Order Amending the Lockdown Regions Designation Order (COVID-19), No. 3: SOR/2022-66
Canada Gazette, Part II, Volume 156, Number 8
SOR/2022-66 March 24, 2022
CANADA WORKER LOCKDOWN BENEFIT ACT
P.C. 2022-258 March 24, 2022
Whereas “lockdown orders”footnote a, as defined in section 2 of the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit Act footnote b, have been made with respect to COVID-19 outbreaks in additional regions to those set out in the Lockdown Regions Designation Order (COVID-19) footnote c, imposing measures referred to in subparagraph (a)(ii)footnote a of that definition that apply to those regions for at least seven 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 additional 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 b, makes the annexed Order Amending the Lockdown Regions Designation Order (COVID-19), No. 3.
Order Amending the Lockdown Regions Designation Order (COVID-19), No. 3
|23||The region within the community boundaries of Igloolik, Nunavut||Beginning on March 13, 2022 and ending on the Saturday of the week in which the lockdown measures imposed by the government of Nunavut cease to apply in the region|
|24||The region within the community boundaries of Taloyoak,
|Beginning on March 13, 2022 and ending on the Saturday of the week in which the lockdown measures imposed by the government of Nunavut cease to apply in the region|
Coming into Force
2 This Order comes into force on the day on which it is registered.
REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT
(This statement is not part of the Order.)
On December 17, 2021, the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit Act (the Act) received royal assent. The Act provides benefits to workers who lose employment income in specific regions where public health lockdowns are occurring for specified periods of time. Under the Act, the Governor in Council (GiC) must first designate a lockdown region through an order in council to make the benefit available to affected workers. Once the order designates specific regions as “lockdown regions” within the meaning of the Act, affected workers in these areas are able to apply for income support through the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit (CWLB).
Beginning on December 19, 2021, Nunavut was designated as a “lockdown region,” making the CWLB available to affected workers as of that date. As set out in the Act and in the order designating Nunavut, these designations are in effect until the Saturday of the week in which the lockdown order measures cease to apply in the respective region.
The territory-wide order issued by the Government of Nunavut in December 2021 no longer meets the “lockdown order” definition under the Act. As a result, effective March 13, 2022, the territory of Nunavut was no longer designated as a lockdown region because the remaining restrictions in this order are all capacity restrictions and neither mandate the closure of premises nor require individuals to stay at home.
However, separate public health orders for two Nunavut communities, Igloolik and Taloyoak, met the original definition of “lockdown region” under the Act for March 13, 2022, due to ongoing closures of premises. Without designating these regions, the benefit would not be accessible to eligible workers where lockdown measures are imposed.
The Order Amending the Lockdown Regions Designation Order (COVID-19), No. 3 (the Order) directly supports the Government of Canada’s flexible response to COVID-19 and the analytical requirements have been adjusted to permit a timely and effective response.
The objective of the Order is to designate two communities in Nunavut that meet the definition of a “lockdown region” within the meaning of the Act, thereby allowing eligible workers to claim income support through the CWLB for a specified period.
Description and rationale
Recognizing that some workers would require targeted income support if a lockdown were 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. This bill enacted the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit Act (the Act), which provides for the CWLB, available until May 7, 2022.
The CWLB 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 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 Regulations Amending the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit Act (Lockdown Order Definition and Minimum Lockdown Period) [the Regulations] were introduced to temporarily expand the definition of “lockdown order” to include capacity-limiting restrictions of 50% or more until February 11, 2022. These amendments also permanently removed the requirement that non-compliance with an order must be an offence resulting in a sanction or an administrative monetary penalty and reduced the required number of consecutive days of eligible lockdown orders from 14 to 7. The expansion of the “lockdown order” definition to include capacity-limiting restrictions of 50% or more was extended until March 12, 2022.
The Act specifies that the 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 the Minister is of the opinion that it is in the public interest and that measures referred to in the definition of “lockdown order” in section 2 of the Act, as modified by the Regulations, have been in place for at least seven consecutive days.
The definition of “lockdown order” changed on March 13, 2022, and no longer contains the expanded 50% capacity restriction as a condition of eligibility. The designation of Nunavut ended on March 12, 2022, upon the reversion to the narrower definition of a lockdown order. However, Igloolik and Taloyoak, two communities within Nunavut, had complete closures of restaurants and theatres from February 28 until March 13 inclusively.
Since those two communities are subject to separate public health orders issued by the government of Nunavut and continue to meet the more restrictive definition of a lockdown order, these regions will be designated as lockdown regions to ensure continued access to the CWLB.
Benefit access is retroactive to the week beginning March 13, 2022, and ending on the Saturday of the week in which those lockdown measures cease to apply in the lockdown region.
Regions recommended as meeting the definition of a lockdown region
On March 7, 2022, a public health order was imposed for at least seven days, requiring some businesses and facilities to close within the community. These closures included restaurants, licensed premises and theatres. These orders were imposed pursuant to subsection 41(1) of Nunavut’s Public Health Act. The lockdown measures meeting the definition of a lockdown order ended on March 14, 2022.
On March 7, 2022, a public health order was imposed for at least seven days, requiring some businesses and facilities to close within the community. These closures included restaurants and theatres. These orders were imposed pursuant to subsection 41(1) of Nunavut’s Public Health Act. The lockdown measures meeting the definition of a lockdown order ended on March 14, 2022.
The Minister is of the opinion that the “lockdown order” definition has been met for the two regions listed above and has made a recommendation to the GiC. The Order, made pursuant to section 3 of the Act, designates the communities of Igloolik and Taloyoak as lockdown regions and allows workers who meet the eligibility requirements in these two communities to receive lockdown benefits under the Act from March 13, 2022, to the Saturday of the week in which the lockdown measures ended (i.e. March 19, 2022).
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 supports to workers during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, particularly with the emergence of the Omicron variant. However, 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 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 Order 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 estimated program costs for designating each community as a lockdown region are presented in Table 1 below.
|Region||Low number of applicants||Low cost estimate ($)||High number of applicants||High cost estimate ($)|
The low estimate uses the number of applications for the first week (December 19–25, 2021) since the definition change on December 19, 2021, as a percentage of the labour force of designated lockdown regions during that week (1.22%) applied to the labour force in Igloolik and Taloyoak, to estimate the cost. This estimates a minimum percentage of the labour force that may apply for a single week. The higher estimate uses the total number of unique applicants since the benefit has started as a percentage of the labour force, of all designated regions (2.39%), applied to the labour force of Igloolik and Taloyoak. The total number of unique applicants represents all those who claimed at least one week of benefits since the CWLB was introduced. As such, the total number of unique applicants is viewed as the population who are vulnerable to the lockdowns and may apply to CWLB.
Benefit periods begin on the Sunday of the week in which the lockdown measures began to apply in the designated region and 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 a one-week period, as the public health orders in these two communities have ended. The regions will remain designated as lockdown regions until the Saturday of the week in which the lockdown measures ceased to apply in the region (i.e. March 19, 2022).
Estimates for administrative costs for the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) are not available.
All of the program and operating costs will be sourced from the Consolidated Revenue Fund 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 order, 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 local economy. This in turn will likely assist with accelerating the economic recovery coming out of the lockdown.
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 businesses.
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 aim 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 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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