Students returning to school for 2020-21 school year
Schools will be ready to welcome students under scenario 1, which is near-normal daily operations with health measures.
Alberta’s government has developed a re-entry tool kit to prepare parents and students for what to expect in the new school year. The tool kit includes videos for students explaining some of the health measures, a guide for parents, frequently asked questions, school posters, a self-screening questionnaire in multiple languages, and links to health guidelines.
Under scenario 1, schools will implement a number of public health measures, which include frequent cleaning of surfaces, placing hand sanitizers at school entrances and classrooms, grouping students in cohorts, and planning the school day to allow for physical distancing, which could include staggering start times for classes, recesses and lunches. Additional public health measures may be established prior to September on the advice of the chief medical officer of health in consultation with the education system.
In addition, students, staff, parents and school visitors will be expected to use a self-screening questionnaire daily to determine whether they can enter the school.
Successful transition to summer school and child care
Alberta’s school re-entry plan works, and already has mitigated risks to students and teachers. Throughout the summer, the Calgary Catholic Separate School Division ran in-person summer school programming in accordance to the guidelines developed and issued by the province. These comprehensive guidelines have mitigated risk, resulting in no COVID-19 outbreaks among teachers or students participating in summer school.
Additionally, Alberta has seen a successful reopening of child care centres across the province. Children and staff have safely returned to these centres with no outbreaks occurring.
School authority funding
School authorities have returned to full funding levels as of July 1, and every school authority in Alberta is receiving a funding increase for the 2020-21 school year – roughly $120 million across the province. A list of funding for every school authority is available here.
In addition, the Minister of Education has approved the use of school board reserves, if needed, to help cover local COVID-19-related costs. The total amount of money sitting in school board reserves is $363 million.
Accelerated capital school funding
The province has also provided school boards an additional $250 million to support accelerated capital maintenance and renewal projects, as part of the more than $10 billion infrastructure spending announced in the Alberta Recovery Plan.
This funding supports infrastructure enhancements that will help in a COVID-19 learning environment. Seventy-nine school projects totalling $15 million are moving forward with this primary purpose, including upgrades for enhanced hygiene such as hands-free sinks, automatic flush toilets, touchless soap and paper towel dispensers, automatic doors and water bottle filling stations to replace water fountains.
New online Student Learning Hub
A new Student Learning Hub on new.learnalberta.ca is available for parents, students, and teachers to more easily access educational materials to support development of student literacy and numeracy, and provide health and wellness information.
The online hub is another resource to support Alberta’s school re-entry plan, with recognition that more online learning resources may be needed during the upcoming school year. Additional resources will also be added throughout the school year.
Expanding diploma exams
Diploma exams will be offered in every subject in the November and April exam sessions. Expanding the offerings of the diploma exams will support school authorities who are shifting high school programming to a four-semester system as part of their COVID-19 re-entry plan. This shift allows for better cohorting by limiting the number of classes a student is in during a term without affecting total learning time over the course of a year.
Personal protective equipment
Students and staff may wear a mask if they choose to. However, practices such as physical distancing, cohorting, frequent handwashing, staying home when sick and increased cleaning of surfaces will continue to be the priority public health measures.
COVID-19 cases at school
If a student or staff tests positive for COVID-19, a public health team will investigate to determine when symptoms developed and support the school to minimize transmission.
While each case will be addressed based on its unique circumstances, it is anticipated that in most cases only the group of students and staff who came in close contact will likely be required to stay home for 14 days, and not the entire school population.
Parents will be notified if a case of COVID-19 is confirmed at school and public health officials will contact those who were in close contact with that person.
Transitioning to scenario 2 or scenario 3
If there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in a community or school, health officials will work with Alberta Education and impacted school authorities to make any decision to potentially transition to partial in-class learning or at-home learning. Decisions will be based on multiple factors including the number of cases in a community or school and the risk of ongoing transmission.
The health guidance for scenario 2 has been updated to allow for a maximum of 20 students per class.
The Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant offers financial assistance to Alberta businesses, cooperatives, and non-profit organizations that faced restrictions or closures from public health orders, and experienced a revenue loss of at least 50 per cent due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible job creators can apply for up to $5,000 through this program.
Application forms are available at www.alberta.ca/sme-relaunch-grant.aspx
Alberta’s Recovery Plan takes bold action to create jobs that get people back to work, build infrastructure, and diversify our economy.
Premier Jason Kenney said his government would spend $10 billion on projects that will immediately create jobs, including health-care facilities, pipelines, schools, drug treatment centres and more.
“Albertans have risen to the challenge of the pandemic, though we will continue to be careful, especially for those who are most at risk. Now we must extend that same culture of resilience to overcoming the greatest economic challenge of our time. Today, we take a big step forward in that journey with the launch of Alberta’s Recovery Plan, a bold, ambitious long-term strategy to build our province, to diversify our economy, and to create jobs.” - Jason Kenny, Premier
Learn more: https://www.alberta.ca/recovery-plan.aspx
While the Aquatic Centre remains closed at this time, we have begun taking a thoughtful approach to planning a phased reopening that will prioritize the safety of members, visitors, and staff.
We currently have both the Leisure Pool & Main Pool filled and are busy heating, balancing water chemistry & planning the facility schedule.
We are only one of the many pools opening throughout Alberta, and will be awaiting water test results prior to announcing our facility opening date.
Lane Swims, Senior Swims, evening Family & Adult Swim times will remain the same. Our Public Swim times will require patrons to call ahead and reserve a time slot. It is imperative that we maintain social distancing between our patrons.
You will notice a slight change in our Facility Schedule while we transition through the relaunch stages. Capacity numbers have changed in all pools & changerooms.
The Chief Medical Officer of Health recommends that large slo-pitch tournaments continue to be postponed. However, modified slo-pitch can resume using the cohort or “mini-league” concept.
A cohort could involve multiple slo-pitch teams playing each other to a maximum of 50 total participants. Games between teams would need to be limited to teams within the same cohort or mini-league. In slo-pitch, where teams typically have about 12-15 players, no more than 3-4 teams may play each other in a mini-league.
A slo-pitch cohort or mini-league, once formed, should stay together throughout Stage 2. A weekend tournament format does not promote this concept as players return home to their communities after weekend play.
An individual should only be a member of one sport or recreation cohort. For example, if you play slo-pitch during the week, you should not join a different cohort for weekend play.
Slo-pitch teams in different cohorts or mini-leagues should not play each other during Stage 2.
If an individual wants to change cohorts, they should not participate in a new sports or recreation cohort activity for 14 days (this is the incubation period of the virus).
Cohorting teams should not travel outside of the County/region in Stage 2 of relaunch.
Members of a cohort do not need to maintain two metres of distance between them: however, where possible, maintaining distance is still recommended.
Learn more: https://bit.ly/2UT9qR6
Small Business Relief Fund
Attention small local businesses! The Canadian Chamber of Commerce will provide 62 small businesses from coast to coast with a $10,000 grant to help recovery efforts during these unprecedented times. Check out the following link and apply by June 12, 2020.
To be eligible to apply, businesses must:
- Be a for-profit company; and,
- Belong to a chamber of commerce, board of trade or association that is a member of the Canadian Business Resilience Network; and;
- Have between 2 and 50 employees; and,
- Have been in business for 2 years as of March 1, 2020; and,
- Have an annual revenue between $150,000 CAD and $5,000,000 CAD; and,
- Have been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic; and
- Meet the other eligibility criteria set out in the program’s terms and conditions.
For more information: https://bit.ly/3f9KQDh
Stage 2 will allow additional businesses and services to reopen and resume operations starting June 12 with 2 metre physical distancing requirements and other public health guidelines in place. Business operators, sport and recreation services can determine if they are ready to open and ensure all guidance for workplaces is met.
