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April 7, 2020 

New information
 
Number of cases: 204 (confirmed and presumptive) as of Monday April 6
Total number of recovered Manitobans: 17
 
CFA Farm Level Survey

Each week during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture is releasing a farm level survey aimed at identifying any issues being caused by the COVID-19 outbreak for farms or for agri-businesses. Responses to this survey will be integral as we work with the Federal Government to support Canadian Agriculture effectively throughout this difficult situation. To take the survey, click here.
 
WCB payment relief for employers
Given the economic uncertainties, businesses may be challenged with cash flow and require temporary relief from their WCB payment obligations. In response, the WCB of Manitoba will:
  • Defer premium payments until the end of May.
  • Not charge business interest and/or penalties for non-payment until October.
  • Extend the payroll reporting deadline until the end of May.
  • Ensure that coverage remains active for accounts that choose to defer payments until the end of October. Clearances will remain in good standing.
Note: These dates may change as we continue to assess the situation.
 
New details on TFW and SAWP programs
The Temporary Foreign Worker Program has a new frequently asked questions (FAQs) document available online. These FAQs provide new and updated guidance to employers regarding the payment of wages during the 14-day self isolation period. Click here to access that information. Click here for additional guidance regarding the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. For SAWP employers, this new guidance outlines that employers must pay their workers 30 hours a week for each of the two-weeks of mandatory self-isolation upon TFW arrival, which is a change from previous guidance. Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, and Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, have outlined the Government of Canada’s expectations of employers seeking to bring in temporary foreign workers to Canada in an online letter. Click here to view the letter.
 
Health-related information

COVID-19 pandemic

Manitobans are reminded to call Health Links (1-888-315-9257) should you believe you have come into contact with COVID-19. You do not need to be tested if you are not experiencing symptoms. At this time, Manitobans are best served by listening to public health professionals, enacting social distancing protocols, ensuring that handwashing is taking place regularly, and ensuring that adequate supplies are on-hand without hoarding or over purchasing. We will all get through this together.
 
Mental health during COVID-19
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health has put together a useful resource on how to process significant changes to your daily life and how to deal with your mental health during this time. Click here to access those tools and resources. The Farm, Rural, and Northern Support Services Line is available by phone at 1-866-367-3276. Manitobans struggling with anxiety can call the Never Give Up Manitoba support line at 204-925-0040 between the hours of 9am and 9pm Monday to Friday, and 10am to 4pm on weekends.
 
Screening tool

Shared Health’s online screening tool is available and is the recommended first step that Manitobans should take prior to calling Health Links or attempting to visit a doctor’s office. Click here to access the online screening tool.
 
Testing facilities
A reminder that all testing facilities are to be accessed by referral from Health Links and are not walk-in clinics. The provincial government has announced more rural testing sites will be open in the coming days. Testing facilities at this time are:
 
Town Facility Address Hours of Operation
Winnipeg Access Winnipeg West 280 Booth Drive Monday to Friday, 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM;
Weekends, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Mount Carmel Clinic 886 Main Street
Thompson Thompson Clinic Plaza Mall Daily from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Flin Flon Channing Auditorium 2 North Avenue
The Pas Royal Canadian Legion 4 Veterans Way
Brandon Brandon Regional Health Centre, Nurses' Residence Gym 150 McTavish Ave E Daily 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Selkirk Drive-Thru Community Testing Site 622 Superior Ave Daily 9:00AM to 4:00PM
Steinbach Drive-Thru Community Testing Site 365 Reimer Ave Daily 9:00AM to 3:00PM
Winnipeg Drive-Thru Community Testing Site 15 Barnes St. Daily 10:00AM to 6:00PM
Drive-Thru Community Testing Site 1284 Main St. Daily 9:00AM to 5:00PM
Winkler Drive-Thru Community Testing Site 600 Park St. Daily 9:00AM to 3:00PM
Portage Drive-Thru Community Testing Site Stride Centre, 245 Royal Rd. Daily 9:00AM to 3:00PM
Eriksdale Drive-Thru Community Testing Stie 35 Railway Ave Daily 10:00AM to 3:00PM
Pine Falls École Powerview School 33 Vincent St Monday to Friday, 9:00AM to 4:00PM
Dauphin Drive-Thru Community Testing Site 217 Industrial Rd Daily 10:00AM to 3:00PM
 
Help Next Door MB
The Manitoba government and North Forge MB have partnered to release Help Next Door MB, a tool to put those in need of assistance with volunteers across the province while adhering to social distancing protocols. The tool allows Manitobans to register to be volunteers or to register need for assistance and needs range of things like needing help to get groceries or pick up medication, computer troubleshooting, or chores around the house. To learn more or to register, click here.
 
Flights and events with confirmed cases
The Manitoba government is updating their website to include locations that have been visited by someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Click here to view the webpage.
 
Isolation centres
Isolation centres are being established for those who may require some additional support as they self-isolate.  The first centre has been set up in a Winnipeg hotel and will begin accepting individuals this weekend.  This would be offered to individuals who may have been exposed or who are COVID positive and require a dedicated space where they can self-isolate. These centres will adhere to the public health guidelines and guests will be required to self-isolate in their rooms at all times.  Isolation centres will use enhanced cleaning and disinfecting practices.  All social and physical distancing practices will be adhered to and centres will practice zero-contact services wherever possible.
 
