COVID-19

Resources and answers for non-profits navigating the pandemic

  • Advocacy
  • AGMs
  • Donation Initiatives
  • Charitable Gaming
  • Financial Assistance
  • Human Resources
  • Taxes
  • Virtual Board Meetings
  • Volunteering
  • FAQs
  • Share Your Concerns

We have been a part of discussions with all levels of government regarding their response to COVID-19 and what non-profits can expect during the pandemic. Read on for updates and clarification from the provincial and federal governments on the non-profit sector’s most pressing concerns.

We received notice from the Government of Alberta this morning that they have created a framework to assess the various needs of Alberta’s non-profits based on what they have heard. Please read the chart below for the list of concerns, anticipated impacts, and current mitigation tactics. We anticipate more clarification from the Government of Alberta to come.

Read the Document

Letter to Premier Kenney on Funding Flexibility

On Wednesday, March 18, the Alberta Nonprofit Network, with signatories from various regional non-profit organizations,  reached out to Premier Kenney and the Government of Alberta regarding the immediate impacts of the COVID-19 response on non-profits and emerging concerns around funding agreements and organizations’ limited ability to achieve funded outcomes.

The letter makes the following urgent recommendations:

  1. Provide clarity on the Government of Alberta’s commitment to current funding agreements and provide emergency grants to other frontline services.
  2. Provide flexibility on expectations within current funding agreements and maintain longterm eligibility to account for the limited ability of organizations to deliver regular programs and services at this time. Specific recommendations include allowing nonprofits to allocate funding to new priorities, delaying reporting deadlines and providing flexibility with meeting expected outcomes. 
  3. Provide details surrounding the 14-day paid leave entitlement, specifically the necessary administrative processes and procedures within the Employment Standards Code.

Please help us spread the word and gain support for these recommendations and the sector by: 

  • Sharing this letter with your network and contacts
  •  Writing a letter to the government and your MP reinforcing these recommendations 
  • Sharing concerns, information and stories about COVID-19’s impact on your organization with ABNN

We will post any updates to this page as they emerge.

Click to read the letter in full:

 

Letter to Minister Travis Toews on Bylaw Requirements and AGMs

On Wednesday, March 18, the ECVO and various regional partners reached out to Travis Toews, President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance, with questions regarding non-profits as they approach reporting deadlines and legislation requirements to host AGMs. 

The letter makes the following urgent recommendations:

  1. Universally extend deadlines for reporting to funders, which eliminates the need for individual exemption requests in the coming weeks. 
  2. Create exemptions to legislation that allow organizations to host annual general meetings and conduct other legislative or bylaw work past current deadlines. Specifically, allow a minimum of 90 days past the point at which large gatherings are considered safe, so that organizations responsibly plan and host their annual general meetings.

Please help us spread the word and gain support for these recommendations and the sector by: 

  • Sharing this letter with your network and contacts
  •  Writing a letter to the government and your MP reinforcing these recommendations 
  • Sharing concerns, information and stories about COVID-19’s impact on your organization with ECVO

We will post any updates to this page as they emerge.

Click to read the letter in full:

 

The Government of Alberta has officially announced that non-profits and societies can postpone Annual General Meetings and filing of annual returns until meeting restrictions are lifted.

Additionally, cancellation or dissolution processes for societies and non-profit companies that have not filed previously outstanding annual returns are suspended until further notice.

More information is available here

We’ve received updates from the Government of Alberta in regards to Annual General Meetings during the production of this document. This is the announcement we have received from Service Alberta:

Both for-profit and non-profit entities may postpone their annual general meetings for a period of 3+ months.  This is effective immediately and runs to the end of June 2020.

Corporate Registry will suspend the monthly processes used to dissolve or cancel registrations for both profit and non-profit entities, including cooperatives, for a period of three months beginning April 2020. 

We are waiting for an official communication from the Government of Alberta on their website and will link it here once we have it.

Non-profits and for-profits alike are wondering how to respond to COVID-19 preventing the hosting of Annual General Meetings (AGMs). This annual convening helps organizations connect with members, shareholders, stakeholders, and the general public. They are often required by legislation (Alberta’s Societies Act, for example) or otherwise by an organization’s constitution, charter, or bylaws. 

These meetings are necessary for governing bodies to fulfill various duties, including electing new members, receiving information from the previous year, reviewing financial health and standing, or making changes to bylaws. 

Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, many AGMs are not able to be held due to the public health measures put in place.

The Edmonton Chamber of Voluntary Organizations along with regional partners have been in conversation with Service Alberta to address this very issue.  We are still waiting for information to be posted on the Alberta website, and will link it here as soon as it is available.

We also wanted to provide you with options and information that we currently have.

For those worried because you have an AGM in the very near future and do not know how to proceed: the first thing you should do is reference your organization’s bylaws.

It is important to understand the limitations your bylaws set for your AGM. There are many details in your bylaws to consider and specific language to watch out for. For example:

  • Do your bylaws specifically dictate an AGM format that cannot be fulfilled virtually?
  • Are there rules on voting, voters bring physically present, penalties for a delay, etc. 

