The Prince Edward Island government declared a state of emergency on March 16, 2020. And on March 19, 2020, the government took some province-wide and regional measures to protect the health and safety of its residents in order to spread the slow of the COVID-19 virus. These measures include:
- All public and private long-term care and community care facilities will be restricting visitors.
- All non-essential provincial government services have been halted, in most cases for a period of two weeks, with an update to be provided at a later date. Many provincial offices and buildings are closed to the public.
- Children who have travelled outside the country, or whose parents/caregivers have travelled outside the country, should not attend childcare centres and are asked to self-isolate for 14 days. Children who are showing any sign of illness should also not attend childcare centres.
The province has also created a special For Business COVID-19 website geared to answering questions for employers and self-employed individuals. Measures the government has put in place for businesses include:
- The Emergency Income Relief Fund: A temporary program put in place to support the self-employed who have been significantly affected by COVID-19. There is a maximum payment of $500 per week for the period of March 16 to March 29, 2020 (this period will be reviewed as required). Information on eligibility and how to apply can be found here.
- Emergency Working Capital Financing: A financing program has been developed to provide emergency working capital financing to assist PEI’s small businesses during this unprecedented economic disruption to business caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. This new loan program is to assist qualifying companies maintain normal business operations during these difficult times. Eligible applicants can apply to receive a working capital loan of up to $100,000 with a fixed interest rate of 4 percent per annum to be used to assist with fixed operating costs (including payroll, rent, utilities, etc.) with principal and interest payments deferred for a minimum of 12 months. See if you qualify and learn how to apply here.
In addition, the government has prepared an FAQ page to answer frequently asked questions employers have on the application of the Employment Standards Act and Occupational Health and Safety Act during the COVID-19 pandemic here.
On March 25, 2020, employers may now apply online for the government’s previously announced $100 Sobeys gift cards program for employee distribution.
In addition, the Chief Public Health Officer urged tighter restrictions for those in self-isolation, recommending that all individuals who are self-isolating must remain on their own property when outside. Those who live in apartment buildings should stay on the property of the building while outside.
On March 27, 2020, the Prince Edward Island government announced that non-essential government services and non-essential businesses will remain closed indefinitely as the situation continues to be re-evaluated on a regular basis. All schools across the province will also remain closed for in-person classes and daycares will remain closed until at least May 11, 2020. For more details, see 2. Employment/labour standards and HR management below.
March 30, 2020: There is a moratorium on evictions until the end of June.
March 31, 2020: Schools will remain closed until at least May 11, 2020. Teachers will provide both online and printed learning materials. All provincial skill assessments are cancelled. School counsellors and psychologists will be made available for students that need support. The province has also suspended repayment of student loans for six months.
On April 1, 2020, the government introduced the COVID-19 Income Support Program, intended to assist employees experiencing a loss of income. This fund will provide one-time, taxable payments of $750 for eligible employees.
The government also announced additional screening and enforcement measures at the Confederation Bridge for travellers arriving in Prince Edward Island. Individuals coming across the bridge will be stopped to determine if their travel to Prince Edward Island is essential based the guidelines announced earlier in the week by the Chief Public Health Officer. Non-residents of the island traveling to the province for personal reasons will not be admitted.
On April 3, 2020, the Prince Edward Island government announced a new COVID-19 financial relief initiative by deferring property tax and fee payments until December 31, 2020.
On April 6, 2020, the Chief Nursing Officer announced that a virtual care platform will be available for physicians, nurse practitioners, and mental health and addictions professionals this week. The platform will allow health care providers to offer their services over a secure video platform, improving access for patients while reducing the need for in-person visits.
On April 8, 2020, the government expressed its hope that there will be a commercial fishing season this year and has asked for guidance and a decision on the fishing season from the federal government.
Further, the government extended employers’ deadline to apply for wage subsidies for youth through the Jobs for Youth Program to April 30, 2020.
On April 8, 2020, as part of the Canada Agriculture Partnership, the government announced a new $750,000 COVID-19 Strategic Fund to assist commodities and small processors in the agricultural sector. Initiatives eligible for funding could include altering a physical workplace to accommodate physical distancing, doing more business on-line, or adjusting quickly to changing markets.
April 9, 2020: The opening of the recreational fishing season has been delayed until at least June 1, 2020.
The Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy, Steven Myers, announced a partnership with the PEI Trucking Sector Council, Emergency Measures Organization and Rodd Royalty Inn & Suites. The partnership will make rooms available for truck drivers so they can practice self-isolation between trips.
WCB will defer all assessment due dates related to 2020 employer payrolls. This temporary change means that covered employers will not have to pay WCB premiums until June 30, 2020. Neither interest nor penalties will accrue during this time.
Employers are asked to submit any revisions to their 2020 payroll estimates to the WCB before May 15th to ensure that it is reflected on their June statement in assessment amounts due. An FAQ on the deferral measure can be found here.
