COVID-19 Employer Resource Hub

Trucking HR Canada is here to support trucking and logistics employers as we cope and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The emergence of coronavirus (COVID-19) is changing the way we work, socialize, and function as a society. As we all cope and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, Trucking HR Canada is here to support trucking and logistics employers. Our goal is to help you get access to the most pertinent information that matters to you.

As businesses acclimatize, we have some tools that may help. We’ve assembled a guide that addresses key issues during this crisis titled “THRC Covid-19 Resource Guide”,  this regularly updated resource is a go-to document for issues such as how to effectively communicate with your employees and customers, health and safety considerations, leading through a crisis, remote working, self-care, and mental wellness, and links to recently announced relief measures.

And, as the situation evolves, and more information becomes available, we will update as appropriate.

Some general resources and information on COVID-19 that employers can share with employees based on the leading authorities on public health, and more. The Government of Canada site has information on prevention practices.

Some general resources and information on COVID-19 that employers can share with employees based on the leading authorities on public health, and more. The Government of Canada site has information on prevention practices

Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) has indicated that any face mask that demonstrates a reasonable “good-faith” effort to adhere to the requirement will be               accepted, as they understand there is a limited supply of medical grade masks available. This could include the use of scarfs, bandanas or other materials. CBSA will make every effort to distribute masks at ports of entry free of charge when they are available to drivers who are not in possession of their own mask or face covering.

This program will lower rent by 75 percent for small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19.

 

  • The program will provide forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners to cover 50 percent of three monthly rent payments that are payable by eligible small business tenants who are experiencing financial hardship during April, May, and June.
  • The loans will be forgiven if the mortgaged property owner agrees to reduce the eligible small business tenants’ rent by at least 75 percent for the three corresponding months under a rent forgiveness agreement, which will include a term not to evict the tenant while the agreement is in place. The small business tenant would cover the remainder, up to 25 percent of the rent.
  • Impacted small business tenants are businesses paying less than $50,000 per month in rent and who have temporarily ceased operations or have experienced at least a 70 percent drop in pre-COVID-19 revenues. This support will also be available to non-profit and charitable organizations.

The government continues to assess and respond to the impacts of COVID-19, and stands ready to take additional actions as needed to stabilize the economy and mitigate the impacts of the pandemic.

WHERE TO START:

Whether you are self-employed, a small business owner, or an entrepreneur – you shouldn’t have to worry about having to lose your business or your job.

To get the help you need:

  1. Visit our government’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan website for information about supporting your employees and your business. It is constantly updated as the COVID-19 crisis evolves.
  2. Contact your local financial institution. Since we know most small businesses have a relationship with their local financial institution already, we’ve worked with the financial sector to increase their lending capability to support you in this challenging time. They are a good first place to start for help.
  3. Consult the Canadian Business Resilience Network and Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s pandemic preparedness guide to help prepare you business in the days and weeks to come.

THE TEAM:

For assistance at any time, please reach out to the team member below who represents your region. Based on the current volume of email, if you reply to this email directly without copying the appropriate regional team member, my response may be significantly delayed.

Transport Canada: Federal Safety Guidance to Protect Drivers and Limit the Spread of COVID-19 in Commercial Vehicle Operations

Government of Ontario: Announced April 30, 2020: Launches New Tool to Keep Drivers Safe During COVID-19NEW

 

Our drivers are currently Covid-19 heroes – let’s all work to make sure they know this, and demand they be treated as such. Encourage your team to send a note to thank a trucker through CTA’s program Thank a Trucker.

With self-isolation and financial uncertainty, our workforce is at high risk for mental health issues. Employers can share resources on self-care, hygiene, and mental wellness. By holding wellness webinars with employees working from home and increasing self-care practices this can help employees increase resilience.

- Letter from Minister to Employers – Temporary Foreign Workers Covid-19: Click here for more info.

- ESDC Frequently Asked Questions: Changes to the TFWP regarding Covid-19 found here

- Service Canada Information on Foreign Workers: can be found here

The Government of Canada is taking massive action to provide financial relief, deferred tax deadlines, and business loans to entrepreneurs, individuals, and employees. See below sites to learn more about eligibility, and how to apply, and for more info on federal government programs see See Trucking HR Canada’s FAQ’s.