Common standards for bylaws will generally leave you with two possible options:

  • Defer your AGM to a later date in 2020 – if your bylaws are vague and do not set a restriction on a time period or date, you do have an option to delay the AGM further into the year, allowing you to prepare to a better degree. It may be wise, if possible, to consider virtual options for your AGM even at a postponed date. It’s difficult to predict how (and for how long) the pandemic will proceed in 2020, and it could create opportunities to shift format for future AGMs. 
  • Hold a virtual AGM – if your bylaws set a strict date or date range for your AGM, and there are no other complicating factors in your bylaws, you have an option of hosting a virtual AGM. This approach is increasing popular in common practice, with non-profits responding to changes in work styles and advances in technology. This document will help provide some resources for you.

Common Questions

Q: How do I know if I can host a virtual AGM if my bylaws do not mention it?

If your bylaws do not state that the meeting MUST occur in a physical place, or that voters MUST be physically present,  or that virtual means are NOT allowed, then you should be able to host a virtual AGM.

Q: What if my bylaws specifically say ‘in person’ or do not allow virtual meetings?

Hold tight, we are in conversations with Service Alberta to address this piece, as it is an extremely common issue non-profits are facing. Feel free to check out this article as it may set precedent in this difficult time. 

Additionally, many governance advisers are evaluating the context and possible interpretations of “in person” requirements. For example, it’s fairly easy for a person to be virtually present at a live event (e.g., through FaceTime or another videoconferencing platform) in such a way as to receive information, participate in discussions, and cast a ballot to the same effect as somebody who is physically present. 

Q: If I choose to hold my meeting virtually, what should I be looking at within my bylaws?

Make sure to be thorough when looking at the language of your bylaws. Consider your attendance and quorum: how will it be verified virtually? What is your method of voting? What is your method for motions? Can motions be brought on from the floor? Does your virtual system have the capacity to do that? It may seem like quite a bit task, but so is planning a standard AGM.  Take it step by step to ensure that you do have the capability to host one virtually.

Q: How do I even begin to plan a virtual AGM?

The first step is to identify a software that would work best for you. A few popular choices to consider are Zoom or GoToWebinar. 

Next, you will need to contact your members with enough notice and explain the process to the best of your ability. Here’s a link that could be helpful in answering some of your questions on the specifics of virtual AGMS. One key recommendation we have is to ensure that you have staff or volunteers dedicated to tech support throughout your AGM to troubleshoot and assist those that need it.

 

If you decide to hold your AGM virtually, let us know how it goes. Pass your learnings to us so we can share more broadly with the sector and learn from each other. Community is essential to keep us moving forward.

This document was produced in partnership by ECVO and FuseSocial.

We’re gathering donation initiatives that support non-profits in Alberta. We will add new initiatives as they arise.

We hope this listing will provide useful information to individuals looking to donate and organizations who are looking for programs to refer donors to, if necessary.

United Way Alberta Capital Region

The United Way is currently accepting donations from the community to help support ongoing efforts to minimize COVID-19’s impacts in our communities.

Learn More

Edmonton Community Foundation (ECF)

Edmonton Community Foundation (ECF) is committing $500,000 of its unrestricted funds to seed a Rapid Response Fund to respond quickly to important needs not addressed by others.

More Information

CanadaHelps

CanadaHelps has launched a COVID-19 Relief Fund to support various charities at the frontlines of COVID-19 relief efforts.

Donations will be matched by the Gore Mutual Foundation up to $2 million.

More Information

Over the last week, we’ve been in contact with Alberta Gaming, Liquor, and Cannabis for discussions on how non-profits can more effectively use charitable gaming proceeds during the pandemic response. 

On March 23, AGLC released an update for non-profits with several key points listed below. On March 26, AGLC published a new update with additional details and common questions.

Changes to Eligible Expenses

The following uses are now eligible without the requirement for submission of forms normally used for these requests:

Facility

Groups that normally use a maximum 50 per cent use from gaming proceeds may use 100 per cent for operating expenses at this time.

Wages/Salaries

Groups may use gaming proceeds any positions that provide charitable services, even if the group is not able to carry out normal operations during the crisis.

Emergency Assistance

Groups may use gaming proceeds to assist members or individuals who are facing dire or serious circumstances.

Donations

Groups may use gaming proceeds for donations to other licensed groups or non-licensed groups to assist with charitable purposes. If the donation is made outside Alberta or Canada, AGLC staff are available to provide prior approval using the out of country donation request form, along with the Statutory Declaration and Recipient Agreement forms.

Canadian Red Cross

Groups may use gaming proceeds for emergency purposes relating to COVID 19 anywhere in the world if the proceeds are provided directly to the Canadian Red Cross.

Aid of the Distressed

Groups may use gaming proceeds for programs and services that address issues of social concern such as poverty, mental or physical illness, or disability.

Case-by-case

Upon request, gaming proceeds may be considered for other uses not included above. Please contact AGLC directly at the email address noted below.

Inquiries may be directed to [email protected] with the subject line: COVID 19 UOP Request.

More information and ongoing updates are available at www.aglc.ca/covid-19.

Changes to Eligible Expenses

The following uses are now eligible without the requirement for submission of forms normally used for these requests:

Facility

Groups that normally use a maximum 50 per cent use from gaming proceeds may use 100 per cent for operating expenses at this time.

Wages/Salaries

Groups may use gaming proceeds any positions that provide charitable services, even if the group is not able to carry out normal operations during the crisis.

