COVID-19 UPDATES

 

Our city is facing major challenges, and we will be talking a lot about them over the coming months. The biggest challenge, by far, is our housing crisis. I am both proud and humbled to be part of the #LetsFixHousing movement. Our movement is full of people who love Vancouver. We have all committed to identify and implement the changes needed to make it possible for middle class working people to live in and enjoy our city again.

A new coronavirus is causing a respiratory infection known as COVID-19 around the world and in B.C. The City of Vancouver is working to break the chains of transmission.

As of May 9, 2020, British Columbia now has 2,330 confirmed cases. Sadly, 129 people have died. 1,659 people have recovered. 

We must each do our part to protect each other, especially our vulnerable community members. Slowing transmission helps our health care system keep up with the disease.

 

This is an evolving situation, with developments from the federal, provincial and local governments occurring on a daily and hourly basis. See a summary of federal support programs here.

 

I will also be doing my best to seek out solutions for you at the local level to try to keep people safe and housed and to ensure local businesses can recover from these challenging times. 

HELP SLOW THE TRANSMISSION OF COVID-19

  1. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds

  2. Sneeze/cough into your elbow and/or wear a face mask

  3. Avoid touching your face

  4. Maintain 2m distance from others

  5. Stay home if you can, if you have been in contact with someone who you believe to have COVID-19 and if you are sick, even if it is not COVID-19.

  6. Use the online BC COVID-19 Self Assessment Tool to learn more about testing: covid19.thrive.health

 

If you are looking for medical information about COVID-19: Call: 8-1-1* 

If you are looking for non-medical information about COVID-19:

  • Call: 1-888-COVID-19* 

  • Text: 604-630-0300 

  • Online: BC CDC 

 

*Translation is available in over 100 languages

GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCEMENTS 

Here is a summary of public health orders and official government announcements.

EMERGENCY STATUS

SOCIAL DISTANCING ORDERS FOR ALL

  • Gatherings larger than 50 people are banned.

  • Maintain 2m distance from others.

  • Stay home as much as possible, do not visit with friends and call them instead.

  • You can go outside for fresh air and exercise but maintain 2m distance from others.

  • Self-isolate if you are sick.

RESIDENTS

  • Five-stage approach in place for returning to full in-class school instruction.

  • BCIT, Langara College, Capilano University, SFU, UBC and Emily Carr University of Art and Design are transitioning classes to online.

  • Childcare services have not been ordered to close but children should be cared for at home where possible. The Province will give centres that remain open compensation to continue operating with reduced enrolment. Centres that close will also receive support for fixed operating costs, like rent or lease payments.

  • Youth in care will not age out of services during the pandemic.

  • Agreements with Young Adults (AYA) program payments will continue despite school closures and training interruptions.

  • Boost to GST-credit and Canada Child Benefit payments to low-income individuals and families (Effective May 2020).

  • Six-month interest-free moratorium on repayment of Canada Student Loans (Effective April 2020).

  • Reduced minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs).

  • City of Vancouver gives a 60 day grace period for all property tax payments, as of March 20, 2020.

  • City of Vancouver partnered with Vancouver Coastal Health and BC Housing on a COVID-19 Downtown Eastside Task Force.

  • Vancouver Foundation, Vancity Community Foundation, City of Vancouver and United Way of Lower Mainland have partnered to provide grants. The first phase of grant recommendations will prioritize community-based organizations who are addressing:

    • Immediate needs of low-income populations caused by COVID-19 related closures, including access to food, hygiene, housing, and other basic needs.

    • The economic impact of reduced and lost work within the charitable sector.

    • The information needs among vulnerable community members to promote resiliency and mitigate fear and confusion.

    • Mobilizing citizens to assist vulnerable neighbours with the challenges they are facing from isolation.

 

HEALTH CARE

  • Companies looking to offer support or supplies to help with the fight against COVID-19 can do so through the COVID-19 Supplier Hub.️

  • Scheduling for elective surgeries and procedures begins again, effective May 7. Massive surgical renewal plan to clear COVID-19 backlog in the next 17-24 months in place.

  • Fair PharmaCare provides coverage for prescription medication, including dispensing fees.

  • New BC COVID-19 mental health self-assessment tool: helps you take a look at your mental health and wellness in light of COVID-19.

  • Wellness Together Canada: provides free tools and resources to help Canadians get back on track. These include modules for addressing low mood, worry, substance use, social isolation and relationship issues as well as counselling by text and phone

  • Licensed Long Term Care Facility Class Order #1 re: COVID-19:

    • Enhanced cleaning.

    • Enhanced reporting of influenza like illness (ILI) or cases of cold-like symptoms. 

    • Visitor restrictions. 