What can open with restrictions
- K-12 schools, for requested diploma exams and summer school, following guidance
- more surgeries
- wellness services such as massage, acupuncture and reflexology
- personal services (esthetics, cosmetics skin and body treatments, manicures, pedicures, waxing, facial treatments, artificial tanning)
- movie theatres and theatres
- community halls
- team sports
- indoor recreation, fitness and sports, including gyms and arenas
- pools for leisure swimming
- VLTs in restaurants and bars
- bingo halls and casinos (but not table games)
- instrumental concerts
- provincial campgrounds at full capacity
Events and gatherings can be larger in stage 2
- 50 people maximum: indoor social gatherings, including wedding and funeral receptions, and birthday parties
- 100 people maximum: outdoor events and indoor seated/audience events, including wedding and funeral ceremonies
- No cap on the number of people (with public health measures in place):
- worship gatherings
- restaurant, cafes, lounges and bars
- bingo halls
- More flexibility for ‘cohort’ groups – small groups of people whose members do not always keep 2 metres apart:
- a household can increase its close interactions with other households to a maximum of 15 people
- performers can have a cohort of up to 50 people (cast members or performers)
- sports teams can play in region-only cohorts of up to 50 players (mini leagues)
- people could be part of a sports/performing and household cohort.
Still not approved in stage 2
- social gatherings that exceed above listed maximums
- regular in-school classes for kindergarten to Grade 12. Classes will resume September 2020
- vocal concerts (as singing carries a higher risk of transmission)
- major festivals and concerts, large conferences, trade shows and events (as these are non-seated social events and/or vocal concerts)
- amusement parks
- hookah lounges (permitted for food and drink only)
- major sporting events and tournaments
- non-essential travel outside the province is not recommended – this won't be lifted until stage 3 of the relaunch strategy
The success of Stage 2 will determine when Alberta progresses to Stage 3. Factors are active cases, health-care system capacity, hospitalization and intensive care unit (ICU) cases, and infection rates.
Changes to PPE
As part of the COVID-19 pandemic response, the Government of Alberta, through the Provincial Operations Centre (POC), has been working diligently to source and distribute personal protective equipment (PPE).
With the PPE supply chain improving and with more companies now developing PPE, Alberta businesses have more options to source their own PPE. As such, the Alberta government is focusing the supply of critical PPE to organizations that are at the highest risk of exposure to COVID-19.
Businesses and non-Alberta Health Services organizations will now be required to access PPE directly through suppliers, instead of through the POC or Alberta Health Services.
Starting May 25, 2020, organizations and businesses that have previously received PPE from the POC, or have submitted a request, can continue accessing PPE supplies, subject to availability and for a fee, until June 30, 2020.
If you have taken delivery of PPE before today, you will not be charged. From today onward, if you have a pending or outstanding order with the Provincial Operations Centre, you will be asked to pay.
As of July 1, 2020, the organizations and businesses on the list below will be required to procure PPE directly through suppliers:
- child care providers (day cares/day homes)
- private community based health service providers (diagnostic imaging clinics, primary care physicians, physiotherapy clinics, optometry clinics, etc.)
- private home care and congregate care organizations for services not publicly funded directly or through contracts
- food services (meat packing, food banks, etc.)
- transportation (trucking companies, etc.)
- non-governmental organizations
- oil and gas services
- general municipal needs*
Update on Farmers' Makets & Public Markets
The Province of Alberta has published a Guidance for Farmers’ Markets and Public Markets to follow in order to re-open and resume operations safely.
The unique structure of markets places a shared responsibility on the market manager and individual vendors/stall holders to ensure compliance with requirements aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19 infection. Therefore, Big Lakes County requests that all markets implement and follow these guidelines: https://bit.ly/3fRAzwC
Markets must also follow the Workplace Guidance for Business Owners document: https://bit.ly/2Z6BlQE
Notice of Property Taxes & Assessment Roll
This is to advise the ratepayers of Big Lakes County that the Property Assessment and Tax Notices were mailed out on May 15, 2020.
Property Taxes are due and payable on or before Wednesday, September 30, 2020. A 7.5% penalty will be applied to current taxes and arrears if payment is received after September 30, 2020 and an additional 14.5% for payments made after last business day in January 2021.
The tax instalment Payment Plan (TIPP) is a new program that allows you to pay your property taxes on a monthly basis instead of one payment in June. Payments will be withdrawn from your bank account automatically through a pre-authorized withdrawal. TIPP makes budgeting easier on your pocketbook and eliminates the risk of penalties; as long as your TIPP is in good standing, new penalties will not be applied.
Notice, is hereby given that the 2020 Assessment Roll of Big Lakes County made under the provisions of the Municipal Government Act has been prepared and is open to inspection in the County Office, in High Prairie, Alberta from 8:15am to 4:00pm, during business hours.
Any person who desires to object to the entry of his/her name or that of any person upon the said roll(s) or the assessed value placed upon any property must, lodge his/her complaint(s) on approved form with the County by July 24, 2020 at 4:00pm.
For more details, please click here: https://bit.ly/3btBS1p
Update on Private Campgrounds
The Province of Alberta has published a Guidance for Private and Municipal Campgrounds to follow in order to re-open and resume operations safely. Big Lakes County requests that all private campgrounds implement and follow these guidelines: https://bit.ly/2Z5L7lU
As the health and safety for residents and visitors remains a top priority, campground operators are required to develop and implement policies and procedures before re-opening or continuing operations after May 1, 2020, outlined in the Covid-19 Work Place Guidance for Business Owners document: https://bit.ly/2Atomy9
Big Lakes County continues to recommend that playground areas/play structures remain closed during the Pandemic. In the Province’s guidelines for private campgrounds, playgrounds are no longer restricted; however, AHS recommends that playground areas be closed unless the owner can assure:
• Structures can be disinfected on a regular basis (every 3 hours)
• Physical distancing can be maintained between users
• Maximum 15 people attend the playground at one time
Guidance For Businesses Reopening
On May 14th some businesses and facilities will resume full operations as part of the Government of Alberta’s Relaunch Strategy. The province has released workplace guidelines and supports to help businesses and non-profits affected by COVID-19 begin to reopen and resume operations safely.
To learn more about the guidelines around campgrounds, outdoor shooting ranges, farmers markets, golf courses, day camps, hair salons, restaurants, museums, retail shops, and more, click here: https://bit.ly/3csO583
Child Care Centres
The Government of Alberta has announced an investment of up to $17.8 million in grants for child care centres and approved family day home agencies to ensure they can safely resume operation. This funding will flow through a phased approach:
Phase 1 - $6.7 million: Centres will immediately receive a one-time grant to cover up to 25 per cent of overhead costs like rent and utilities. This accounts for the remaining portion of expenses not covered by funding under federal programs.
Phase 2 - $3.2 million: Upon reopening, centres will receive a grant for cleaning and sanitation supplies to adhere to public health guidelines, as well as to assist with staff recruitment and training.
Phase 3- $6.9 million: After three months of being open, centres will potentially receive a third grant to offset deferred bills and to address unforeseen operational issues. This will be based on an assessment of other federal and provincial support programs.
Learn more: https://bit.ly/2WDpkPJ
Get the App
Quickly identifying and isolating positive cases is an important part of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic and preventing the spread. The Government of Alberta has developed an app called ABTraceTogether that will notify you if you've been exposed to COVID-19 – or if you've exposed others – while protecting your privacy.
The more Albertans who voluntarily download and use the app, the safer we'll be, and the faster we can reopen the economy.
Learn more: https://bit.ly/3c56uYb
Supporting Canada’s Farmers, Food Businesses & Food Supply
The Government of Canada has announced an investment of $252 million to support farmers, food businesses, and food processors.
- $77.5 million of this funding will be directed to an Emergency Processing Fund to help food producers access more personal protective equipment, adapt to health protocols, automate or modernize their facilities, processes, and operations, and respond to emerging pressures from COVID-19.
- $125 million of this funding will be directed towards a national AgriRecovery initiative to help producers faced with additional costs due to COVID-19. This includes set-asides for cattle and hog management programs to manage livestock backed-up on farms, due to the temporary closures of food processing plants. The federal government has indicated that they will provide 60 per cent of the AgriRecovery funding, regardless of whether provinces and territories contribute their 40 per cent of the funding.
