As the COVID-19 situation unfolds, we are committed to keeping you up-to-date with important information for UFCW 1518 members. Check back here regularly for the latest announcements from Federal, Provincial, and Municipal governments and for information on how to stay safe at work.
Last update: 1:30 pm, PST 2020-04-22. This page will be edited frequently as the situation develops. For urgent concerns, please contact your union representative.
Summary of today’s government announcements:
- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a $9 billion financial aid package for students. Students will be eligible for $1,250 a month from May through August and can receive up to $1,750 if they care for a dependent or have a disability. The benefit will also be available to students who have jobs but are making less than $1,000 a month.
- International students have been made temporarily eligible to work more than 20 hours per week if they are a study permit holder in an academic session; eligible to work off-campus; and providing an essential service.
- $350 million dollars will go to Canadian charities that have seen drops in donations during COVID-19.
- Online applications for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) are now open. The CERB is a $2000/month payment available to Canadians who have lost their employment, become sick, are quarantined or must stay home to care for children because of school closures. You can apply for the CERB here.
- $100 million dollars has been allocated in relief for food banks and local food organizations to help them deliver food to vulnerable populations across Canada.
- The federal government announced updates to the wage subsidy program to small businesses, large businesses, non-profits and charities. These will all be eligible for a 75 percent subsidy to help them keep employees on the payroll.
- The house of commons passed an $82 billion aid package that includes $27 billion in direct supports and another $55 billion to help businesses.
- The Canada Child Benefit will increase by $300 per child.
- Student loan repayments have been paused.
- Applications for the BC Emergency Benefit for Workers, a tax-free, one time $1,000 payment for B.C. residents whose ability to work has been affected due to COVID-19, will open on May 1. Click here for more information.
- Provincial emergency COVID-19 funding will be distributed through Community Living BC (CLBC) to ensure people with developmental disabilities stay supported and safe during the pandemic. Click here for more information.
- Families of children with special needs will be able to access an emergency fund of $225 per month until June 30, 2020. Families must qualify, and the funds are distributed on a needs basis. Click here for more information.
- A $1.5 million boost has been created to the Indigenous Emergency Assistance Fund. This fund helps Indigenous post-secondary students facing financial hardship that affects their ability to finish their studies.
- Social Development and Poverty Reduction Minister Shane Simpson announced a $300 crisis supplement for British Columbians living on income and disability assistance, including low-income seniors who receive the B.C. Senior’s Supplement and recipients of income assistance or disability assistance who reside in special care facilities. BC Bus Pass Program users who receive income assistance will also be provided with the $52 of a transit card while transit fees have been suspended.
- BC Hydro will be offering a 3-month credit for people who have lost income because of COVID-19.
- Premier John Horgan announced an extension of the provincial state of emergency until April 28.
- The BC Centre for Disease Control released guidelines to retailers to prevent transmission of COVID-19. These guidelines allow retailers to have more than 50 customers in store, but only if they can ensure physical distancing of at least two metres. Read the guidelines here.
- Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth announced that people who resell essential goods, like medical gear and cleaning equipment, can now be fined up to $10,000.
- The province has announced a renters rebate of up to $500 to help renters during the COVID-19 pandemic. The province also declared a moratorium on evictions and a freeze on rental increases during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The provincial government announced a $2.8 billion package to help people pay their bills and support the health care system. The stimulus package includes $1,000 one-time, tax-free payment to people whose ability to work has been affected by the outbreak. This will be over and on top of EI payments and includes the self-employed.
- The BC CDC has issued the following guidelines for grocery stores to enforce social distancing:
- At grocery stores: Premises must limit the number of customers entering the store and advise customers in line to maintain social distancing. When customers are waiting in line at the check-out they must stay 2 metres away from each other. In a practical sense, this would mean an equivalent of two arm’s length or one large shopping cart.
- Enhance your premise’s sanitation plan and schedule, and ensure staff are practicing proper hygiene (e.g., frequent hand washing, as well as coughing or sneezing into your elbow rather than hands).
- Minister Dix and Dr. Henry applauded the essential grocery store and pharmacy workers who are helping to flatten the curve on the COVID-19 pandemic. They are instructing the public to maintain social distancing while in stores and calling on them to protect the health and safety of grocery store staff.
- The provincial government announced protections for workers who need to take leave for a COVID-19 related issue. Workers will be able to take unpaid protected leave for an unlimited amount of time without having to put their jobs at risk. This leave will be retroactive to January 27, 2020.
- Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart announced that the City of Vancouver will provide regular cleaning and meal delivery to residents at 21 single-room occupancy hotels on the Downtown Eastside.
- Vancouver city council announced fines of up to $50,000 for businesses and $1,000 for individuals breaking public health rules. This includes restaurants that do not enforce social distancing.