Lockdown Regions Designation Order (COVID-19): SOR/2021-275
Canada Gazette, Part II, Volume 156, Number 2
SOR/2021-275 December 24, 2021
CANADA WORKER LOCKDOWN BENEFIT ACT
P.C. 2021-1061 December 23, 2021
Whereas “lockdown orders”, as defined in section 2 of the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit Act footnote a, have been made with respect to COVID-19 outbreaks in regions set out in the annexed Order, imposing measures referred to in subparagraphs (a)(i) and (ii) of that definition that apply to those regions for at least 14 consecutive days;
And whereas the Minister of Employment and Social Development is of the opinion that it is in the public interest that an order designating those regions as lockdown regions be made for the benefit periods set out in the annexed Order;
Therefore, Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Employment and Social Development, pursuant to section 3 of the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit Act footnote a, makes the annexed Lockdown Regions Designation Order (COVID-19).
Lockdown Regions Designation Order (COVID-19)
Lockdown regions and benefit periods
1 Each region of Canada set out in column 1 of the schedule is designated as a lockdown region for the benefit period set out in column 2.
Coming into force
2 This Order comes into force on the day on which it is registered.
|1||The region within the community boundaries of Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories||Beginning on November 7, 2021 and ending on December 11, 2021|
|2||The region within the community boundaries of Behchoko, Northwest Territories||Beginning on October 24, 2021 and ending on November 13, 2021|
|3||The region within the boundaries of the K’atl’odeeche First Nation Reserve Lands, (Hay River Reserve) Northwest Territories||Beginning on October 24, 2021 and ending on November 20, 2021|
|4||Kuujjuaq, Quebec||Beginning on October 24, 2021 and ending on December 18, 2021|
|5||Aupaluk, Quebec||Beginning on November 7, 2021 and ending on the Saturday of the last week in which Red and Orange Plus alert level measures imposed by the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services cease to apply in the region|
|6||Kangirsuk, Quebec||Beginning on October 24, 2021 and ending on December 11, 2021|
|7||Salluit, Quebec||Beginning on October 24, 2021 and ending on the Saturday of the last week in which Red and Orange Plus alert level measures imposed by the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services cease to apply in the region|
|8||Akulivik, Quebec||Beginning on October 31, 2021 and ending on the Saturday of the last week in which Red and Orange Plus alert level measures imposed by the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services cease to apply in the region|
|9||Tasiujaq, Quebec||Beginning on November 14, 2021 and ending on December 11, 2021|
|10||Puvirnituq, Quebec||Beginning on November 28, 2021 and ending on December 18, 2021|
REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT
(This statement is not part of the Order.)
In September 2020, the Government of Canada introduced the Canada Recovery Benefit to provide financial support for workers who lost employment because of the COVID-19 pandemic. While economic recovery and labour market conditions have improved and employment has regained pre-pandemic levels, lockdown measures continue to be important in controlling the spread of COVID-19 in some regions. In October 2021, the Government of Canada announced the intention to introduce targeted benefits for workers who lose employment income in regions where public health lockdowns are occurring. The Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit Act (the Act) was created to provide financial assistance in specified regions for specified periods of time. This Order designates specific regions as “lockdown regions” within the meaning of the Act and allows affected workers in these areas to apply for income support through the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit (CWLB).
Without this designation, the benefit would not be accessible to eligible workers in those designated regions that currently have or had lockdown measures imposed.
The Order directly supports the Government of Canada’s response to COVID-19 and the analytical requirements have been adjusted to permit a timely and effective response.
To designate regions which meet the definition of a “lockdown region” under the Act thereby allowing eligible workers to claim income support for a specified period.
Description and rationale
Recognizing that workers would still require financial support if a lockdown was imposed in a region to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Government introduced Bill C-2, An Act to provide further support in response to COVID-19, which received royal assent on December 17, 2021. Bill C-2 enacted the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit Act (the Act), which provides for the CWLB, available until May 7, 2022.
This benefit is designed to provide targeted and temporary income support to workers whose employment is interrupted by a designated COVID-19 public health lockdown. These payments will provide income support to workers who have lost their employment or are unable to perform work as a self-employed person, or who have a reduction in income of at least 50% due to a measure in a lockdown order.
The Act specifies that the Governor in Council (GiC), on the recommendation of the Minister of Employment and Social Development (the Minister), may designate, by order, any region in Canada as a lockdown region, for a specific period. The Minister may make the recommendation to the GiC only if she is of the opinion that it is in the public interest and that measures referred to in the definition of “lockdown orders” in section 2 of the Act have been in place for at least 14 consecutive days.
