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Prince Edward Island: COVID-19 relief measures for your business

We know that this is a difficult time, full of uncertainty. The information you need to run your business changes rapidly, and it can be hard to keep track and make sense of it all.  

In order to relieve some of the pressure on small businesses such as yours, we are gathering all the information you need about government services and supports in Prince Edward Island and putting it in this one location. We will continue working with governments to ensure additional relief measures become available for your business as the situation evolves.  

Please check back regularly. We will update this page as more information becomes available. 

Prince Edward Island COVID-19 Recovery Process: Your obligations as an employer

Do you have questions about how to safely get back to business as the Prince Edward Island economy reopens?

Read our PEI Reopening Frequently Asked Questions.

If you have any outstanding questions or concerns about the province's reopening plan please contact CFIB directly at 1-888-234-2232 or email at [email protected].  
 

COVID-19 Operational Plan - Requirement

As different types of businesses are allowed to reopen in phases, your business must create and implement a COVID-19 Operational plan. 

  • The plan must follow the recommendations and requirements of Public Health;
  • The plan must outline how your business will manage the safe opening and operation of your business;
  •  A copy of the plan must be present at the workplace and available for review by government officials;
  • The Environmental Health Office can perform both random and complaint-based inspections unannounced after May 1st at your place of business.

The province has released the following sector specific guidance that must be part of the COVID-19 Operational plan:

Businesses who require clarifications on the Operational Plan can call 1-800-958-6400 or email [email protected]

General guidance for businesses, services, and organizations

Owners and operators of workplaces that are permitted to continue serving the public must ensure the following measures are in place:

  • take every reasonable step to ensure minimal interaction of people (including employees and/or clients) within two metres (six feet) of each other.
  • take every reasonable step required to prevent employees who are required to self-isolate as provided in section 3 from entering workplaces.
  • develop and follow an exclusion policy that ensures symptomatic employees are immediately excluded from work activities.
  • develop and follow an operational plan detailing how risk of transmission of disease will be mitigated.
  • ensure enhanced cleaning and disinfection of shared areas and surfaces.
  • ensure hand washing stations are available.

Additional guidance to support owners and operators to meet the Public Health Order requirements include:

  • Non-medical masks are recommended when physical distancing cannot be maintained.  Non-medical masks are not to be used as a replacement for physical distancing.
  • Entry into a business, including lines, should be regulated to prevent congestion.
  • Businesses should post external signs indicating COVID-19 physical distancing protocols, along with floor marking where service is provided or lines form.
  • Equipment, instruments, and tools that cannot be disinfected between clients should not be re-used.
  • Customers should be encouraged to use credit or debit cards for payment. Limit contact by allowing customers to scan/tap/swipe their own cards.
  • Employees who must handle cash or credit cards should practice proper hand hygiene. When hands are not visibly soiled and between customer interactions, alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be used.
  • Employees should wash their hands with soap and water when hands are visibly soiled, before and after any breaks, at the beginning and end of their shift, and before preparing food.
  • Limit the exchange of papers (e.g. signing contracts). If documents must be exchanged, leave them on a clean surface while maintaining a two-metre (six foot) distance. Avoid sharing pens and office equipment. Disinfect after each use.
  • Staff are to self-monitor for symptoms and report to their supervisor if they have concerns about possible COVID exposure or positive symptoms.
  • If a staff member develops symptoms of COVID-19 at work they should immediately perform hand hygiene, report to manager, avoid contact with staff and leave as soon as it is safe to do so. Please call 811 to arrange testing.
  • Symptomatic staff will be required to self-isolate until they are tested and the results are confirmed.
  • If the test results are negative for COVID-19 but the staff member remains ill/symptomatic, they should remain on sick leave.
  • If the test results are negative for COVID-19 and the staff member is no longer ill/symptomatic, they may return to work, unless the individual has been advised otherwise by public health, and provided there are no other reasons the individual is required to self-isolate (e.g. travel history, someone in the household is positive for COVID-19, or symptomatic and waiting for testing).
  • If the test results are positive for COVID-19 the employee follows the direction of Public Health and remains self-isolated for 14 days.