Emergency Assistance

Groups may use gaming proceeds to assist members or individuals who are facing dire or serious circumstances.

Donations

Groups may use gaming proceeds for donations to other licensed groups or non-licensed groups to assist with charitable purposes. If the donation is made outside Alberta or Canada, AGLC staff are available to provide prior approval using the out of country donation request form, along with the Statutory Declaration and Recipient Agreement forms.

Canadian Red Cross

Groups may use gaming proceeds for emergency purposes relating to COVID 19 anywhere in the world if the proceeds are provided directly to the Canadian Red Cross.

Aid of the Distressed

Groups may use gaming proceeds for programs and services that address issues of social concern such as poverty, mental or physical illness, or disability.

Case-by-case

Upon request, gaming proceeds may be considered for other uses not included above. Please contact AGLC directly at the email address noted below.

Inquiries may be directed to [email protected] with the subject line: COVID 19 UOP Request.

More information and ongoing updates are available at www.aglc.ca/covid-19.

We’re gathering information on existing and emerging financial assistance options available to non-profits. Check back often as we will add new opportunities as they are announced.

For Human Resources assistance, including wage subsidies and Employment Insurance options, click the Human Resources tab to the left. 

Emergency Assistance

Federal Programs

 

To ensure that small businesses have access to the capital they need to see them through the current challenges, the Government of Canada announced the launch of the new Canada Emergency Business Account, which will be implemented by eligible financial institutions in cooperation with Export Development Canada (EDC).

This $25 billion program will provide interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits, to help cover their operating costs during a period where their revenues have been temporarily reduced, due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 virus.

Small businesses and not-for-profits should contact their financial institution to apply for these loans.

To qualify, these organizations will need to demonstrate they paid between $50,000 to $1 million in total payroll in 2019. Repaying the balance of the loan on or before December 31, 2022 will result in loan forgiveness of 25 percent (up to $10,000).

More Information

Provincial Programs

 

The Alberta government is providing $30 million in immediate funding to charities, not-for-profits and civil society organizations to support their responses to the COVID-19 public health crisis. This funding will support social services organizations in enabling social distancing, and can help provide supports and services for at-risk seniors and vulnerable populations.

Who is eligible

Charities, not-for-profits and civil society organizations looking to help Albertans during the COVID-19 pandemic can apply for this funding.

For services to be eligible, they must address the social well-being of those most affected by COVID19 and the measures implemented to limit the spread of the virus.

Those impacted may include seniors, individuals with chronic medical conditions, caregivers, families with children at home or individuals with limited access to supports.

More Information

 

Sub-sector Specific

Breakfast Club of Canada is issuing special grants for community organizations to help ensure children and families have access to food during the crisis.

More Information

Grants

Eligible organizations can now register for Grant Connect’s Community Edition, and will have work-from-home (WFH) access until April 8.

Grant Connect helps Canadian non-profits access comprehensive listings of funders and grant opportunities.

The Community Edition is typically accessed in person at licensed libraries, universities, and resource centre computers, but Imagine Canada is opening up access due to the recent COVID-19 closures. The service is exclusively for Canadian charities, and the length of access may be extended depending on how the situation evolves.

More Information

As COVID-19 continues to disrupt organizations and pose challenges to business as usual, the Edmonton Chamber of Voluntary Organizations, FuseSocial and IntegralOrg  have collaborated to compile a list of essential human resource supports for non-profit employers.   

This information has been compiled as a quick resource guide for nonprofit employers but should not take the place of consulting a legal or human resource professional.  

Additional resources will be added as they become available.

The Government of Canada confirmed details of the Emergency Wage Subsidy, including that non-profits and charities are eligible for the support of up to 75% of wages. 

Organizations must prove that they have suffered a loss of at least 30% of their revenue, and the number of employees will not determine eligibility. 

More Information

Programs Available to Non-profit & Charitable Organizations Impacted by COVID-19

Federal Programs

 

Eligible business and non-profits can apply for a subsidy of up to 75% of employee wages for up to 12 weeks, retroactive to March 15, 2020. 

This subsidy would be available to eligible employers that see a drop of at least 30 per cent of their revenue (see Eligible Periods). In applying for the subsidy, employers would be required to attest to the decline in revenue.

More Information

As part of its COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, the Government of Canada has put into place a temporary wage subsidy for eligible employers to prevent layoffs.  

The Temporary Wage Subsidy for Employers is a three-month measure that will allow eligible employers to reduce the amount of payroll deductions required to be remitted to the Canada Revenue Agency.   

Eligible employers include non-profit organizations and registered charities who have an existing business number and payroll program account with the CRA on March 18, 2020 and who pay salary, wages, bonuses, or other remuneration to an employee. 

The subsidy is to be equal to ten per cent (10%) of an employee’s salary up to a maximum of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer. Organizations would immediately benefit from this support by reducing the remittance of income tax withheld on their employees’ wages.  

The subsidy is calculated manually by the employer. Once the subsidy is calculated, employers can reduce their current remittance of federal, provincial, or territorial income tax that they send to the CRA by the amount of the subsidy starting with their next remittance period scheduled after March 18, 2020. 

Full details can be found here.

Work-Sharing (WS) is an Employment Insurance adjustment program designed to help eligible employers and employees avoid layoffs when there is a temporary reduction in the normal level of business activity that is beyond the control of the employer.   