- $50 million of this funding will be directed towards launching a Surplus Food Purchase Program, which will help redistribute existing and unsold inventories, which could include products such as potatoes and poultry, to local food organizations who are helping vulnerable Canadians.
Learn more: https://bit.ly/2zZS3q9
Championing Alberta’s Agriculture Sector
The Alberta government has established an industry advisory committee to act as Champions of Agriculture. This group will meet regularly and provide Agriculture and Forestry with strategic advice and recommendations on emerging issues and priorities related to consumer confidence, and work to debunk myths in the agriculture industry. Learn more: https://bit.ly/3cmx8w5
The Government of Canada announced that it will work with provinces and territories to increase interim payments from 50 per cent to 75 per cent through AgriStability Program. The enrolment deadline has been extended to July 3. Learn more: https://bit.ly/3b54qOx
The federal government will be working with provinces and territories to explore possibilities for expanding the AgriInsurance program to include labour shortages as an eligible risk for the horticulture sector. Learn more: https://bit.ly/2YGNZFU
Workplace Guidance For Business Owners
The Alberta Government has released a 'Workplace Guidance for Business Owners' document to help guide businesses as they continue to operate and begin to re-open during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Download the document: https://bit.ly/2KWh9st
Learn more: https://www.alberta.ca/biz-connect.aspx#guidance
Tax Payment Deadline
The tax payment deadline for 2020 property taxes has been extended from the last business day in June to September 30, 2020 without a 7.5% late penalty fee, providing flexibility during these difficult times. A penalty of 7.5% will be added to any unpaid balance on October 1, 2020.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at 780-523-5955.
The Alberta SPCA has a program available to assist people with their pets during COVID-19. This program can help provide “feed in place” resources, pet food for those who cannot afford it, and help to arrange for livestock feed. Below are some resources from the Alberta SPCA website you can access in case you or someone you know may need them:
The littlest people in our lives ask the biggest questions. The Government of Alberta has developed a fact sheet for kids & families. It is a great resource to help you have open, honest conversations about COVID-19 and the measures the government is taking to prevent the spread. Stay informed at alberta.ca/covid19.
Access the PDF document here: https://bit.ly/3atmAcw
High Prairie Ag Society
The closure of the Cargill plant in High River and the reduction of operations at the JBS plant in Brooks has left many Alberta consumers with uncertainty over where to turn for their meat products.
What products you offer
For more information, or to view local listings please visit the High Prairie Agricultural Society website at https://bit.ly/2W47Jjv
Site Rehabilitation Program
The Site Rehabilitation Program – mainly funded by the federal government’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan – will provide grants to oilfield service contractors to perform well, pipeline, and oil and gas site reclamation work. The program, which launches today, is expected to create about 5,300 direct jobs and lead to the cleanup of thousands of sites.
This work will be done in Alberta, putting Albertans back to work. The program will also provide additional economic benefits, such as indirect employment, helping support various sectors of Alberta’s economy – including restaurant and hotel workers, and many other businesses – as it begins to reopen and recover after the effects of COVID-19.
Learn more: https://bit.ly/2VN2C8z
Alberta's Plan To Relaunch The Economy
Premier Jason Kenney detailed his government's plan for a multi-stage relaunch that will depend on the province's continued ability to control the spread of the coronavirus and curb the number of COVID-19 patients who need hospital care.
The plan to move forward requires careful and ongoing monitoring and respecting all guidelines outlined by the chief medical officer of health:
- Alberta Health Services will resume some scheduled, non-urgent surgeries as soon as May 4.
- Dental and other health-care workers, such as physiotherapists, speech language pathologists, respiratory therapists, audiologists, social workers, occupational therapists, dieticians and more, will be allowed to resume services starting May 4, as long as they are following approved guidelines set by their professional colleges.
Access to provincial parks and public lands will be re-opened using a phased approach, beginning with:
- Vehicle access to parking lots and staging areas in parks and on public lands opening May 1.
- Opening a number of boat launches in provincial parks on May 1 and working to have them all open by May 14. Check cafor the status of boat launches.
- Government is working hard to make campsites available as soon as possible, with the goal to have as many open as possible by June 1 so Albertans can enjoy our parks while adhering to current health orders. At this time, sites are open to Albertans only. Check cafor updates.
- Group and comfort camping will not be offered. Campground facility access restrictions to areas such as showers, picnic and cooking shelters will also be posted to ca.
- Alberta Parks’ online reservation system will be available May 14 to book site visits beginning June 1. Out-of-province bookings will not be processed.
- No washrooms or garbage pickup will be available within provincial parks at this time. These services will be available as soon as Alberta Environment and Parks brings staff back. These seasonal positions represent an important opportunity for Albertans to secure employment during challenging economic times.
- Fire bans in parks, protected areas and the Forest Protection Area remain in place.
- No off-highway vehicle restrictions are currently in place. Local restrictions may be required if the risk for wildfires
- Private and municipal campgrounds and parks can open with physical distancing restrictions, under their own local authority.
- Golf courses can open May 2, with restrictions including keeping clubhouses and pro shops closed. On-site shops and restaurants can open in stage one, consistent with other businesses and retailers.
Learn more: https://bit.ly/2SoBmek
Alberta's Relaunch Strategy: https://bit.ly/35li8vw
Information for Non-Health Care Volunteers
Volunteers play many important roles in our community, but it is necessary for them to take precautions to prevent the spread of #COVID19AB.
Details on volunteering safely are online at https://bit.ly/3dWnWPY
Financial Support For Small Business Tenants
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced last week that the federal government has reached an agreement in principle with all provinces and territories to implement the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses. This program will lower rent by 75 per cent for small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19.
Impacted small business tenants are businesses paying less than $50,000 per month in rent and who have temporarily ceased operations or have experienced at least a 70 per cent drop in pre-COVID-19 revenues. This support will also be available to non-profit and charitable organizations.
For more information, you can view the full press release here: https://bit.ly/2x51Ie0
Applications are open for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy
Applications for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) are now open. As a Canadian employer whose business has been affected by COVID-19, you may be eligible for a subsidy of 75% of employee wages for up to 12 weeks, retroactive from March 15, 2020, to June 6, 2020.
This wage subsidy will enable you to re-hire workers previously laid off as a result of COVID-19, help prevent further job losses, and better position you to resume normal operations following the crisis.
To find out if you are eligible and how much you can expect from this subsidy, check out this CRA calculator: https://bit.ly/3bzxfUs
Public Health Order Extends Mass Gathering Restrictions to All Major Summer Events
Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, extended mass gathering restrictions to apply to ALL summer events or festivals. Gatherings of more than 15 people are prohibited (indoor or outdoor), and gatherings of fewer than 15 must maintain a distance of 2 metres from one another.
Festivals and large gatherings can be super-spreader events, where one sick person exposes others to COVID-19 - across households, communities and even large geographical distances.
Examples of indoor and outdoor gatherings include:
• religious services
• informal events
• arts and cultural festivals
• agricultural fairs and rodeos
• major sporting championships
• educational seminars and workshops
• group volunteering initiatives
All individuals found to be in violation of gathering restrictions are subject to a $1,000 penalty.
Support for Students & New Grads Affected by COVID-19
The Government of Canada announced comprehensive support of nearly $9 billion for post-secondary students and recent graduates.
Canada Emergency Student Benefit
This benefit would provide $1,250 per month for eligible students or $1,750 per month for eligible students with dependents or disabilities. The benefit would be available from May to August 2020.
Targeted help to Indigenous Students
To help students continue their studies in the fall, the government will increase existing distinctions-based support for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation students pursuing post-secondary education by providing an additional $75.2 million in 2020-21
Canada Student Service Grant
Canada Student Service Grant, which will help students gain valuable work experience and skills while they help their communities during the COVID‑19 pandemic. For students who choose to do national service and serve their communities, the new Canada Student Service Grant will provide up to $5,000 for their education in the fall.
Taken together, these programs will not only help ensure more students get the financial support they need, but the opportunities and experience many students were counting on.
