Latest update! April 3rd, 2020, @9am

  • 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. Updated List of Essential Activities by Province can be found here.
  • 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