Work Sharing is a three-party agreement amongst employers, employees and Service Canada, where the employees must agree to a reduced schedule of work and to share the available work over a specified period. 

The program allows employers to temporarily reduce its employee’s work schedule, by providing the employee with a portion of their reduced income. The measure provides income support to employees eligible for Employment Insurance benefits who work a temporarily reduced workweek while their employer recovers.  

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada has introduced some special temporary measures including extending the maximum duration of agreements from 38 weeks to 78 weeks, waiving the waiting period between agreements, and easing the recovery plan requirements. 

There are several criteria for eligibility, including:  

  • must be experiencing a recent decline in business activity of at least 10% 
  • must be experiencing a recent decline in business activity directly or indirectly related to the impact of COVID-19 
  • Must be a private business, a publicly held company or a not-for-profit organization 

More information is outlined in our COVID-19 Work Sharing Program Fact Sheet (PDF).

Provincial Programs

Small and medium businesses in the private sector (as well as those in voluntary industries), are eligible to receive a reduction in their WCB premiums.  The government will cover 50% of the 2020 premium when it is due in 2021.  

Large employers will have their 2020 WCB premium payments deferred until 2021.  

No application is necessary, these will automatically be waived.  

View the Workers Compensation Board Announcement here. 

WCB Employer Fact Sheet: Premium relief for employers  

Additional Resources for Non-profit & Charitable Employers

At this time, leaders of nonprofit and charitable organizations are facing difficult decisions about their business and their employees. Those employers who are considering layoffs are concerned about their employees and how they will cope. We have provided helpful templates and checklists for your use as well as a summary of programs that are available to help employees during this difficult time. 

Things to Consider Before a Staff Layoff (PDF)

Employment Termination Checklist (PDF)

Temporary Layoff Letter Template (Word doc)

Permanent Layoff Letter Template (Word doc)

Programs Available to Non-profit & Charitable Workers Impacted by COVID-19

Federal Programs

 

Sickness Benefits are part of the Employment Insurance program. In response to the COVID-19 pandemicService Canada is waiving the one-week waiting period for its Employment Insurance sickness benefits for those quarantined due to COVID-19. The benefit provides up to 15-weeks of financial assistance up to a maximum of $573 per week.  

Quarantined individuals are not required to provide a medical certificate and should apply directly online. 

Service Canada has also setup a dedicated phone line for quarantined individuals who have already applied and would like to have the waiting period waived.  

Telephone: 1-833-381-2725 (toll-free)  

Teletypewriter (TTY): 1-800-529-3742 

View the full program details here. 

More information is available in our EI Sickness Benefit Fact Sheet (PDF)

Employees who are laid off may be able to access regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits.  

Employment Insurance (EI) provides regular benefits to individuals who lose their jobs through no fault of their own (for example, due to shortage of work, seasonal or mass lay-offs) and are available for and able to work, but can’t find a job. 

Always apply for EI benefits as soon as you stop working. You can apply for benefits even if you have not yet received your Record of Employment (ROE). If you delay filing your claim for benefits for more than four weeks after your last day of work, you may lose benefits.  

More details are available in our EI Regular Benefits Fact Sheet.

Full details about eligible, requirements, and applications can be found here. 

To support workers and help businesses keep their employees, the Government of Canada is implementing the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). This taxable benefit provides $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Canadians who are already receiving EI regular and sickness benefits as of today would continue to receive their benefits and should not apply to the CERB. If their EI benefits end before October 3, 2020, they could apply for the CERB once their EI benefits cease and if they are unable to return to work due to COVID-19.  

Canadians who have already applied for EI and whose application has not yet been processed would not need to reapply. Canadians who are eligible for EI regular and sickness benefits would still be able to access their normal EI benefits, if still unemployed, after the 16-week period covered by the CERB. 

This benefit covers those who have lost their job, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, as well as working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures. The benefit applies to wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI). Additionally, workers who are still employed, but are not receiving income because of disruptions to their work situation due to COVID-19, would also qualify for the CERB. This would help businesses keep their employees as they navigate these difficult times, while ensuring they preserve the ability to quickly resume operations as soon as it becomes possible. 

The application portal will be ready in early April. 

More information can be found here. 

Provincial Programs

 

The Government of Alberta has implemented 14-days of job-protected leave for employees required to self-isolate or care for a child or dependent that is required to self-isolate.  

There is no minimum employment tenure and employees are not required to provide a medical note. This program is not available for self-employed individuals or contractors.  

Further information can be found here. 

This is a temporary program for working adult Albertans who must self-isolate because they meet the Government of Alberta’s published criteria for self-isolation, including persons who are the sole care-giver for a dependent who must self-isolate because they meet the public health criteria, and who will not have another source of pay or compensation while they are self-isolated. 

Criteria for self-isolation include: 

  • if you recently returned from travel outside of Canada (even if feeling well) 
  • are in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 
  • have been asked by a health care professional to self-isolate for another reason 
  • if you become sick with symptoms such as dry cough, fever, difficulty breathing, runny nose, sore throat 
  • A one-time payment of $1,146 will be distributed to bridge the gap until the federal emergency payments begin in April. 

More details about eligibility can be found here. 

