The lawyers at Benson Buffett PLC are closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on our clients. We understand that these are trying times, fraught with uncertainty. In addition to carrying on in our usual practice areas, we wish to take this opportunity to reassure our clients that we are able to guide you through the many issues you and your business is facing. In particular, we offer up-to-date legal advice on the following pressing topics.
Benefit programs available for business
- Wage Subsidy
- Small Business Loans
- Expansion of EI Work-Sharing Program
- Business Tax Filing Extended Deadlines
Benefit programs available for individuals
- Changes to employment insurance sick benefits
- Canada Emergency Response Benefit (“CERB”)
- Personal Tax Filing Extended Deadlines
- Financial Institutions / Mortgages
Information on these programs is available at: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/business/maintaingrowimprovebusiness/resources-for-canadian-businesses.html
COVID-19 in the Workplace
Employers have obligations under legislation including the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Human Rights Act, the Labour Standards Act, and the Public Health and Promotion Act. Employers must ensure that decisions made during the COVID-19 pandemic are compliant with the relevant legislation, including recently-enacted amendments to address this unprecedented time.
Declaration of Provincial “Public Health Emergency”
On March 18th, Newfoundland and Labrador’s Minister of Health and Community Services declared a “Public Health Emergency” under the Public Health and Promotion Act. This legislation permits the Minister to order widespread measures contained in section 28 of that Act. Accordingly, the Minister has issued a number of “Special Measures Orders”, limiting the operation of certain types of businesses. It is imperative to determine whether your business is permitted to operate and, if so, to be mindful of any restrictions.
The Special Measures Orders are available at: https://www.gov.nl.ca/covid-19/public-health-orders/
Force Majeure and Frustration of Contract
Many contracts feature “force majeure” provisions, which may excuse non-performance of a contractual obligation upon the occurrence of a specified, unforeseeable event or circumstance that is beyond the parties’ control. This may include delay, suspension, or total non-performance of the contract.
Similarly, the doctrine of frustration of contract may terminate obligations under a contract where they have been rendered untenable by a change of circumstances beyond the control of the parties.
Business Interruption Insurance
The application of business interruption insurance or other insurance policies depends upon the specific wording of the coverage and the context of the business. We can assist you in ensuring your business takes the right steps to obtain any possible coverage.
Newfoundland and Labrador Legislative Changes on March 26th, 2020
The COVID-19 Pandemic Response Act, which affected amendments to the Labour Standards Act, and the Residential Tenancies Act and introduced the Temporary Variation of Statutory Deadlines Act. These changes have significant impacts on employers, landlords, and others. We will remain abreast of any further legislative changes, and how they may affect you.
Benson Buffett PLC is here to advise you through these and any other issues that may arise due to the COVID-19 pandemic.