On April 15, 2020,The government announced a new initiative to create and subsidize employment and economic opportunities for high school and post-secondary students. The government expects its new initiatives will support the creation of 1,000 jobs for youth. More to come.
April 16, 2020: The Government of Prince Edward Island declared a state of emergency and renewed the state of public health emergency for an additional thirty days. For the duration of the state of emergency, individuals travelling to the province will be required to disclose the purpose of their travel in order to determine if that travel is essential or not. The state of emergency will be in effect from April 17, 2020 at 8:00 a.m. until April 30, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. A.D.T.
On April 22, 2020, the government announced that it is considering easing public measures related to COVID-19 on a gradual basis as early as May 1, 2020, particularly measures related to outdoor activities and non-urgent health care services.
On April 24, 2020, the government announced a number of financial initiatives to support the agricultural industry.
On April 28, 2020, the government announced its 4-phase plan to re-open the economy and ease public health restrictions. See Governments re-opening plan and workplace issues to think of for details.
On April 30, 2020, the Prince Edward Island government announced home-based learning will remain the primary learning model for the remaining 2019-2020 school year. For students with individualized education supports (e.g., educational assistants and youth services workers), school-based learning will resume as of May 11, 2020.
On May 6, 2020, the government announced a COVID-19 Agriculture Labour Support Initiative to help workers connect with employment opportunities in the agriculture industry.
On May 7, 2020, the Prince Edward Island government announced the following financial relief initiatives:
- a $16.7-million COVID-19 Incentive to Support Essential Workers program, which will provide temporary wage top-ups to employees of essential services businesses. Eligible workers will receive a one-time payment of $1,000 if they make less than $3,000 per four-week period. The top-up must be requested by employers by way of application to the government;
- the Prince Edward Island Fish Emergency Loan Program, which will provide loans up to $25,000 to harvesters at reduced and fixed interest rates; and
- the COVID-19 Workspace Adaption Assistance Fund, which will assist small businesses in adapting their facilities to safeguard employees and customers. The program is retroactive to March 16, 2020 and will provide up to $2,000 to eligible applicants.
On May 14, 2020, the government is now accepting applications from employers for its COVID-19 Support for Essential Workers – Earning $3,000/Month or Less program. Under the program, eligible employers will be refunded $1,000 plus an administrative fee for providing a qualifying employee with a one-time $1,000 top-up payment during the program’s eligibility period, April 6, 2020 through to July 26, 2020. The application deadline is August 28, 2020.
On May 21, 2020, the Prince Edward Island government announced a Case Team Program. The Program will hire 25 students to provide “problem-solving assistance with issues involving, but not limited to, marketing, human resources, operations, or strategy” to government departments and agencies, private businesses and non-profit organizations. Students can apply to be hired into the program. Organizations can apply for the assistance of a 5-student case team. Applications close on May 27, 2020.
On May 25, 2020, the Prince Edward Island government established the Council for Recovery and Growth to develop a provincial plan for COVID-19 recovery and growth.
May 28, 2020: Prince Edward Island has extended its state of emergency until June 14, while announcing new rules to allow people with seasonal cottages to head to the Island. People wanting to travel to seasonal residences will have to submit an application beginning June 1, and those will be put through a risk assessment before approval. He says the assessment will consider the location applicants are travelling from and the state of COVID-19 infection in that area. Other factors – including how people are travelling to the Island, their plan for a two-week self-isolation once they arrive, and their plan to be supported while in self-isolation – will also be looked at. King says as an added layer of safety, seasonal residents will be tested for COVID-19 before the completion of their self-isolation.
On May 28, 2020, the Prince Edward Island government introduced Bill 38, An act to amend the Employment Standards Act (No.3) on May 26, 2020. If enacted, Bill 38 would create a new emergency leave of absence for qualifying employees under the Employment Standards Act.
On June 15, 2020, the Prince Edward Island government extended:
- the provincial state of public health emergency for an additional period of 30 days, effective June 15, 2020; and
- the provincial state of emergency until June 28, 2020.
On June 17, 2020, the Prince Edward Island government, in partnership with the PEI Seafood Processors Association, is rolling out a labour program for individuals interested in the seafood processing industry.
On June 18, 2020, the Prince Edward Island’s government presented its 2020-21 budget, which includes many COVID-19 financial recovery initiatives, including a small business tax reduction and personal income tax changes.
On July 10, 2020, the Prince Edward Island government announced that a new COVID-19 testing site for essential workers will open in Borden on July 13, 2020.
More information on closures can be found here. For employment standards emergency leave and financial measures for employers and employees see 2. Employment/labour standards and HR management below. For information on Prince Edward Island’s reopening plan and measures see Governments re-opening plan and workplace issues to think of.