How To Apply

Sign into the MyAlberta Emergency Isolation Support system using your verified MyAlberta Digital ID (MADI) account to complete the application. 

  • If you don’t have a verified MADI account, you can sign up during the application process using your Alberta driver’s licence or ID card number to confirm your identity. 
  • You do not need to wait 10 days for the mailed verification code to complete your application. 

To support workers and help businesses keep their employees, the Government of Canada is implementing the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). This taxable benefit provides $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Canadians who are already receiving EI regular and sickness benefits as of today would continue to receive their benefits and should not apply to the CERB. If their EI benefits end before October 3, 2020, they could apply for the CERB once their EI benefits cease and if they are unable to return to work due to COVID-19.  

Canadians who have already applied for EI and whose application has not yet been processed would not need to reapply. Canadians who are eligible for EI regular and sickness benefits would still be able to access their normal EI benefits, if still unemployed, after the 16-week period covered by the CERB. 

This benefit covers those who have lost their job, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, as well as working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures. The benefit applies to wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI). Additionally, workers who are still employed, but are not receiving income because of disruptions to their work situation due to COVID-19, would also qualify for the CERB. This would help businesses keep their employees as they navigate these difficult times, while ensuring they preserve the ability to quickly resume operations as soon as it becomes possible. 

The application portal will be ready in early April. 

More information can be found here. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Some employers have asked – if they must lay off employees, is it possible to help them through this difficult time by “topping up”?

Details for working while on a claim can be found here. 

If you earn money while receiving EI benefits, you can keep 50 cents of your benefits for every dollar you earn, up to 90 percent of your previous weekly earnings (roughly four and a half days of work). Above this cap, your EI benefits are deducted dollar-for-dollar.   

You are not eligible to receive EI benefits if you work a full week, regardless of the amount you earn. However, this will not reduce the total number of weeks payable on your claim.   

Since you are already receiving EI, you do not need to apply for Working While on Claim. You simply need to continue to declare your earnings online.  

When an employer lays off or terminates and employee, a ROE must be completed. 

The ROE is the form—whether electronic or paper—that employers complete for employees receiving insurable earnings who stop working and experience an interruption of earnings. The ROE is the single most important document in the Employment Insurance (EI) program. You must complete the ROE even if the employee does not intend to apply for EI benefits. 

When an employee has had or is anticipated to have seven consecutive calendar days with no work and no insurable earnings from the employer, an interruption of earnings occurs. This is called the seven-day rule. For example, the seven-day rule applies when employees quit their jobs or are laid off, or when their employment is terminated. 

When an employee’s salary falls below 60% of regular weekly earnings because of illness, injury, quarantine, pregnancy, the need to care for a newborn or a child placed for the purposes of adoption or the need to provide care or support to a family member who is critically ill, an interruption of earnings occurs. In this case, the first day of the interruption of earnings is the Sunday of the week in which the salary falls below 60% of the regular weekly earnings. 

Coding an ROE:  

Code A is for a layoff due to a shortage of work or temporary business closure.  

Code D is for Illness or Injury: when an employee is absent due to illness, quarantine, or ordered self-isolation.  

Code Q: Quit 

Code NLeave of Absence can be used if an employee is unable to work, for example, if is schools and day cares are closed and the employee must stay home with a child. Do not put any comments in the comments box on the ROE; this will slow down processing as the ROE will need to be reviewed manually. 

View the ROE Guide here. 

Detailed instructions for completing an ROE can be found here. 

Select licensed child care centres will begin reopening the week of March 23.  Access will be prioritized to health care practitioners and critical infrastructure workers then secondly first responders and others. 

Parents will be notified through their employer if they qualify to send their children to the newly reopened centres. 

Alternatively, approved family dayhome are exempt from the closure as they provide care to fewer than 7 children at a time.  Private home-based child care providers also remain open as they are limited to 6 children in their home at one time. 

Canadians who are already receiving EI regular and sickness benefits as of today would continue to receive their benefits and should not apply to the CERB. If their EI benefits end before October 3, 2020, they could apply for the CERB once their EI benefits cease and if they are unable to return to work due to COVID-19.  

Canadians who have already applied for EI and whose application has not yet been processed would not need to reapply. Canadians who are eligible for EI regular and sickness benefits would still be able to access their normal EI benefits, if still unemployed, after the 16-week period covered by the CERB. 

This benefit covers those who have lost their job, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, as well as working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures. The benefit applies to wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI). Additionally, workers who are still employed, but are not receiving income because of disruptions to their work situation due to COVID-19, would also qualify for the CERB. This would help businesses keep their employees as they navigate these difficult times, while ensuring they preserve the ability to quickly resume operations as soon as it becomes possible. 

The application portal will be ready in early April. 

More information can be found here. 

According to the Employment Standards Code, Part 2, Division 8, an Alberta employer can temporarily lay off an employee by following the basic rules below, (unless a collective agreement provides otherwise):  

  • A notice of temporary layoff is in writing, stating that it is a temporary layoff notice, include its effective date, and include sections 62-64 of the Employment Standards Code. 
  • The notice must be provided (unless otherwise stated in a collective agreement) at least one week prior to the layoff date if the employee has been employed by the employer for less than 2 years OR at least two weeks prior to the layoff date if the employee has been employed by the employer for more than 2 years. 
  • In instances of unforeseeable circumstances employers are required to provide as much notice as possible.  (For example, COVID-19) 

The maximum length of a temporary layoff in Alberta is 60 total days within a 120 day period.  On the 61st day of temporary layoff, if no recall notice is given, the employees employment is considered terminated.  If there is a collective agreement in place, an employee may have recall rights following the layoff and termination pay is owed when recall rights expire. 