The Act defines “lockdown orders” as an order, regulation or other instrument made by a competent authority for reasons related to COVID-19, where non-compliance with the measures is an offence or may result in the imposing of a sanction or penalty, and requires, for at least 14 consecutive days,
- (a) the closure to the public, of premises where persons carry out commercial activities or provide services that are not essential to preserving life, health, public safety or basic societal functioning; or
- (b) a requirement, applicable in the region specified in the order, regulation or other instrument, that persons stay at home except for reasons that are essential to preserving life, health, public safety or basic societal functioning.
Benefit access is retroactive to the week beginning October 24, 2021.
Since October 24, 2021, public health orders were imposed for over 14 consecutive days requiring non-essential businesses and facilities to be closed to the public in the following regions of the Northwest Territories:
- K’atl’odeeche First Nation Reserve Lands;
- Behchokò; and
The orders were issued under the authority of the Public Health Act of the Northwest Territories. It is an offence pursuant to section 49 of the Public Health Act of the Northwest Territories for a person to fail to comply with an order made under it.
Lockdown measures and alert levels have also occurred since October 24, 2021, in Nunavik, Quebec. Seven communities (Kuujjuaq, Aupaluk, Kangirsuk, Salluit, Akulivik, Tasiujaq, and Puvirnituq) have been under the Orange Plus alert level or Red alert level for at least 14 consecutive days. The Orange Plus level requires the closure of some non-essential businesses, such as bars, restaurants, indoor sports, gyms and churches. The measures applicable to the Red level include the closure of bars, restaurant dining rooms, churches, gyms, schools, retail stores, with the exception of food stores, or any other public place deemed non-essential. All non-essential activities are suspended. Only essential services, including grocery stores, banks, hotels, municipal services, telecommunications, essential municipal construction and maintenance, and daycare for children of essential workers remain open. Public organizations are closed to customers, except when it comes to providing an essential service. The orders are issued under the authority of section 106 of the Quebec Public Health Act, and non-compliance with the measures is an offence under section 139 of the same Act.
The Minister is of the opinion that the “lockdown orders” definition has been met for the regions listed below and has made a recommendation to the GiC. The Order, made pursuant to section 3 of the Act, designates the following regions as lockdown regions and allows workers who meet the eligibility requirements in these regions to receive lockdown benefits under the Act for the period specified.
The designated regions and periods are
- K’atl’odeeche (Northwest Territories [NWT]) from October 24, 2021, to the Saturday of the week in which the lockdown measures ended (November 20, 2021) for a period of 4 weeks.
- Behchokò (NWT) from October 24, 2021, to the Saturday of the week in which the lockdown measures ended (November 13, 2021) for a period of 3 weeks.
- Tuktoyaktuk (NWT) from November 7, 2021, to the Saturday of the week in which the lockdown measures ended (December 11, 2021) for a period of 5 weeks.
- Kuujjuaq (Quebec) from October 24, 2021, to the Saturday of the week in which the lockdown measures ended (December 18, 2021) for a period of 8 weeks.
- Aupaluk (Quebec) from November 7, 2021, to the Saturday of the week in which the lockdown measures cease to apply in the region.
- Kangirsuk (Quebec) from October 24, 2021, to the Saturday of the week in which the lockdown measures end (December 11, 2021) for a period of 7 weeks.
- Salluit (Quebec) from October 24, 2021, to the Saturday of the week in which the lockdown measures cease to apply in the region.
- Akulivik (Quebec) from October 31, 2021, to the Saturday of the week in which the lockdown measures cease to apply in the region.
- Tasiujaq (Quebec) from November 14, 2021, to the Saturday of the week in which the lockdown measures end (December 11, 2021) for a period of 4 weeks.
- Puvirnituq (Quebec) from November 28, 2021, to the Saturday of the week in which the lockdown measures end (December 18, 2021) for a period of 3 weeks.
Members of Parliament and senators have examined Bill C-2 (An Act to provide further support in response to COVID-19) as part of the legislative process and asked witnesses to provide their views on aspects of the CWLB contained in the legislation, including the process to designate lockdown regions. Generally, members acknowledged the need to continue providing financial support to workers during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, particularly with the emergence of the Omicron variant. Some questions and concerns were raised with respect to the administration and post-verification methods of the past benefits (i.e. the Canada Emergency Response Benefit [CERB] and the Canada Recovery Benefit). An amendment was made to the Bill requiring the Auditor General to complete a performance audit of the Act, one year following royal assent.
The CWLB has received modest public and media attention since it was announced on October 21, 2021. Initial reaction was primarily neutral and factual. There was some reaction to the announcement that the benefit would not be available to those who lost work due to non-compliance with their employer’s vaccination policies. Currently, the majority of Canadians strongly or somewhat support COVID-19 benefits. iPolitics reported a new poll by Mainstreet Research which found that about one third of Canadians are strongly in favour of keeping the COVID-19 supports in place, while one quarter is somewhat in favour. Another quarter is strongly opposed, while 16% are somewhat opposed.
