Federal and Ontario COVID-19 Update
Aug 2021 Charity & NFP Law Update
Published on August 26, 2021

By Adriel N. Clayton and Terrance S. Carter

Federal Government Proposes to Extend CEWS, CERS and Lockdown Support

In continued response to the COVID-19, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Government of Canada proposed the extension of certain financial support of Canadian business on July 30, 2021. The proposed extended support would include an extended eligibility period for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (“CEWS”), the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (“CERS”), and lockdown support from September 25, 2021 to October 23, 2021.

The CEWS is a wage subsidy provided to eligible employers, including eligible charities and NFPs, that experience a drop in “qualifying revenues”, in support of employee wages, and is discussed in greater detail in Canada Emergency wage Subsidy (“CEWS”): An Overview for Charities and NFPs as well as New Changes to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (“CEWS”). As announced in Budget 2021, the subsidy is provided at a maximum rate of 20% per eligible employee’s remuneration, up to a maximum of $226 per week, for the period of August 29, 2021 to September 25, 202 (“Period 20”).

The CERS is a commercial rent subsidy available to organizations, including eligible charities and NFPs, consisting of a rent subsidy percentage calculated from eligible expenses, on a sliding scale, up to a maximum of 20% for Period 20. A Lockdown Support rent top-up of 25% is also available for organizations that have been temporarily shut down by a mandatory public health order.

While Budget 2021 had announced the maximum 20% subsidy rate under both the CEWS and CERS for Period 20, and extended both to the end of Period 20 pursuant to Bill C-30, as discussed in the Legislation Update, above, the government’s Backgrounder, released in conjunction with its July 30, 2021 proposal, proposes that the maximum rate for both remain at 40% during Period 20. Instead, the maximum rate during the extended period from September 26, 2021 to October 23, 2021 would then be decreased to 20%. The Lockdown Support will continue and remain at its set rate of 25%.

Details on Canada Recovery Hiring Program Announced

As announced in Budget 2021, the federal government has launched a new program, the Canada Recovery Hiring Program (“CRHP”) in support of employers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Originally announced on June 6, 2021, the CRHP provides eligible employers who have experienced “qualifying revenue declines” with a subsidy of up to 50% of eligible salary or wages to help hire new workers or increase their current workers’ hours or wages. The CRHP has been made available to qualifying employers retroactive to June 6, 2021.

Charities and not-for-profits that are eligible for the CEWS will also meet qualification requirements for the CRHP. However, during any claim periods where both CEWS and CRHP availability overlaps, organizations would not be able to receive both CEWS and CRHP subsidies, but could apply for whichever subsidy provides them with the higher subsidy amount. Further, organizations are permitted to apply for different subsidies for each claim period.

Vaccination Policies Mandatory for High-Risk Settings in Ontario

In accordance with an announcement by the Ontario government on August 17, 2021, COVID-19 vaccination policies will be mandatory for high-risk settings, where there is a higher risk of contracting and transmitting COVID-19 and the Delta variant, as of September 7, 2021. High-risk settings include hospitals and home and community care service providers. A directive issued by the Chief Medical Officer of Health in Ontario mandates that the mandatory vaccination policies for high-risk settings apply to employees, staff, contractors, students and volunteers, as well as for paramedics working for ambulance services.

At a minimum, the vaccination policy must require individuals to provide proof of one of the following: (1) full vaccination against COVID-19; (2) a medical reason for not being vaccinated against COVID-19; or (3) completion of a COVID-19 vaccination educational session. Further, those who do not provide proof of full vaccination must undertake regular testing for antigens. In addition to maintaining a vaccination policy, high-risk settings will also be required to track and report to the provincial government on the implementation of their policies.

Ontario Amends Reopening Regulations

Ontario has amended its regulations to reopen the province under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020. Ontario Regulation 541/21: Rules for Areas at Step 3 was filed on July 30, 2021, and amends Ontario Regulation 364/20: Rules for Areas at Step 3 and Roadmap Exit Step (“O Reg 364/20”) to include new Schedules 4 and 5, which set out regulations regarding the Ontario’s “Roadmap Exit Step”, which will follow Step 3 in the province’s Roadmap to Reopen.

When Ontario enters the Roadmap Exit Step, many rules and restrictions currently in place under Step 3 will be lifted, with businesses and places permitted to reopen, provided that they follow the general requirements set out under Schedule 4. Businesses and organizations will continue to be required to ensure that those indoors wear masks, except for those who are exempt, as set out in subsection 2(5) under Schedule 4 of O Reg 364/20. Those who temporarily remove their masks, for example to eat, will be required to maintain a distance of at least two metres, or be separated from others by plexiglass or another impermeable barrier. Businesses and organizations will also continue to be required to continue to comply with the advice, recommendations and instructions of public health officials (including on physical distancing, cleaning, disinfecting, and screening individuals).

Businesses and organizations will also be required to prepare, make available, and post in a conspicuous location a safety plan within seven days of entering the Roadmap Exit Step. The safety plan must set out measures and procedures that the business or organization has or will implement to reduce the transmission risk of COVID-19, and must include measures for screening, masks or face coverings, and the wearing of personal protective equipment.

Schedule 5 sets out specific, tailored rules at the Roadmap Exit Step for certain organizations, including camps for children, as well as for schools and private schools.

Read the August 2021 Charity & NFP Law Update