An employer must issue an ROE for an employee being temporarily laid off. 

*Employers who are considering temporary layoffs should ensure they are complying with contract and common law as applicable as well as the Employment Standards Code.  

Click here to view the Government of Alberta’s page on temporarily layoffs. 

Tax Filing Deadline Extended by the Canada Revenue Agency

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) announced that they have extended the deadline for non-profits and charities to file their annual tax returns to December 31, 2020.

More information is available via the CRA website.

Important notice

As part of government actions taken in dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Charities Directorate is extending the filing deadline to December 31, 2020, for all charities with a Form T3010, Registered Charity Information Return due between March 18, 2020 and December 31, 2020. This will allow charities more time to complete and submit their T3010, recognizing that charities will be focused on deploying their resources to address the effects of the COVID-19 virus situation.

The Charities Directorate has suspended all operations until further notice, which includes our call centre as well as all registration and audit activities. For information on operating a charity, you are encouraged to review the Charities and Giving webpages.

Charities are also encouraged to register for CRA’s secure online services. Through My Business Account, you and your representatives can access the new digital services for charities, which provide you with the ability to complete and file online Form T3010.

We apologize for the inconvenience and we will provide updates as the situation evolves.

Many non-profit boards face the prospect of postponed or canceled meetings and a limited ability to carry on with necessary governance work. Rather than struggling to pass motions and collect votes via email threads, we’ve developed a guide to support boards in shifting their work into the virtual space.

Preparation: Consider your bylaws

Always be sure to reference your organization’s bylaws and take note of any that provide limitations on meeting space, structure, and timing. Take these into account before presenting the decision to your board.

In most cases, you must bring a motion to your board to allow virtual meetings to occur. Here’s are templates for you to use, if you like:

Information and Justification:
As per Alberta's Chief Medical Officer we will be practicing social distancing to flatten the COVID-19 curve. In order to support our board in these actions we will be moving to virtual board meetings and decisions. These actions will require our board to temporarily modify our behaviour in contravention of our bylaws and policies, only around meeting in person, to comply with current legislative restrictions.

Motion:
“We move that for the term of the implemented social distancing practice our board will be making all decisions and holding all meetings through virtual or other distance methods. As such we will reasonably track our conversations and decisions in order to ensure proper minutes and accountability for the actions and decisions we make. The board will be using [Loomio.org or other online tool] as a conversation and decision-making platform supported by virtual gatherings/meetings either by conference call or video chat. Record management and member rights and privileges will be maintained as best as possible in accordance with our current bylaw clauses.” .

After shifting online, there are three key transitions you will need to work through as a board, including the shift to the virtual space, discovering and understanding the functionality of it, and then the ongoing process of learning and adapting in order for your organization to have the most success in this uncertain time.

Step 1: Select a Platform

Once the decision has been made to go virtual, your board can move forward and select a virtual space for your meetings.

In this step, explore options of platforms suitable for your board. Consider questions such as: does it fit the needs of your current meetings? Will it be difficult for the board to understand? How can you engage board members in facilitating the transition?

Platform Options for Meetings

Several platforms offer free options with restrictions such as meeting length and number of attendees. In most cases, we suggest using a platform you are familiar with or a company whose other applications are widely already in use by your board. 

Popular and effective options include:

Options for Ongoing Dialogue

It’s important to consider how your board will facilitate ongoing discussions and decision-making between members, including conversations between meetings, holding votes, and collecting information. 

We suggest using tools your board is already familiar with and, if possible, integrate with your video meeting software. Options include:

 Additional apps are available that may help specific aspects of your board work, like voting. If your board is confident with adding additional tools, you may find this to be an opportunity to trial apps for long-term use. As an example:

Regardless of what platforms you choose, ensure that you consider your fellow board members’ opinions and ensure that the tool supports the accessibility and inclusion of the whole board. You want to ensure everyone can access this technology or have some means to partake in the board meetings. Some one-on-one training, or resources and videos could be helpful in preparing everyone for the first meeting.

Step 2: Assess Functionality

Functionality is a key element to consider for adding a new platform to your board proceedings. Once a platform has been selected, we suggest exploring how your meetings will need to adjust to ensure all parties are prepared, informed and comfortable moving forward and making decisions virtually.

Take some time to test the various functions and ensure at least one board member understands the functionality of the new platform. Questions to consider are: Does your current meeting have a speakers list? If so, how will that need to adjust in the virtual space? It’s important to consider every element of your board meeting and understand how it will translate virtually.

Voting

Voting is one element to heavily consider. Understand and ensure communication is clear on how the board will make decisions and vote in the virtual space. 

We strongly discourage email voting, as the ability to amend, edit and have lively discussion is significantly diminished. Especially with regards to voting, take the time to understand the functionality and limits of your technology and communicate thoroughly with all board members. 

Keep in mind, technology is merely a tool rather than a solution.