  • Long Term Care Facility Staff Movement Limitation: licensees of long-term care facilities and private hospitals: 

    • must restrict the movement of staff between facilities by ensuring that staff only work in one facility.

    • may seek approval from the medical health officer to permit a staff member to work in more than one facility, if unable to ensure adequate staffing levels in a facility as a result of complying with the direction of the medical health officer. 

    • must not terminate the employment of, or otherwise penalize staff, and must preserve all benefits coverage and other perquisites for staff, who work in another facility rather than the licensee’s facility as a result of the direction of the medical health officer. 

    • must provide a copy of this Notice to your staff.

  • Visitor Restrictions at all Vancouver Coastal Health facilities: Restricting visitors to essential visits only at all of our facilities including hospitals, community, long-term care, assisted living sites, community health centres and clinics. Essential visits include:

    • Compassionate care (e.g. end of life, critical illness).

    • Visits paramount to patient/client/resident care and well-being, such as assistance with feeding or mobility.

    • Existing registered volunteers providing services related to the above.

  • Parking at all health authority owned/operated health care sites is now free.

  • Choose virtual health care services where available, physicians will be compensated.

  • Physician notes are not required for prescription refills by pharmacists.

  • MSP coverage wait times are waived for those who have been out of province and returned.

 

HOUSING

  • BC Housing: No evictions for non-payment of rent.

  • BC Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing relief for renters:

    • Temporary rent supplement up to $500/month, paid directly to landlords.

    • Halting tenant evictions.

    • Freezing new annual rent increases during the state of emergency.

  • BC Hydro is halting all service disconnections for non-payment of bills and reducing electricity rates by 1% while offering the following supports for people:

  • Temporary Mortgage Relief from Financial Institutions:

    • Canadian banks have agreed to provide flexible solutions to borrowers, on a case-by-case basis, for managing hardships caused by recent developments such as pay disruption, childcare disruption, or illness.

    • CMHC is providing increased flexibility for homeowners facing financial difficulties to defer mortgage payments on homeowner CMHC-insured mortgage loans, and have permitted lenders to allow payment deferral.

 

BUSINESSES / EMPLOYERS

  • The City of Vancouver created the Economic Recovery Task Force to look at all options to assist our local economy with immediate assistance and longer-term recovery. 

  • WorkSafeBC Instructions are available for employers and employees.

  • Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) will lower commercial rent by up to 75% for eligible businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19 through a combination of forgivable loans and rent reductions by commercial landlords.

  • BC Restart Plan is currently in Phase 1 of 4. If BC continues to do well in terms of managing COVID-19 transmissions, we expect to go into Phase 2 in mid-May.

  • All businesses must meet social distancing orders and should implement enhanced cleaning, or close.

  • All employers must waive the requirement for doctors notes or testing for people to stay home.

  • BC Service Centres will stay open, but the first hour of service is dedicated to seniors and other vulnerable people. Call for service: 1-800-663-7867.

  • 50% cut to the school tax for business and industry property classes, to be passed onto tenants on triple-net leases.

  • Temporary Wage Subsidies for Employers:

    • The government will provide up to 75% (previously 10%) of wages paid for businesses, charities, and non-profits that have lost more than 30% of their revenue. Max subsidy of $847 per week per employee, backdated to March 15.

  • Deferred Tax Filing Deadlines:

    • CRA will allow businesses to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today and before September 2020. No interest or penalties will accumulate on amounts owing during this period.

    • CRA will allow businesses to defer GST, HST & duty payments owed on imports until June 2020.

    • Payment for the following BC business taxes are deferred until after Sept 30: Employer health tax (EHT), provincial sales tax (PST), municipal and regional district tax, tobacco tax, motor fuel tax, carbon tax. Scheduled April 1 increases to provincial carbon tax and PST are delayed.

  • WorkSafeBC payment deadlines are postponed without penalty until June 30, except for employers that report on an annual basis (who do not need to report their 2020 payroll or pay their 2020 premiums until March 2021).

  • Access to Credit and Lending:

    • The Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) will allow the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC) to provide additional support, largely targeted to small and medium-sized businesses.

    • The Bank of Canada cut its interest rate to 0.75% to promote financial lending to businesses.

    • Canada Emergency Business Account was launched to provide up to $40,000 loans to qualifying businesses, interest-free for the first year, and $10,000 will be forgivable if you meet certain conditions.

    • Export Development Canada and Development Bank of Canada now has access to $12.5B to help businesses with operational cash flow requirements.

  • Supporting Financial Market Liquidity:

    • CMHC will purchase up to $50 billion of insured mortgage pools to:

      • provide long-term stable funding to banks and mortgage lenders;

      • facilitate continued lending to Canadian consumers and businesses; and

      • add liquidity to Canada’s mortgage market. 