For more information and to view the full press release: https://bit.ly/2KsMgve
Campgrounds & Golf Courses in Big Lakes County - Update
Since privately-owned campgrounds are under the authority of the provincial public health orders, we are working with the provincial government to ensure that we are complying with the guidelines in place. Under the Emergency Management Act and through the declaration of a State of Local Emergency, the County has the authority to enact further restrictions as we see fit.
Right now, we are evaluating each privately-owned campground’s Risk Assessment and Mitigation Plan to see if they can adequately meet the provincial health orders.
We are following AHS suggested measures and limitations. Only long-term camping for those who have leases with a campground will be considered at this time. This is subject to change at any point by AHS, the County, or in the event of an outbreak.
Timelines for the campground operating guidelines should be in place by the end of the month. Golf courses are included under the public health orders as non-essential and will remain closed.
Big Lakes County encourages all those who spend their summers in the County at our many campgrounds, resorts, vacation homes, and lake lots to consider spending these next couple of months isolating at their primary residence.
Additional Funding & Grants Available For Charitable & Non-Profit Organizations - Temporarily Suspended
Effective April 21, 2020, the Government of Alberta will be temporarily suspending applications for the $30 million in emergency social services funding to charities, not-for-profits, and civil society organizations to support their COVID-19 response. The Government has received over 600 applications. Current applications are being reviewed, and approvals for urgent requests will occur before reopening intake of applications. If you have any questions or concerns please contact Nicole Hanna, Big Lakes FCSS Manager at 780-523-0108. More details: https://bit.ly/3bsC16c
National COVID-19 Volunteer Recruitment Campaign
The Government of Canada is working with provincial and territorial governments to respond to COVID-19. They are seeking volunteers to help in the following areas:
1. Case tracking and contact tracing;
2. Health system surge capacity;
3. Case data collection and reporting.
The Government of Canada is building an inventory of volunteers—from a wide variety of experiences and expertise—for provincial and territorial governments to draw upon as needed. Most of the work can and will be performed remotely from your home.
For more information visit https://bit.ly/34RSfn0
Big Lakes County Travel Advisory
As spring approaches, we need to make different decisions about our vacations. Big Lakes County encourages all those who spend their summers in the County at our many campgrounds and resorts to consider spending these next couple of months isolating at their primary residence.
Now is not the time to plan to travel to vacation homes, especially in other counties or in smaller communities. We need to stay close to home over the coming months to limit the spread of #COVID19AB.
Stay home, save your travel plans and save lives. Big Lakes' great outdoors will wait for you.
If feelings of stress, isolation & anxiety are overwhelming, confidential mental health supports are available.
• Mental Health Help Line: 1-877-303-2642
• Addiction Help Line: 1-866-332-2322
• The Hope for Wellness Help Line: call or text 1-855-242-3310 | hopeforwellness.ca offers immediate mental health counselling and crisis intervention to all Indigenous peoples across Canada
• Wellness Canada COVID-19 Mental Health Portal: bit.ly/3a9Y3sT
If you are in crisis or require support right away, please choose from one of the crisis options below:
• Youth text "WELLNESS" to 686868
• Adults text "WELLNESS" to 741741
If you experience feelings of wanting to harm yourself or others, please call 911.
When To Use A Mask?
Are you coughing or sneezing? Are you taking care of a person with suspected COVID-19 infection?
If your answer is yes to either one of these questions. Please wear a mask to keep you and others safe. Wearing a non-medical mask, such as a homemade cloth mask, has not been proven to protect the person wearing it. However, it may be helpful in protecting others around you.
Face mask DOs:
• Make sure it fits well & doesn't gape at the sides
• Wash your hands before putting it on & after taking it off
• Wear masks for a short time
• Carry a bag with clean masks & a plastic bag that can be used to store used masks until they can be washed at home
Face mask DON'TS:
• Don't re-use masks or share them with others
• Don't wear a mask that is damp or soiled
• Don't touch your face while wearing the mask
• Don't move or adjust the mask while it is on your face
Visit https://bit.ly/2yzqt2j for more information.
Stay Healthy At Home During COVID-19
To maintain active living during the COVID-19 response, Erica Wiebe, Olympic champion and Alberta Ambassador for Sport and Active Living has challenged Albertans to try to get outside or get their heart rate up for at least 15-30 minutes every day. Post your home wellness activities using the hashtag #HealthyAtHomeAB.
1) Replace your morning commute with a 10-15 min walk in the morning and afternoon
2) Check out local gyms who may be doing live workouts online
3) Visit the activeforlife.com for games and tools for kids
For more information and additional resources visit https://bit.ly/3eljyds
Changes to Upcoming Summer Events
On April 8, 2020, Big Lakes County held a virtual Council meeting and made the difficult decision to postpone and cancel some of the following summer events in Big Lakes County:
• Volunteer Appreciation Week Events - POSTPONED
• Joussard Water Treatment Plant & FCSS Grand Opening - POSTPONED
• Seniors Week – POSTPONED
• Hamlet Clean-Up – POSTPONED
• 7th Annual Big Lakes Charity Golf Tournament scheduled for August 6, 2020 at the High Prairie & District Golf Course - CANCELLED
• Annual Ratepayer BBQ scheduled for Thursday, June 18, 2020 - CANCELLED
Be Wary of COVID-19 Phishing Scams
Big Lakes County would like to remind residents to continue exercising caution when receiving phone calls or email notifications about COVID-19. There are a number of scams circulating hoping to take advantage of the public's anxiety during this time.
Fraudulent health products, fake charities, and websites selling fake face masks are some of the most common scams circulating during the COVID-19 pandemic according to the Better Business Bureau.
Only buy products from reputable stores and websites and be wary of fraudulent fundraising efforts. AHS will never call and ask for credit card information. Suspected scams can be reported at BBB.org/scamtracker or via the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
Physical Distancing Activities
Are you looking for some physical distancing activities to do with your family? Help fight the boredom with some of these ideas:
1) Go for a walk
People feel better when they get some physical activity in – even if it’s just a light walk – just remember to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. If you want more of a workout, there are plenty of online videos and apps that offer free workouts.
2) Play a game
Exhausted all your board games? Make your own! Instructions here https://bit.ly/3aUNlaJ
3) Make a COVID-19 Time Capsule
Document this experience with your kids with this printable resource created by teachers: https://bit.ly/3c00pvN
4) Follow some YouTube tutorials for crafts
Painting, knitting, crocheting, sewing – being creative is a great way to boost your mood.
Check out a list of over 30 feel-good activities from entertainment, educational resources, virtual tours, and cooking activities over at Brain Injury Canada: https://bit.ly/39QfFKl
Info For Landlords & Renters During COVID-19
New protections are in place for tenants facing financial hardship due to COVID-19:
• Tenants cannot be evicted for non-payment of rent and/or utilities before May 1, 2020.
• Rents on residential properties or mobile home sites will not increase while Alberta’s State of Public Health Emergency remains in effect.
• Late fees cannot be applied to late rent payments until June 30 and cannot be collected retroactively for this time.
• Landlords and tenants need to work together to develop payment plans while COVID-19 is being managed.
• Landlords can still file applications and receive orders for possession if the reason for the eviction is unrelated to rent and/or utility payments, or if a tenant refused to negotiate or comply with a payment plan.
For more information on COVID-19 Rent Payment Plans visit: https://www.alberta.ca/…/do…/COVID-19-rent-payment-plans.pdf
Heart River Housing Update
Heart River Housing (HRH) is being as proactive as possible to stop Covid-19 from coming into our facilities. As of April 6th, 2020, we have had no confirmed cases and no symptoms with residents or staff. We are following Alberta Health direction, hand washing, social distancing and we will continue to monitor body temperatures of residents and staff. In addition, we are reminding our residents on how they can protect themselves by following proper handwashing techniques and the usage of hand sanitizers. Our staff have increased the frequency of sanitizing the common areas, handrails, doorknobs, etc.