Industry-specific information
 
Canadian Emergency Response Benefit

We have received several questions about the Emergency Response Benefit, particularly as it applies to spouses who may be farm employees who can’t work due to the need for childcare. There are also questions if farm employees qualify even if you do not pay into EI. The eligibility criteria are as follows:
  • If you have stopped working because of COVID-19, you should apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, regardless of if you are eligible for Employment Insurance or not. The Benefit is available for the period from March 15, 2020 to October 3, 2020.
  • Workers must reside in Canada, and be at least 15 years old;
  • Workers must have stopped working because of COVID-19 and have not voluntarily quit their job;
  • Workers must have had income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application; and
  • They are or expect to be without employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days in the initial four-week period. For subsequent benefit periods, they expect to have no employment income.
Click here for a full list of eligibility criteria and frequently asked questions. Click here for application requirements. To speak to someone from the Canadian Revenue Agency about your eligibility, call 1 (800) 959-8281.
 
Manitoba Protection Plan
Premier Brian Pallister announced details of the Manitoba Protection Plan yesterday to help combat COVID-19. Measures that could impact Manitoba farmers include:
  • working with municipal partners to ensure municipalities do not charge interest on provincial education taxes and school division fees and the province is encouraging municipalities to do the same with respect to their own taxes and will start discussions to support implementation.
  • instructing Manitoba Hydro, Centra Gas and Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) to not charge interest or penalties if Manitobans are unable to pay at this time.
  • instructing MPI to relax ordinary practices on policy renewals and collections.
  • supporting Workers Compensation Board (WCB) to do the same and asking WCB to extend relief from penalties for late payments.
  • directing Manitoba Hydro and Centra Gas to not disconnect customers during these times.
The government is also deferring provincial income tax and corporate income tax filing deadlines and payments to coincide with the current revised federal deferral of income tax to Aug. 31 and has indicated it would be willing to extend these deferrals until Oct. 1, should the federal government agree,
 
Frequently asked questions about COVID-19
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has developed a frequently asked questions document for producers who have questions about the federal response to COVID-19. Click here to view the document.
 
Letter from Minister Pedersen
Agriculture and Resource Development Minister Blaine Pedersen has provided KAP with a letter to the agriculture industry that he has asked be shared with our members. Click here to view the letter.
 
Federal government list of essential services
Canada’s National Strategy for Critical Infrastructure defines critical infrastructure as the processes, systems, facilities, technologies, networks, assets, and services essential to the health, safety, security or economic well-being of Canadians and the effective functioning of government. The Strategy classifies critical infrastructure in Canada according to ten sectors:
  • Energy and Utilities
  • Information and Communication Technologies
  • Finance
  • Health
  • Food (including Agriculture)
  • Water
  • Transportation
  • Safety
  • Government
  • Manufacturing
Public Safety Canada has developed a set of functions deemed essential in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic to help provinces/territories, Indigenous communities, and municipalities protect their communities while maintaining the reliable operation of critical infrastructure services and functions to ensure the health, safety, and economic well-being of the population. These services and functions can also help the private sector self-identify as essential. Click here to view the entire list of essential services as provided by the federal government. To ensure the continued functioning of our integrated economies, this document is aligned and consistent with the United States Department of Homeland Security Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce, which was issued on March 19, 2020
 
Optometry services and prescription safety eyewear
During the closures required by COVID-19 Provincial Directives, some optometry offices may be able to provide new or replacement prescription safety eyewear. You must contact the optometry office before visiting for safety eyewear and no optometry offices are open for walk-in visits. When contacting the optometry office, you should confirm that the office is able to provide safety eyewear. Click here to view a list of practices participating in the OVC safety eyewear program that are currently open for urgent/emergency care can be found on the safety eyewear page on our website here. The list will be updated on a regular basis.
 
PPE drop-off locations
KAP is encouraging all producers with personal protective equipment that is not required for spring work to donate to the Manitoba health system. As Manitoba’s health system continues with preparations to ensure our province is prepared to meet the needs of our patients and to ensure appropriate protection from COVID-19 is available to health care workers, donations of the following supplies are now welcome and greatly appreciated. Supplies must be in original packaging, clean and in useable condition. Expired supplies are not able to be accepted. Drop-off locations exist across Manitoba in Winnipeg, Brandon, Portage la Prairie, Selkirk, Winkler and Steinbach. Click here for detailed locations for drop-off and donation requirements.
 
Spring road restrictions
Under newly revised spring road restrictions, a vehicle may transport essential commodities at normal loading on highways that are subject to Level 1 road restrictions. Additionally, essential commodities may be transported at normal loading on roads subject to Level 2 restrictions, under conditions. Essential commodities include groceries, medical supplies, fuel, fertilizer, bulk milk, potable water for non-industrial use, emergency equipment and materials, and mail delivery on.  It also includes livestock and livestock feed in transit, and hay for feed in transit within Manitoba. For the 2020 Spring Road Restrictions season, a permit is not required to transport grain to satisfy grain quotas or contracts, or to transport potatoes or vegetables from producer to processor, and these commodities are eligible for the normal loading. Click here to read the full announcement.
 
KAP COVID response page
KAP has developed a COVID-19 response page on our website, including helpful links and messages from the daily Alert. Click here to visit the page.
 
On-farm sanitation factsheet
To reduce the spread of COVID-19, we all must implement safety and sanitation protocols in our daily lives, and our farms need protocols as well. As preparations are made for the spring planting season, it is imperative that producers and staff practice appropriate sanitation.
The Manitoba Farm Safety Program and Keystone Agricultural Producers have developed a list of best practices to consider for on-farm sanitation as we approach the spring season. We will continue to update this list as more information becomes available from Manitoba Health and other public health agencies. To view the factsheet, click here.
 
Jobs in the agricultural sector
Given that many Canadians have been laid off from their jobs and that there is still some uncertainty as to how the federal government is working to bring seasonal workers into the country, we are encouraging employers in our sector to post jobs on three sites:
We will begin to promote these sites on social media in effort to reach out beyond our industry. Our hope is that we can match job seekers with employers as we approach the busy spring season.
 
 
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