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Federal Government Announces Launch of COVID-19 Contact Tracing App and Outlined Future of Canadian Emergency Response Benefit

Published on
July 31, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the launch of the COVID Alert national contact tracing app. The app is free to download and was developed in partnership with the Government of Ontario and Shopify. The federal government established an expert advisory council to help ensure that the app meets public health, privacy, and technology standards.

Use of the app is voluntary and it works without collecting any personal or geolocation data.

The app is currently only fully functioning in Ontario. Users who test positive will receive a one-time key to enter into the app that will then send notifications to close contacts from the past 14 days. Notification recipients can then contact their local public health authority for guidance. The app is next expected to be integrated into health systems in Atlantic Canada. The federal government hopes to onboard other provinces and territories soon.

Government to Transition CERB Recipients to EI

The Prime Minister announced that a plan will be released in August to transfer Canadians still claiming the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to the federal Employment Insurance program. Earlier this summer, CERB was extended from 16 weeks to 24 weeks. Individuals who are not eligible for Employment Insurance, such as contract workers, will be transferred to a parallel benefit program similar to Employment Insurance.

Trudeau also alluded to a new sickness and caregivers’ benefit that will allow individuals to stay home if they or a loved one gets COVID-19. This program is in development and is for those who do not have a comparable benefit from their employer.

CECRA Extended

Prime Minister Trudeau also announced that the government intends on extending the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program by one month, through to the end of August 2020. The federal government is working with the provinces and territories to finalize the details of the extension.

Applications for the CECRA launched on May 25, 2020. The program, delivered in partnership with provincial and territorial governments, provides forgivable loans to landlords of 50% of monthly rent, with the expectation that landlords and tenants will each contribute 25% of the total amount. The program is currently only available to small businesses with total rent of $50,000 or less per month.

Landlords can apply to CECRA through the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

Protection of Migrant Farm Workers

Prime Minister Trudeau announced an additional $58.6 million investment to help protect migrant agricultural workers. The money will be used to fund more farm inspections, provide emergency relief when needed and to improve living conditions of migrant workers on farms.

He also said Ministers Qualtrough, Bibeau and Mendicino are reviewing the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, specifically to develop mandatory requirements to improve employer-provided accommodations. As a first step, the government will consult with provincial and territorial partners, and stakeholders on a proposal for these mandatory requirements in the coming months.

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