In the past week we were able to secure a large order of sanitizing supplies, they should arrive late this week. In the meantime, all our Lodges have a good stock of gowns, gloves and other supplies necessary to respond to infectious disease control. We are currently getting direction from Alberta Health as to weather our staff should be wearing masks.
We already have policies, procedures, and training in place to prevent the spread of infection specific to individual roles in serving residents. If there is an outbreak we are prepared to initiate established quarantine protocols to minimize the spread of this, or other diseases as needed.
Heart River Housing is receiving and reviewing daily updates from Alberta Seniors and Housing, Alberta Health Services (AHS), and Health Canada, as they relate to the information and best practices for protecting our clientele and responding to this situation as it develops. For further information from the Alberta government on the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) please go to: https://www.alberta.ca. Visit the Heart River Housing Facebook page for more details.
Utility Payment Assistance Options
In order to provide temporary financial relief, Big Lakes County and the Government of Alberta have set up a couple utility payment assistance options:
1) For the months of April and May, Big Lakes County is waiving all penalties on water bills. We will not disconnect any customers during this time. For more information, please contact Georgette Hopkins, Utilities Coordinator, at (780) 523-5955.
2) The government of Alberta is working with utility companies to allow those unable to pay to defer their electricity and natural gas bills until June 19. Albertans can sign up for deferred payments by calling their natural gas or electricity provider directly. Payments will be required at the conclusion of the deferral period, but consumers will not be required to pay for the entirety of the deferral on June 19. Consumers must contact their utility providers to discuss all repayment plan options. For more information, visit https://bit.ly/2UKvw8K
Federal COVID-19 Benefits Program Portal Opens Today
Applications for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) open today for those who were born in January, February, or March. If you have stopped working because of COVID-19, the CERB may provide you with temporary income support. The CERB provides $500 a week for up to 16 weeks.
Canadians can go to Canada.ca for more information. Service Canada and Canada Revenue Agency are jointly administering the CERB.
If you were born later in the year you can apply later on this week. People born in April through June are to apply April 7, those born in July through September on April 8, and Canadians with birth months October through December can sign up on April 9.
Big Lakes County Council Meeting
Click here to learn more about the upcoming council meetings.
Join The Emergency Response Database & Offer Your Support
Are you wanting to offer support amid the COVID-19 pandemic? The Alberta Emergency Management Agency has set up an online portal for you to do just that.
For those seeking to provide a product or service, visit https://bit.ly/2ypTc9I
Public Health Orders Are Now Enforceable By Law
Big Lakes County would like to remind residents to continue to practice social distancing. Physical distancing works to prevent the spread of COVID-19. On March 25, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health issued orders under the Public Health Act to legally require:
• restrictions on gatherings and businesses
• people with symptoms – cough, fever, shortness of breath, runny nose or sore throat not related to a pre-existing illness or health condition – to self-isolate for 10 days, or until symptoms resolve, whichever is longer
For the full list of restrictions, please refer to https://bit.ly/2X2MLUf
Violators may be subject to tickets of up to $1,000 per occurrence. Courts could administer fines of up to $100,000 for a first offence and up to $500,000 for a subsequent offence for more serious violations.
If you are concerned that an establishment or person is not following public health orders, you can submit a complaint here: https://bit.ly/2UySIXp
Important Updates To Government of Alberta Service Changes
Temporary Office Closure
Some Alberta government office locations have temporarily closed to the public. To find out how to access affected government services, visit the program's web page or call Alberta Connect at 310-4455 from 8 am to 8 pm, 7 days a week. Visit the list of temporary office closures here: https://bit.ly/2X9ritd
Upcoming expiry dates for Alberta drivers' licences, identification cards, vehilce registrations, other permits and certificates are being extended until May 15.
Effective immediately, Transportation has extended the timeline to 90 days for most drivers requiring a medical evaluation to provide their completed medical form when applying for or renewing their licence. This will reduce the current strain on the healthcare system.
Vehicle registrations expire on an assigned month based on the registrant’s surname or a company name. Albertans and companies with registrations expiring in March and April (including those whose last names begin with B, D, G, Y) will now have until May 15, 2020 to renew their vehicle registrations.
Drivers' licences and ID card
Drivers' licences and ID cards expire on the holder’s birthday in the year noted on the card. Albertans who have birthdays from March 17 through May 14 and whose cards expire this year, now have until May 15, 2020 to renew. Expiry dates can be found on your card and Albertans with birthdays from March 17 through May 14 are encouraged to confirm whether they need to renew this year.
Effective March 20, Alberta commercial and passenger road tests have been suspended for at least 4 weeks. Road tests will resume when it is safe to do so. Albertans who have a road test scheduled will be able to rebook online as of April 17, 2020 for a test on April 20, 2020 or later, at no additional charge.
Corporate Registry changes
In keeping with public gathering restrictions, deadlines are suspended for corporations, partnerships, cooperatives and non-profit organizations to hold annual general meetings and file their annual returns These groups will remain active in Alberta, and will not have their corporations, partnerships, cooperatives or non-profit organizations dissolved due to failing to file annual returns.
Visit alberta.ca/covid19 for more details.
Support for Seniors at Home & Those at a Higher Risk
For those at a higher risk, particularly individuals over 60 years of age and those with pre-existing health conditions it is important that you take additional precautions to reduce the risk of getting COVID-19.
1) Take care of your own health
- Stay home as much as possible.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content (here is a list of hand sanitizers authorized by Health Canada: https://bit.ly/2WWTijs)
- Avoid contact with those who are sick
- When you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick and limit close contact with others
- Clean or disinfect surfaces in your homes (i.e. tabletops and doorknobs) (here is a list of disinfectants authorized by Health Canada: https://bit.ly/2wGJAam)
2) Make a plan for what to do if you get sick
- Make sure you have access to several weeks of medications and supplies in case you need to stay home (if you cannot get extra medications, consider using mail-order for medications).
- Be sure you have over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies (tissues, etc.) to treat fever and other symptoms. Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home.
- Have enough household items and groceries on hand so that you will be prepared to stay at home for a period of time.
- Stay in touch with others by phone or email. You may need to ask for help from friends, family, neighbors, community health workers, etc. if you become sick.
- Determine who can care for you if your caregiver gets sick.
- Consider ways of getting food brought to your house through family, social, or commercial networks (ex. High Prairie Helpers)
3) Pay attention to what is happening locally
- Get up-to-date information about local COVID-19 activity from public health officials
- Ask your neighbors what their plan includes.
- Create a list of local organizations you and your household can contact in case you need access to information, healthcare services, support, and resources.
- Create an emergency contact list including family, friends, neighbors, carpool drivers, healthcare providers, teachers, employers, the local public health department, and other community resources.
Tips for Parenting in the Time of COVID-19
The World Health Organization has compiled a list of tips to help parents interact constructively with their children during this time of confinement.
From planning one-on-one time, staying positive, creating a daily routine, avoiding bad behaviour, managing stress, and talking about COVID-19, these resources were created to help parent in the time of COVID-19. Use them to your and your kids’ advantage, and have fun in doing so!
To access these resources visit: https://bit.ly/3aq81at
As public conversations around COVID-19 increase, children may worry about themselves, their family, and friends getting ill. Parents, family members, school staff, and other trusted adults can play an important role in helping children make sense of what they hear in a way that is honest, accurate, and minimizes anxiety or fear.
All recreation sites are closed - including Kinuso Park
Big Lakes County would like to remind residents that all recreational sites within the County are CLOSED. However, pathways and walkways will remain open.
It is important for our mental and physical well-being that we remain active during this time. Being outside helps us get a better night’s sleep, reduces stress, lessens depression and improves healing. When using these walkways it is EXTREMELY important that we adhere to social distancing guidelines and keep a distance of at least 2 meters from others.
Small Business Supports
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced increased funding for Canada's small and medium-sized businesses today amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
To further support Canada, the Government of Canada is:
• increasing the temporary wage subsidy up to 75% for qualifying businesses for up to 3 months so you can keep paying your staff. This subsidy will be backdated to March 15. More details on eligibility criteria will start with the impact of COVID-19 on sales, and will be shared before the end of the month.