  • On May 15, 2020, the Government of Canada announced the extension of the Canada Wage Subsidy to August 29, 2020 - NEW
  • On April 22, 2020, the Government of Canada announced a new proposed Canadian Emergency Student Benefit. The proposed Canada Emergency Student Benefit, which would provide support to students and new graduates who are not eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. This benefit would provide $1,250 per month for eligible students or $1,750 per month for eligible students with dependents or disabilities. The benefit would be available from May to August 2020. The new Canada Student Service Grant, which will help students gain valuable work experience and skills while they help their communities during the COVID‑19 pandemic. For students who choose to do national service and serve their communities, the new Canada Student Service Grant will provide up to $5,000 for their education in the fall.
  • On April 18, 2020, the Government of Canada announced financial support available for Indigenous Businesses to help small and medium-sized Indigenous businesses, and to support Aboriginal Financial Institutions that offer financing to these businesses. The funding will allow for short-term, interest-free loans and non-repayable contributions through Aboriginal Financial Institutions, which offer financing and business support services to First Nations, Inuit, and Métis businesses.
  • The Government of Ontario has a Support for Families Program to offset the cost of home schooling and at-home care for children. There is no income cap on this program. Eligible parents will receive a one-time per child payment of $200 for children aged 0 to 12 or $250 for children or youth aged 0 to 21 with special needs.

-      FAQs on the Canadian Small Business Financing Program

  • The Government of Canada has announced its intent to launch a new program the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA). 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.
  • The Government of Canada has announced a new Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). The CERB would cover Canadians who have lost their job, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone 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.                                              On April 15, the Federal Government widened the eligibility rules of CERB to:
  • 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 regular seasonal work as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Extend the CERB to workers who have recently exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to find a job or return to work because of COVID-19.
  • The Government of Canada released a wage subsidy calculator with more details on the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to support small businesses including a 75 per cent wage subsidy for qualifying businesses, for up to 3 months of an employee’s wages of the first $58,700 normally earned by employees, up to $847 per week per employee. Employers who have suffered a drop in gross revenues of at least 15 per cent in March, and 30 per cent in April and May are eligible. Applications will open on Monday, April 27 for businesses to apply.

The program would be in place for a 12-week period, from March 15 to June 6, 2020.  All employers would be expected to make best efforts to bring employees’ wages to their pre-crisis levels.  As well, the Government is proposing that employers eligible for the CEWS be entitled to receive a 100-per-cent refund for certain employer-paid contributions to Employment Insurance, the Canada Pension Plan, the Quebec Pension Plan, and the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan for remuneration paid to furloughed employees in a period where the employer is eligible for the CEWS. The Government is also allowing businesses, including self-employed individuals, to defer all Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax payments until June.

- Employers who do not meet the eligibility criteria and do not qualify for the 75% Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy may apply for the 10% Wage Subsidy.  This is a separate program. FAQS on the 10% Temporary Wage Subsidy can be found here.

 

 

  • The Government of Canada has made temporary changes to its Canada Summer Jobs Program to support youth in securing employment. receive an increased wage subsidy, so that private and public sector employers can also receive up to 100 per cent of the provincial or territorial minimum hourly wage for each employee. The application deadline was February 28, 2020, however, it is recommended that employers monitor the website for the possibility that an extended deadline be open.
  • Government of Canada will provide small businesses and not-for-profits with interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to help cover operating costs during a period where their revenues have been temporarily reduced. The Canada Emergency Business Accountprogram is for businesses with a total payroll of between $50,000 to $1.5 million in 2019; and is accessible through businesses’ financial institutions. Repayment of the loan on or before December 31, 2022 will result in loan forgiveness of 25% (up to $10,000). This will better position companies to quickly return to providing services to their communities and create employment. This program will roll out in mid-April and interested businesses should work with their current financial institutions.
  • WSIB Ontario announced financial relief for businesses to defer payment and reporting of premiums until August 31, 2020.
  • Businesses can click here for information about supporting your employees and your business. This site will be continually updated as COVID-19
  • Download the Canada Business App to find tailored supports to address your specific needs and questions about COVID-19.
  • The Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) is in place to help Canadian businesses obtain financing during the current period of significant uncertainty. There are a number of programs in addition to CEBA offered through EDC and BDC that businesses can apply for for credit. BCAP will support access to financing for Canadian businesses in all sectors and regions. Through this program, Export Development Canada (EDC)and the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) will provide direct lending and other types of financial support. For additional information on any of the BCAP programs or to apply, Businesses should contact their primary lender, where they have a pre-existing relationship. to find out about their application process.

