As you are well aware the Coronavirus situation is very disruptive to business from several perspectives. As your association, we are continuing to investigate and prepare info that relates to your situation as employers. We will provide this to you and update this page as required:
Guidance has been posted on the CFIA website about preventing and responding to COVID-19 in meat slaughter and processing establishments.
The guidance document outlines steps that meat slaughter and processing establishments are required to take to address exposure risks for both establishment and CFIA employees.
Get the latest information
If you have concerns or questions not answered on our website, send us your question by email.
Federal support for companies impacted by covid-19 - Note: New information is added to these sites as the situation evolves, so companies should refer back to the websites regularly.
Info about Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan can be found at https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan.html under “Support to Businesses”. The site includes program information and links to online applications.
Infor on support through BDC can be found at: https://www.bdc.ca/en/pages/home.aspx, and through EDC at: https://www.edc.ca/ Note: Both the Canada Emergency Business Account and SME Loan and Guarantee program will be administered by private-sector financial institutions. Businesses should contact their primary financial institution for more information.
Please find a handy poster and general information regarding protection in the workplace in dealing with the threat of the Corona Virus.
-You’ll see immediately, it is provided by the World Health Organization and follows the same protocols as were in place with the 2010 Pandemic of;
a) social distancing of 3 feet or more,
b) coughing/sneezing - cover mouth and nose with flexed elbows or tissues, and
c) washing hands with soap and/or sanitizers often.
Some general information for an update or meeting...with all levels of staff in your company.
How coronavirus infections spread:
Human coronaviruses cause nose, throat and lung infections. Health Canada identifies that it spreads through the air by:
- coughing and sneezing
- close personal contact like touching or shaking hands
- touching something with the virus on it then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands.
Preventing coronavirus infections:
There are no vaccinations currently available to protect you from the human coronavirus infection. The WHO recommends:
- Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough.
- If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider.
Practical Considerations for Employers...CoronaVirus.
1. Encourage good health practices among employees. Employees who are sick or who have symptoms associated with illness should be encouraged to exercise good judgment and stay home in accordance with workplace policies. Routine measures to reduce the spread of everyday illness at the workplace, such as handwashing or hand sanitizer stations and availability of tissues, should be implemented if not already present.
2. Communicate necessary information to employees. Employers should ensure that policies regarding sick leave and caregiver leaves are communicated to employees. Employers should also assist employees with locating up-to-date and reliable information about the coronavirus, including where to receive medical care if needed.
3. Prepare for further developments. Employers should ensure they remain up-to-date on the latest information and developments regarding coronavirus, and consider policies that may need to be implemented in the event the disease outbreak escalates. Measures such as employee “work from home” strategies, videoconference instead of face-to-face meetings, or staggering shift starts and breaks to reduce the number of people in the workplace at a time may be advisable in those circumstances. Continuity plans, in the event essential employees fall ill or require leave to care for sick family members, may also need to be implemented. Employers are advised to review and revise their emergency preparedness plans as needed.
4. Stay up to date. For updates on the current status of coronavirus, please refer to:
Where can employers get regular updates on COVID-19?
The Government of Canada’s Public Health Agency Infection Prevention and Control Canada (ipac)
- Is COVID-19 in Canada? As of March 3, 2020, COVID-19 has been confirmed in three provinces: British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. While the Public Health Agency of Canada expects those numbers to increase, without sustained human-to-human transmission, most Canadian employees are not at significant risk of infection.
- Can an employer restrict international travel? As of March 3, 2020, the Government of Canada has posted travel health notices for non-essential travel to areas of China, Hong Kong, Iran, Japan, Northern Italy, Singapore and South Korea due to the outbreak of COVID-19. Based on these advisories, employers should restrict business travel to these areas. Should employees travel to these regions for personal reasons, they should be advised that their ability to return to the workplace will be assessed upon their return to Canada.
- Can an employer stop employees who travelled in an area affected by COVID-19 from returning to work? Depending on where they have travelled and the nature of the employer’s business, an employer may assess risks in the circumstances, and could restrict an employee from immediately returning to the workplace. For example, an employer who operates a senior’s community will have a dramatically different assessment than an employer operating a warehouse.
- Prior to an employee returning to work, they should be asked to confirm that they have no symptoms of illness. Again, depending on the workplace and the risk associated with potential COVID-19 exposure, the employee may be asked to self-isolate even absent symptoms depending on where they have travelled. Patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If the employee has these symptoms, they should seek medical attention and should not be permitted to return to work until they are confirmed by medical testing to either not be suffering from COVID-19 or that they no longer carry the virus.
- If an employer holds an employee without symptoms out of work, is there a requirement to still compensate the employee? This will depend on the circumstances, including where the employee has travelled from, the nature of the specific workplace, alternatives available (i.e. working from home) and any potential collective agreement requirements. While each situation will have to be assessed individually, there will be circumstances where holding an employee out of service, without pay, may be deemed reasonable.
- What if an employee has COVID-19 and cannot work? Where an employee contracts COVID-19 and is unable to work, an employer must grant any applicable legislative leave to the employee, in addition to meeting any sick leave obligations outlined in employment agreements or collective agreements.
- What if employees refuse to work because they are afraid of contracting COVID-19 in the workplace? Employers have a positive obligation to take reasonable care in the circumstances to protect the health and safety of employees under occupational health and safety legislation. Where an employee has a reasonable basis to believe that there is a dangerous condition in the workplace, or that their duties present a danger to their health and safety, the employee may be able to refuse to attend work or perform certain duties. In the event of a work refusal, the employer must respond in accordance with occupational health and safety legislation, which response will include an investigation into the concerns and, if appropriate, adopting measures to eliminate or reduce the workplace danger. This investigation will, in large part, be based upon the current scientific understanding of COVID-19 and the specific facts in the individual workplace. No reprisal for properly exercising a health and safety right may occur.
