ODA-Your Weekly COVID-19 Wrap-up – April 17th 2020

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Your Weekly COVID-19 Wrap-upFriday, April 17, 2020
This Week’s Situation Report
April 16: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced new measures on business loans and rent assistance to support Canadian small businesses so they can keep their doors open and their employees on the job. More details below.
April 15: The Government of Ontario passed emergency orders that will come into effect on April 22, 2020 restricting long-term care staff from working in more than one long-term care home, retirement home or health-care setting.
April 14: On the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and with the approval of the Ontario legislature, the Ontario government extended the Declaration of Emergency under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act for a further 28 days. This means that closures of non-essential businesses, including public libraries and most childcare spaces, as well as restrictions on social gatherings of more than five people and prohibitions against price-gouging, will be enforced until May 12, 2020.
April 12: In consultation with the Ontario Privacy Commissioner, the province is developing a new health data platform called the Pandemic Threat Response (PANTHR). This new platform will hold secure health data that will allow researchers to better support health system planning and responsiveness, including the immediate need to analyze the current COVID-19 outbreak.

Looking Ahead and Preparing for Recovery

The ODA has always been looking ahead towards the recovery phase of the pandemic to determine how we can best assist our members as you prepare to re-open your offices. In fact, this is the key focus of the ODA’s Board of Directors and Advisory Committees in the coming weeks. We know that members want clarity during this time of uncertainty. At this stage, there are many unknowns, but we are gathering as much information as we can to support a safe and feasible return to full patient care when the time comes. One of our first steps was sharing maintenance checklists on our website last week. We are now looking at the state of dentistry in countries that are starting to relax restrictions, to see what we can possibly expect. Additionally, the Canadian Dental Association has been reaching out to other dental associations around the globe to see how they are helping their dentists prepare for post-pandemic recovery.

The ODA is aware of the interest in products and services as offices prepare to re-open, including with respect to the physical build, such as plexiglass shields for reception desks and air filtration systems. Post-COVID-19 infection-prevention-and-control requirements have not yet been determined by the government or regulators. We are working hard to influence and get clarity on future requirements.

Updates on Federal Assistance Programs

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced new measures to support Canadian businesses so they can keep their doors open and their employees on the job, including the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses. The program will provide loans, including forgivable loans, to commercial property owners who in turn will lower or forgo the rent of small businesses for the months of April (retroactive), May, and June 2020. Implementation of the program will require a partnership between the federal government and provincial and territorial governments, which are responsible for property owner-tenant relationships. The ODA and CDA are reviewing these announcements and will provide more clarity to dentists shortly.

There were also changes or amendments to several federal programs announced this week:As first reported in the April 15 email to members, the eligibility criteria for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) have been updated to allow individuals to earn up to $1,000 per month while receiving the benefit. This responds to the concerns raised by many groups (including organized dentistry) that those working a few hours, including those providing emergency dental treatment, for nominal amounts would not qualify. Initial statements indicated that a maximum of 10 hours of labour would be allowed, but this announcement did not include any hour restriction.Thursday’s announcement indicated that the payroll aspects of eligibility requirements for the Canada Emergency Business Account (CERB) have been adjusted on both the low end and high end. It shifted the range to a $20,000 minimum and a $1,500,000 maximum in wages (from the previous $50,000 – $1,000,000 payroll range). Small businesses owners should contact their financial institution about CERB.The CDA’s Program Roadmap has been updated to reflect these changes, and the latest version is can be found here. A new resource from Emond Harnden LLP explaining changes to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy has also been provided.

Please note that employers in Ontario can consider rehiring staff, but are encouraged to top up or contribute to the remaining 25 per cent of the employee’s salary. ODA legal and accounting experts have indicated that the government expects employers to make their best efforts to pay the non-subsidized portion of the employees’ wages, and if choosing not to, employers should be prepared to prove they did not have the ability to provide payment to their employees.

More updates will follow in in the coming days, including further in-depth analysis on each of the relevant programs.
Ontario Dental Association
4 New Street, Toronto, Ontario M5R 1P6
416-922-3900   |   1-800-387-1393

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