COVID-19 Updates

CIQS is monitoring the fluid situation around COVID-19 closely as it relates to the Canadian marketplace and our industry. We have distributed regular updates to our members and stakeholders since the beginning of the pandemic and will continue to do so for its duration. This webpage is an additional resource on COVID-19 matters. Check back often for updates.

COVID-19 UPDATES

The provinces and territories across the country are in varying stages of a second wave of the pandemic. Find details below:

  • As of Friday, December 18, 2020, British Columbia had 9,978 active cases with 356 patients in hospital and 92 in the ICU. The province-wide mask mandate from November 19th is still in effect and there will be an increase by public health to enforce both the mask mandate and the gathering restrictions (Social gathering of any size at your home are prohibited. Christmas may only be celebrated in person with those within your household or core bubble.) Learn more about all current BC restrictions here.

    The Small and Medium Sized Business Recovery Grant Program has been revised to make more businesses eligible to apply. BC residents will also be able to apply for the BC recovery benefit. The COVID-19 economic recovery plan will help the BC tourism industry to remain competitive as a tourism destination. cbc.ca reported that only 10-15 per cent of holiday travelers are moving through YVR.

    Vaccines: The aim is to have just under 10 per cent of BC’s population vaccinated by end of March with staff and residents of long-term care homes and health care workers receiving the first doses, as reported by cbc.ca on December 9. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry was quoted as saying that “eventually everyone who can and wants to get a vaccine will get access.”[1]
  • As reported by cbc.ca[2] on December 22, there are currently 19,165 active cases in Alberta with 795 hospitalized, 151 in ICU and 860 dead. Effective December 8, all indoor and outdoor social gatherings are prohibited province-wide in Alberta. Anyone breaking these restriction can be fined $1,000. Visitors to Alberta are not allowed to stay as a guest in someone’s home. Weddings and funerals must be held is a public place with no more than 10 people in attendance (including bride and groom). A mask mandate came into effect on December 8, where masks are mandatory in all indoor public places and work places and places of worship. Effective December 13, people are mandated to work from home unless physical presence is required for a business to operate. Restaurants and bars are closed except for take-out and delivery; retail stores must operate at a reduced capacity; personal, wellness, entertainment and recreation facilities are closed; and regulated health providers (dentists, lawyers, social services, etc.) can remain open with restrictions. Learn more here.
  • As reported on December 21, there were 3,990 active cases in Saskatchewan with 131 in hospital/ICU and a total of 122 dead since the beginning of the pandemic. As of December 17, social gatherings in private dwellings with persons other than those in your household are prohibited and outdoor gatherings are limited to 10 people in Saskatchewan. A province-wide mask mandate while inside public places is still in effect and has been expanded to include wearing a mask during all indoor fitness activities except for swimming. Indoor funerals, weddings, public events and places of worship must reduce attendance to 30 people. Effective December 19, casinos and bingo halls closed, and personal care facilities had to reduce to 50 per cent capacity. Starting December 25, all retail services must reduce their capacity by 50 per cent except for big box stores which may only operate at 25 per cent capacity. Read about all current public health measures here.
  • On December 22, there were 4,972 active cases of which 275 are hospitalized with 36 in ICU and there is a total of 590 persons dead in Manitoba. The province remains in the Provincial Response Level Red (Critical) that has been in place since November 13th. Travelers entering Manitoba (international or national travelers) must self-isolate for 14 days[3] as do all Manitobans who have tested positive for COVID-19 or been in close contact with someone who has. Travel to and from northern Manitoba remains restricted. Starting December 11, no guests are permitted in a private dwelling and public gatherings (indoor or outdoor) cannot exceed 5 people. Retailers are allowed to open but may only sell essential items and must operate at 25 per cent capacity or a max of 250 people, whichever is lower. Only businesses listed in Schedule A may remain open while the current safety orders are in effect. Learn more about the current COVID-19 restrictions and exceptions here. Manitoba has begun to offer vaccines to health workers and the second round of vaccines (900 appointments) will run from December 21-23. Eligibility criteria and other information about the province’s vaccine strategy is available here.
  • “Targeted testing done among students and staff in December 2020 confirmed that schools are not a significant source of transmission. However, with students having been at home for several weeks and with reports of concerning behaviour over the holidays, the positivity rate among school-aged children has increased sharply. Most troubling, the positivity rate for kids aged 12-13 years old increased from 5.44 per cent in late November, early December to nearly 20 per cent in early January.”[4] There has been a significant rise in active cases in the last few weeks (over 3,500 new cases on Thursday, January 7) and the number of patients in ICU is still surpassing the 150-person threshold. An announcement was therefore made by the Ontario government on Thursday, January 7 that elementary schools will return to in-person school on January 25, same as high school students. The lockdown in Northern Ontario has also been extended until January 23, so they are now on the same schedule as the rest of the province. Daycare will remain open for the remainder of the lockdown. Learn more about the lockdown restrictions here.

