Brunswick saw employment increase by 22,000 jobs last month, bringing levels back to 97.1 per cent of what they were in February, before COVID-19. New Brunswick's recovery performance in June was the best of the 10 provinces, which have been reopening at different rates after the shutdown forced by the pandemic. he province gained 13, 500 full-time jobs and 8,700 part-time jobs, Statistics Canada reported Friday in its monthly labour force survey. (Full Story)

June 30, 2020 - More help for workers with psychological injuries - WorkSafeNB is committed to superior service, and this means appropriate and timely care to workers. To help ensure such service, WorkSafeNB has created a new Initial Psychology Assessment Report (IPAR), Psychology Progress Report (PPR) and Psychology Discharge Report (PDR). Over the last 10 years, there have been significant changes in diagnostic criteria, the development of new empirically supported treatments and changes to the Worker's Compensation Act. These new forms support these changes. (Full Story)

July 17, 2020 - Public Advisory: Provincial Government Extends Application Deadline for Essential Worker Support Program - The Provincial Government is extending the deadline for employers to submit applications under the Newfoundland and Labrador COVID-19 Essential Worker Support Program to August 20, 2020, from the original deadline of July 30, 2020. This extension is in recognition of the high volume of requests for employer registration received to date and will ensure employers have ample time to submit their applications. (Full Story)

June 30, 2020 - WorkplaceNL reports 2019 workplace injury rates - St. John's, NL - The lost-time incidence rate due to workplace injury or illness in Newfoundland and Labrador remained at 1.6 per 100 workers in 2019. The rate among 15 to 24 year-old workers increased to 1.8 per 100 workers from 1.5 in 2018. The lost-time incidence rate represents the number of workers who received compensation while missing time from work due to a work-related injury or illness. The lost-time incidence rate in 2019 declined in four industries, increased in six and stayed the same in two. (Full Story)

June 26, 2020 - New office in Labrador to promote skilled trades among Indigenous groups - The Newfoundland and Labrador government is spending $1.45 million over three years to establish an office in Labrador that will promote the skilled trades as a viable career for the Innu and other Indigenous groups. The Labrador Office for Indigenous and Northern Skilled Trades will be based in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. The office will also work with governments and organizations to mentor people through the apprenticeship-journeyperson process and help them find jobs. (Full Story)

June 18, 2020 - Advisory: New COVID-19 guidelines for employers - St. John's, NL - A new COVID-19 Guidelines for Employers is now available that recognizes the importance of worker health and safety as businesses resume operations or bring more workers or customers on their premises following COVID-19-related work interruptions. Included in the guidelines are documentation requirements, risk reduction strategies to protect against the spread of COVID-19 and information on implementing physical distancing and hygiene measures in the workplace. (Full Story)

June 12, 2020 - Provincial Government Temporarily Extends Time Periods in Labour Standards Act - In an effort to maintain the employer-employee relationship and provide employers with additional time to recall their employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Provincial Government has extended the time period that converts a temporary layoff into a permanent termination. Previously, under the Labour Standards Act, an employee temporarily laid off for longer than 13 weeks in a period of 20 consecutive weeks would be considered as permanently terminated. (Full Story)

July 10, 2020 - NWT employment rate hits record low in June - The employment rate in the NWT hit a record low in June, falling to 60.6 per cent after three consecutive months of declines, according to Statistics Canada's Labour Force Survey, released on Friday. Between March and June the employment rate fell by three percentage points, with the number of employed people dropping by 900, to 19,700 in June. (Full Story)

July 8, 2020 - Big uptake of COVID-19 emergency benefit program in N.W.T. and Nunavut - A large number of people in the N.W.T. and Nunavut have tapped into a federal program meant to provide emergency help for people who have lost their job or been laid off due to COVID-19. According to the latest statistics from the federal government, 27,790 people in the three territories have received the Canada Emergency Response Benefit for one month or more. The benefit provides applicants with $500 per week for up to six months to replace earnings lost as a result of COVID-19 shutdowns. (Full Story)

