Latest update! June 18th, 2020, @9am

 

June 16th, 2020

 

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May 30th -31st, 2020

 

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May 9- 10th, 2020

 

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May 2nd-3rd, 2020

 

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April 27th, 2020

 

April 25-26th, 2020

 

April 24th, 2020

 

April 23rd, 2020

 

April 22nd, 2020

  • The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, yesterday announced an investment of $350 million to support vulnerable Canadians through charities and non-profit organizations that deliver essential services to those in need. The investment will flow through national organizations that have the ability to get funds quickly to local organizations that serve vulnerable populations.
  • The Minister of National Revenue launched the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy calculator to support employers as they prepare to apply for the CEWS. The calculator can be found on CRA’s Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Web page. This allows employers to view their claim at a glance and, as of April 27, can start applying for CEWS.
  • Fifty Senators signed a letter calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his deputy, Chrystia Freeland, to “restructure” the feds’ Canada Emergency Response Benefit to a “minimum basic income” in order to “stop other groups of Canadians from falling through the cracks,” according to a press release.
  • Agriculture and Agri-food Canada has launched an online employment portal to provide links to resources for job seekers who are interested in working on farms, in distribution, food processing, and other related occupations. Resources will include national and regional employment websites, and information on skills and training.
  • The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and his counterparts from 12 different countries, took part Saturday in the sixth call of the Ministerial Coordination Group on COVID-19 (MCGC) to reiterate the need to maintain essential global links as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve. The ministers committed to work together to coordinate their countries’ public health, travel, trade, economic and financial measures in order to minimize disruptions and to ensure a strong recovery that puts people first. The group also stressed the importance of maintaining the flow of essential goods and supplies and the need to preserve maritime routes and air bridges. 
  • Joint Statement by Brazil, Canada, Italy and Egypt following the Extraordinary High-Level Meeting on mitigating the potential socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 on food availability, supply, and to attain food security. 
  • With some provinces now seemingly past the peak of COVID-19, some premiers are now expressing hope they can lift certain restrictions and partially reopen their economies soon. Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said he’s aiming for his province to be the first to reopen. 
  • Air Canada has announced it is suspending service to the United States after Canada and the U.S. agreed to extend restrictions on cross-border travel for another 30 days because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • President Trump said that he intended to temporarily suspend immigration to the United States, a drastic move that he said would protect American workers from foreign competition once the nation’s economy began to recover from the shutdown caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
  • The International Monetary Fund recently announced the “Great Lockdown” recession will drag global GDP lower by 3% in 2020, but its managing director now thinks the gloomy outlook could be too positive.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday that all available evidence suggests the novel coronavirus originated in animals in China late last year and was not manipulated or produced in a laboratory.

 

April 21st, 2020

  • The House returned on Monday after its temporary suspension more than a month ago, to debate the government’s motion to hold in-person sittings once a week. The motion, which  also called for two virtual sittings on Tuesdays and Thursdays, was passed. Parliament as a whole is expected to be suspended until May 25. 
  • Minister Gould reiterated Canada’s commitment to combat the pandemic by supporting the WHO’s critical role in maintaining supply chains of essential goods, notably medical supplies and also,Canada’s concern about the challenges faced by small-island developing states and sub-Saharan Africa, during her meeting with the head of WHO.
  • The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) has provided an online space, Pandemic Info Share, to enable businesses and organizations to share their pandemic-related good practices and resources.
  • The City of Ottawa is getting ready to spend more than $11.4 million in combined funds from the federal and provincial governments to address homelessness and curb the spread of COVID-19 among the city’s most vulnerable residents. In a teleconference Monday afternoon, Mayor Jim Watson said the city received $6.6 million from Ontario’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (roughly half of the province’s $13.3 million commitment for this year for social services relief) along with $4.8 million from the federal government’s Reaching Home program.
  • The peak of community spread of the novel coronavirus in Ontario seems to have been less severe than anticipated according to updated provincial modelling, but public health officials say Ontarians must “stay the course”with COVID-19.
  • AAFC organizes a conference call with a broad group of agri-food stakeholders every Tuesday and Thursday. This conference call is open to anyone who wishes to participate. You will find the calling information here. 

 

April 20th, 2020

 

April 18-19th, 2020

  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced $1.7 billion funding to the governments of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia, and the Alberta Orphan Well Association, to clean up orphan and/or inactive oil and gas wells and also up to $750 million to create a new proposed Emissions Reduction Fund to reduce emissions in Canada’s oil and gas sector, with a focus on methane. 
  • The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, also announced new actions to protect Canadian jobs and provide more support to businesses and organizations dealing with the economic impacts of COVID-19:
    • $675 million to give financing support to small and medium-sized businesses through Canada’s Regional Development Agencies
    • $287 million to support rural businesses and communities through the Community Futures Network.
    • $500 million to establish a COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations 
    • $250 million to assist innovative, early-stage companies through the National Research Council of Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program
    • $20.1 million in support for Futurpreneur Canada to continue to support young entrepreneurs across Canada who are facing challenges due to COVID-19. 