Canada’s banks have made a commitment to support businesses and individuals during these difficult times in a responsible, fair, and compassionate way. To help provide some stability for businesses through this time of uncertainty, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) is lowering the Domestic Stability Buffer requirement, releasing more than $300 billion of additional lending capacity for Canadian financial institutions.

**Trucking HR Canada does not accept any liability for legal decisions such as terminations and layoffs. Resources provided do not substitute for obtaining legal counsel and advice**  

Many employers often consider employee layoffs during a business disruption.

It is important that a long-term view be balanced along with short-term focus on

reducing costs.

Most trucking and logistics employers fall under Federal Jurisdiction and need to comply with the Canada Labour Code for temporary lay-offs.

Section 30 (1) of the Canada Labour Standards Regulations defines a temporary layoff as:

(a) the lay-off is a result of a strike or lockout;

(b) the term of the lay-off is 12 months or less and the lay-off is mandatory pursuant to a minimum work guarantee in a collective agreement;

(c) the term of the lay-off is three months or less;

(d) the term of the lay-off is more than three months and the employer

(i) notifies the employee in writing at or before the time of the lay-off that he will be recalled to work on a fixed date or within a fixed period neither of which shall be more than six months from the date of the lay-off, and

(ii) recalls the employee to his employment in accordance with subparagraph (i);

(e) the term of the lay-off is more than three months and

(i) the employee continues during the term of the lay-off to receive payments from his employer in an amount agreed on by the employee and his employer,

(ii) the employer continues to make payments for the benefit of the employee to a pension plan that is registered pursuant to the Pension Benefits Standards Act or under a group or employee insurance plan,

(iii) the employee receives supplementary unemployment benefits, or

(iv) the employee would be entitled to supplementary unemployment benefits but is disqualified from receiving them pursuant to the Employment Insurance Act; or

(f) the term of the lay-off is more than three months but not more than 12 months and the employee, throughout the term of the lay-off, maintains recall rights pursuant to a collective agreement.

Supplementary Unemployment Benefit (SUB Plan)

Employers may wish to provide Supplemental Unemployment Benefit (SUB) plan to increase their employees’ weekly earnings when they are unemployed due to a temporary stoppage of work, training, illness, injury or quarantine.  Payments from SUB plans that are registered with Service Canada are not considered as earnings and are not deducted from EI benefits (pursuant to subsection 37(1) of the EI Regulations).

In order to ensure that these top-ups are not subject to employment insurance deductions, SUB plans should be registered with Service Canada. A link to Service Canada’s SUB plan registration requirements is here. SUB is a way to top up employees’ EI benefits so the top-up payments do not cause an EI deduction. Registration with Service Canada is required before SUB payments are made

  • Registration process not too onerous, may be worth the time even for a few employees
  • It is a short registration form and important to make sure it is complete and no employees are mentioned by name
  • There also has to be a “SUB plan” attached to the form but it doesn’t have to be long; it can be as easy as copy-pasting the Service Canada template into a Word document and modifying as necessary
  • If you are modifying the Service Canada template, note that “normal weekly earnings” can include things like OT, bonus or RRSP contributions; it is okay to substitute “base pay” if that is what you mean
  • If there are multiple payroll numbers a different form must be filled out for each payroll, but they can all attach the same plan
  • If there is a collective bargaining agreement for any of the employees covered by the SUB for a particular payroll, that would also have to be attached to the registration form for that payroll
  • It is recommended to apply for registration before laying off so you can flag SUB payments in the ROE
  • Once the plan is registered, there would be no EI deducted from the SUB payments.  However other deductions (CPP, income tax, etc.) still apply.

