James Barry Responds to Decision of Provincial Government to Deem Construction as Essential

UPDATE: March 24, 2:39:36 PM

IBEW CCO Executive Secretary Treasurer, James Barry, has responded to Premier Ford and Minister McNaughton regarding construction being deemed as an essential workplace which currently will remain open during COVID-19 pandemic.  Mr. Barry’s official response may be found via the link below:

IBEW Response to Ontario Govt Re: Construction Workplaces as Essential Workplaces

NEW: How to Apply to EI during COVID-19

UPDATE from Executive Secretary Treasurer, James Barry: March 24, 3:39:53 PM

Please see below the most recent updates on the federal and provincial governments’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Provincial: 

Today Premier Ford and Minister Rickford announced that the Government of Ontario is providing immediate electricity rate relief for families, small businesses and farms paying time-of-use (TOU) rates.

The news release for today’s announcement can be found here.

Quick Facts

  • The Ontario Energy Board sets time-of-use electricity rates for residential and small business customers through the Regulated Price Plan.
  • Time-of-use (TOU) prices as of November, 2019 ― Off-Peak: 10.1₵/kWh, Mid-Peak: 14.4₵/kWh, On-Peak: 20.8₵/kWh
  • Depending on billing cycles, some customers will see these changes on their next electricity bill. TOU customers whose billing cycle ended before their local distribution company implemented this change will receive the reduced rate as a credit on a future bill.
  • The Ontario Electricity Rebate (OER) will continue to provide a 31.8 per cent rebate on the sub-total bill amount for all existing Regulated Price Plan (RPP) consumers.
  • There are approximately five million residential consumers, farms and some small businesses billed using time-of-use (TOU) electricity prices under the RPP.
  • The Ontario Energy Board has extended the winter ban on disconnections to July 31st.

Please be reminded that the mandatory closing of all non-essential businesses is effective Tuesday March 24th at 11:59 pm (tonight).  It was announced this morning that the LCBO will now be closed on Mondays starting Monday, March 30th. Plan accordingly 😉

Finance Minister Rod Phillips will deliver the Province’s Economic Statement at approximately 4:30 pm tomorrow, and will reflect the best economic advice and be focused on providing the appropriate resources to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, as well as an economic stimulus package.  We will be providing a full summary of the economic statement, and be available to have a conversation with all of you to determine how the statement impacts your organization.

Federal: 

In his daily update this morning, the Prime Minister called on the Opposition parties to support the government’s bill, The COVID-19 Emergency Response Act, quickly so that funds could start flowing as soon as possible. The aid package includes $27B in new money along with $55B in deferred tax payments.  The Prime Minister has stressed that there will be more aid/relief to come, and that the $82B aid package is only the beginning.  However, the emergency sitting of the Chamber was suspended as the Conservative Party has said that it cannot support the current bill as it is written, due to their concerns that provisions in the legislation that grant unprecedented spending authority to Finance Minister Bill Morneau during the crisis.  In particular, Opposition MPs are concerned with the language in Part 4 of the draft bill that would allow Min. Morneau access to “all money required to do anything, including making payments to provinces and territories.”

The Commons will remain suspended as both parties negotiate the language of the proposed Bill.

The proposed aid package includes:

  • A temporary boost to Canada Child Benefit payments, delivering about $2 billion in extra support.
  • A new Emergency Care Benefit of up to $900 biweekly, for up to 15 weeks, to provide income support to workers, including the self-employed, who have to stay home and don’t qualify for paid sick leave or employment insurance. The measure could disburse up to $10 billion.
  • A new Emergency Support Benefit to provide up to $5 billion in support to workers who are not eligible for EI and who are facing unemployment.
  • A six-month, interest-free reprieve on student loan payments.
  • A doubling of the homeless care program.
  • An extension of the tax filing deadline to June 1st.
  • A policy change allowing taxpayers to defer until after Aug. 31st tax payments that are due after today and before September.
  • $305 million for a new Indigenous Community Support Fund to address immediate needs in First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation communities.

The Prime Minister also reiterated the importance of those returning to Canada from abroad, to go home immediately into self-isolation, and suggested that more strict measures will be taken should Canadians not practice social distancing and physical distancing to greater effect. He also reminded Canadians that use of the Federal Emergencies Act was still an option, but a would be used as a last resort.

James Barry
Executive Secretary Treasurer
IBEW Construction Council of Ontario