• launching the Canada Emergency Business Account to help your small business if it is struggling with cash flow. This will allow banks to offer $40,000 loans to qualifying businesses—interest free for the first year, so you can pay for rent and other important costs over the next number of months.
• allowing businesses, including self-employed individuals, to defer all GST/HST payments until June, as well as customs duties owed for imports.
• launching the new Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Loan and Guarantee program that will enable up to $40 billion in lending, supported through Export Development Canada and Business Development Bank, for guaranteed loans when small businesses go to their financial institutions to help weather the impacts of COVID-19.
For more information read the full media release here: https://bit.ly/2UojnWY
On March 23, Alberta Health Services launched a new text-based program called #Text4Hope that aims to help provide encouragement and hope to Albertans. Albertans can text "COVID19Hope" to 393939 to subscribe. Text4Hope sends subscribers text messages of support to ease stress and anxiety.
These daily Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)–based text messages are written by mental health therapists. It is a helpful option for people in self-isolation who can’t access face-to-face services, as well as those in remote locations.
“All Albertans have been impacted by COVID-19, and this free program is an additional resource to help us find encouragement as we navigate the challenges of a new normal.” D. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Health.
For more information visit: https://bit.ly/3btZqUj
County residents shouldn't have to choose between their health and their financial security. Workers and businesses hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic may be eligible for the relief programs introduced by the Provincial and Federal Governments. Below are some resources you can access in case you or someone you know may need them:
Emergency Isolation Support (Available April)
Financial support for working Albertans who are experiencing a loss of income resulting from self-isolation due to COVID-19. Eligible working Albertans can receive a one-time emergency isolation support payment of $1,146 if they are required to self-isolate or are the sole caregiver of someone in self-isolation and they have no other source of pay or compensation.
Canada Emergency Response Benefit (Available early April)
To support workers and help businesses keep their employees, the government has proposed legislation to establish the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). This taxable benefit would provide $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The EI system was not designed to process the unprecedented high volume of applications received in the past week. Given this situation, all Canadians who have ceased working due to COVID-19, whether they are EI-eligible or not, would be able to receive the CERB to ensure they have timely access to the income support they need.
The government is working to get money into the pockets of Canadians as quickly as possible. The portal for accessing the CERB would be available in early April. EI eligible Canadians who have lost their job can continue to apply for EI, as can Canadians applying for other EI benefits.
More Financial Response Research:
• Emergency Isolation Support: https://bit.ly/2QPRkNX
• CERB: https://bit.ly/2WNyxXo
• EI: https://bit.ly/3an26Tx
• Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan: https://bit.ly/33MFR74
• Federal and Provincial Supports: https://bit.ly/39nwdZV
• Free Credit Counselling, Budgeting Help & Debt Consolidation Options: www.nomoredebts.org/
• Facebook Small Business Grants Program: www.facebook.com/business/grants
• Support for entrepreneurs impacted by COVID-19: https://bit.ly/3dwWI2h
Child Care For Core Service Workers
Children’s Services is working with child care providers to open up 15,000 child care spaces to ensure child care is available for those providing services that Albertan's rely on during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Child care centres are initially being chosen based on proximity to health-care facilities and will be reopened in a phased approach based on areas of need. Access will be prioritized to health care practitioners and critical infrastructure workers. Additional spaces will then be available to first responders (firefighters and police officers) and others. Parents will be notified this coming week through their employer if they qualify to send their children to newly reopened centres.
Children’s Services is contacting the centres directly. All other licensed child care centres are to remain closed. Approved day homes may remain open but limited to six children, including the operators’ own children.
For more information read the full media release: https://bit.ly/2WIzSyx
Support For Our Farmers
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced important new measures to support farmers and agri-food businesses in Canada facing financial hardship due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Farm Credit Canada will receive support from the federal government that will allow for an additional $5 billion in lending capacity to producers, agribusinesses, and food processors. Additionally, all eligible farmers who have an outstanding Advance Payments Program (APP) loan due on or before April 30 will receive a Stay of Default, allowing them an additional six months to repay the loan.
For more information and the full media release: https://bit.ly/2QNR02m
FAQ'S On Declaring A Local State Of Emergency (SOLE)
What is a SOLE?
A State of Local Emergency (SOLE) is a declaration made by the local authority so that extraordinary actions may be taken to deal with an emergency.
Misconceptions on declaring a SOLE:
1) a local authority is not required to declare a SOLE in order to activate their ECC or community emergency plans
2) a SOLE is not required in order for a local authority or citizens to be eligible for financial assistance through a disaster recovery program
Why would a municipality declare a SOLE?
The primary reason a municipality would declare a SOLE would be to create a legal state of affairs of a temporary nature (must be renewed every 7 days) so that it may take extraordinary actions to deal with the situation at hand.
Extraordinary actions include:
- acquiring or using personal property
- controlling or prohibiting travel
- evacuating people, livestock and personal property
- entering any building or land without a warrant
- demolishing or removing trees, crops, or structures
- fixing prices
- conscripting people
As of today, Big Lakes County has not yet declared a SOLE. Through the declaration of a State of Public Health Emergency, the province is already monitoring and dealing with everything a Local Authority’s SOLE would encompass.
The province’s State of Public Health Emergency enables the following:
- Acquire or use any real or personal property;
- Authorize or require any qualified person to render aid of a type the person is qualified to provide;
- Authorize the conscription of persons needed to meet an emergency;
- Authorize the entry into any building or on any land, without warrant, by any person; Provide for the distribution of essential health and medical supplies and provide,
- Maintain and coordinate the delivery of health services.
- May impose, authorize the absence from employment of any persons who are; ill with pandemic influenza, or caring for a family member ill with pandemic influenza.
- Order the closure of food & beverage establishes or other places of group gathering; Order the cessation of (indoor or outdoor) group gatherings
- Quarantine a group or people, a facility, or an entire community.
At this time, the County has not deemed it necessary to enact further restrictions. We would like to assure our residents that we are continuing to carefully monitor the risks associated with COVID-19 daily and we are busy working behind the scenes to coordinate our Pandemic Influenza Support and Business Continuity Plans.
As of Monday, March 16th, Big Lakes County activated our Emergency Coordination Centre (ECC) along with our emergency response plans with the main objective of promoting the safety and security of our residents and employees, and to ensure the delivery of core services throughout the duration of this Pandemic. We will continue to carefully monitor the situation to see if additional action is required.
Big Lakes County residents who are able to donate their time or money to those affected by COVID-19 are encouraged to reach out to High Prairie Helpers or the High Prairie & District Food Bank Society. The High Prairie Food Bank is accepting monetary donations through canadahelps.org.
No Wipes Down The Pipes
As you follow the advice of our public health officials and continue to disinfect your homes and businesses, Big Lakes County would like to remind our residents to place the following items in the garbage:
- Flushable, disposable, cleaning or baby wipes
- Paper towels, cloth towels, or any type of rag
- Diapers (including cloth, cotton, disposable, or plastic)
- Feminine hygiene products
- Facial tissues
Putting these items down toilets may plug sewers and cause raw sewage to back up into YOUR HOME.
Mental Health Links
Please be aware that many of us may be having a more difficult time than most in dealing with this Pandemic but may not be comfortable sharing that information. Below are some resources you can access in case you or someone you know may need them:
The Mental Health Help Line: 1-877-303-2642 | available 24/7 to provide advice and referrals to community supports near you.
- Crisis Services Canada | crisisservicescanada.ca
- Alberta Division – Canadian Mental Health Association | alberta.cmha.ca
- Mental Health and coping with COVID-19 | cdc.gov/coronavirus
- Talking with children about COVID-19 | cdc.gov/coronavirus
- Help in tough times | albertahealthservices.ca/amh/Page16759.aspx
- Taking Care of Your Mental Health in the Face of Uncertainty | afsp.org/taking-care-of-your-mental-health-in-the-face-of-u…
It is times like these where we have to rely on each other most. Big Lakes County asks that we all reach out to our neighbours and networks for the next while with compassion and support. "We need to face this together, and respond to this extraordinary crisis with extraordinary kindness." Dr. Deena Hinshaw
Wondering how you can help?