- Can an employer fire an employee if they contract COVID19? No. Employers may not terminate an employee or otherwise discriminate against an employee due to physical disability (which includes certain illnesses) under human rights legislation.
- What if an employer needs to replace sick employees on a temporary basis to operate? An employer can hire employees on a temporary basis. An employer may also ask healthy employees to work additional hours, provided the employer is complying with legislative provisions regarding overtime and excessive hours of work. The time to prepare for such a contingency is now: employers should be assessing how many employees they require to operate effectively and what will happen if a large number of employees are unable to attend work.
- Can an employer force employees to work from home? Whether or not an employer can direct all or a portion of its workforce to work from home will depend on the reasons for the request. For example, if there has been potential exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace, it may be reasonable to request certain employee self-isolate and work from home for at least a 14 day period.
- Can an employer close their business due to COVID-19 outbreak? An employer must ensure a safe working environment. Depending on the situation, it may be necessary to close a business location. An employer’s obligation for providing notice or pay in lieu of notice to employees will be governed by the specific facts of each case.
- Do employers have to buy personal protective equipment for employees? Employers have a duty to provide a safe working environment. If employees run the risk of becoming infected at work, the employer must provide personal protective equipment.
At this transitional moment, we encourage everyone to explore and make use of our free workstation setup checklist, break reminder, stretching guide, office ergonomics app, remote work guidelines, and other resources.
- The EWI Works Team - AFPA Associate Member
Annie J. Barnwell, MSc, CCPE (Canadian Certified Professional Ergonomist), Senior Ergonomist - Tel: (403) 660-2967
Time to look in the mirror as the world deals with Coronavirus - Compliments of Peter Chapman <firstname.lastname@example.org>
My plan was to give you some insights into dealing with customers last week regarding the Coronavirus and then shift back to some of the topics I usually work on. The situation seems to have changed and escalated so much in the week that I wanted to share what I would tell you if you called to ask me what the priorities should be.
Consumers in Canada are not used to bare shelves in stores unless we are going into a major weather event. Between ‘stocking up’ and suppliers being challenged to meet orders, we know there are more out of stocks.
Many food producers and processors supply food service and retail. Food service is being impacted in the short term and they will continue to be as people eat out less and tourism is really impacted. I can tell you in Halifax where I live cruise ships are a major economic driver but most people are of the opinion we should not have them come into the port. In a very seasonal tourism industry Canada will be impacted over the summer when most people like to travel here. Speaking of food service did you see Tim Horton’s decided to completely re-design the Roll Up the Rim at the 11th hour? To prevent employees from having to handle the paper cup rims they shifted the entire program on line. That is a big commitment to reacting to the situation.
With events being postponed and travel restricted it is time to look at your business and prepare to weather this storm. Here are the issues I would consider if I were a food producer/processor:
1. This is a time of upheaval for employees
No matter where you go right now this is the topic of conversation. Whether you think it is over blown or impending doom, it is on people’s mind. Communication will help alleviate some of the angst and I don't think anyone has all of the answers. That is not an excuse to say nothing. You should be telling people it is changing rapidly but as of today “here is where we are at”.
What is your plan if one employee tests positive?
What will happen to salaried and hourly employees if they are not able to come to work?
If someone an employee has been in contact with tests positive what is your plan?
What happens when someone in his or her family is impacted? Recently in New Brunswick they have decided if a school age child travels during March Break they must self quarantine for 2 weeks. When you think about it if you cancelled your trip because of the risk and then someone else goes away and comes back to infect you that is not really right.
2. Restricting access to your facilities
Keeping your employees healthy and focused on production is very important right now. It probably is not the ideal time to offer tours to people from other places. Your customers are very focused on servicing their stores so it is not likely that they want to visit right now.
3. Eliminate non-essential travel
This seems like a relatively easy decision to make. Most airlines are offering to move tickets so there are no out of pocket losses for your airline tickets that have been booked. Travel is great and often associated with learning or pleasure but when you really take a step back it is not usually essential. My understanding is all of the large retailers have made this decision.
4. Reduce or eliminate gatherings
Stopping the spread of the virus seems to be the biggest challenge in the short term. Most experts agree when you get a lot of people together the chance of one person infecting another increases so why put people at risk? Similar to travel it is not usually essential so find alternatives. Video conferencing is affordable and easy to use as long as you have access to the Internet.
5. Check on your supply chain
Ingredients, packaging and logistics could all be impacted by this global issue. I was watching a webinar from Export Development Canada today and they shared some concerning numbers about what is not coming out of Asia. We know the world is a smaller place than it was 10 years ago so take the time to confirm you will have the resources you need to produce your product. If you will be challenged give your customers as much lead time as possible and be intelligent and fair about how you allocate what you have.
6. Decide how often you will update customers
As I mentioned earlier no one person has all the answers. Similar to your employees this is not an excuse to say nothing. Communicate with your customers during these challenging times. If your item is one of the items in higher demand then communicate often. If your product is not critical right now then communicate but not too often and do not expect an answer.
7. Watch orders carefully
Consumers and customers are acting differently right now. Your sales people should be watching orders very carefully right now. Depending on what you produce, demand could be changing. If orders are going to decrease do you have another option for product and if they are going to increase can you handle the demand?
As I write this I just checked the news and I see more cancellations across major North American sports and events. Schools are closing in a number of areas as government tries to reduce the transmission opportunities. No doubt the economy and society will be impacted in so many ways. We all have to look in the mirror and do the right thing to prevent/reduce the chance of spreading the virus to others who might be more at risk.