 

April 17th, 2020

  • The federal government is expanding eligibility criteria for the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) to businesses that paid between $20,000 and $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019. This new range will replace the previous one of between $50,000 and $1 million, and will help address the challenges faced by small businesses to cover non-deferrable operating costs. Since the launch of the CEBA on April 9, 2020, more than 195,000 loans have been approved by financial institutions, extending more than $7.5 billion in credit to small businesses.
  • The Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also announced the launch of Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses.The program will seek to provide loans, including forgivable loans, to commercial property owners who in turn will lower or forgo the rent of small businesses for the months of April (retroactive), May, and June. Implementation of the program will require a partnership between the federal government and provincial and territorial governments, which are responsible for property owner-tenant relationships.
  • In response to the increasing demand for hand sanitizers in Canada during the current COVID-19 pandemic, Health Canada temporarily allowed technical grade ethanol for the manufacture of hand sanitizers. These products can be distributed to healthcare and commercial settings.The risk assessment to be published today.
  • Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said the government is focusing its efforts on responding to growing concerns of threats to Canada’s food supply as the processing sector faces shortfalls in labour due to the pandemic. 
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has reiterated that the shutdown of the Canada-U.S. border to all non-essential travel is likely to remain in place for a significant amount of time before we can loosen current restrictions. The two countries negotiated a mutual ban on non-essential travel in both directions in mid-March. This  agreement explicitly exempted the flow of trade and commerce, as well as vital health care workers like nurses who live and work on opposite sides of the border.
  • Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) has developed a series of pandemic guidance tip sheets to help high-risk occupations and essential services and industries work safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Mary Robinson, President of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA), hosted a virtual press conference to address the extraordinary challenges being faced by Canadian farmers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The CFA and its members are asking the government to create an Emergency Fund or financial backstop so farmers in need can access funds to help them overcome the mounting costs.
  • The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has advised, effective today, that truck drivers and other essential workers crossing the Canada-U.S. border must wear a non-medical mask or face covering.
  • Alberta beef processing facility in High River, Cargill, has suspended cattle kills completely. The plant accounts for 36% of Canada’s beef processing capacity, according to the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA). The CCA called for a federally co-ordinated “set-aside” program that would enable producers to keep their animals longer. It would involve feeding cattle a maintenance diet instead of the more nutrient-dense growth diet they would normally eat ahead of slaughter.

 

April 16th, 2020

  • The Prime Minister announced expanded access to Canada Emergency Response Benefit:
    • Allow people to earn up to $1,000 per month while collecting the CERB
    • Extend the CERB to seasonal workers who have exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to undertake their usual seasonal work as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak
    • Extend the CERB to workers who recently exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to find a job or return to work because of COVID-19
  • The government is proposing a new wage boost for essential workers. In recognition that these essential workers’ salaries are often less or similar than what they would receive from the CERB, the government will work with provinces and territories through a new transfer to cost-share a temporary top-up to the salaries of workers deemed essential in the fight against COVID-19, who make less than $2,500 a month. Details will be released shortly following further work with provinces and territories. 
  • The Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced that the government will provide immediate, temporary relief to sponsors of federally regulated, defined benefit pension plans. This relief will be in the form of a moratorium, through the remainder of 2020, on solvency payment requirements for defined benefit plans.
  • New expectations for operators have been posted on the CFIA website about preventing COVID-19 in establishments regulated by CFIA. The document outlines steps that the CFIA expects operators to take to address exposure risks for both the establishment and CFIA employees.
  • The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) yesterday announced the temporary reduction of service hours at certain low-traffic ports of entry (POE) along the Canada-United States land border. These COVID-19 related measures are in effect as of April 15, 2020 at 11:59 pm EDT. They will remain in effect until further notice. Click here for the fact sheet with current hours of service.
  • The Bank of Canada (BOC) today maintained its target for the overnight rate at 0.25 percent, which the Bank considers its effective lower bound. The BOC said necessary efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic have caused a sudden and deep contraction in economic activity and employment worldwide. The global economic recovery, when it comes, could be protracted and uneven. In its quarterly monetary policy report, the bank outlined two recovery scenarios under which real gross domestic product (GDP) would shrink. It estimated real GDP would fall by 1% to 3% in the first quarter and would contract by 15% to 30% in the second quarter, both compared with the fourth quarter of 2019. 
  • Joint Statement by the Honourable Filomena Tassi, Minister of Labour, and leaders from labour and industry regarding support for workers and employers during the coronavirus crisis.
  • The Minister of Health, Patty Hajdu, launched a new portal dedicated to mental wellness on Canada.ca/coronavirus and the Canada COVID-19 app. Wellness Together Canada will connect Canadians social workers, psychologists and other professionals for confidential chat sessions or phone calls, and will make it easier to find credible information and help address mental health and substance use issues.
  • Minimum wage of Quebec to increase to $13.10 on May 1.  According to the Quebec government, this 4.8% increase will make it possible to reach, for the period 2020-2021, the target of a ratio of 50% between the general minimum wage rate and the average hourly wage.
  • USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) announced that they are ensuring that dairy producers will not be penalized if their milk has to be dumped due to recent market disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. RMA said it is going to allow dumped milk to be counted as milk marketing for the Dairy Revenue Protection (DRP) program or actual marketing for the Livestock Gross Margin for Dairy (LGM-Dairy) program, according to the Cheese Reporter.

