May 25, 2020

McLennan Ross Update for Monday

By McLennan Ross Labour & Employment Team
What we are seeing

  • Alberta has partnered with the Federal Government to provide up to $5,000,000 in grant funding to agri-businesses to support the training of new employees. This new program will provide support to the agricultural and horticultural businesses and services to help address the impact of COVID-19. The grant is intended to offset the costs of training and ensuring safety protocols are in place for new employees hired from the available domestic labour pool. The government contribution will be up to $2,000 per new employee and up to a maximum of $50,000 per employer. The program is structured through a grant process and administered on a first-come basis. Update: Application information can be found here.
  • Agri-employers may also be interested in other available funding programs through the Canada-Alberta Job Grant, such as the Canada-Alberta Job Grant training program that contributes grant funding to eligible employers of up to two-thirds of the cost to a maximum of $10,000 per trainee per fiscal year. If hiring and training an unemployed Albertan, up to 100% of training costs could be covered, up to $15,000 per trainee. The employer is required to contribute a minimum of one-third of the total training costs for existing employees. More information can be found here.
  • Agri-employers who hire temporary foreign workers may be eligible for funding through the Mandatory Isolation Support for Temporary Foreign Workers Program (MISTFWP), which will assist employers with incremental costs associated with the mandatory 14-day isolation period imposed under the Quarantine Act on temporary foreign workers entering Canada. The MISTFWP will provide a maximum non-repayable contribution amount of $1,500 for each temporary foreign worker. More information can be found here.

What we are hearing

  • The Government of Alberta continues to announce positive trends in its statistics more than one week after the implementation of Stage 1 of its relaunch strategy. Active cases are falling (consistently under 1,000), and new cases recorded over the 10 days have been the lowest since mid-March 2020. 
  • As the cases remain stable and the Chief Medical Officer did not see any concerning increase of cases, the staggered implementation of Stage 1 in Calgary and Brooks has proceeded as scheduled on May 25, 2020 with bars, restaurants, hair salons, and barbershops being permitted to open, with some restrictions. Stage 2 is currently scheduled to be implemented on June 19, 2020, but is contingent on the province's ability to keep infection rates low, which can only occur if the public continues to follow public health guidelines. The focus on infection rates is somewhat curious given the purpose of restrictions was to prevent overwhelming the healthcare system, not stop everyone for getting the virus.

What we are saying

  • The Court of Queen’s Bench again expanded its ability to hear applications. On May 19, 2020, the Court announced a process for applications to be heard at the Master level if both parties agreed. The Court announced on May 21, 2020 that it is now accepting applications brought without notice for matters that are beyond the jurisdiction of a Master and must be granted by a Justice. 
  • We have also been informed informally that there will be a significant attempt to expand the scope of matters that can be resolved by the Court of Queen’s Bench effective June 1, 2020, notwithstanding the previous announcement on May 14, 2020 that the Court had extended its limitation of hearings for emergency and urgent matters to June 26, 2020. Although no official announcement has been issued, we believe it likely that the Court of Queen’s Bench will be formally allowing applications to be heard by telephone or video conference and not require them to be argued in person. Allowing more video conference applications is both sensible and efficient.
  • Expanding the conduct of court matters remotely is consistent with other Ministerial Orders recently issued by the Government of Alberta, including permitting personal directives, powers of attorney, and wills to be witnessed by “electronic methods of communication” where it is impossible or medically unsafe for parties to physically attend before lawyers (more information here) and permitting lawyers to meet with guarantors by two-way video-conferencing, to complete the certificate required under the Guarantees Acknowledgement Act  (more information here).  

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