June 15, 2020 - Media Release: WSCC guidance for Northern workplaces to reopen safely during COVID-19 - The Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission (WSCC) today released additional materials to assist employers in reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in their workplaces. All employers should prepare a COVID-19 Exposure Control Plan to identify what safety measures and procedures need to be in place to reopen safely. (Full Story)

July 14, 2020 - P.E.I. ranked No. 1 province in analysis of Canadian job postings per capita - Prince Edward Island is Canada's smallest province but has the country's highest number of job postings per capita, according to an analysis from Top Data. The analytics firm says data collected from job website found that P.E.I. had 1,161 job postings per 10,000 people as of July 13. (Full Story)

July 13, 2020 - Treat essential workers during pandemic equally - I work as a licenced practical nurse (LPN) for the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA). I have worked each and every shift during the pandemic. Many of us were happy to hear we would be recognized for hard work and putting our lives at risk when reading the provincial government's May 7 press release. Here's that commitment in that May release. (Full Story)

July 9, 2020 - Thousands of health workers, others, ineligible for 'essential workers' bonus - The Essential Health Care Worker Program is administered by the province with money coming mostly from the federal government. According to the Nova Scotia Health Department: "The Federal Government committed to funding $71.3M towards the Essential Workers Payment with a commitment of $9.9M by the Province." Although the federal funding was received in June, most of the money will not be disbursed until the fall. (Full Story)

July 9, 2020 - Isolation exceptions for skilled and essential workers will continue - Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health says he will continue to grant exceptions to the self-isolation requirements for skilled and essential workers. On Wednesday, Dr. Robert Strang also revoked an exception he made for three Irving executives after they had a business trip in the United States. The public health officer says he has already approved a number of plans but could not provide an exact number on how many exceptions have been granted so far. (Full Story)

July 7, 2020 - Advocates ‘concerned' about temporary foreign worker program, renew calls for better rights, protections for workers - After Nova Scotia reported its first case of a temporary foreign worker testing positive for COVID-19 last week, advocates are renewing a call for permanent resident status for all in Canada as the “only and best solution” to prevent further spread of COVID-19 among migrant workers. (Full Story)

July 6, 2020 - New Pilot Program Supports People to be Certified as Continuing Care Assistants = Government wants to encourage more people to become certified to work in the continuing care field in Nova Scotia. That is why a new pilot program will provide funding for people to have their skills and experience assessed and to complete the Recognizing Prior Learning process to become certified to work as continuing care assistants. This process will help those who may be currently working as long-term care assistants, or care workers who have come to Nova Scotia who want their credentials and experience recognized. (Full Story)

June 22, 2020 - 4-day work week with fewer hours, same pay could become a reality in some workplaces post-COVID-19 - It's only been days since a small Nova Scotia municipality launched a four-day condensed work week pilot project, but according to the chief administrative officer, so far, so good. The nine-month project, developed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, allows the municipality's core employees to work the same number of hours over a period of four days, known to many as a compressed work week. (Full Story)

June 15, 2020 - WCB: Clearance is now on MyAccount - Clearance letters for the July 1 - September 30 quarter are now available on MyAccount. WCB Nova Scotia is no longer mailing paper clearance letters. Employers who choose to defer premium payments will still receive a clearance letter, as long as they were in good standing as of the end of February 2020. For employers who still reported payroll while deferring payments, please note that it will take a few additional days for their letters to appear in MyAccount. (Full Story)

July 21, 2020 - Nunavut's Baffinland employees won't return to work anytime soon - Nunavut employees at Baffinland's Mary River mine have been off work with pay since March 16, and it doesn't look like they'll be going back to work anytime soon. The decision to keep around 300 Nunavut workers home was initially temporary, and the company says it is continually being reviewed. (Full Story)

July 6, 2020 - One third of Indigenous workers in Canada in jobs facing automation, says report - One-third of Canada's Indigenous workers are in jobs facing a high risk of automation, a new report has found. Researchers at the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, Ryerson University's Diversity Institute and the Future Skills Centre spent roughly a year studying 33 sectors and how advances in automation will affect Indigenous workers in those industries. (Full Story)

