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Johnstone & Cowling, LLP COVID-19 Update - March 24, 2020

The Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police is endeavouring to coordinate the sharing of information and resources amongst its member related to COVID-19 through regular communiques to all members. We are also pleased to provide an update from the legal firm of Johnstone & Cowling LLP, designed to keep you informed of latest legal and other developments.

Johnstone & Cowling LLP newsletter for March 24, 2020 is available below, and the March 23, 2020 newsletter is available on Johnstone & Cowling LLP website.

We thank Johnstone & Cowling LLP for their long standing support for the OACP and police leader.

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Johnstone & Cowling LLP: COVID-19 Update

March 24, 2020

Non-Essential Businesses Must Close: Who is Essential? 

Premier Doug Ford announced on Monday afternoon that all non-essential businesses in Ontario must shut down in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The order comes into effect tonight, March 24th, at 11:59 p.m., and will last for at least two weeks. Non-essential businesses may continue to operate remotely.
The Government of Ontario has released the list of businesses it deems essential. The following will be of note to our clients:

  • Businesses that supply other essential businesses or essential services with the support, supplies, systems or services, including processing, packaging, distribution, delivery and maintenance necessary to operate;
  • Beer, wine and liquor stores and alcohol producers, and stores that sell beer and wine through arrangements with authorized providers; cannabis stores and cannabis producers;
  • Gas stations, diesel, propane and heating fuel providers including providers of motor vehicle, aircraft and water/marine craft fuels;
  • Businesses that provide support and maintenance services, including urgent repair, to maintain the safety, security, sanitation and essential operation of institutional, commercial industrial and residential properties and buildings, including, property management services, plumbers, electricians, custodial/janitorial workers, cleaning services, security services, fire safety and sprinkler systems, building systems maintenance and repair technicians and engineers, mechanics, (e.g. HVAC, escalator and elevator technicians), and other service providers who provide similar services;
  • Construction projects and services associated with the healthcare sector, including new facilities, expansions, renovations and conversion of spaces that could be repurposed for health care space;
  • Construction projects and services required to ensure safe and reliable operations of critical provincial infrastructure, including transit, transportation, energy and justice sectors beyond the day-to-day maintenance;
  • Construction work and services, including demolition services, in the industrial, commercial, institutional and residential sectors;
  • Businesses that provide financial services including payment processing, the payroll division of any employer (as defined by the Employment Standards Act/Occupational Health and Safety Act), any entity whose operation is the administration of payroll, banks and credit unions;
  • Businesses that ensure global continuity of supply of mining materials and products (e.g. metals such as copper, nickel and gold) and that support supply chains in Northern Ontario including;
    • Mining operations, production and processing;  
    • Mineral exploration and development;
    • Mining Supply and Services that support supply chains in the mining industry including maintenance of operations, health and safety.
  • Utilities, and Businesses that support the provision of utilities and community services, including by providing products, materials and services needed for the delivery of utilities and community services;
  • Radio & Television Broadcasting;
  • Professional and social services that support the legal and justice system;
  • Professional services including lawyers and paralegals, engineers, accountants, translators; and
  • Child care services for essential workers, and home child care services of less than six children.

The full list of essential businesses can be found on the Government of Ontario’s website here:
As we noted in a recent update, the Provincial Offences Act has been amended to provide the following fines for the contravention of emergency orders:






Fail to comply with an order made during a declared emergency



Obstruct any person exercising a power in accordance with an order made during a declared emergency



Obstruct any person performing a duty in accordance with an order made during a declared emergency


Under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, a person is guilty of a separate offence on each day that an offence occurs.



Federal Government Announces Temporary Wage Subsidy for Employers

What is the temporary wage subsidy?

  • The Temporary Wage Subsidy for Employers is a measure that will allow eligible employers to reduce the amount of payroll deductions required to be remitted to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
  • The CRA will allow businesses to defer until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that became owing on or after March 18, 2020, and before September, 2020, without accumulating any interest or penalties on the amounts owing.

Which employers are eligible?

An employer is eligible if they are:

  • a non-profit organization, registered charity, or a Canadian-controlled private corporation (CCPC);
  • have an existing business number and payroll program account with the CRA on March 18, 2020; and
  • pay salary, wages, bonuses, or other remuneration to an employee.

Note: CCPCs are only eligible for the subsidy if their taxable capital employed in Canada for the preceding taxation year, calculated on an associated group basis, is less than $15 million.
How much is the subsidy?

  • The subsidy is equal to 10% of remuneration paid between March 18, 2020, and June 20, 2020, up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375.00 per employee and $25,000.00 per employer.
  • Associated CCPCs will not be required to share the maximum subsidy of $25,000 per employer. Meaning that if a group of companies has multiple eligible employers with their own payroll account, each company would be entitled to a wage subsidy of up to $25,000.

How long will the subsidy be in place?

  • This measure will be in place for (3) three months.

What if a business is closed?

If an employer does not pay salary, wages, bonuses, or other remuneration to an employee between March 18, 2020, and June 20, 2020, they cannot receive the subsidy.



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