On March 18, 2020, Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, declared a public health emergency under section 4.3 of the Public Health and Safety Act. Yukon has no confirmed cases at this time, but the threat is real and COVID-19 in the North is inevitable.
This declaration enables the Chief Medical Officer of Health to respond more quickly to the rapidly changing situation and to ensure the health and safety of Yukoners. The public health emergency will be in effect until further notice.
- This declaration comes with new public health measures aimed at protecting Yukoners and limiting the spread of COVID-19.
- Classes are suspended at all Yukon public schools until April 15, or until further notice.
- All public indoor recreational facilities are required to close until further notice. This includes the Canada Games Centre, ice rinks and recreation centres.
- All three Yukon hospitals are closed to visitors, with limited exceptions.
- Libraries are closed until further notice.
On March 26, 2020, the Government of the Yukon announced that it has established a COVID-19 Business Advisory Council to represent the needs of the business community before the Department of Economic Development.
On March 31, 2020, the Yukon government published a comprehensive list of all closures, cancellations, restricted facility access and changes in services that have been announced as of March 31, 2020.
On April 1, 2020, in the Yukon, the government provided additional details on its forthcoming financial support for businesses suffering loses as a result of major event cancellations. The Temporary Support for Events Funding Program will cover costs for perishable goods and the cancellation of accommodation and services.
On April 3, 2020, the Yukon government introduced two Ministerial Orders under the Civil Emergency Measures Act. The first one, the Civil Emergency Measures Health Protection (COVID-19) Order (MO 2020/14), consolidates the previous orders given by the Chief Medical Officer of Health to date, and adds the following additional orders and restrictions:
- all travellers entering Yukon by land or air are required to stop upon entry and complete a travel declaration and check in with an enforcement officer before entering the territory;
- non-residents who must transit through the territory to Alaska or the Northwest Territories or another part of Canada are allowed to remain in the territory for a maximum of 24 hours only;
- self-isolation is required from all essential services workers, with a limited number of exceptions (i.e. residents of specified British Columbia-Yukon border communities, and critical service workers who must cross the border);
- people in Atlin, Lower Post, Fraser, Jade City, Fireside or Pleasant Camp are exempt from the 14-day self-isolation period, provided they have not travelled outside of Yukon or their home community in the past 14 days; and
- residents of rural Yukon communities are advised to limit their visits to Whitehorse if possible, and to work together with neighbours to coordinate picking up groceries or supplies.
The Civil Emergency Measures Health Protection (COVID-19) Order also defines and provides useful guidelines related to essential services: critical and essential service providers are those whose work is to offer the provision of healthcare, food, water, emergency services, infrastructure, utilities, transportation, communications, and government; and critical and essential workers are required to follow orders from the Chief Medical Officer of Health as far as is practicable. Where that is not possible, workers and entities delivering critical services must adhere to strict health and safety protocols.
The government published guidelines for the delivery of critical, essential and other services, and a full list of critical and essential workers is now available online.
The second-order, Order MO 2020/13, provides that enforcement officers will be able to issue fines of $500 for any contraventions to the Civil Emergency Measures Health Protection (COVID-19) Order.
Women vulnerable to violence will be given phones for the next four months so that they have a safe way to access support during the pandemic.
April 6, 2020: Territorial parks and campgrounds will not open until June.
On April 7, 2020, the Yukon government provided additional details about border enforcement pursuant to its Ministerial Orders. Enforcement officers have been deployed at various border crossings and at the Erik Nielsen Whitehorse International Airport. A list of the locations where enforcement officers have been posted is available here. The government also announced that the opening of territorial parks and campgrounds has been delayed until June 2020.
In the Yukon, the government suspended all in-person classes for the remainder of the school year. Starting on April 16, 2020, education will be provided to students through alternative learning methods.
In the Yukon, the government introduced the Yukon Business Relief Program to help Yukon businesses that have experienced a 30% reduction in revenue and require immediate relief. Eligible businesses can apply for a grant of up to $30,000 per month to cover fixed costs from March 23 to May 22, 2020. Eligible fixed costs could include:
- commercial rent or lease;
- water, sewage and waste disposal;
- electricity and heating fuel;
- telephone, cable, internet and satellite;
- software, data services, and subscriptions;
- business insurance; and
- pest control.
Applications will be accepted until June 30, 2020. More information regarding the program, application and eligibility is available online.
Yukon business relief program
On April 9, 2020, Yukon businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic will receive funding from the Government of Yukon to cover fixed business costs, including rent, utilities and business insurance.
The Yukon Business Relief Program will help Yukon businesses that have experienced a 30 percent reduction in revenue and require immediate relief. Eligible businesses can apply for a grant of up to $30,000 per month to cover fixed costs from March 23 to May 22, 2020.
Eligible fixed costs include: commercial rent or lease; water, sewage and waste disposal; electricity and heating fuel; telephone, cable, internet and satellite; software, data services and subscriptions; business insurance; and pest control.
Applications will be accepted until June 1, 2020.
More information on the program and how to apply can be found here.
Paid sick leave rebate for employers
The Paid Sick Leave Rebate supports Yukon workers and self-employed people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The rebate allows Yukon workers without paid sick leave to stay at home if they:
- become sick; or
- are required to self-isolate while still meeting their basic financial needs.
Self-employed people are also eligible for this rebate.
The rebate covers:
- A maximum total of 10 days of wages per employee (not including benefits, payroll taxes or deductions) to allow for sick leave and/or for a 14-day self-isolation period.
- These paid sick leave days will apply only after all existing regular paid sick leave for the employee is used.