June 29, 2020 - Nunavut residents' vacation travel allowance timelines should be extended - I think the Canada Revenue Agency needs to provide an eight-month extension for the 2020 vacation travel allowance, meaning VTAs received have to be spent by Aug. 30, 2021, instead of the usual Dec. 31, 2020. Nunavut residents are routinely provided a VTA as part of their employment compensation. These amounts are usually tied to the cost of airfares from the employee's community to the nearest major airport in southern Canada. (Full Story)

June 15, 2020 - Media Release: WSCC guidance for Northern workplaces to reopen safely during COVID-19 - The Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission (WSCC) today released additional materials to assist employers in reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in their workplaces. All employers should prepare a COVID-19 Exposure Control Plan to identify what safety measures and procedures need to be in place to reopen safely. (Full Story)

July 21, 2020 - Rural Ontario employment rebounding faster than urban centres, group says - Employment in rural Ontario continues to rebound from the pandemic at a faster rate than in the province's urban centres, new figures show. Findings released by the Rural Ontario Institute show rural employment increased by 7.6 per cent from May to June, compared to a 6.3 per cent increase in the province's larger cities. (Full Story)

July 21, 2020 - MPs pass bill to implement revamped wage subsidy, disability aid payment - The federal government's latest COVID-19 emergency aid bill passed the House of Commons on Tuesday. It is now awaiting Senate consideration before the proposed changes to the wage subsidy program and the one-time payments to people with disabilities can be implemented. Members of Parliament reconvened in the House of Commons for an additional special sitting on Tuesday, to continue considering the proposed COVID-19 response measures after spending much of Monday discussing the bill. (Full Story)

July 20, 2020 - Ford warns long-term care homes to ensure workers have access to PPE - Long-term care homes that don't provide personal protective equipment to their staff as they prepare to allow visitors inside those facilities will face consequences, Premier Doug Ford said Friday. The warning came on the same day the province took over the management of another seniors home struggling to contain a deadly COVID-19 outbreak. (Full Story)

July 17, 2020 - Ontario Introduces Measures to Cap Interest and Fees on Payday Loans - The Ontario government is proposing changes that would provide additional protection for payday loan borrowers by capping interest rates and fees on defaulted loans, ensuring that workers and families who use payday loan services can keep more of their hard-earned money. The changes were included in the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, 2020. (Full Story)

July 16, 2020 - Public Health Ontario data reveals devastating pandemic effects for health care workers - Provincial COVID-19 data released by Public Health Ontario shows the cost of years of ignoring health workers' demands, and the risks of continued inaction. Health care workers were severely overrepresented in the data, representing more than 17 per cent of all cases, with 5,800 positive cases and 13 deaths between January 15, 2020 to June 22, 2020. (Full Story)

July 13, 2020 - Feds to extend wage subsidy program until December - The Liberal government will extend the wage subsidy program until December, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Monday. This marks the second extension of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS). On May 15, the government added an additional 12 weeks to the program, extending eligibility to August 29. Announced on March 27, the CEWS provides qualifying businesses and non-profits funding for 75 per cent of employee wages, retroactive from March 15. (Full Story)

July 10, 2020 - Ontario adds jobs in June for first time since COVID-19 pandemic is declared - Canada's national statistics agency has reported an increase in Ontario's employment for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared. After losing more than one million jobs in a three-month time span, Ontario has added about 378,000 jobs in June, Statistics Canada said on Friday. This brings Ontario's unemployment rate down to 12.2 per cent from 13.6 per cent last month. (Full Story)

July 9, 2020 - Skills Ontario CEO emphasizes role skilled trades play in recovery efforts - If the COVID-19 pandemic has shown anything, it's how essential skilled trades and technology jobs are and the critical role they play in generating economic activity, says Ian Howcroft, CEO of Skills Ontario. Skills Ontario held a Virtual Skills Summit June 30 to provide a strategy for a skills-based recovery. Participants heard from a variety of speakers on what business roadmaps for successful emergence from COVID-19 will look like, what skills are in high demand now and for the future and how to find and keep top talent, indicates a release. (Full Story)