Step 3: Assess Processes

Your first meeting will not be perfect. You will likely have to remind someone to mute their microphone, or someone’s camera will inevitably not function correctly, or someone won’t be able to login. Remember, it’s a learning process for everyone; it can be challenging and frustrating at times, but keep in mind that you’re building your board’s capacity in following through with such a transition.

In the future, if emergencies occur, your board will benefit from having tools and processes settled in advance. Long term, as more boards incorporate virtual platforms into their proceedings, you may find that this shift will create new opportunities for your board even in more stable times.

Be patient, work together and help each other out. This is an adjustment for everyone, and this process can be viewed as a great team building activity.

Lastly, we strongly recommend reading more on best practices and tips for online meetings and remote conversations. We encourage you to read GoToWebinar’s  online meeting etiquette or Beth Kantor’s Running Effective Virtual Nonprofit Meetings.  These are great resources to share with your board prior to the next meeting.

Although this pandemic may have halted organizational operations, governance must go on.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us at [email protected]. We’re happy to help. 

This guide was produced in partnership by ECVO and FuseSocial.

As we practice social distancing and self-isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are many individuals that need support and require assistance. It is a natural instinct to want to help those in need. This document will provide the current information we have as it pertains to volunteerism, we hope to update it regularly with resources and support.

Current Statement from Volunteer Canada: 

Volunteer Canada recognizes that in times of community distress many individuals want to be of assistance, helping where there is need. In almost every form of emergency, the offer of help and willingness to gather to get things done is appreciated. In a pandemic, this is not the case. Social distancing is the recommended course for containing virus spread. We also know that social isolation can be very damaging and that this is a time when we need to be conscious of people in need within our families, social circles, and neighbourhoods. One to one contact is not advised, but check in calls, emails and social media contact can be very helpful. Adding regular connecting via technology is a great way for individuals to help.

Here are three important elements you should consider before volunteering during the pandemic: 

Stay Safe, Stay Cautious, and maybe Stay at Home

Although our first instincts tend to focus on how to help, the best thing you can do in this situation is prioritize yourself and your health, and unfortunately this means staying home. This assists with community efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19. If you must go out in public, ensure that you practice social distancing.  

There are numerous resources on how to stay safe. Check out resources from the Government of Alberta and the World Health Organization. 

If you are in a situation in which you must volunteer (for instance, for a pre-existing commitment), ensure you are taking every precaution possible including: 

  • Regularly washing hands 
  • Practicing social distancing 
  • Limiting contact as much as possible 
  • Talk with the organization about their policies and procedures around COVID-19

When in doubt, defer to the advice of your volunteer managers and representatives. Not only will their insight be the most accurate, but your cooperation will go a long way in lessening their stress and workload during this time.  

Also be cautious when managing or volunteering for grassroots initiatives without clear and comprehensive guidelines and screening procedures. Unscreened and unofficial volunteers put themselves and initiatives at risk of being held legally liable for damages or injuries that occur while volunteering.

Consider Remote Volunteering

Remote volunteerism and microvolunteerism are fantastic alternatives if you’re eager to contribute to your community, while providing options for you to use some of that at-home time in a productive manner. 

What is remote volunteerism? 

Remote volunteering allows you to volunteer from the comfort of your own home. While charities and non-profits assess and identify their greatest needs from volunteers, there are easy and effective options for you to consider without needing to leave the house.

  • Have phone/video conversations with seniors, many of whom struggle with social isolation even without a pandemic affecting their social lives.
  • Connect with your family and loved ones often. Even a short phone call every few days can have a hugely calming affect on you and those around you. 
  • Support local business through donations, purchasing gift cards for use at a later date, using delivery services or leaving great reviews for them online.
  • Volunteer Connector keeps an ongoing inventory of volunteer opportunities, including remote volunteering.

Microvolunteering is defined by key aspects, including a short commitment, centered around a specific project and primarily done on one’s own time. There are multiple online resources for how you can contribute, but to get you thinking here are some examples of microvolunteerism: 

  • Signing a petition for cause you’re passionate about. 
  • Creating craft kits for children. 
  • Editing and formatting documents. 
  • Quilting for those in need. 
  • Helping with snow removal, for example, could help reduce risk of virus exposure for your neighbours and vulnerable citizens.

There are multiple opportunities available on Volunteer Canada’s website. Click here to learn more and find your microvolunteerism opportunity. 

Support Your Community!

Left unchecked, isolation can become quite harmful to many individuals. A fantastic way to support those around you is to maintain conversations through daily or regular check-ins by phone or videoconference. Physical distancing doesn’t mean we can’t stay social; get creative to ensure those around you feel supported.

For more resources, we encourage you to visit the Canadian Mental Health Association’s website.

It can be incredibly difficult to cope not just with isolation, but also with the acceptance that, in this case, our efforts to help may cause more harm than good. 

We’ll be speaking with non-profits extensive in the coming days and weeks to get a better understanding of where there is a demand for volunteers to help during COVID-19.

By diverting your efforts towards a virtual space and maintaining social distancing, you can have a profoundly positive impact on our society, both immediately and long-term.

In the meantime, we encourage you to share your favourite volunteer activity, organization, or story with your friends, family and on social media to maintain Edmonton’s incredible volunteer spirit. 

That way, once we transition back towards normal social patterns, our thousands of non-profits and charities will have no problem finding their next star volunteers.