 

April 15th, 2020

  • The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau announced additional support to address immediate health, economic, and transportation needs in the North. These measures will include:
    • $72.6 million to the governments of Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut to support their COVID-19 health and social services preparations  
    • Up to $17.3 million to the governments of Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut to support northern air carriers to ensure the continued supply of food, medical supplies, and other essential goods and services 
    • $15 million in non-repayable support for businesses in the territories to help businesses with operating costs not already covered by other Government of Canada measures
    • An additional $25 million to Nutrition North Canada to increase subsidies so families can afford much-needed nutritious food and personal hygiene products.
  • The Government of Canada is also providing $20 million to the CFIA to support critical food inspections. This investment will allow the CFIA to hire, train and equip additional staff (including recently retired CFIA inspectors and veterinarians) to conduct critical inspection activities, reassign staff from within the Agency to focus on critical services, and work closer with industry and trading partners to minimize supply disruptions during this crisis.
  • The Government of Canada updates mandatory requirements under any traveller arriving in Canada,whether they are symptomatic or asymptomatic, cannot isolate or quarantine in a place where they would be in contact with vulnerable people. Travellers who do not have an appropriate place to isolate or quarantine must go to a place designated by the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada. In addition, all travellers arriving in Canada will be required to wear a non-medical mask or face covering to proceed to their final destination, where they will isolate or quarantine. They will be provided with a mask if they do not have one.
  • New expectations for operators should be posted during the day on the CFIA website about preventing and responding to COVID-19 in establishments regulated by CFIA. The document outlines steps that the CFIA expects operators to take to address exposure risks for both the establishment and CFIA employees.
  • In an effort to continue minimizing the impacts of the pandemic on Canadians and stopping the spread of COVID-19, regulatory amendments under the Contraventions Act came into force. These changes provide increased flexibility to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and local and provincial police forces, to issue tickets to individuals who do not comply with orders under the Federal Quarantine Act.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) and European Commission have published separate guidance about coronavirus and food safety. 
    • The WHO interim guidance for food businesses said it was “highly unlikely” that people can contract COVID-19 from food or food packaging. Coronaviruses cannot multiply in food as they need an animal or human host.
    • The European Commission published a Q+A on COVID-19 and food safety covering production, food in shops and food at home. The document states businesses cannot ask for virus-free certification guarantees from suppliers for COVID-19 as there is no evidence that food poses a risk to public health.
  • Joint statement by Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy regarding international collaboration in addressing COVID-19

 

April 14th, 2020

 

April 13th, 2020

  • On Sunday, Parliament Bill C-14, A second Act respecting certain measures in response to COVID-19, received the Royal Assent, bringing it into law. The legislation includes additional flexibilities that provide effective support to employers and help protect Canadians jobs. The proposed  Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) would apply at a rate of 75% of the first $58,700 earned by employees – representing a benefit of up to $847 per week per employee.  For March, the CEWS benchmark is set at 15%.The program would be in place for a 12-week period, from March 15 to June 6, 2020. An increase in the borrowing limit of the Canadian Dairy Commission is not included in the Act. Such an increase would have allowed the Canadian Dairy Commission to expand its storage programs in order to minimize the milk that has to be disposed of from the farm.
  • OPEC, oil nations agreed to record-setting oil production cuts amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to Global News.
  • Canada is building its own PPE supply chain in China, according to CBC. The made-for-Canada plan was set up with the help of diplomats and consultants in China, a warehouse in Shanghai, and two of Canada’s airlines.
  • “As of Sunday, April 12, there are 23,318 cases of COVID-19 cases and, sadly, 653 deaths and have completed tests for more than 404,000 people, and 5.6% of those tests were confirmed as positive”, said Dr. Tam.  The Chief Public Health Officer of Canada encouraged Canadians to consult Canada.ca/coronavirus for the latest information. Click here for the statement.
  • Apple and Google are developing technology to aid in COVID-19 tracking. In this spirit of collaboration, Google and Apple are announcing a joint effort to enable the use of Bluetooth technology to help governments and health agencies reduce the spread of the virus, with user privacy and security central to the design.

 

April 10th, 2020

 

April 9th, 2020

  • Today, the government of Canada officials will hold a media technical briefing at 9am on data and modelling informing public health action on coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
  • Yesterday, Finance Minister Bill Morneau provided further details on the eligibility criteria for businesses to access the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), including the proposed change to relax specific requirements. Therefore, for March, the Government intends to make the CEWS more accessible than originally announced by reducing the 30% benchmark to 15%. Employers have the flexibility to compare their revenue of March, April and May 2020 to that of the same month of 2019, or to an average of their revenue earned in January and February 2020. 
  • Small businesses can begin applying for an interest-free loan under the newly created Canada Emergency Business Account today. Through the program, eligible small and medium-sized businesses can get loans up to $40,000 through their banks and credit unions and up to $10,000 of the loans may be forgiven if they are paid back by Dec. 31, 2022. 
  • The federal government is also introducing an expanded Canada Summer Jobs program, which would offer companies and organizations a 100% subsidy, of the provincial or territorial minimum hourly wage, for students to be hired this summer. The program includes an extension of the end date for employment to Feb. 28, 2021, and the inclusion of part-time jobs. 
  • The Insurance Bureau of Canada suggests customers reach out to their insurance company to see whether they qualify for relief, and some insurers have already cut auto premiums by 75%, according to the National Post.
  • The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) submitted a set of recommendations to USDA urging the Trump administration to take swift, comprehensive action to support the US dairy industry through the coronavirus crisis. 
  • Ontario Premier Doug Ford yesterday announced extended construction hours for essential construction projects, such as  critical projects in the health care sector, while ensuring the safety of construction workers. The report will be updated regularly with new data.
  • Statistics Canada released data on Canadians’ pandemic shopping habits. The report highlights trends in consumer demand and sales using transaction data for grocery products.
  • AAFC organizes a conference call with a broad group of agri-food stakeholders every Tuesday and Thursday. This conference call is open to anyone who wishes to participate. You will find the calling information here. 