July 3, 2020 - Ontario Launches Online Training to Promote Safe Workplaces - As the province safely and gradually reopens, the Ontario government is investing $3 million to provide free online health and safety training for the first time. These virtual courses will make it easier for job seekers and workers to get essential qualifications, while practising physical distancing and preventing the spread of COVID-19. (Full Story)

June 27, 2020 - The Ontario government says migrant workers have equal rights and access to benefits, but do they? - In response to concerns about how living and working conditions factored into massive outbreaks on farms across the province, Labour Minister Monte McNaughton said this past week that a “worker's passport does not determine how they are treated in our system.” “That's not the Ontario way,” McNaughton said. “If you're working in this province, I want you to know that your health and safety is a priority for our government.” (Full Story)

June 24, 2020 - Ontario assures migrant workers will not lose job if they contract coronavirus - Ontario is assuring migrant workers on farms that they will not lose their jobs, if they contract COVID-19, as the province provides a more targeted testing approach for farms experiencing recent outbreaks. To date, about 350 asymptomatic workers have been tested at their worksite since on-site testing launched this past weekend and Ontario is currently engaging employers to schedule more mobile testing on farms. (Full Story)

June 16, 2020 - Ontario Investing in Frontline Corrections Workers - The Ontario government is investing more than $500 million over five years to transform correctional facilities across the province. This funding will help ensure the safety and security of frontline staff. This major investment will support the hiring of more than 500 new staff to help address challenges within the correctional system such as mental health and addiction issues. The additional funding will also be used to modernize outdated infrastructure to address overcrowding and to improve services. (Full Story)

July 22, 2020 - Pandemic didn't create job disparity but revealed it, council suggests - A jobless rate for women on P.E.I. that is almost double what it is for men shows the need for structural changes to provide women with more secure jobs, says the P.E.I. Advisory Council on the Status of Women. The unemployment rate for Prince Edward Island women rose to 19.4 per cent in June, while it fell to 11.2 per cent for men. That is close to where the rate for men was last summer, when there was no COVID-19 slowdown or travel ban. (Full Story)

July 10, 2020 - New COVID-19 testing site for essential workers opening in Borden - A new testing site for PEI residents who are essential workers, including truckers and health care workers, is being established near the Confederation Bridge in Borden. It will open at noon on Monday, July 13. Any essential worker from the province who is returning to Prince Edward Island after travelling outside the Atlantic bubble due to their work will be able to drop-in to the testing site to be swabbed for COVID-19. (Full Story)

July 10, 2020 - P.E.I. women's unemployment climbs again, rate down for men - The unemployment rate rose sharply on P.E.I. in June, and all on the backs of women. Statistics Canada released the Labour Force Survey for June Friday morning. The unemployment rate for P.E.I. climbed to 15.2 per cent from 13.9 per cent in May. The unemployment rate for men, however, actually fell, from 12.1 to 11.2 per cent. For women it rose from 15.8 to 19.4 per cent. (Full Story)

July 13, 2020 - What Happens to a Business When an Employee Tests Positive? - Two recent health advisories from Saskatchewan businesses due to COVID-19 have led to questions about what businesses' responsibilities are if a case appears. What are the procedures in place? Does that business have to close its doors yet again? There have been two such cases in recent days, both in licensed establishments; the first in Emma Lake and the second in Saskatoon. Both prompted advisories from the SHA after an employee tested positive for the virus. (Full Story)

July 10, 2020 - 30,300 More Jobs As Saskatchewan Re-Opens - Saskatchewan had one of the strongest rates of job growth in Canada in June as more of the economy reopened and the province continued its strong recovery from the impact of the pandemic. According to job numbers released by Statistics Canada today, Saskatchewan saw an increase of 30,300 jobs (seasonally adjusted), or 6.0 per cent, in June compared to May. (Full Story)