2) Drop a note on your neighbours' door and see if they are self-isolating and need help picking up shopping, posting mail, getting urgent supplies, or just a friendly phone call.
Steps Residents Can Do To Prevent The Spread
Big Lakes County would like to echo today's COVID-19 situational update from Dr. Deena Hinshaw to take this pandemic seriously and do everything you can to help prevent the spread. Prevention starts with awareness. Be informed on how you can protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
1) Stay home unless it is essential
2) Practice social distancing if you do have to go out | go to alberta.ca/covid19 "Help Prevent the Spread" for social distancing resources
2) Wash your hands often, using soap and water for at least twenty seconds
3) Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
4) Cover your cough using the bend of your elbow or a tissue
5) If you have symptoms, like a dry cough, fever, fatigue or difficulty breathing stay home – DO NOT go to an ER or clinic, take the online COVID-19 self assessment, and call Health Link 811 if you require testing
6) Get information from trusted sources
Big Lakes County's Plan for COVID-19
Since January, Big Lakes County has been carefully monitoring and developing a proactive strategy to address any risks associated with COVID-19 for our residents, visitors, and employees. Part of this strategy was to activate the Emergency Coordination Centre (ECC).
What is an ECC?
The ECC functions as a community’s “nerve centre,” anticipating and supporting the needs of one or more incident sites, multiple agency members, external partners, as well as addressing the needs of the community as a whole during a disaster.
The ECC team’s primary tasks include:
- Mobilization of the ECC team
- Establishing links with other operational sites such as schools, industry, utilities, reception centers and health centers
- Providing information to the public and media
- Managing the overall municipal response to the emergency or disaster
- Planning for continued operations/services in unaffected areas of the municipality
- Identifying issues (ex. Extraordinary expenditures)
- Tracking expenditures related to the event
- Assessing the need for a State of Local Emergency and advising elected officials
- Ensuring recovery activities are undertaken
- Monitoring staff wellness
As of today, Big Lakes County’s ECC is in the monitoring and preparation phase. The ECC includes the Director of Emergency Management (DEM), Deputy Director, Risk Management Officer, Public Information Officer (PIO), Assistant Public Information Officer, and Liaison Officer.
What are everyone’s roles in the ECC?
- The Director of Emergency Management’s role is to prepare and co-ordinate Big Lakes County’s Pandemic Influenza Support and Business Continuity Plans, as well as coordinate all emergency services and other resources used in an emergency.
- The Deputy Director of Emergency Management’s role is to support the DEM as well as ensure continuity during absence or long-term incidents.
- The Risk Management Officer’s role is to analyze, assess, and control risks to health, safety, environment and the economy by preparing a risk mitigation plan.
- The Public Information Officer’s role is to provide information to the public and media, manage all media inquiries, and provide information to internal staff.
- The Assistant Public Information Officer’s role is to support the PIO in ensuring the complete, accurate, and consistent communication of information is being provided.
- The Liaison Officer is responsible for coordinating with representatives from cooperating and assisting agencies or organizations (ex. AHS).
What is the ECC’s main objective?
As of today, the ECC’s main objective is to promote the safety and security of residents within the municipality, and to ensure the delivery of core services, including Fire Services, Utilities, Solid Waste, Airports, and Road Safety throughout the duration of this Pandemic.
Resources for Big Lakes County Residents & Businesses Affected by COVID-19
Small businesses are the backbone of our local economy. We’re here for you. The Big Lakes County Economic Development Authority and our BLC communications team have developed a list of resources and tools primarily for businesses, but also for individuals and industries. You’ll find general information, including governments’ and the World Health Organization’s website portals containing very important health, social, and economic information; federal government resources; provincial government resources; and tools and resources for businesses from various business councils, associations, and other organizations that support small businesses.
- Coronavirus disease (COIVD-19)| Government of Canada | Main Site with downloadable resources, minute-by-minute updates, and links to travel advice Canada’s financial response, prevention and risk, symptoms and treatment
- COVID-19| Government of Alberta | Portal for all main information from the provincial government
- COVID-19| World Health Organization | Most recent information by WHO
- COVID-19| Big Lakes County | Up-to-date local information and announcements. Also see the Big Lakes County Facebook page
FEDERAL ECONOMIC RESPONSE
- Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response | Department of Finance Canada | This is an up-to-date government list of support for Individuals, Businesses, and Industries
- Canada’s COVID-19 Response Plan: Support for Canadians and Businesses| Department of Finance Canada | This provides background information on all of the federal government’s economic measures
- Covid-19:Changes to Canadian Taxes and Benefits | Canada Revenue Agency | CRA is a hub for applying for and obtaining many of the federal government’s COVID-19 benefit
- Note: Canadian Banks have reduced credit card interest by 50%. Contact your bank directly
Federal support for individuals and families
- Increasing the Canada Child Benefit – an extra $300 per child to be delivered as part of the scheduled CCB payment in May | no need to re-apply if you already receive CCB
- Special Goods and Services Tax credit payment – a one-time special payment by early May through the Goods and Services Tax credit for low- and modest-income families (ave. $400 for individuals and $600 for couples) | automatically given to those who are eligible
- Extra time to file income tax returns – June 1, 2020 for individuals and payments without penalties until after August 31, 2020 without interest or penalties | if you expect to receive benefits under the Good and Services Tax credit or the Canada Child Benefit, do not delay in filing your taxes to access those benefits
- Mortgage support – mortgage deferral or skipping payments, which are paid at a later date. This is not mortgage forgiveness | contact your financial institution directly
Support for people facing unemployment
- The new Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) - $2,000 a month for up to 4 months for all Canadians who have ceased working due to COVID-19, whether they are EI-eligible or not | Available in early April
- Apply for Employment Insurance – if you are laid off or have reduced hours and qualify for EI, you can submit to register today
Support for people who are sick, quarantined, or in directed self-isolation
- The new Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) - $2,000 a month for up to 4 months for all Canadians who have ceased working due to COVID-19, whether they are EI-eligible or not | Available in early April
- Improved access to Employment Insurance sickness benefits- the requirement to provide a medical certificate to access EI sickness benefits has been waived | Apply for EI now
Support for people who are unable to work
- The new Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) - $2,000 a month for up to 4 months for all Canadians who have ceased working due to COVID-19, whether they are EI-eligible or not | Available in early April
Support for people who need it most
- A new Indigenous Community Support Fund - $305 million for a new distinctions-based Indigenous Community Support Fund to address immediate needs in First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation communities
- Enhancing the Reaching Home initiative - $157.5 million to support people experiencing homelessness
- Support for women’s shelters and sexual assault centres - $50 million to women’s shelters and sexual assault centres
- The Government of Canada announced $207.5 million to support organizations assisting the homeless population and women fleeing gender-based violence.
Support for seniors
- Reduced minimum withdrawals for Registered Retirement Income Funds – required minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) have been reduced by 25% for 2020.
- United Way support for Canadian seniors - $9 million through United Way Canada for local organizations to support practical services to Canadian seniors.
- New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP) program funds can now be used for COVID-19 support
Support for students and recent graduates
- A moratorium on the repayment of Canada Student Loans - a six-month interest-free moratorium on the repayment of Canada Student Loans | no need for students to apply; effective March 30
- Extending the Work-Sharing program – extending the maximum duration of this program from 38 weeks to 76 weeks; the program is offered to workers who agree to reduce their hours
- Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) – the government will cover $75% of payroll wages for small businesses retroactive to March 15; Organizations that do not qualify for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy may qualify for the previously announced wage subsidy of 10 per cent of remuneratio
Access to credit
- Establishing a Business Credit Availability Program – access to loans through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC)
- Offering a guarantee on loans –
- Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) - banks will soon offer $40,000 loans guaranteed by the government to qualifying businesses. The loans will be interest-free for the first year, and the first $10,000 of that amount will be forgivable for businesses that meet certain conditions. Contact your bank directly.