 

April 8th, 2020

  • The CFIA update on SFCR: Given these extraordinary circumstances, until further notice the CFIA will not prioritize compliance activities associated with the July 15, 2020, coming into force of the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) for the manufactured food sector and any changes to the CFIA’s prioritization of these compliance activities will be announced with adequate lead time once the situation allows.
  • At yesterday’s briefing, the Prime Minister announced further progress under Canada’s Plan to Mobilize Industry to fight COVID-19 that would help provide vital, made in Canada protective gear and medical equipment, which would build a secure, domestic supply of needed items to protect frontline health workers as they fight this global pandemic. This includes:
    • Producing  up to 30,000 ventilators in Canada
    • Working with one of Canada’s Nobel Prize-winning researchers, Dr. Art McDonald, to develop a ventilator that can be constructed quickly and reliably in Canada
    • Producing PPE using innovative alternative materials 
    • Establishing and securing new supply chains to produce medical gowns from new Canadian sources
    • Purchasing hand sanitizer from Canadian companies
    • Placing orders for millions of surgical masks from various companies
  • The Prime Minister also said that Canada expects to receive delivery of 500,000 masks from 3M on Wednesday.
  • According to The Globe and Mail, the feds’ draft bill for the 75 per cent wage subsidy introduces some flexibility for businesses and charities looking to qualify. For example, the requirement to show a decline in revenue has been reduced to 15% for those who wish to use March as a benchmark. This threshold remains at 30% for April and May.
  • In a tweet, Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez said the government is “still in discussions with all parties to reach an agreement and recall the House as quickly as possible.”
  • After Canada, Mexico recently sent its notification to the US and Canada that they have completed their internal legal processes for the CUSMA to go into force, but the United States must still follow suit. Yesterday, Mexico’s government asked the US and Canada to grant its automotive industry extra time to adapt its supply chains to meet rules of origin requirements in the CUSMA Agreement.
  • The National Milk Producers Federation, the largest organization of U.S. dairy farmers, and the International Dairy Foods Association last night submitted a request for assistance to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. “As most of the country shelters in place and large swaths of the foodservice sector come to a standstill, dairy sales outside retail channels have plummeted,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern.
  • WHO is working on new guidelines for food processing. The guidelines are expected to provide more detailed recommendations for different workplaces as well as recommendations for workplaces where social distancing may not be possible. No date has been set for their publication. For additional information, click here
  • The minister of Canadian Heritage, announced yesterday that the Government of Canada is investing $3 million in several organizations through the Digital Citizen Initiative’s Digital Citizen Contribution Program. This funding will help combat the spread of disinformation.
  • Updated guidance has been posted on the CFIA website about preventing and responding to COVID-19 in meat slaughter and processing establishments. The guidance document outlines steps that meat slaughter and processing establishments are required to take to address exposure risks for both establishment and CFIA employees. This is an update to the document that was published on March 31, 2020.
  • Early estimates from Statistics Canada indicate that, since mid-March, when physical-distancing guidelines kicked in, more than three million people have applied for the government’s emergency relief and EI.
  • AAFC organises a conference call with a broad group of agri-food stakeholders every Tuesday and Thursday. This conference call is open to anyone who wishes to participate. You will find the calling information here.

 

April 7th, 2020

  • Effective immediately, the CFIA is temporarily suspending certain labelling requirements that have no impact on food safety due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This notice applies to foodservice food that has already been packaged and labelled and the foodservice food that is packaged and labelled within 90 days of the publication of this notice.These activities include low-risk activities that do not immediately impact the production of safe food for Canadians. Details can be found here.
  • Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said that wearing a non-medical mask can help people prevent transmission to others and protect others. However this shouldn’t replace the physical distancing and frequent handwashing.
  • During his briefing yesterday’s briefing , the Prime Minister Trudeau mentioned that the  government is looking at expanding the CERB benefits package to those who work 10 hours or less due to the pandemic, along with students who may be unable to find a job in this current market.
  • Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough’s office said yesterday that everything seemed to be going smoothly in the first few hours since the online portal was open for CERB applications. By 6:30 p.m. yesterday, the Minister of Employment’s office confirmed that they had processed 642,000 CERB applications.
  • Yesterday, 3M issued a statement saying a deal had now been reached that would protect the sending of respirators,  face masks to Canada and elsewhere. 3M also said they would import 166.5 million respirators over the next three months, primarily from its manufacturing facility in China, starting in April, according to National Post.
  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been moved to intensive care as a precautionary measure after his coronavirus symptoms “worsened”. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was asked to deputise “where necessary”.