  • Business Compliance Enforcement:

    • Vancouver City Council voted to give City staff the power to enforce orders under its existing State of Emergency bylaw. The bylaw revisions allow for $1,000 tickets and prosecution of breaches of the order subject to fines of up to $50,000. 

WORKERS / INDIVIDUALS

  • Workers can take unpaid, job-protected leave if they are unable to work for reasons relating to COVID-19, retroactive to Jan 27, 2020.

  • Workers have 3 days of unpaid, job-protected leave each year for people who cannot work due to illness or injury. This is a permanent change.

  • Employment Insurance Changes:

    • One-week waiting period for Employment Insurance Sickness benefits has been waived. Call 1-833-381-2725.

    • Canadians are now eligible for income support if they lack paid sick leave and are sick, quarantined or forced to stay home to care for children.

    • In the event of imposed quarantine, the mandatory one-week waiting period and requirement of medical certificate will be waived.

  • Income Support for Workers:

    • The Canada Emergency Response Benefit applications open on April 6. Register for My Account with the CRA and set up direct deposit. CERB will provide a taxable benefit of $2,000 a month for up to 4 months to:

      • Workers who are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19.

      • Working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children that are sick or need additional care because of school and daycare closures.

      • Workers who still have their employment but are not being paid because there is currently not sufficient work and their employer has asked them not to come to work.

      • Wage earners and self-employed individuals, including contract workers, who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance.

    • The EI Work Sharing Program has been implemented for workers who agree to reduce their normal working hour for reasons beyond the control of their employers.

    • BC Emergency Benefit will provide a tax-free $1,000 payment to those whose ability to work has been affected by COVID-19.

  • Boost to GST-credit to low-income individuals and families. (Effective May 2020)

  • Boost to BC Credit. (Effective July 2020)Climate Action Tax Boost to BC Credit

  • Income tax return filing due date is deferred to June 1. Payments owed are deferred until after August 31.

PUBLIC SERVICES

  • Vancouver City Hall:

    • Revenue Services (City Hall): Open for appointments only, call 604-673-8216.

    • Development and Buildings Services Centre (Vancity Building): Open for appointments only, call 604-873-7611. 

    • Engineering Services Centre (Crossroads): Open for appointments only, call 604-871-6730. 

    • Inspections and enforcements (fire, development, building, licensing): Active.

  • Auto insurance: Renew by email or phone.

  • TransLink: Rear door, fare-free boarding on buses ends on May 31

  • BC Bus Pass: clients receive an additional $52/month transportation supplement for the months that transit operates fare-free, which ends on May 31. Disability Assistance clients wishing to opt out of the BC Bus Pass program for future months must make their request by June 5 in time for their July cheque to be processed with the additional $52.

  • BC Ferries: Passengers may stay inside their vehicles the entire trip; on board food service is minimal.

  • TransLink: Rear door, fare-free boarding on all buses. Those with accessibility needs can still load at front.

  • BC Liquor Stores: Open, on reduced hours.

 

PUBLIC RECREATION / FACILITIES

  • Vancouver Community Centres: Community Centres are closed.

  • Vancouver Fitness Centres: Fitness Centres are closed.

  • Vancouver Pools: Pools are closed.

  • Vancouver Ice Rinks: Ice Rinks are closed.

  • Vancouver Golf Courses: golf courses are closed to golfing.

  • Vancouver Public Library: Libraries are closed.

  • Vancouver Civic Theatres: Civic theatres are closed.

  • Vancouver Parks: Visitor services and all major parking lots are closed.

  • Parks Canada: Visitor services at all national parks and historic sites are closed.

  • BC Parks: Provincial recreation sites and trails that can accommodate physical distancing will begin to reopen for day use only, starting May 14. Some areas and facilities will remain closed, including playgrounds, picnic shelters and visitor centres. Check BC Parks for the current status of each park.

  • BC Discover Camping: Camping at provincial parks and recreation sites will reopen June 1, 2020, with some exceptions. Check BC Discover Camping for the current status of sites.

TRAVEL / BORDERS

  • Canadians currently abroad are strongly advised to return to Canada now. Call 1-613-996-8885 or email sos@international.gc.ca for assistance.

  • Entry into Canada will be denied to all non-essential travellers who are not Canadian Citizens or Permanent Residents and their immediate family. 

  • Avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada.

  • Anyone exhibiting symptoms will be actively refused boarding onto aircraft, including Canadians.

  • Overseas international flights entering Canada will be restricted to YVR, YYZ, YUL, YYC only.

  • Everyone entering the country must self-isolate for 14 days.

  • $5000 emergency loan available to Canadians travelling abroad through Global Affairs Canada. Call 1-613-996-8885 or email sos@international.gc.ca.

 
 
OFFICIAL SOURCES OF INFORMATION 
 

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