Guidance for Workplaces with Offices 

  • Continue working from home/telework arrangements wherever possible and feasible, especially for individuals considered vulnerable to COVID-19 (people age 65 and over, people with chronic illnesses, and people with compromised immune systems).
  • Encourage sick employees to stay home.
  • Implement measures to reduce physical contact and limit the number of people in the office, including flexible work hours, staggered start times, and the use of email and teleconference over in-person meetings.
  • Ensure two metre (six feet) separation between workstations and individuals, particularly in open office environments.
  • Use visual cues like floor markings to encourage two metre (six feet) physical separation.
  • Avoid gatherings of employees during breaks, meetings, and mealtimes.
  • Consider closing meeting rooms or implement controls on the number of employees permitted in common areas and meeting rooms to ensure physical distancing is maintained.
  • If employees must travel together, follow the Guidance on Public Health Measures – Travelling in Vehicles.
  • Avoid sharing of equipment and office supplies.
  • Clean and sanitize frequently touched surfaces at least twice/day. Office equipment that must be shared (i.e. shared printers) should be cleaned before and after each use.
  • Increase washroom cleanings.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use hand sanitizer with at least 60%-80% alcohol if soap and water are not available. 
  • Have tissues, alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and no-touch disposal receptacles available for employees.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cough and sneeze into a tissue or sleeve, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
  • Maintain a two metre (six feet) distance between employees and customers at all times.
  • Install physical barriers between employees and visitors/customers in reception areas if physical distancing cannot be maintained.
  • Print and post safety information related to the above in your workplace where it can be seen by employees and visitors.
  • Non-medical masks may be used when physical distancing cannot be maintained. Non-medical masks are not a replacement for any of the above measures.

Guidance on Masks in the Workplace

Many tasks performed by workers should not require personal protective equipment (PPE) for protection against COVID-19 unless they are in situations similar to healthcare workers. Non-PPE controls should be put into place before masks are considered. The following measures are most effective to preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace:

  • Staying home when ill, with related policies around supported sick leave
  • Working from home
  • Physical distancing (2 metres/6 feet)
  • Washing your hands and not touching your face with unwashed hands
  • Covering your cough or sneeze with tissues or your sleeve
  • Enhanced cleaning of commonly touched surfaces

During phases 1 and 2 of Renew PEI Together, employees and employers who cannot maintain physical distancing while interacting with each other or with members of the public are strongly recommended to wear a non-medical mask if it is safe to do so while working. For short periods of time when physical distancing is not possible, wearing a non-medical mask may protect those around you.

If non-medical masks or face coverings are used in the workplace, they should not:

  • be worn for extended periods of time
  • be made of plastic or other non-breathable materials
  • be made exclusively of materials that easily fall apart, such as tissues
  • be secured with tape or other inappropriate materials
  • be shared with others
  • impair vision or interfere with tasks, or otherwise pose a hazard to the employee while working

Remember that non-medical masks will not prevent COVID-19 spread without consistent and strict adherence to good hygiene and public health measures, including frequent hand-washing and physical distancing. Wearing a non-medical mask does not mean you can back off the public health measures that we know work to protect you; no mask will ever replace physical distancing.

Property Tax: Deferrals, extension of appeals and interest relief

The Government of Prince Edward Island has announced a series of measures to provide property tax relief:

  • Provincial property tax and fee payments will be deferred until December 31, 2020;
  • Property assessment appeal deadlines for assessment year 2020 are extended to December 31, 2020;
  • Interest relief for tax year 2020, including all past due amounts;
  • The tax sale processes has been suspended for the remainder of 2020; and
  • Mailing of provincial tax bills for 2020 has been delayed until June.

Property tax deferral payment due dates:

  • Past due: Seven (7) month extension
  • Installment #1: Seven (7) month extension
  • Installment #2: Four (4) month extension
  • Installment #3: One (1) month extension

 

Provincial Government: loans and loan deferrals

Emergency Working Capital Financing

The government has announced Emergency Working Capital Financing to help small businesses maintain normal business operations. Each qualified company is eligible to receive up $100,000. To qualify, you must be:

  • An existing small businesses (startups not eligible) located and operating in the Province of PEI, and have been generating revenue on PEI 
  • Registered to conduct business within the Province of PEI
  • Satisfactory in terms of credit rating and without any defaulted outstanding debt obligation on file in the Province’s Central Default Registry

Click here to find out how you can apply. 

As well, the government is:

  • deferring all scheduled loan payments for clients of Finance PEI, Island Investment Development Inc., and the PEI Century Fund for the next 3 months; 
  • providing $4.5 million to Community Business Development Corporations across the province to deliver financing to small business and entrepreneurs; and
  • providing a temporary allowance of $200 per week for anyone who has experienced a significant drop in their working hours.

There is a toll-free support line 1-866-222-1751 between 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday through Friday or you can email [email protected] 

Broadband Fund for Businesses 

The Prince Edward Island Broadband Fund for Business provides financial assistance to local Prince Edward Island internet service providers (ISPs), communities and businesses for the installation of infrastructure for enhanced broadband services.