 

April 6th, 2020

  • Applications for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) opens today, and the CRA has assigned specific days of the week for accepting applications based on the month applicants were born. The CERB excludes those who have voluntarily quit their jobs. Find out more details here.
  • Yesterday, the Honourable Karina Gould, Minister of International Development, announced the allocation of $159.5 million in funding to support international efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. This investment includes $50 million announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier in March. The $159.5 million investment is divided as follows;
    • $84.5 million to international partners to support humanitarian appeals;
    • $40 million to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations for COVID-19 vaccine development;
    • $30 million to address country-specific requests for assistance;
    • $5 million to global health security capacity building.
  • The Minister of Transport, yesterday announced new measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission on commercial passenger vessels and ferries. As of April 6, all commercial marine vessels are prohibited from carrying more than 12 passengers from engaging in non-essential activities, such as tourism or recreation. These measures will remain in place until at least June 30th.
  • Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez has asked Speaker Anthony Rota for advice on the possibility of convening the House virtually. Since the current Standing Orders don’t allow for electronic or remote voting, Mr. Rodriguez acknowledged, there would have to be “substantial revisions” to the rulebook.

 

April 4th-5th, 2020

  • The government announced an investment of $100 million on the 3rd of April to improve access to food for Canadians facing social, economic, and health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding will go to national, regional, and local organizations across Canada that can reach people and communities experiencing food insecurity. Eligible activities for this new funding include the purchase of food, support for the transportation and distribution of food, etc. The $100 million investment is divided as follows:
    • $50 million to Food Banks Canada
    • $20 million divided evenly between Salvation Army, Second Harvest, Community Food Centres Canada, and Breakfast Club of Canada
    • $30 million for local-level organizations who serve people experiencing food insecurity
  • The US  dairy sector is facing an ‘Unprecedented Challenge’ to find markets for milk. For example, in Wisconsin, farmers have been asked to dump milk at the farm. Several dairy organizations in the past week have urged the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to begin buying substantial volumes of dairy products as quickly as possible to help reduce the negative fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. They also urge Congress to provide targeted financial aid to food industry workers. 
  • In Europe, the European Dairy Association (EDA) is asking the EU to activate Private Storage Aid for powder, butter and cheeses to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 on the European dairy market.
  • The Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) to request companies to let the Government of Canada know what products or services they have to support Canada’s response to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. The Government of Canada needs information about products and services businesses can supply in support of Canada’s response to COVID-19. This includes medical products for prevention, like disposable N95 masks, vinyl gloves and hand sanitizer. It also includes different services, such as security, nursing, and food services. The full list is posted on the Calling all suppliers – Help Canada Combat COVID-19 on Buyandsell.gc.ca. Information regarding product specifications is also available.
  • Quebec announced an Emergency Assistance Program for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses aimed to support, for a limited period, eligible businesses who are experiencing financial difficulties due to COVID-19 and who need $ 50,000 cash or less. The assistance will take the form of a loan or loan guarantee of up to $ 50,000 for companies from all sectors of activity; cooperatives; non-profit organizations; and social economy enterprises engaged in commercial activities.
  • The Ontario premier Doug Ford announced a significantly pared-down list of essential services allowed to remain open. Those that did not make the cut must suspend operations by Saturday 11:59 p.m. The new closures, which will be in effect for at least 14 days, include all industrial construction sites except for those on projects considered essential, such as hospitals. Updated List of Essential Activities by Province can be found here.
  • On Friday, the Government of Canada announced it has entered into an agreement with Amazon Canada to help manage the distribution of personal protective equipment and supplies purchased by the government to support the COVID-19 response. 
  • Canada also announces support to those experiencing homelessness and women fleeing gender-based violence during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
  • A new resource hub on the Global Affairs website is now live for Canadian development partners to navigate through the #COVID19 crisis at home and abroad. The site will provide regularly updated information on: measures the government is taking to support international development partners; repatriation of Canadian project employees and their families, volunteers and interns; support for employees in Canada.

 