    Masks are mandated province-wide for all public indoor settings and all Ontarians are asked to suspend their social circles, keeping physical distance from anyone outside of their household (with some exceptions). Read more about the mask mandate here.
  • cbc.ca[5] reported on December 22 that Quebec reported 2,183 new cases and that there were currently 1,055 patients hospitalized with 137 in ICU. The total number of persons who have died from COVID-19 in the province has risen to 7,794. A province-wide mask mandate is in place for everyone while in public, enclosed places and there are new holiday specific instructions in place. For example, indoor and outdoor private gatherings are prohibited in red alert zones from December 17, 2020 until January 10, 2021. Areas that were in orange were moved to red as of December 15. Office parties in all areas of the province are prohibited and office workers will be working remotely (with some exceptions) between December 17, 2020 and January 10, 2021. During this same time period, preschool, elementary and secondary students will be learning remotely. Daycares will remain open, but it is recommended to keep the children at home where possible over the Christmas holidays to minimize contact. Learn more about Quebec’s COVID-19 response here.
  • As of December 22, there are 47 active cases in New Brunswick with two hospitalized, one in ICU. Eight individuals have died since the beginning of the pandemic. There is a province-wide mask mandate in place which states that everyone must wear a mask in public indoor spaces (including workplaces that are not open to the public) and whenever physical distancing is not possible. There are some exceptions to the rule. Complete mandate regulations are available here. As of midnight on December 22, the entire province will be at alert level Yellow which allows for all businesses and activities to operate as long as they follow a COVID-19 operational plan. Informal indoor gatherings are allowed for up to 20 people (limited to a bubble of friends and family) and uncontrolled outdoor events are allowed for up to 50 people. The province has published a comprehensive vaccine rollout program which can be viewed here. The province has created informational flyers outlining the holiday restrictive measures for businesses and individuals to keep everyone safe over the holidays.
  • Nova Scotia’s restrictions as of December 21, social gatherings in private dwellings can host up to 10 people and social bubbles of up to 10 people are allowed. Business are prohibited from hosting any in-person events and activities. Religious gatherings, weddings and funerals organized by a business or organization may have guests up to 50 per cent capacity or max 100 people at indoor venues and 150 people at outdoor events but receptions and visitation are prohibited. Restaurants and bars must stop serving at 10:00pm and close at 11:00pm. Retail stores may operate at 25 per cent capacity and they must keep their music at 50 decibels. Lineups are only allowed if everyone in line wears a mask and patrons must maintain appropriate physical distance from each other. A complete list of current restrictions is available here. As of December 22, there are 40 active cases in the province with zero patients hospitalized. The demographic with the highest number of active cases are those aged 20-39 at 35 per cent, followed by those aged 40-59 at 25 per cent. 65 people have died in Nova Scotia since the beginning
  • Heather Morrison, chief medical officer for Prince Edward Island, said in an interview with CTVNews (Atlantic) on December 22 that there are currently 900 households in isolation on the island. She also stated that anyone traveling to PEI (visitor or resident returning home) over the holidays must quarantine for 14 days which means that “they are required to stay on their property”.[6] The province has begun their vaccine rollout and it is expected that 1,500 people will be vaccinated by the end of day, December 22nd. New safety restrictions are in effect until January 11, which allow households can gather (indoors and out) with an additional 10 people and organized events such as concerts and worship gatherings can have 50 people. An additional 50 people may be allowed based on an approved operational plan. Retail stores and markets may operate at 50 per cent capacity; restaurants and bars can operate until 11:00pm with a max table size of 10 people. For further details, click here.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador are currently operating at Alert Level 2 which allows people to move more freely, but with guidelines on safe holiday celebrations and workplaces. It is recommended that people celebrate with the same 20 people throughout the holidays to limit the potential of community spread. Organized gatherings are allowed for up to 100 people as long as they can be properly distanced. Wakes are prohibited but visitations are allowed as long as restrictions are followed. Places of worship may operate with no more than 100 people (includes officiants, staff and volunteers). There are 29 active cases with zero hospitalized as of December 22.
  • As of December 22, there are 3 active cases with zero hospitalizations in the Northwest Territories. There have been zero deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. The territory is currently in Phase 2 of their four-phase plan. Social circles are allowed with three variants:

    1. Build your “Fave Five” and only gather socially with those five people
    2. Each person in the household can pick one person to allow as a guest in their home
    3. Two households create a social bubble

    Social gatherings are allowed up to 10 people, whereas indoor organized events can be held for up to 25 people and outdoors for up to 50 people.

    Travelers entering NWT must produce a self-isolation plan and self-isolation is only allowed in Yellowknife, Inuvik, Hay River and Fort Smith. Non-compliance with the isolation plan law can lead to fines. Learn more about all current restrictions here.
  • On December 21, cbc.ca reported that there are currently 19 active cases in Nunavut, including three new cases in Arviat on December 18th. These new cases came on the heels of the joint statement released by the premier of Nunavut, Joe Savikataaq, the health minister, Lorne Kusugak and the chief public health officer, Dr. Michael Patterson, on December 20 where they announced the territories first two deaths of the pandemic. The public health emergency is due for renewal on December 24; until then all restrictions remain as listed here remain in place.
  • Yukon is currently in Phase 3 of their re-opening plan which is a gradual easement of COVID-19 restrictions. This phase will remain until the vaccine has been properly rolled out. They are excepting to start rolling out the vaccine in January 2021 in a phased approach. Learn more here. Travelers to Yukon must self-isolate for 14 days and submit a self-isolation plan. Non-residents must self-isolate in Whitehorse. Family members and residents returning to Yukon may quarantine at their residence. Read about the travel restrictions here. The mask mandate that was from November 30 remains in effect and there are zero active cases as at December 22.


