RECENT NEWS: James Barry Responds to Decision of Provincial Government to Deem Construction as Essential
Read the letter here: IBEW Response to Ontario Govt Re: Construction Workplaces as Essential Workplaces
UPDATE: April 8, 3:49:44 PM
Message from Executive Secretary Treasurer, James Barry:
Below is the most recent updates on the federal and provincial governments’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The government discussed how it is making it easier for more companies to apply for the program that subsidizes employee wages, if employees are kept on the payroll during the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. Making it virtually cost free for businesses to hire student workers this summer, the Government intends to pay employers 100% of the wages of students who qualify for the federal summer jobs program.
- PM Trudeau announced today that they are relaxing the rules to make the Canadian Emergency Wage Benefit program more accessible for more companies. Now companies will have to show their revenues drop by 15% during the months of March, rather than 30% as previously required. As well, those revenues can be compared against revenues from January and February rather than from March a year ago to determine the percentage of loss. As well, charities which also qualify for the wage subsidy that receive government grants can include or exclude those grants when calculating their eligible revenues. Non-profits also qualify for the program.
- Under the program the government will pay up to 75% of an employee’s salary, up to a maximum of $847 a week. Payments are retroactive to March 15, and are set to conclude June 6, although that date could be extended. The objective is to both provide income for workers displaced by the pandemic, while leaving them connected to their employer and able to go quickly back to work when conditions improve.
- Trudeau said the Government is starting to consider how workers who have been self-isolating at home can begin to return to their jobs in a “measured “ way, that does not cause COVID-19 cases to suddenly spike and undo all the good work now being undertaken to defeat the virus. He then noted it could begin “in a few months probably.”
- Today, the Premier announced that the province is extending essential construction hours and increasing the construction inspection capacity:
- Extending construction hours for essential construction projects, like critical projects in the health care sector, to 24 hours a day.
- Redeploying more than 30 employment standards officers to help businesses understand and comply with health and safety requirements;
- Working with health and safety associations to deploy up to 30 specialists to support employers and workers in the field;
- Issuing health and safety guidance notes to support specific sectors;
- Doubling the capacity of Ontario’s Health and Safety Call Centre from 25 to 50 phone lines;
- Providing job-protected leave under the Employment Standards Act for workers who need to self-isolate or care for a loved one because of COVID-19;
- Issuing a call to recently retired inspectors who may be able and willing to return to their positions; and
- Providing compliance assistance and enforcing the emergency orders issued under the Emergency Measures and Civil Protection Act.
- The subject of testing dominated the Premier’s press conference today. Before taking questions the Premier made a point of saying that he met with the CEO of Ontario Health and the COVID command table to say that the amount of tests being performed in Ontario is unacceptable, and he wants to see a plan to have a dramatic increase to 13,000 tests per day ASAP. The Premier and Minister stressed that they want to see every patient or resident and front line health-care worker tested in hospitals and long-term care facilities.
- The Premier also followed up on the issue of retail shopping hours that was raised earlier this week. The government has decided not to make any changes, meaning that retail will remain closed on Friday and Sunday.
Executive Secretary Treasurer
IBEW Construction Council of Ontario