Supporting financial stability
- Launching an Insured Mortgage Purchase Program – the government will purchase up to $150 billion of insured mortgage pools through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. This action will provide long-term stable funding to banks and mortgage lenders, help facilitate continued lending to Canadian consumers and businesses, and add liquidity to Canada’s mortgage market.
- Bank of Canada actions – interest rates are current 0.25%
- Lowering the Domestic Stability Buffer – lowering of this buffer by 1.25% of risk-weighted assets build resilience of federally regulated financial institutions and improve the stability of the Canadian financial system and economy
- More time to pay income taxes – businesses can defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after March 18 and before September 2020. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period.
- Deferral of sales tax remittance and customs duty payments - businesses, including self-employed individuals, to defer until June 30, 2020 payments of the Goods and Services Tax / Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST), as well as customs duties owing on their imports.
Support for the self-employed
Support for farmers
- Increasing credit available – additional $5 billion in loans to producers, agribusiness, and food processors to help with losses and cashflow | applicants should contact their FCC relationship manager or the FCC Customer Service Centre at 1-888-332-3301 to discuss their individual situation and options.
- $252 million to support farmers, food businesses, and food processors
- The Government of Alberta has established an industry advisory committee to act as Champions of Agriculture. This group will meet regularly and provide Agriculture and Forestry with strategic advice and recommendations on emerging issues and priorities related to consumer confidence, and work to debunk myths in the agriculture industry
Support for the air transportation sector
- Waiving ground lease rents - waiving ground lease rents from March 2020 through to December 2020 for the 21 airport authorities that pay rent to the federal government.
Provincial Support for Individuals
- Alberta Emergency Isolation Supportl Gives eligible Albertans upon approval $1140 within 48 hours
- Utility payment deferral - Individuals, families, and businesses can defer utility payments until June 19, 2020 to lessen financial burden associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Contact your natural gas or electricity provider directly. Deferral ends June 19, 2020. Agreed upon repayment plans begin June 19, 2020.
- Student Learning – in-school classes are cancelled, but K-12 learning continues. Visit this site for more information and resources.
- Job-protected leave - Changes to the Employment Standards Code allow full and part-time employees to take 14 days of job-protected leave if they are: required to self-isolate or caring for a child or dependent adult who is required to self-isolate. Doesn’t apply to self-employed individuals or contractors.
- Education property tax deferral - Education property tax rates will be frozen at last year’s level – reversing the 3.4% population and inflation increase added in Budget 2020
Provincial Support for Businesses
- Alberta Employment Standards Rules| Laws for minimum wage, overtime, holidays, job-protected leaves, vacations, hours of work, earnings, youth workers and termination.
- Utility payment deferral - Individuals, families, and businesses can defer utility payments until June 19, 2020 to lessen the financial burden associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Contact your natural gas or electricity provider directly. Deferral ends June 19, 2020. Agreed upon repayment plans begin June 19, 2020.
- Downloadable posters - Use these posters to share tips on ways to practice physical distancing and let your clients or customers know your business or workplace is open or closed.
- Banks and Credit Unions – contact your banks directly to find out what programs and resources they offer
- WCB premium payment deferral - Small, medium and large private-sector employers can defer WCB premium payments until 2021. For small and medium businesses, the government will cover 50% of the 2020 premium when it is due in 2021 – saving businesses $350 million.
- Guidance for reopening
Large employers will have their 2020 WCB premium payments deferred until 2021, at which time their premiums will be due. Employers who have already paid WCB premiums in 2020 are eligible for a rebate or credit.
- Education property tax deferral - Education property tax rates will be frozen at last year’s level – reversing the 3.4% population and inflation increase added in Budget 2020. The collection of non-residential education property tax for businesses will be deferred for 6 months. Municipalities are expected to set education property tax rates as they normally would, but defer collection. Deferred amounts will be repaid in future tax years. Commercial landlords are encouraged to pass savings on to their tenants through reduced or deferred payments to help employers pay their employees and stay in business. Businesses capable of paying their taxes in full are encouraged to do to so. This will assist the province in supporting Albertans through the pandemic.
- Corporate income tax changes – Alberta corporate income tax balances and installment payments coming due between March 18, 2020 and August 31, 2020 are deferred until August 31, 2020 to increase employers’ access to cash so they can pay employees, address debts and continue operations. In addition, due dates for the filing of corporate income tax returns due after March 18, 2020 and before June 1, 2020 have been extended to June 1, 2020.
Provincial Support for Industries
- Travel Alberta – statistics, toolkits, resources, and updates from Travel Alberta, Alberta’s destination promotion organization
- Tourism Levy Deferral - Hotels and other lodging providers can delay paying the tourism levy until Aug. 31 for amounts that become due to government on or after March 27, 2020. Payments deferred until Aug. 31 will not be subject to penalties or interest.
- Funding the Alberta Energy Regulator levy – Funding for the Alberta Energy Regulator industry levy for 6 months, achieving $113 million in industry relief.
- Extensions for oil and gas tenures - Extending the term of mineral agreements expiring in 2020 by 1 year to provide increased certainty for industry by allowing additional time to raise capital and plan future activities.
- Orphan Well Association loan - A $100 million loan was recently extended to the Orphan Well Association to bolster immediate reclamation efforts, decommission about 1,000 wells, and start more than 1,000 environmental assessments – creating up to 500 direct and indirect jobs.
- Alberta has announced the deferral of timber dues for six months to help ensure forestry companies can continue operations and retain staff during the pandemic
OTHER SUPPORTS FOR BUSINESSES
- Free Credit Counselling, Budgeting Help & Debt Consolidation Options| Credit Counselling Society
- Facebook Small Business Grants Program| Facebook
- Free Business Help | Business Link | Many tools, resources, and a hotline
- COVID-19 and Business Insurance: How Coverage is Triggered| Insurance Bureau of Canada
- Coronavirus and Small Business: Keeping You and Your Employees Safe| Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)
PANDEMIC PREPAREDNESS AND TIPS FOR BUSINESSES
- Getting your workplace ready for COVID-19| WHO | Details on what to do before, during, and after meetings, events, and travel
- COVID-19 Preparedness | Edmonton Chamber of Commerce | Mass events, planning, HR and other tools and templates
- Emergency Preparedness| Calgary Chamber of Commerce | Continuity planning and diagnostics survey
- COVID-19: Pandemic Preparedness for Business| Canadian Chamber of Commerce | Checklists and planning documents
- COVID-19: Tips for Small Businesses| Business Link | Helpful tips as you navigate these changes and work to continue to manage your business and serve your customers.
- Business Continuity Planning| BDC | Very comprehensive list of tools and steps
- On March 13, 2020, the Government of Canada advised Canadians to avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada until further notice.
- COVID-19 travel advice (Government of Canada)
- Travel advisories (Government of Canada)
- Risk-informed decision-making for mass gatherings (Government of Canada)
- Mandatory quarantine: All travelers returning to Canada from abroad must go home immediately, arranging for private transportation or transportation through the Government of Canada beforehand, as well as support from friends, family, neighbours, or government officials to arrange for basic necessities. Failure to comply can lead to fines or arrest.
MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES
The Mental Health Help Line: 1-877-303-2642 | available 24/7 to provide advice and referrals to community supports near you.
- Crisis Services Canada
- Find Your Canadian Mental Health Association| CMHA
- Mental health and coping with COVID-19| CDC
- Talking with children about COVID-19| CDC
- Help in Tough Times| AHS
- Taking Care of Your Mental Health in the Face of Uncertainty| American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
HELPFUL WEBINARS AND NEWSLETTERS FOR BUSINESSES
- Canadian Chamber of Commerce– COVID-19 mailing list for key announcements, updates on the latest information, and available resources
- Economic Developers Alberta – hosts a weekly webinar on various topics; these webinars are recorded and available online
- Covid Continuity – a group of businesses and communities started this free website and newsletter to support organizations working through the challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak
Please download the media release below.