COVID-19 Memo from EST (Week 1)

Brothers and Sisters:

Update on ACRC Response to the Coronavirus Public Health Emergency

A month ago, we could never have imagined that our provinces, our country and the world we live in could have changed so dramatically.  As COVID-19 continues to rapidly spread we must ensure we take all possible safety precautions as advised by medical officials and government. In response to those recommendations, last week the Atlantic Canada Regional Council closed our doors to our membership and the public.  However, members can still reach us by phone, email, or by texting.  If a member needs to see a representative in person, this can be arranged by calling ahead to make an appointment. We are working with a skeleton crew in our offices, but we are still here to serve you.

During difficult times such as these stresses can be at a maximum.  Social distancing is a difficult practice for Atlantic Canadians who are normally community-oriented people.  Many members and their families are confined to their homes with toddlers, adolescents or teens that are bored out of their minds, or with elderly parents who require special care. Some members have to live alone, as they sit home day in and day out. In addition, finances are uncertain for many.  I encourage members to utilize the services provided by our health and welfare plan if the stresses become more than they can handle.  In addition, most provincial governments are offering extra services at this time.  We will post links to these resources on our website, and send out contact information via email as it becomes available.  


The economic impact COVID-19 is having on our membership and their families is very severe.  Two weeks ago, there were close to 5000 members working or in the process of being dispatched in Atlantic Canada and, with the work that was about to start in the coming weeks, we expected that number to reach close to 6000.  Today that number has plummeted to approximately 1600.  This is a result of most of the larger industrial sites closing and some of the commercial sites reducing workforce numbers to comply with the mandated social distancing policies.  Another factor is that many members did not feel safe for a variety of reasons – their own health issues, or health issues of loved ones at home.  Each individual member must do what is best for themselves and their families at this time and, whatever their choice, it should be respected.

No one can truly prepare for what I can only describe as the “unimaginable”.  Having said that, I will continue to work with the Executive Board and Delegates of the Atlantic Canada Regional Council to ensure that we have a solid plan in place to assist our members through this challenging time, and to ensure that our offices and our membership are well prepared when work commences in the coming weeks.  As services and assistance come available, we will keep you informed.

Taking a moment throughout your day to call someone who may be struggling with the self- isolation rules, overwhelmed financially, or simply scared of what is happening around us, is a positive step that may make them and you feel supported during this negative situation. We are versatile people and we will get through this.  We are proud Atlantic Canadians.  Stay healthy, stay safe and God Bless.

In Solidarity,

Deb Romero
ACRC Executive Secretary-Treasurer

Newsletters from Regional Managers



The Canadian government has announced the following initiatives for individuals:

Temporary: Employment Insurance and Emergency Care Benefit

For Canadians without paid sick leave (or similar workplace accommodation) who are sick, quarantined or forced to stay home to care for children, the Government is:

  • Waiving the one-week waiting period for those individuals in imposed quarantine that claim Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits. This temporary measure is in effect as of March 15, 2020.

Longer-Term Income Support for Workers

For Canadians who lose their jobs or face reduced hours as a result of COVID’s impact, the Government is:

  • Introducing an Emergency Support Benefit delivered through the CRA to provide up to $5.0 billion in support to workers who are not eligible for EI and who are facing unemployment.
  • Implementing the EI Work Sharing Program, which provides EI benefits to workers who agree to reduce their normal working hour as a result of developments beyond the control of their employers, by extending the eligibility of such agreements to 76 weeks, easing eligibility requirements, and streamlining the application process.

Child Care Benefit

  • Temporarily increased by $300 per child (for eligible low-income persons)

HST Credit

  • One-time payment of approximately $400 for an individual, or $600 for a couple, to be paid in May 2020 (for eligible low-income persons)

Income Tax Deferral

  • For individuals (other than trusts), the return filing due date will be deferred until June 1, 2020.  However, the Agency encourages individuals who expect to receive benefits under the GSTC or the Canada Child Benefit not to delay the filing of their return to ensure their entitlements for the 2020-21 benefit year are properly determined.
  • The Canada Revenue Agency will allow all taxpayers to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or before September 2020 (need to pay by August 31st). No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period. 

Student Loan Repayment Deferral

  • Placing a six-month interest-free moratorium on the repayment of Canada Student Loans for all individuals currently in the process of repaying these loans.


  • Canada’s six major banks (BMO, CIBC, National Bank, Royal Bank, RBC, TD, Scotiabank) announced that they will provide up to 6 months suspension of mortgage payments. It is not clear if these banks will waive interest accumulation during this period.
  • Please contact your individual financial institution to find out how to apply for a suspension of payments, and the terms that will be applied. It is not automatic so do not just stop paying your mortgage.
  • If your mortgage is with a financial institution other than the big 6 banks, please contact them directly to determine if they are permitting a suspension of mortgage payments.
  • This initiative applies only to mortgage payments. If you have personal loans, lines of credit, RRSP loans, credit cards, or car loans, please contact your financial institution to determine if they are providing flexible payment options.


Your provincial governments may introduce assistance programs that will apply in your specific province. You can access your provincial government website at these links:

Newfoundland and Labrador: (English) (Francais)

Nova Scotia:

Prince Edward Island: (English) (Francais)

New Brunswick: (English) (Francais)

Payment of Rent

  • Payment of rent and tenant and landlord rights are regulated by provincial governments. The New Brunswick government has announced that tenants cannot be evicted for non-payment of rent until at least May 31, 2020. It’s possible that deadline will be extended.
  • We are currently not aware of any specific rent relief measures in NS, NL or PEI. If you have questions about the rights of tenants in those provinces, please contact your government rental office.

Notice from Nalcor

Muskrat Falls site ramping down operations to protect the health and well-being of communities

March 17, 2020: In light of the escalation of COVID-19 and the potential risks to our people, our communities, and site operations, effective today, Nalcor will be ramping down operations at the Muskrat Falls site in Labrador.

Precautionary measures had already been put in place at the site to ensure the health and safety of our workers and the public. At this time there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 at the Muskrat Falls site.

This is a difficult decision. Recognizing that we have a responsibility within our worksite, as well as within the wider community, we are doing our part to help control potential spread of COVID-19.
We are currently working with our contractors and union partners as we start a controlled demobilization of the workforce. There are approximately 500 people working at the Muskrat Falls site and of those approximately 350 people are living at the camp while working.  

Preparations are underway to put the site in care and maintenance mode. Construction work will be paused while we maintain essential systems and operations at the site. Our initial plan is to put this precaution in place for the next month.  

The safety of our workers and their families, our communities, and the public is of utmost importance to us. We have been actively monitoring and addressing the evolving COVID-19 pandemic and potential impacts. This information has informed our decision as we take further actions to help protect the health and well-being of others.