C-19 BULLETIN - March 26, 2020

This morning, Premier John Horgan and Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth  announced British Columbia's next steps  to support the COVID-19 response.

Using the extraordinary powers under the Emergency Program Act, the minister issued a  series of ministerial orders  to ensure a co-ordinated response to COVID-19 across all levels of government for the duration of the provincial emergency. 

A summary of the ministerial orders can be found  here .

The Province, in consultation with Dr. Bonnie Henry, BC's provincial health officer, has defined essential services British Columbians rely on in their daily lives in the context of COVID-19 response and recovery.

Included in BC's list of essential services:
  • Liquor retail
  • Cannabis retail and cannabis producers 
  • Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food, if operating under rules for social and physical distancing or other recommendations from the Provincial Health Officer 
  • Food processing, manufacturing, storage and distribution of foods, feed products and beverages
  • Hotels and places of accommodation

Find the full list of essential services at the bottom of the  government news release  (under Backgrounders).

In consultation with the provincial health officer, any business or service that has not been ordered to close, and is also not identified on the essential service list,  may stay open  if it can adapt its services and workplace to the orders and recommendations of the Provincial Health Officer.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) will be replacing the previously announced Emergency Care and Emergency Support Benefit and will provide temporary income support to workers who are without employment or self-employment income for reasons related to COVID-19.
The CERB will be available to workers residing in Canada, who are at least 15 years old, and who:

  • Have earned at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the year prior to their application from any of a combination of the following sources: employment, self employment, Employment Insurance maternity and parental benefits; and

  • Are without employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days in a four-week period, for reasons related to COVID-19, including if they have temporarily stopped working, lost their job, are sick or in quarantine, or need to care for a child or a family member.
Both EI and non-EI eligible individuals will be able to access this new benefit. The new benefit will provide a flat amount of $2,000 a month, paid in four week instalments for up to 16 weeks. This benefit is available until October 3, 2020 and retroactive to March 15, 2020.
Workers will be able to apply online for the CERB starting in April. As more details are available on the roll out of the CERB we will be sure to keep you up to date.

Employment Insurance (EI)
Commissioners have been briefed/consulted on how the government proposes to modify the EI system to cope with the already over one million claims in the EI system, in order to dovetail with the CERB.
The idea around the modifications is that individuals—EI eligible---who have filed EI benefits applications should not have to abandon their claims in order to take up the CERB, which will be administered through CRA.
For EI purposes (not CERB), it remains important that EI records of employment (ROEs) for employees are correctly filled for the circumstances (e.g. quarantine/sickness, shortage of work).
The bulletins that the Canadian Payroll Association kindly prepared and allowed our Commissioner (Employers) office to share previously, remain openly available to everyone on their website:  

The department is currently preparing an information piece with FAQs about the EI role in this crisis, and once it is available our office will share it widely.  
EI Work-Sharing (WS)
EI work-sharing, which allows companies to share the available work around with employees having EI support for their off-times, has been vastly streamlined to expedite approvals and get the WS plans up and running.
The WS information page can be found on the department’s COVID-19 site: 
New and prominently featured on the WS page is an external enquiry unit as part of the services offered to support employers and workers understand the program.
Service Canada has created a bilingual enquiry unit for employers affected by COVID-19 that are seeking information related to the work-sharing program. Enquiries can be sent to the mailbox below for specific work-sharing information or to request general information about the program:
WorkSafeBC Defers Q1 2020 Payment

TIABC received the following update from our partners at go2HR:

We have been informed that WorkSafeBC has decided to allow employers to defer payment of their Q1 2020 premiums by three months. This means employers who report payroll and make payments on a quarterly basis, as well as Personal Optional Protection (POP) coverage holders, can defer payment until June 30, 2020. Employers who report annually will not be impacted because they do not report payroll or pay premiums until March 2021.

Employers who report and pay on a quarterly basis may still find it to their advantage to report their payroll by April 20, even if they defer payment, to ensure their account balance is accurate and clearance is not negatively impacted.

More information will be provided to employers in WorkSafeBC’s upcoming Q1 mailing, as well as through  worksafebc.com  and incoming phone messages to their Employer Service Centre. WorkSafeBC is actively monitoring and adjusting to the COVID-19 situation to determine how they can best support their stakeholders around the province.
BC Hotel Association Survey Results

The BC Hotel Association (BCHA) received an overwhelming response (nearly 400 respondents) to their COVID-19 impact survey. The results were consolidated and shared with the provincial government, including: The Hon. Lisa Beare and Deputy Minister Shauna Brower - Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, and Deputy Minister Lori Wanamaker – Ministry of Finance, as well as several team members with the Department of Municipal Affairs.

Understanding the scope of the impact on our industry will support BCHA's ask for fiscal support to help hotels stay solvent during this crisis. With the number of impacted properties changing hourly, the BCHA is working closely with the RDMOs to quantify the impact, and gratefully acknowledge their support and partnership.

At a high level, the survey results indicated that of the respondents as of March 22:
  • 103 properties were closed (28%)
  • 40 properties were closing soon (11%)
  • 226 properties remained open (61%)
  • Conservatively, more than 11,000 employees have been laid off

Support needed for properties, in order of priority:
  • Financial Support
  • Employee Support
  • Tax Deferrals
  • Insurance Support

As of March 25:
  • 142 properties are closed
  • 20,000+ employees have been laid off

Wineries Sharing Creative Ways to Engage and Support Customers

In an effort to support customers and encourage social distancing, many wineries in  Oliver Osoyoos Wine Country  are offering complimentary or discounted shipping for customers, who are stocking their cellars during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Now is a crucial time to support British Columbia’s wine industry. Many of the 45 wineries in Oliver Osoyoos Wine Country are family-owned and operated, and all are feeling the impact of the significant changes to society that have been seen over the past two weeks.
Here is a snapshot of wineries in Oliver Osoyoos Wine Country that are offering complimentary shipping and other benefits, and a full list can be found online at  www.oliverosoyoos.com .

Culmina Family Estate Winery:  complimentary shipping  on all Culmina and Number Series wines for orders of six bottles or more.
Kismet Estate Winery:  complimentary shipping  on six bottles or more, plus an additional 10% off both 2018 Pinot Grigio and 2018 Lotus Rosé.
Lariana Cellars:  complimentary shipping  on four bottles or more including their notable red blends, Fifteen and Sixteen and 2018 Viognier.
Rust Wine Co.:  complimentary shipping  for orders of six bottles or more. Additionally, for every 2019 Gamay Noir Magnum (1.5L) purchased, Rust Wine Co. will donate $5 to the BC Hospitality Foundation.
Squeezed Wines:  Home Care Package  for $125 including shipping. Twelve wines including 2016 Gewürztraminer, 2011 Merlot and 2018 Rose.
Tinhorn Creek Vineyards:  complimentary shipping  on six bottles or more until April 5th. 
vinAmité Cellars:  50% discount on shipping  on six bottles or more, or delivery directly to your door in the South Okanagan.

To help inspire future travel plans, and support everyone in their own homes, sign up  Oliver Osoyoos Wine County’s e-newsletter   and social feeds ( Instagram  /  Facebook ) for engaging and useful content including: wine pairing suggestions with home-cooked meals; recipes from local chefs; spotlights on terroir and characteristics of different varietals; winery profiles and more.
Feel free to send us your ideas on what information would be valuable for TIABC to share through our COVID-19 Bulletin going forward. Drop us a line at info@tiabc.ca.