MANAGING CORONAVIRUS IN BC’S CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY
May 6 – Premier Horgan reveals the first details of “BC’s 4-phase Restart Plan”. Highlights include:
- Phase 2 elements will begin rolling out in mid-May.
- The government is still looking at the economic imperative of working when sick and is determined to find a way to solve that challenge because there will be “zero tolerance for illness in the workplace”
- Despite his reference to “ratcheting up” construction, no specific details/announcements were made in regard to that
- Clean BC was mentioned as being at the “centre of recovery” due to climate change being “the challenge of our time”
More details about this announcement and 4-phased Restart Plan can be read in our Wednesday, May 6 COVID Update, or found on the BC Governments Website.
April 29 – The Canadian Construction Association (CCA) has sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau detailing its recommendations for COVID-19 recovery plan principles with respect to the construction industry.
- CCA also continues to advocate on behalf of its members for an emergency COVID-19 cost relief fund, with eligible costs to be reimbursed up to 5 percent of the contract value as a starting point. If you have not done so already, CCA and its member organizations, including BCCA, urge you to send a letter to your MP today; Our voice is stronger together.
April 29 – Premier Horgan officially announced an extension of BC’s State of Emergency for two more weeks.
April 16 – A new support service hub has been launched in BC for small businesses struggling during the novel coronavirus pandemic. The BC Business COVID-19 Support Service will be operated by Small Business BC (SBBC):
- The BC Business COVID-19 Support Service provides a single point of contact for businesses who are looking for resources available to them during the pandemic.
- As of April 17, advisors can be reached from Monday through Saturday by phone, email and live chat through Small Business BC’s website.
- Advisors are available Monday to Friday, from 8 am to 6 pm (PT) and Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm at 1.833.254.4357
- Inquiries can also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or raised on the live chat feature available on SBBC’s dedicated website
April 16 – Premier Horgan announced an official extension of the State of Emergency through April 28. Note that by law, the State of Emergency can only be declared for 2 weeks at a time, and so must be continually renewed.
April 9 – A letter to industry from the honourable Claire Trevena Ministere of Transportation and Infrastructure.
April 3 – The Ontario government updated its list of essential services to include only some parts of its construction industry, read the updated list here.
MNP Tax Alert – April 1, 2020: Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Program Details Announced
Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau addressed Canadians today to deliver additional information on the newly announced Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. While more details from the government are forthcoming, here’s an update on what was learned today.
March 31 – The BC Centre for Disease Control has published Interim Communicable Disease Control Guidelines for Industrial Camps for use in planning and preparing for COVID-19 in an industrial camp.
MNP Video Blog – March 26, 2020: Property Tax Deferral Update
Find out how governments at all levels are offering property tax deferrals and other measures to non-residential property owners as tenants shut down in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
March 26 – BC GOVERNMENT INVOKES SUPPLY CHAIN AND ENFORCEMENT POWERS
On March 26, Premier Horgan and Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth announced that the provincial government is invoking additional extraordinary powers for the duration of the provincial state of emergency.
These measures include:
- Government intervention in supply chain to ensure availability of essential goods and services, using military as needed
- Prohibiting the resale of essential supplies including PPE and cleaning materials
- Restricting purchase quantities at retail point of sale
- Municipal by-law officers are empowered to ensure compliance with Provincial Health Officer order for business closure, social distancing
- People who ignore public health orders can be jailed or fined upwards of $25,000
- Municipal states of emergency are now overridden by the provincial orders
- Local governments must identify public facilities that can be used for public response, including medical care and testing
- Local governments must respond to any requests from the provincial government to identify resources and critical supply needs
BC GOVERNMENT LIST OF ESSENTIAL SERVICES – INCLUDES CONSTRUCTION
Essential services are those daily services considered essential to preserving life, health, public safety, and basic societal functioning.
The list published by the Province on March 26 includes construction. The following excerpts should not be considered exhaustive. Please review the list (follow link and scroll to the bottom of the page) to ensure the correct classification of your business:
- plumbers, electricians, elevator maintenance providers, exterminators, property management services, custodial/janitorial workers, cleaning services, fire safety, and sprinkler systems, building systems maintenance and repair technicians, engineers, mechanics, smelters and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation and daily essential operation of residences and commercial buildings; businesses that ensure global continuity of supply of aggregates to support critical infrastructure repairs and emergency response requirements (e.g., sandbags, armour stone barriers, etc.); and
- construction work, in accordance with PHO direction, construction firms, skilled trades and professionals, and construction and light industrial machinery and equipment rental;
- building code enforcement, inspection of buildings, building sites and building systems by building officials and registered professionals (architects and engineers);
- services to support and enable transportation, including highway, road, bridge maintenance, and repair;
- businesses that provide materials and services for the operation, maintenance and safety of transportation systems (road, transit, rail, air, and marine) including delivery of maintenance services, such as clearing snow, response to collisions and completing needed repairs to transportation systems;
- businesses that support the safe operations of residences, essential businesses and facilities/buildings.
- businesses that support environmental management/monitoring and spill cleanup and response, including environmental consulting firms, professional engineers and geoscientists, septic haulers, well drillers, pesticides applicators and exterminators, management of industrial sewage/effluent (e.g., for mining operations) and environmental laboratories; and
Any business or service that has not been ordered to close, and is also not identified on the essential service list, may stay open if it can adapt its services and workplace to the orders and recommendations of the PHO.
- April 16, The Province of BC is increasing relief for businesses:
- Further reducing the school property tax rate for commercial properties to an average 25% reduction in the total property tax bill for most businesses. (This is in addition to the 50% reduction in the provincial school property tax rate that was originally announced for classes 4,5,6)
- Late payment penalties will not apply for commercial properties in classes 4,5,6,7,8 until Oct. 1, 2020, to give businesses and landlords more time to pay their reduced property tax without penalty.
- April 16, The Canadian Emergency Business Account has been adjusted to accommodate businesses that spent between $20,000 and $1.5M in payroll last year (previously it was not available to payrolls less than $50,000.
- So far the federal government has approved $7.5BN in loans to 195,000 small businesses.
- April 16, The Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) which gives $2,000/month for 4 months to workers unemployed due to COVID-19, has been expanded to include seasonal workers, workers who make less than $1,000/month, and workers who have exhausted their EI benefits.
- March 25, The Federal government introduces the senate approved emergency aid package. The revised package is set at $107BN, up from the originally announced $82BN last week. The COVID-19 Economic Response Plan provides direct support to Canadian workers and businesses.
- The Province of BC is providing an additional $5 billion in income supports, tax relief and funding for people, businesses and services in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Legislation was passed during an emergency debate. B.C.’s plan builds on the federal government’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. Please click here for a detailed list of supports for residents and businesses.