Tourism Assistance Measures

The government has developed a funding program to support the PEI Tourism Operators. The program provides funding in the form of a repayable loan to qualified applicants. Interest payments on loans approved through this program will qualify for interest relief (interest payment made behalf of the client) from Tourism PEI for a period of 18 months with Finance PEI offering principal deferrals to match the same 18 month period. 

Licensing, inspection and Tourism PEI advertising fees are waved for the 2020 operating season
 

PEI Fish Harvester Emergency Loan and Interest Relief Program

The Prince Edward Island Fish Emergency Loan Program is a targeted loan portfolio offered by Finance PEI and the PEI Credit Unions. It provides loans up to $25,000 to Islander harvesters at 4 per cent interest over a five-year term. The principal will be deferred for the first 18 months. In addition, the Department of Fisheries and Communities will pay interest on behalf of the borrower for the first 18 months.

The Interest Relief Program will support fish harvesters with up to 12 months of interest relief and service debt costs on a maximum of $250 million at an average interest rate of 5 per cent. Fish harvesters that can demonstrate a 30 per cent or more decrease in fish-related revenues for the 2020 fishing season will be eligible.
 
 

Webpage dedicated to business that details about available programs, supports and online applications: https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/topic/for-business

Employee Gift Card Program

Employee Gift Card Program

The Employee Gift Card Program is a temporary program put in place to offer a $100 Sobeys gift card to any employee, living and working on Prince Edward Island, who has received a lay-off notice as a direct result of the impacts associated with COVID-19. The application form is to be completed by the employer, who will then distribute the cards to affected employees.

Employment Standards Requirements

If you need to lay off employees temporarily, there is no requirement to give or pay notice since the employee is not being terminated, but rather being put on a leave of absence not currently covered by Employment Standards.

If you do not intend to have the employee return to work after the crisis is over, then it is a termination and notice requirements must be met. If government directs the closure of a business due to COVID-19, it is likely the notice requirement will be waived; however, this will be judged on a case-by-case basis. 

Note: PEI’s new Emergency Leave is available retroactively to March 16, 2020, the date a Public Health Emergency was first declared in Prince Edward Island in relation to COVID-19. This new leave allows for unpaid sick leave for workers required to be absent from work due to an emergency, and the leave will continue as long as an employee cannot work due to an emergency

Supports for Aboriginal Businesses

The Ulnooweg Development Group has been providing loans and business support to Aboriginal businesses in Atlantic Canada since 1986. The group has announced two measures to help support Aboriginal businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • payment deferrals and interest relief on loans between April 1 and June 30, 2020, and
  • Emergency Loan Program - up to $40,000 to help with immediate operating cash flow needs. 

Information on the support is available on the Ulnooweg site. 

Mental Health Resources

With Canada firmly in the grip of COVID-19, it is anything but business as usual.  Many businesses are closing their doors and laying off staff, others have employees refusing to come to work. We are all stressed and everyone is worried about their health and financial well-being.  Amidst this turbulence, you as a business leader are scrambling to keep your business afloat while leading your staff through these uncertain times.

Here are links to resources you can access if you’re feeling overwhelmed:

Prince Edward Island

Federal

Advice for Farms and Agriculture-related Business

What is CFIB doing?

As we regularly communicate with the Prince Edward Island government to get answers your questions, we are actively lobbying them to:

  • Grant businesses access to immediate financial support covering their ongoing costs (e.g. municipal taxes, rent, interest on mortgages, insurance, telecommunications costs, electricity or gas costs, government permits, etc.). Provinces should look to Quebec’s recently announced forgivable loan (up to $15,000 per month) for guidance. 

  • Convert the current small businesses support from “deferrals/loans” to “holidays/grants”

  • Ensure the federal government offers significant support for employee and contractor wages, including providing an income stream for the business owner.

  • Secure financial support for sectors that depend on demand from shut down businesses to ensure supply chain integrity.  

  • Suspend evictions and property seizures of shut down businesses.

  • Ensure shutdowns are consistent and targeted to the sectors of greatest concern, as backed by transparent healthcare policy evidence. 

  • Impose lockdowns fairly to ensure an unlevel playing field is not created between large and small businesses. If retailers are required to close, ensure that big box retailers that sell groceries are limited to providing essential services only and not permitted to sell non-essential goods in-store during the lockdown period.

FAQ on COVID-19

We’re dedicated to supporting your business through this difficult time by compiling answers to the most common COVID-19 questions and keeping you up to date on the latest relief measures from the Federal government. Visit our Small Business Help Center to learn more.