July 9, 2020 - Nearly 40% of Saskatchewan's workforce has received CERB - The federal government is reporting more than 8.1 million Canadians have received the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to supplement their lost income during the COVID-19 pandemic. Saskatchewan alone accounted for more than 200,000 applications. According to Statistics Canada, around 559,800 people were employed in the province in March. (Full Story)

July 3, 2020 - WCB to roll out psychological safety strategy and resources - The Saskatchewan Workers' Compensation Board (WCB) and WorkSafe Saskatchewan have formed a partnership with a renowned psychologist who specializes in mental health and the workplace as the number of mental health injuries continues to rise. While mental health claims only account for a small percentage of what's submitted to WCB each year, the numbers are rising rapidly. Since 2015, 2,497 claims have been submitted, of which 952 have been accepted. (Full Story)

June 30, 2020 - WorkSafe Sask. to offer online mental health resources - In response to a rising trend in mental health injuries, WorkSafe Saskatchewan is embarking on a new partnership to provide employers with resources to deal with psychological issues in the workplace. WorkSafe Saskatchewan is partnering with Vancouver-based psychologist Dr. Joti Samra, who is the CEO and founder of the consulting firm MyWorkPlaceHealth. (Full Story)

June 18, 2020 - New Temporary Training Program To Support Saskatchewan Employers - The Government of Saskatchewan announced a new temporary training program to help businesses train employees to enhance safety protocols and adjust business models as they re-open. The Re-Open Saskatchewan Training Subsidy (RSTS) program will reimburse eligible private-sector employers 100 per cent of employee training costs up to a maximum of $10,000 per business to mitigate against additional financial impacts from training required to support their safe re-opening. (Full Story)

June 30, 2020 - WorkSafe Saskatchewan forms partnership with leading Canadian psychological health expert - Mental health injuries are on the rise across our province and our country. To develop a long-term strategy, which will include resources to assist Saskatchewan employers deal with psychological health issues in the workplace, WorkSafe Saskatchewan has formed a partnership with Dr. Joti Samra, one of Canada's foremost psychological health and wellness experts. WorkSafe is the workplace injury prevention partnership between the Saskatchewan Workers' Compensation Board (WCB) and the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety. (Full Story)

June 24, 2020 - WCB shares financial results during AGM - At the Saskatchewan Workers' Compensation Board (WCB)'s annual general meeting (AGM) teleconference today, the WCB shared its 2019 financial and operating results with Saskatchewan workers, employers and partners. The WCB's 2019 funded position was within the targeted range of 105 to 120 per cent. (Full Story)

Pandemic policy preparedness

A revised human resource manual benefits both employers and employees

I was recently asked a question as to whether or not a human resources policy manual should be revised to include some of the new policies created during the COVID-19 pandemic. Apparently, the HR manager asking this question was having difficulty convincing her executive team that the HR policy manual needed to be updated.

In my view, there's good reason for updating the HR policy manual as well as any other operational manuals used in the workplace. Let's face it, how many business owners as well as not-for-profit leaders were truly ready for this type of COVID-19 chaos let alone any other natural disasters? How many can really say they are prepared for a forest fire, a building fire, flooded basements and/or larger community flooding where a community's population, including staff, need to be removed and businesses suddenly closed up? Not many.

It's now becoming well known that society may be confronted with more frequent natural disasters which means everyone should be as prepared as possible. We need to look more closely at issues such as working at home, employee travel, safety at work and supply chain issues. After all, we can't run out of toilet paper. Seriously, we must be prepared to deal with any type of business disruption.

So, where do you start? Based on my experience, one of the biggest areas of neglect with respect to any organizational chaos such as COVID-19 was the number of organizations that had not implemented workplace health and safety policies and procedures to the extent required by legislation.

They either didn't have a committee in place and/or people had moved on with their careers and had not been replaced. If new members were now on board, they have not been trained on the basics, let alone any kind of investigative responsibilities. Also, there was no emergency management committee and/or process. This left many organizations scrambling to deal with their chaos issues.