Human Resources information and other resources on layoffs are included below.

  1. HR Reporter: 5 Key Questions on Vacation Time with COVID-19 - NEW
  2. MacLean’s: COVID-19 Layoff Tracker
  3. HR Reporter: Government Support and COVID-19
  4. Harvard Business Review: Layoffs that Don’t Break Your Company
  5. Legal – Nelligan Law: Complimentary 20 Minute Legal Consult for Ontario and Quebec
  6. McCarthy Tetrault: Managing Through COVID-19 – What to Think About When Considering Temporary Layoffs
  7. Stewart McKelvey: COVID-19 Information Bulletin
  8. BDO: COVID-19 Employment

Work-Sharing is available to employees eligible for Employment Insurance benefits and requires that employees agree to a reduced schedule of work. Employers and employees must apply for the program together (with union involvement, if applicable).

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the federal government has waived the mandatory 30-day waiting period for Work-Sharing agreements and has extended the number of weeks that benefits may be received from 38 weeks to 76 weeks. These special measures will remain in effect until March 14, 2021.

Mercer conducted a webinar on March 27, 2020 that highlighted income protection and sickness leave practices. If employees become sick and need to quarantine due to COVID-19, they can avail of any company private insurance plan and the protections put in place through Employment Insurance Sickness Benefit and any provincial options.

The income protection measures an employer takes depends on whether COVID-19 is confirmed, or if there are no symptoms.  The employer’s private sick leave insurer plan always kicks in before any public sick leave plan such as Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits.  For COVID-19, most plans waive the waiting period for short-term disability.  Typically, most plans require symptoms for payout of short-term disability.

No Symptoms

Private:

  • Salary Continuation
  • Sick Leave

Public:

  • CERB
  • Provincial Options

Sick/Disabled (including confirmed COVID-19)

                     Private:

  • Salary Continuation
  • Sick Leave
  • STD

Public:

  • EI Sick/CERB
  • Provincial Options

Hicks Morley: New expectations on privacy and release of employee health information. Info must be provided by employers upon request to the Chief Medical Officer of Health, see:  Limitations on Liberty & Privacy under the Health Protection & Promotion Act

Some resources on the type of information to communicate, team collaboration, and leadership best practices for leading in a crisis are included below.

Customer, supplier, and employee communications becomes even more critical in a crisis and especially with most employees working remotely from home. Communicating with employees and as you prepare your workplace response, consider the following:

Employers can issue a Work from Home Policy or a COV-19 Response Protocol (for Temporary Work from Home). Some areas to be addressed include employer expectations around:

  • Working Hours: need to outline if the work hours remain the same, whether they are flexible, or if reduced hours apply
  • Expectations around communications: employees are responsible to maintain effective communication with Supervisor, co-workers, and customers. This involves regularly checking voicemail and email)
  • Review roles: acknowledge that some staff may be working fewer hours or have their workload change. Assess which activities that are normally done in the office may be adjusted to accommodate working from home. And develop a clear policy on what jobs can be accommodated at home and which ones are required to have someone in the office. Some positions are self-evident but there may be a number of “office” positions that can only be done in the place of business and are ineligible for remote
  • Confidentiality: when working from home employees need to maintain the confidentiality of business information to secure work files and documents, laptops, and protect the confidentiality of customer and employee
  • Expenses of working from home: clear terms on whether any operating expenses with employees using their home as a workplace are covered such as insurance, utilities, high speed internet, office supplies, laptop,

 

  • Dedicated workspace in their home to perform their job responsibilities without interruption; employees can be provided with guidelines around health and safety and ergonomic practices and it is their responsibility to ensure their home workspace is safe and follows good ergonomic

Some links to support employers rolling out remote working to support employees who may be new to remote working are included below.

City of Hamilton: Sample Telecommuting Policy