The Order responds directly to the continuing and extraordinary economic circumstances posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. These measures need to be in place expeditiously to be effective. Consequently, consultations were not undertaken and the Order was granted an exemption from prepublication in the Canada Gazette, Part I.
The proposal directly supports the Government of Canada’s response to COVID-19 and the analytical requirements for cost-benefit analysis have been adjusted to permit a timely and effective response.
The program costs for designating these regions as lockdown regions are estimated as the following:
|Region||Cost estimate (low)||Cost estimate (high)|
|K’atl’odeeche||$ 68,640||$ 156,000|
|Behchokò||$ 243,540||$ 553,500|
|Tuktoyaktuk||$ 237,600||$ 540,000|
|Aupaluk||$ 87,120||$ 198,000|
|Kangirsuk||$ 254,100||$ 577,500|
|Kuujjuaq||$ 1,731,840||$ 3,936,000|
|Tasiujaq||$ 95,040||$ 216,000|
|Akulivik||$ 212,520||$ 483,000|
|Salluit||$ 665,280||$ 1,512,000|
|Puvirnituq||$ 291,060||$ 661,500|
|Total||$ 3,886,740||$ 8,833,500|
The high cost estimate is calculated as the total number of weeks of the CWLB multiplied by the labour force size (in 2016) in the designated regions, multiplied by the weekly benefit rate ($300). The low-cost estimate is the high cost estimate multiplied by the percentage of the Canadian labour force that applied for the CERB during the time it was available (44%).
Benefit periods begin on the Sunday of the week in which the lockdown measures began to apply in the designated region and will end on the Saturday of the week in which those measures cease to apply in the designated region. The program cost estimates do not reflect lockdowns continuing beyond Saturday, December 18, 2021. However, it is possible that the lockdowns in three of the Nunavik communities (Salluit, Akulivik and Aupaluk) will continue beyond that date. The regions will remain designated as lockdown regions until the Saturday of the week in which the lockdown measures cease to apply in the region, and these forward-looking scenarios are not reflected in the estimates.
Estimates for administrative costs for the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) are not available.
All of the program costs will be sourced from the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF), as well as the operating costs for the CRA, until March 31, 2026, in accordance with section 29 of the Act.
The Order is also expected to have some health benefits related to mitigating the spread of COVID-19. Monetizing the health benefits is difficult, in part due to the uncertainties regarding the path of the pandemic, the frequency that public health lockdowns will be introduced and their duration. However, it is likely that the monetized value of these benefits would be significant.
Indirect economic benefits
The additional income supports to individuals who, because of the lockdown orders, are unable to work and would otherwise have no or reduced income will provide indirect economic benefits that arise from the spending of these income supports in the economy. This spending will likely help keep some self-employed individuals and businesses, who would have experienced revenue loss or which would have otherwise had to close, operational during and after the lockdown. This in turn will likely assist with accelerating the economic recovery coming out of the lockdown. In addition, access to the additional income supports could have indirect societal impacts by reducing the risk of homelessness or childhood poverty.
Small business lens
Analysis under the small business lens concluded that the Order will not impact Canadian small businesses. No regulatory administrative or compliance burden on small businesses has been identified.
The one-for-one rule does not apply, as there is no incremental change in administrative burden on business.
Regulatory cooperation and alignment
The Order does not have implications for international agreements (trade, environmental, human rights, etc.), obligations, or voluntary standards. It is not aimed at minimizing or reducing regulatory differences, nor at increasing regulatory compatibility with another jurisdiction. It does not introduce specific Canadian requirements that differ from existing regulations in other jurisdictions for an international program. It does not seek to enable regulatory alignment with the United States as committed to under the Joint Action Plan for the Canada-United States Regulatory Cooperation Council.
Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada monitor and report on the COVID-19 pandemic across Canada and will support and inform Employment and Social Development Canada on the current public health restrictions across the country. This information will assist the Minister in making a recommendation to the GiC to designate a region as a lockdown region.
The CRA administers and enforces the recovery benefits programs and the CWLB on behalf of the Government of Canada and will utilize the same systems and processes for the CWLB as they were used for the administration of the recovery benefits. The CRA already has the infrastructure in place and the processing system is prepared to allow the CWLB benefits to be paid.
Existing implementation and enforcement mechanisms contained in the CRA’s adjudication and controls procedures will ensure proper implementation. These include, for instance, functionality to perform client accounting, withholdings, issuance of tax slips to applicants, support for individual eligibility and entitlement, tax assessment activities, and support for post-payment compliance and verification activities.
The Order comes into force upon registration.
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