In addition, there are several COVID-19 related policies that could be generalized and included in an HR policy manual that would provide value under any crisis situation. These include the following:

  • Essential service policy - This policy outlines which employee roles are considered essential services and which are required to sustain everyday operations. It should define what will be required of these roles during an emergency and which role is responsible for leadership. This should also include roles that might be needed for backup, how employees will be notified, and whether or not "hazard" or "hero" pay would be applied and in what circumstances. Finally, meetings should be held with this group and workplace health and safety committee members if this is not already a subcommittee so basic emergency plans can be prepared.
  • Communicable disease policy - As with most common illnesses, our workplace is susceptible to the spread of infectious diseases because of the proximity between workers, and the frequency of contact with shared surfaces and objects. It is important for management to be prepared to deal with these issues and to minimize the risk of spreading illness in the workplace. The policy also needs to state that employers will be following public health directives in order to ensure a safe and healthy workplace. Rules and expectations of employees need to be clear.
  • Work-at-home policy - With COVID-19 demonstrating that working at home is more viable than first envisioned, most HR policy manuals should contain a set of policies that outline requirements for selecting a work-at-home employee. Procedures related to the set-up of technology to support this transition, guidelines regarding expectations for both employees and supervisors, and agreements between the employee and employer especially around the right to end a work-at-home contract must also be included. As well, the policy should spell out employee expectations and guidelines for supervision.
  • Compensation management policy - This policy is related to typical compensation issues that may arise. It may reference the need for short-term emergency salary increases typically known as hazard or hero pay, and a policy related to use of vacation days and other leave provisions that may be restricted during an emergency.
  • Work refusal policy - While this is referred to in workplace health and safety legislation, policies need to be more specific with respect to managing this type of situation. There should be clarification regarding investigation, and also focus on accommodation. With respect to COVID-19 there has been much concern about personal safety and while we may not all have the same fears and anxiety, employee concerns must be taken seriously. Be sure to include a form for employees to complete that will help managers to understand the employee point of view, how they see safety procedures and what other suggestions they might provide.
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  • Workplace sanitation policy - This potential policy is rarely seen in an organization other than to ensure nightly or weekly custodial services. But in a time of chaos, there are basic sanitation and safety standards that should be met. Indicate what these include and note that additions will be added dependent on the situation. Include a list of sanitation recommendations from the public health agency.
  • Personal protection policy - This policy needs to identify the roles and responsibilities of both the employer and employee with respect to personal protection. Typically, this refers to equipment provided by the employer but also identifies the expectations of employees in terms of personal health and safety behaviours such as wearing a mask.
  • Return to work - Policies need to be developed and implemented that demonstrate the responsibilities of both management and employees. While not all return-to-work policies and protections will be as stringent as those during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are some generalizations that can be put in place for future use. Once again, consideration needs to be in place for vulnerable persons.
  • Mandatory employee training - Since all employees are at risk of exposure to a communicable disease, the employer should provide mandatory training and refresher training that for all employees. It should also be mandatory for all new employees as part of their orientation. The policy should outline the general nature of the training as well as the frequency.

While the COVID-19 pandemic was unexpected, it has taught us many lessons, most notably the importance of being prepared for another communicable disease outbreak. Whereas it is important for employers to safeguard the health and well-being of their employees, being prepared with policies that can be quickly implemented for any infectious disease may well be a blessing.

Article presented by permission from Barbara J. Bowes, President of Legacy Bowes Group and a professional speaker, author, radio personality and management consultant. She can be reached at

Software Updates

eNETEmployer (Current Release)

  • Added the July 2020 mid-year tax calculation changes.
  • Improved the page margins and display for the Pay Register report.
  • Fixed an issue where long employee names would overlap the date on the Pay Register report.
  • Added support for earnings rates and hours to the Audit report.
  • Improved the accuracy of the CPP calculation for employees who turned turns 18 or 70 in the current pay period.

GrandMaster Suite (Version 15.06)

  • Added the July 2020 mid-year tax calculation changes.
  • Fixed issue where the Employee Rates, Accumulator report was printing the Initial Hire date, but exporting the Start date.

GrandMaster II (v15.05)

  • Added the July 2020 mid-year tax calculation changes.

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