April 3rd, 2020

  • Canada formally ratified CUSMA last night meaning that it notified other countries  in writing that “it has completed the internal procedures required for the entry into force of this Protocol”. The Protocol can be found here.
  • The Government of Canada provides guidance on services and functions deemed essential to Canada’s critical infrastructure during COVID-19. Yesterday, the Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness has released the “Guidance on Essential Services and Functions in Canada During the COVID-19 Pandemic” to assist various jurisdictions and businesses in their decision-making around the types of employees considered essential to maintaining the health, safety, security and economic well-being of Canadians throughout this health crisis. The list includes, among others,  Food manufacturer employees and their supplier employees—to include those employed in food processing (packers, meat processing, fish processing, cheese plants, milk plants, produce, etc.) facilities. 
  • A DPAC-DFC joint press release on the milk supply situation can be found here. 
  • Although no agreement has yet been reached on a date for a recall of Parliament, it is expected to be early next week. The Opposition parties are making clear they want to review a ‘final’ version of the legislation before they recall parliament and commit their support to adopt new measures.
  • According to the CBC news, premier Doug Ford said that Ontario would be releasing the government’s projections on COVID-19 death rates today. 
  • The BC Premier John Horgan and Energy Minister Bruce Ralston announced BC Hydro would offer a temporary 1% cut relief for residential customers, small businesses and major industries:
    • Residential customers who have lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19 will receive a rate cut that is three times their monthly bill.
    • Small businesses forced to close will have their power bills forgiven for three months and will be waived entirely from April – June; and
    • Major industries will be able to defer 50% of their bill payments for three months.
  • To assist truckers, who experience issues finding food, restroom and rest-sop options through Alebarta’s key trucking corridors, the Alberta Motor Transportation Association is providing details on their website identifying rest areas that remain open. Similar calls from other premiers, notably Quebec and Ontario, have been made as well, and provincial trucking associations are providing their members with online lists of facilities open to them.
  • UK lobbyists anticipate UK Prime Minister Johnson to make a decision about a Brexit extension closer to June, the cut-off date in law for agreeing to a delay with the EU, once the impact of coronavirus on the economy has become clearer. Then they expect Jonhson will look to a strictly time-limited extension to match the time lost to the virus.
  • Canadian Animal Health Surveillance System published a Web page on Covid-19: Covid-19 animal health information source

 

April 2nd, 2020

  • The government announced the details of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, which is now estimated at $71 billion. Employers having a drop in gross revenues of at least 30% in March April or May, when compared to the same month in 2019, would qualify for a 75% wage subsidy under the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS). The CEWS would be in place for a 12-week period, from March 15 to June 6, 2020. Details can be found here.
  • The Government of Canada also announced that Canadians would be able to apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) as of April 6th at https://www.canada.ca/en.html. There will be no waiting period, and direct deposit payments will be delivered into accounts within 3 business days of applicants being eligible to receive it, and cheques within 10 days. The news releases can be accessible here.
  • At yesterday’s briefing, the Prime Minister mentioned that the  government is reaching out to opposition parties with a goal of recalling parliament to discuss emergency measures being taken to help businesses and workers affected by COVID-19 measures. It is expected that at least some MPs and Senators will be heading back to the Hill next week.
  • The province of Quebec has announced a stringent set of travel restrictions — including control points on the bridges between Ottawa and Gatineau —as part of its attempt to fight the spread of COVID-19.
  • Health Minister Patty Hajdu said the government underfunding, coupled with insufficient attention to the nation’s emergency inventory of personal protective equipment, has likely led to a situation where Canada does not have enough to meet the growing demands as COVID-19 cases continue to climb.
  • CTV reported that the United States had dropped its controversial proposal to station American troops near the shared border with Canada as part of its COVID-19 containment strategy.
  • The Prime Minister, yesterday, announced the following change in the senior ranks of the Public Service: Dr. Harpreet S. Kochhar, currently Assistant Deputy Minister, Operations Sector, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, becomes Associate Deputy Minister of Health, effective immediately. His role would be to support the Government of Canada’s ongoing efforts to fight COVID-19 through a whole-of-government, comprehensive, and coordinated approach.

 

April 1st, 2020

  • In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer led by Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the Members of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over trade, raise concerns about whether businesses—already under pressure from COVID-19—have the information and capacity to comply with new rules under the revised North American trade agreement. They also highlight that Mexico and Canada should be in full compliance with their commitments under the agreement before entry into force.
  • At yesterday’s daily briefing, the Prime Minister announced 2 billion to purchase protective equipment. The Prime Minister also announced that surgical masks, ventilators and test kits will be supplied directly from Canadian industries. Canada’s goal is to be self-sufficient. To the question if the CERB program is not an incentive for essential workers who make less than $2,000/month not to go to work, the Prime Minister recognized the importance for everyone to be able to support themselves while also recognizing the importance of essential workers. More details can be found here.
  • Minister Morneau announced that details of the 75% wage subsidy program will be released later today: https://twitter.com/Bill_Morneau/status/1245058446812229639
  • Please note that the CFIA is working on adapting the Meat processing Guidance document released yesterday to other food processing businesses that fall under CFIA’s Oversight. As per communications DPAC had with CFIA, dairy processors are encouraged, in the meantime, to consult the above hyperlinked document since many of the Meat specific processing guidance could also apply to dairy processing establishments. 
  • Due to the Covid-19 emergency, the Mexican government suspended all non-essential services as of March 26, 2020. However, Mexican Customs are expected to continue operating as usual for most agriculture and agri-food products. As a result of this suspension, Mexico’s public health agency (COFEPRIS) has indicated that between now and April 20, 2020, it will only be providing import permits for medical supplies that help address the Covid-19 emergency. COFEPRIS is responsible for issuing sanitary import permits for the food fish/seafood products, milk/dairy products, prepared fruit products/jams, and nutritional supplements including hemp protein. Shipments that already have import permits are still crossing the border, but it is not clear what will happen with new products.
  • Public Safety Canada is seeking input from critical infrastructure owners and operators to better understand the scope of potential shortages in sanitization products and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in Canada.  The assessment survey can be found here.
  • As the Government of Canada continues its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot is now scheduled to open on May 15, 2020, and will accept applications until May 14, 2023. Information on how to apply will be posted online and shared via social media closer to the launch date.
  • Work Permit Extension: For Temporary Foreign Workers already in Canada, IRCC has taken measures to facilitate extensions of work permits.
  • The National Film Board of Canada (NFB), is offering FREE online learning resources that will give Canadian families and teachers new tools to keep young minds engaged.

