Quebec government measures
The Quebec government announced a new $45 million assistance program to encourage Quebecers to work in agricultural businesses. This program provides a premium of $100 per week for farm workers who will work a minimum of 25 hours per week. It should be noted that some of these workers will also be able to benefit from the incentive program to retain essential workers (IPREW) with low-income, which provides for a weekly bonus of $100. More details on eligibility conditions are to come.
The list of priority services was originally enacted by Decree No. 223-2020 on March 24, 2020. It should be noted that the initial list has been modified weekly, namely by Ministerial Orders 2020-023 and 2020-025, which revised this list since we last released our newsletter. An unofficial list of priority services is available on the internet, but it does not replace the official text of the various decrees. If you are uncertain as to whether you qualify as a priority business, our professionals can advise your company regarding the interpretation of the list.
It should also be noted that Ministerial Order 2020-025 issued on April 19, 2020, now includes some aspects of the construction sector and related services:
- Construction and renovation of residential dwellings for any property where possession of a residential unit must take place on or before 31 July 2020, including the supply of goods and services that may be required for the work, including the services of real estate agents, land surveyors, building inspectors and assessors, and chartered appraisers.
The government has released a FAQ list about this.
In addition, the labour and employer associations in the construction industry have agreed on preventive measures that must be implemented on construction sites where activities will be resumed. This guide is available on the CNESST website. In the event that employers do not comply with these measures, a CNESST inspector could issue a statement of offence and order the closure of the workplace until the necessary corrections are made.
It should also be noted that Ministerial Order 2020-023, issued on April 17, in addition to the existing priority services, includes the following changes:
- domestic storage facilities;
- addition of activities other than newspaper printing for printers;
- Bicycle repair shops, including sales.
At a press conference, the Premier announced that the spread of the virus is stabilizing in Quebec (with the exception of the greater Montreal area, the Eastern Townships, the Mauricie region and seniors' residences) and that a gradual resumption of activities is conceivable for regions less affected by COVID-19. To this end, the Government of Quebec is developing a "gradual return to normalcy" plan and is closely monitoring the situation.
With respect to the resumption of school activities, although the Premier ruled out a reopening of schools in the short term, it is conceivable that school reopenings could be authorized before the end of the school year in order to avoid a second wave of the epidemic this fall. In addition, the Premier is considering the possibility of expanding access to child care services for employees who will have to return to work.
On March 28, 2020, the Minister of Health and Social Services adopted Decree No. 2020-11, which added travel restrictions to eight "health regions" over and above the various Quebec containment measures, and several other decrees further extended this list of health regions. As of April 21, there are 14 health regions affected in whole or in part by these measures.
These measures are summarized in our weekly summary for the week of April 8-14 and available here.
Furthermore, it should be mentioned that the containment measures imposed on a sector in Boisbriand will be repealed as of April 21, 2020, as provided for in Ministerial Order 2020-026 of April 20, 2020. This is the first region to benefit from the easing of travel restrictions.