- The rebate program cannot be split into multiple uses. Employers can only access the program once per employee.
- The maximum daily rebate will be $378.13 per day per employee.
The program will last six months from March 11, 2020 to September 11, 2020.
More information on the program and how to apply can be found here.
YWCHSB premium deferral
The Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board will defer premium payments to end of calendar year (or preferred date); reimburse if already paid up-front, waive penalties and interest. This relief could be provided immediately through administrative procedures.
Economic stimulus package
On March 16, 2020, the Yukon government announced an economic stimulus package to support local workers and businesses impacted by COVID-19. This money is being made available to help offset the negative impacts of the evolving global situation.
The stimulus package will:
- support Yukon workers through a COVID-19 related 14-day isolation with paid sick leave;
- Reduce the negative impact of COVID-19 by establishing a grant program to address certain expenses related to cancelled events;
- stimulate business and the tourism industry by waiving, reimbursing or delaying government fee collection, such as airport landing fees;
- relieve financial pressures by deferring Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety premium payments and reimburse those paid up-front, waive penalties and interest (with approval by the Board);
- support the tourism industry with enhanced local advertising efforts;
- support the cultural industry by honouring transfer payment agreements considering COVID-19 related impacts; and
- continue to monitor the economic impacts of COVID-19 by establishing a Business Advisory Council to gather information and share with government.
The Government of Yukon will continue to work closely with the Government of Canada to access all available federal funding, and to maximize existing funds to keep Yukoners working and Yukon projects going ahead.
Yukon Ministers continue to work with federal counterpoints on all aspects of this situation. In the past week, there have been frequent conversations between the Prime Minister, Premiers, Ministers of Health, Public Safety, Tourism and Culture, Education, and Finance. Ongoing meetings are happening between officials at all levels of government, including regular health updates. The Government of Yukon supports the continued collaboration between jurisdictions on measures that support the needs of all regions.
Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health continues to lead the territory’s public health response. Yukon’s government continues to follow the recommendations of that office on all health issues related to COVID-19.
In the Yukon, the government extended the deadline for property tax payments to September 2, 2020, for citizens and businesses.
On April 28, 20202, in the Yukon, the government announced it will reform the law to ensure that Social Assistance benefits will not be reduced by the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (“CERB”) from April to June 2020.
On April 29, 2020, in the Yukon, the government announced it was planning the reopening of the economy and the easing of public health restrictions. For more information see Governments re-opening plan and workplace issues to think of.
On May 2, 2020, in the Yukon, the government made the following three new Ministerial Orders:
- the Civil Emergency Measures Limitations Periods and Legislated Time Periods (COVID-19) Order, which suspends some civil court limitation periods;
- the Civil Emergency Measures Leases, Approvals and Regulatory Timelines (COVID-19) Order, which provides deputy ministers with the authority to extend (i) leases, licences, certificates, permits and other approvals issued under Yukon law for up to 90 days after the territory’s state of emergency ends, and (ii) legislative timelines set out in Yukon laws for up to 90 days after the state of emergency ends; and
- the Civil Emergency Measures Amendment of Government Contract Provisions (COVID-19) Order, which provides authority for deputy ministers to alter the terms of government contracts in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On May 4, 2020, in the Yukon, the government announced it is waiving commercial aviation fees for the following businesses:
- air carriers;
- commercial aircraft operators (fixed and rotary wing);
- aircraft maintenance operators; and
- aviation-related concessionaires (e.g. food services, vehicle rentals, gift shops, and aircraft fuelling services).
Additional information is available online.
On May 9, 2020, in the Yukon, the government launched a non-medical COVID-19 information line.
On May 14, 2020, in the Yukon, the government introduced a new Leave (COVID-19) Regulation, under which an employee can take a 14-day unpaid leave related to COVID-19. For more information on the leave, see Employment/labour standards and HR management on this page.
The government also extended the statutory timelines prescribed by the Business Corporations Act, the Cooperative Associations Act, the Partnership and Business Names Act and the Societies Act have been. The government announced that societies, business corporations and cooperatives can now hold meetings through electronic and teleconferencing technology, retroactive to March 17, 2020.
On May 21, 2020, in the Yukon, the government extended the Yukon Business Relief Program to July 23, 2020.
On the weekend of May 23-24, the Yukon government introduced the following two new programs which may be used simultaneously:
- the Yukon Essential Workers Income Support Program will provide low-income essential workers with a wage subsidy of up to $4.00 per hour to a maximum of $20.00 per hour for up to 16 weeks; and
- the Staffing Up Labour Market Funding Program will provide $750,000 in funding to help Yukon employers create new summer employment for graduating and post-secondary students in critical and essential services. The program’s details are available online.
On May 26, 2020, the British Columbia government released a joint statement with the premiers of the Yukon and Manitoba in support of the federal government’s May 25, 2020 announcement regarding a paid sick leave program.
On June 5, 2020, in the Yukon, the government announced various measures to support businesses holding a liquor licence, including a 25 percent discount on the retail price of liquor; and a 50 percent refund on licence fees for the year.
On the weekend of June 13-14, 2020, in the Yukon, the territorial state of emergency has been extended until September 9, 2020.
On June 26, 2020, in the Yukon, the government announced that regular road tests for driving licences will resume as of July 2, 2020.
On July 15, 2020, in the Yukon, the government increased COVID-19 testing of Territory residents. As of July 15, 2020, any resident experiencing one of the following symptoms can be tested: fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, runny nose, sore throat, loss of sense of taste or smell, headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and/or muscle aches.
For information on the Yukon’s reopening plan and measures see Governments re-opening plan and workplace issues to think of.