 

March 31st, 2020

  • At yesterday’s daily briefing, the Prime Minister announced the eligibility criteria for the 75% wage subsidy, which has been backdated to March 15, 2020. The businesses seeing a drop of at least 30% in revenue due to COVID-19, will qualify for the subsidy program regardless of the number of employees or the size of the business. This measure also applies to non-profit businesses and charities. According to the criteria, the wages will be capped at $847 a week.
  • AAFC organises a conference call with a broad group of agri-food stakeholders every Tuesday and Thursday. This conference call is open to anyone who wishes to participate. You will find the calling information here. 
  • Federal Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister, Marie-Claude Bibeau, and Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister, David Marit, announced the deadline to apply, reinstate, cancel or make changes to SK Crop Insurance contracts is extended to April 13, 2020.
  • The Government announces support for the air transportation sector and broadcasting sector during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The Government of Ontario has extended the Declaration of Emergency by another two weeks. In addition, Ontario is also issuing a new emergency order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act to close all outdoor recreational amenities, such as sports fields and playgrounds, effective immediately.
  • As some provinces set up ‘information roadblocks’ on various highways, trucking companies involved in the supply chain are adapting to the new reality. In all cases, trucking of goods is considered ‘essential’ but the checkpoints may cause delivery delays. In Quebec, checkpoints were set up at St-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Stansted, and St-Armand – all towns near the border with the United States – to ensure travelers returning to the province are aware of the government’s latest directives amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Quebec Trucking Association advised its members on the weekend that, ‘Although police may ask questions at these checkpoints, there is nothing to suggest to government officials that the definition of essential travel has changed, and therefore the trucking industry will be able to proceed as it has done in recent days.’ In Manitoba, five highway checkpoints have been set up: one on the Ontario border and four on the Saskatchewan border. For additional information: COVID-19 Daily Bulletins Canadian Trucking Alliance
  • IRCC recently announced exemptions to travel restrictions to facilitate entry of TFWs into Canada. Employers using all streams of the program are able to make arrangements for workers to enter Canada. 
  • Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says 24,000 reserve and regular military personnel are ready to mobilize to assist in relief efforts if requested from provinces or cities. 

 

March 30th, 2020

  • During yesterday’s morning update, the Prime Minister announced the measures to support vulnerable Canadians to help cope with the health, social, and economic impacts of the COVID?19 pandemic. These supports include $7.5 million in funding to Kids Help Phone to provide young people with mental health support and $9 million in funding through United Way Canada for local organizations to support practical services to Canadian seniors.
  • The Government of Canada also announced new measures for domestic transportation by air and rail, which includes a health check of travelers before they board a flight or a train.
  • Canada and 15 other members of the WTO have decided to put in place the Multi-party Interim Arrangement [MPIA] for allowing appeals of panel reports in trade disputes. This arrangement will be in place on an interim basis until the WTO Appellate Body is fully operational.
  • The Government of Canada is making additional investments to support Canadian businesses from the economic impacts of COVID-19. The measures include;Deferral of Sales Tax Remittance and Customs Duty Payments,Deferral of Customs Duty and Sales Tax for Importers, New Loan Programs for Businesses, Canada Revenue Agency’s Additional Aids for Individuals and Businesses.

 

March 28-29th, 2020

  • On the 27th of March, the Prime Minister announced a 75 % wage subsidy for qualifying businesses (originally set at 10%), for up to 3 months, retroactive to March 15.
  • Bank of Canada lowers overnight rate target to 0.25% in response to coronavirus fallout.
  • Quebec Transport Minister François Bonnardel issued an order lifting the weight limits associated with thaw periods for trucking on March 25. The order applies only to vehicles transporting foodstuffs, sanitary and medical equipment, pharmaceutical products and products necessary for the production of food. 
  • Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland’s office says that the implementation of the CUSMA is still under discussion between the three countries.
  • The travel ban exemption for Temporary Foreign Workers is now in effect, and employers using all streams of the program are able to make arrangements for workers to enter Canada. Temporary foreign workers, like all travelers arriving in Canada, are subject to a 14-day mandatory quarantine period before they are able to begin work on farms. More information can be found here. 
  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, CFIA offices will be open by appointment only. Please contact your local CFIA office, before visiting, to book an appointment.