Emergency Measures Tracker

The Canadian law firm, McCarthy Tétrault, has created an emergency measures tracker that lists timely updates on responses and emergency measures implemented by governments and jurisdictions across Canada.

  • Click here for a map showing the current number of COVID-19 cases across Canada, by province/territory.
  • COVID-19 Fact Sheets, including printable infographics – click here.

There is currently a global travel advisory in effect due to COVID-19. Canadians are advised to avoid:

  • Non-essential travel outside Canada, and
  • All cruise ship travel

All international flight arrivals are redirected to one of four airports:

  • Calgary International Airport
  • Vancouver International Airport
  • Toronto’s Pearson International Airport
  • Montreal’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s International Airport

Click here to further information.

Click here for the latest information on legislative and other measures adopted by the Government of Canada to minimize the impact of COVID-19 on Canadians.

The main symptoms of COVID-19 include Cough, Fever and Difficulty Breathing. It can take up to 14 days for symptoms to appear and recent evidence has shown that even those who have not yet developed, or never develop, symptoms can transmit the virus. It is therefore important to follow these preventive measures:

  • Stay home unless you have to go to work
  • Avoid unnecessary trips within your community (exception: going to the grocery store, pharmacy, doctor)
  • Do not gather in groups (refer to your province/territory/municipality for local regulations)
  • Always maintain a distance of at least 2 metres (6 feet) from others (exception: those with whom you live – except if they are sick. They should then self-isolate in a room/area of the house until they are well)

You may go for a walk if: (refer to your province/territory/municipality for local rules)

  • You are well
  • Have not tested positive for COVID-19
  • Have not travelled outside Canada (includes USA) in the last 14 days
  • Are not in quarantine or self-isolation

Learn about the state of emergency mandates and other COVID-19 measures in your province or territory:


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Federal Government Response to COVID-19

The Federal government has implemented a variety of programs meant to help Canadian workers and businesses under the COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. Below is a sample of the support programs available. For further details and the complete list, click here.

Support for Business

  • The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) supports employers affected by COVID-19 to help them maintain their staff. The subsidy covers up to $847 per week of an employees salary for companies that saw a gross revenue loss of at least 15% in March and 30% in April and May. Calculate your subsidy amount here. Applications open April 27, 2020.
  • The Temporary 10% Wage Subsidy allows employers to reduce the payroll deductions to CRA by 10% for three months.
  • Work-Sharing Programs will be extended to a maximum 76 weeks from 38 weeks for employees that are eligible for EI and that have agreed to reduce their hours worked due to reasons beyond an employer’s control, such as the current COVID-19 social distancing measures.
  • The Canada Summer Jobs Program temporary changes make it possible for private and public sector employers to receive up to 100% of the provincial/territorial minimum wage, hire part-time staff, and extend the work end-date to February 28, 2021.
  • The Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) is a collaboration between the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and the Expert Development Canada (EDC) to work with private lenders to provide operating cash and cash flow loans to Small and Medium Enterprises. SMEs can apply now through financial institutions or credit unions.
  • The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) provides small businesses and NPO’s with interest-free loans of up to $40,000 towards operating costs. To apply, the company must have had payroll costs of between $20,000 and $1.5 million in 2019. Applications can be completed via the company’s bank or credit union.
  • Businesses are allowed to defer income tax payments that are owed between March 15 and September 2020 until after August 31, 2020 without interest or penalties.
  • Businesses and self-employed persons may defer paying GST/HST and customs dues owing on imports until June 30, 2020.
  • The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) offers a $2,000 taxable benefit every four weeks for up to 16 weeks to eligible individuals who have lost their jobs, or makes no more than $1000 per month, due to COVID-19. Learn more about CERB here.
  • Programs were implemented to support financial stability, such as lowering interest rates, lowering the Domestic Stability Buffer by 1.25%, offering temporary relief for federally regulated pension plan sponsors and launching an Insured Mortgage Purchasing Program.

Support for Individuals

  • Recipients of the Canada Child Benefit will see an increase of $300 per child for 2019-2020.
  • The income tax filing due date for individuals has been deferred to June 1, 2020 with payments of amounts owing deferred to after August 31, 2020 without penalties or interest accrued.
  • Mortgage Payment Deferrals are being reviewed on a case-by-case basis by banks to find solutions for homeowners in need to help them manage their monthly mortgage payments.
  • The Federal portion of student loan repayments and interest is automatically suspended until September 30, 2020.