We have created this Frequently Asked Questions page to respond to questions about ECVO services and offer guidance to non-profits facing uncertainty around the pandemic. As many other resource areas have emerged, we’re focusing our on questions of capacity and operations during COVID-19. You’ll find links below to other websites that have resources that may be more suited to your organization at this time.

If you have any questions you would like to ask ECVO staff or that you believe would be valuable to Edmonton non-profits, please submit your questions using the short form at the bottom of this post and we will endeavour to respond quickly. 

Where possible, we will be working with professionals and experts to use the information presented here is from informed sources.

ECVO’s Frequently Asked Questions list focuses mainly on questions of capacity and operations for non-profits in Edmonton and in Alberta. 

Depending on your particular mandate or subsector, you may find answers unique to your case at some of these other growing resources areas around the web:

Provincial

National

ECVO Services

As for Tuesday, March 17, all ECVO staff will work remotely until further notice. We receive all emails and voicemails as normal, although please expect slightly longer response times.

ECVO staff have been directed to cancel all non-essential in-person meetings for the foreseeable future. We are available digitally and are prepared to utilize platforms such as Zoom and Slack to continue conversations via video conference or instant-messaging, as needed. 

Please reach out to your main organizational contact to discuss options to stay connected.

We have made the decision to suspend all upcoming programs up to at least the end of April. This includes:

  • Alberta Board Member Essentials – March 13-14
  • inVESt: Constructing the Foundation – March 26
  • Sustainability Champions workshop series – April 2-3
  • Edmonton Volunteer Fair – April 25

We will release updates as soon as possible regarding our next steps with these and other programs. Any registration costs will be refunded. Questions can be directed to [email protected].

We have made the unfortunate decision to cancel this year’s Volunteer Fair that was scheduled for April 25. Those who have registered for a booth will be refunded, and we will send an update regarding our plans for National Volunteer Week shortly.

In response to COVID-19, ECVO has adopted new policies to account for scenarios such as the current pandemic or other crises. Click here to read the policy in full.

Workplace Capacity

We recommend the Government of Alberta’s Non-Profit Preparedness Checklist as a great place to start.

Based on our experiences and those of other non-profit organizations, effective remote work takes some preparation and open-mindedness.

Charity Village’s pro tips are a great place to start, as it highlights various aspects of remote work, including technology, productivity, and balance.

We encourage the use of online platforms to stay connected with clients and stakeholders. Numerous platforms offer free limited access that should cover your meeting and communications needs. 

Here are a few of our preferred options:

  • Zoom Video Conferencing: online application for video conferencing. The Basic (Free) tier allows unlimited 1-to-1 video conferences, as well as group video conferencing up to 40 minutes and 100 participants. (zoom.us)
  • Slack: a chat/instant-messaging service that allows for direct conversation between users in a chat room format, including the ability to upload/share files and documents and integration with services such as Google Drive and Office 365. 1-to-1 voice and video conferencing is also available on the Free tier. (slack.com)

Considering the massive influx of new users to videoconferencing services, there will certainly be some challenges when it comes to facilitating efficient and effective conversations.

Whether it’s at the beginning of your videoconference or sent with the agenda, here are some simple guidelines to effective videoconferencing:

  • Prepare your device – whether it’s your phone, a tablet, laptop, or desktop computer, test drive the software or, failing that, ensure at the very least that your settings allow access to your camera and microphone.
  • Use the mute button  every platform has options to temporarily mute microphones and block cameras. Using mute prevents interruptions from speakers as well as background noise and movement.
  • Assign a meeting chair – As with any meeting, a chair will help keep conversations flowing and on-topic, and ensure all participants have a chance to speak. 
  • Keep an eye out for participants who are having trouble being heard. It could be that they left their microphone muted or they could be having audio issues, so allow for them to fix the issue and catch up to the conversation.
  • Be patient – many are adjusting to these new processes and doing so with additional distractions, such as children at home. Preparation and understanding is key to mitigate some of the challenges, but be.
  • Be sure to stay apprised of the latest updates from government officials and medical professionals.
  • Refer to the Centre for Disease Control’s Guide to Mental Health and Coping During an Outbreak.
  • Call 2-1-1 for information on further supports and services available to those struggling with anxiety or mental health during this time.

Community-specific Questions

Please refer to the Edmonton Seniors Coordinating Council’s COVID-19 webpage for frequent updates and advice pertaining to Edmonton’s seniors. 

Resources

The Government of Alberta’s COVID Self-Assessment Tool is a very straightforward tool to help direct you to the appropriate response to your symptoms.

The City of Edmonton maintains an up-to-date webpage with information regarding the COVID-19 response, including service interruptions for amenities, rec centres, schools, seniors centres, and more. 

The Government of Alberta maintains a web page with up-to-date information on the pandemic, its impacts, and responses around the province.

Up-to-date information is being published on the World Health Organization’s website here.

At this time, what are your organization’s most pressing concerns?

We’re listening to non-profits and gathering questions and concerns as we build resources and FAQs for the sector. While we may not be able to respond directly to all submissions, we are collating responses in order to understand where our advocacy and fact-finding efforts are best spent. Keep an eye on our COVID-19 portal as we continue to add information daily. 

 

COVID-19 Share Your Concerns