 

March 27th, 2020

  • During yesterday’s morning update, the Prime Minister confirmed that the White House was actively discussing putting troops near the Canadian borders in response to its security concerns around the coronavirus pandemic. The Prime Minister said it was in both the U.S. and Canada’s interest to keep the border free of the military.
  • The British Columbia government released a list of essential services. Food and agriculture service providers, including food processing and manufacturing are recognized as essential services. Meanwhile, the government of Saskatchewan published its own list of essential services, which includes production, processing and supply chain of the agriculture sector. Updated List of Essential Activities by Province can be found here.
  • The Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) has published a FAQ on the Temporary Wage Subsidy for Employers program. The program  is a three-month measure allowing eligible employers to reduce the amount of payroll deductions required to be remitted to the CRA. The subsidy is currently equal to 10% of the remuneration paid between March 18, 2020, and June 20, 2020, up to $1,375 per employee and to a maximum of $25,000 total per employer. However, the federal government is under increasing pressure to increase the subsidy to at least match what is done in some EU countries.
  • The Quarantine Act was fully implemented at midnight on the 25th of March. It requires any individual entering Canada by air, sea or land to self-isolate for 14 days whether or not they have symptoms of COVID-19, except individuals who cross the border regularly to ensure the continued flow of goods/services and those who provide essential services.  Individuals exempt from the Order will still need to practice social distancing and self-monitoring and contact their local public health authorities if they feel sick. Failure to comply with this Order is an offence under the Quarantine Act and could face  a fine of up to $750,000 and/or imprisonment for six months. Spot checks will be conducted by the Government of Canada to verify compliance.
  • The President of the Canada Border Services Agency, made a statement highlighting the new measures at the border to address COVID-19. The note highlights that workers who cross the border regularly, such as truckers (…) will continue to be exempt from the new requirement for mandatory isolation provided they are asymptomatic.  Healthy workers who provide essential services, maintain critical infrastructure, and ensure economic supply chains continue between Canada and the U.S. will also be able to cross the border.
  • CFIA has posted a note inviting the industry to send questions to CFIA by email if it hasn’t already answered under their “Coronavirus disease questions answered” section. 
  • AAFC has also posted answers to the most frequent questions received from the industry on COVID-19.
  • The Federal Government closes all  in person Service Canada centres due to COVID-19. 
  • The Minister of Indigenous Services outlined the details of the $305 million for the new distinctions-based Indigenous Community Support Fund, to address immediate needs in First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation communities related to COVID-19.

 

March 26th, 2020

  • Bill C-13, COVID-19 Emergency Response Act, has been given the Royal Assent, guaranteeing the rapid implementation and administration of measures to protect Canadians’ health and safety and stabilize the Canadian economy.
  • The Government Aid Package introduces a Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to help workers and businesses. The CERB is a  taxable benefit of $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CERB would cover Canadians who have lost their job, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, as well as working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures. It applies to wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI). An online portal for applications to be launched by April 6th, if possible, and these benefits to be received within 10 days after the application date.
  • The Government Aid Package also provides support to Canadian businesses through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC), and also supports the Agriculture and Agri-Food sector by amending the Farm Credit Canada (FCC) Act. The Package includes as well a temporary wage subsidy for small business employers. The subsidy was set at 10% initially, but the government stepped back following pressures to increase the percentage. The final percentage is still to be determined. The full list of aids can be found in the news release of the Department of Finance Canada.
  • The Bill C-13 will also grant the government broad powers to spend on new measures related to the crisis until the end of September without parliamentary oversight.
  • Federal government invoking Quarantine Act, effective at midnight tonight, to force  mandatory isolation of 14 days for all travellers entering Canada. This does not apply to ‘essential workers’ such as truckers involved in cross-border trade and does not apply to inter-provincial travel nor interprovincial trade. Violators could face fines up to $1 million.
  • The Honourable Mary Ng,Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, has issued a statement on a joint international effort to ensure supply chain connectivity amid COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Support to publishing and news sectors during the COVID-19 pandemic has been posted by Canadian Heritage highlighting eligibility for Journalism Tax Measures and the simplified process of Canada Book Fund and Canada Periodical Fund.
  • The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) has made selected courses and publications freely available to help support workplaces in their efforts to protect the health, safety and well-being of their employees during the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
  • Atlantic provinces have put restrictions on inter-provincial travelling, requiring travellers entering the province to self-isolate for 14 days. These measures don’t apply to the interprovincial movement of goods and essential services.
  • CUSMA: Despite an objective to have the USMCA (CUSMA) in place by June 1st in the United States, a member of the tri-party trade advisory group believes this deadline will not be met due to the COVID-19.
  • The CFIA has posted a document to the industry with most frequently asked questions and answers on COVID-19.

 

March 25th, 2020

  • Early this morning, the Government and the opposition reached a deal on the COVID-19 emergency aid bill. After hours of negotiations, the House of Commons has adopted a modified version of the federal government’s $82-billion aid package to bring direct financial aid to Canadians and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • The $82-billion response package includes $27 billion in financial aid for Canadians and $55 billion in economic stimulus and tax deferral measures for businesses. Also included in the billions of new spending the Liberals promised that would start rolling out the door once this bill passes are implementing an emergency care benefit, deferring the tax deadline, waiving the one-week waiting period for EI sickness benefits, boosting the Canada Child Benefit, wage subsidies for small businesses and targeted assistance for vulnerable demographics.
  • Bill C-13, “COVID-19 Emergency Response Act” will now go to the Senate for approval.

 

March 24th, 2020

 

March 23rd, 2020