Below is a summary of announcements, directives and support programs in place for the Province of Nova Scotia.
INFORMATION FOR THE WORKPLACE
On March 24, the province issued the Health Protection Act Order: https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/#alerts
At this point, all businesses (except those directed to close by Public Health) can remain open if they can follow the Public Health directives:
- Businesses must maintain a social distance of 2 metres (6 feet) between clients and customers.
- If that isn’t possible, clients and customers must not exceed five (5).
- In addition, businesses must maintain regular cleaning and disinfecting of workplaces and high-touch areas at least twice a day.
- Some businesses who can maintain the social distancing requirements can be exempt from the five-person rule including: grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, construction and manufacturing, transportation including trucking, rail and transit, financial institutions, agri-food and fish plants.
- Some exemptions for self isolation and self quarantine for healthy workers that cross NS border include the trade or transportation sectors, offshore workers, workers in agri-food and the fish industry, and those workers who cross the NS border on a regular, ongoing basis to travel for work. These individuals must still practice social distancing and self isolate should COVID9-19 symptoms appear.
If COVID-19 is identified as a potential workplace hazard, parties have the duty to develop internal process to reduce risk to their staff. Employees should raise their concerns with their immediate supervisor/manager or Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee. Those who have specific questions about safe working conditions should consult the Safety Branch at:https://novascotia.ca/lae/healthandsafety/ or 1-800-9Labour.
Labour Standards – Pay and Job Security
The NS Labour Standards Code provides job protection for employees who are unable to perform work due to an emergency as defined under the Code, including the recent Order. For specific questions about pay, job security and layoffs contact the Labour Standards Division https://novascotia.ca/lae/employmentrights/ or 1-888-315-0110.
GOVERNMENT SUPPORT PROGRAMS & INITIATIVES
Government Payments to Small Business Vendors
To keep cash in the hands of our small business operators, government has implemented a rapid payment process on invoices it receives from small businesses with which they do business. Invoices will be paid within five days, instead of the standard 30 days.
Government Business Navigators
The Business Navigators are available to help you with any questions you may have. Find out more about the service at: https://novascotia.ca/regulatoryopportunity/business-navigators.asp. They can be reached Monday to Friday, 8 am to 5 pm at 1-844-628-7347 , 902-424-4475 or by email BusNavigation@novascotia.ca
Supports for Business Announced to Date
On Friday, March 20, the provincial government announced several initiatives to address cash flow and access to credit for small and medium sized businesses in Nova Scotia:
- Payment deferrals until June 30 on all government loans, including those under the Farm Loan Board, Fisheries and Aquaculture Loan Board, Jobs Fund, Nova Scotia Business Fund, Municipal Finance Corp. and Housing Nova Scotia.
- Fees, including business renewal fees and workers compensation premiums, will be deferred. A list of applicable fees will be available online early next week.
- Changes to the Small Business Loan Guarantee Program, administered through 15 provincial Credit Unions, include deferring principal and interest payments until June 30 and enhancing the program to make it easier for businesses to access credit up to $500,000. Other changes to this program will be announced soon.
OTHER SUPPORT PROGRAMS:
The ability of many businesses to generate revenue has been negatively impacted by the recent Order and they are left wondering how they will pay their bills. Government is encouraging landlords to defer rent for their tenants. A form for the rent deferral agreement program can be found here: Rent Deferral Agreement – Gross Lease.
Atlantic Compassion Fund – United Way
Managed by the United Way Halifax, the Atlantic Compassion Fund has been established to support community agencies and the people they serve who are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.The Fund will help meet basic needs, reduce the impact of further marginalization, and bring people back together when the time is right. Since launched mid last week, the Fund has distributed $100,000 to agencies in HRM with another $100,000 being readied for approval and distribution this week.