COVID-19 Daily updates - Friday, Apr. 24


3:19 p.m. Manitoba to treat CERB as income to ensure provincial EIA clients receive benefits

Manitoba will be joining Ontario in ensuring that provincial Employment and Income Assistance (EIA) clients who are receiving the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) will have more money in their pockets and continue to receive needed health benefits, Families Minister Heather Stefanson announced today.

“Individuals on EIA who qualify for the CERB will continue to receive the benefits they need to get through this difficult time,” said Stefanson. “This complements actions our government has already taken to support our most vulnerable citizens including investments made as part of our Manitoba Protection Plan. Our government will continue to support our most vulnerable citizens as we fight this pandemic together.”

The federal CERB benefit will be treated as earned income under EIA. As a result, EIA clients who receive the CERB benefit will receive more than they would on EIA alone. They will also continue to receive prescription drug, dental and optical benefits regardless of whether they are still eligible for provincial social assistance. For example, by treating the CERB as earned income, a couple with two children will receive $2,270 per month under both programs while still qualifying for needed health benefits.

In addition, individuals with disabilities who are new applicants to EIA will receive the same enhanced earnings exemption as existing clients. This change will make it easier for people with disabilities whose employment has been impacted by COVID-19 to receive EIA benefits in addition to the CERB.

Families will also be able to keep the increased Canada Child Benefit and GST rebate without any impact to their EIA benefits, the minister noted.

The province will work with clients to help them navigate the federal process and explain how it will affect their EIA benefits. This will include helping them resume receiving support from EIA once the CERB benefits end.

The Manitoba government is taking all steps necessary to protect the health and safety of residents and reduce the spread of COVID-19. The EIA program continues to work with clients by telephone, email, fax, and online to provide support while helping to limit the spread of COVID-19 through social distancing.

The EIA program has also extended coverage for health or medical needs, volunteer benefits and employment and training supports until further notice.

Earlier this week, the Ontario minister of children, community and social services announced that his government would be treating the CERB as earned income for clients in the Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support programs.

A comprehensive list of Manitoba government COVID-19 measures can be found at:

1:31 p.m. One new COVID-19 case in Manitoba; Active cases continue downward trend

Public health officials advise one new case of COVID-19 was identified as of 9:30 a.m. today, bringing the total number of lab-confirmed positive and probable positive cases in Manitoba to 263. 

The data also shows:
•    seven individuals are currently hospitalized, which includes three individuals in intensive care; 
•    61 active cases and 196 individuals who have recovered from COVID-19; and
•    the number of deaths due to COVID-19 remains at six.

As of yesterday, an additional 786 laboratory tests were performed. This brings the total number of tests performed since early February to 22,172. 

Over the past four weeks, a number of non-urgent surgical and diagnostic procedures have been postponed for patients identified as being clinically able to wait without risk of negative outcomes. Postponements are part of the provincial effort to ensure flexibility and availability in the allocation of staff, beds, equipment and supplies required to respond to COVID-19. 

Case-by-case clinical assessment has ensured urgent and emergent procedures, as well as those patients who may become urgent or emergent during the postponement timeframe, are completed. Patient safety and avoiding negative outcomes remain the priority. 

Over the next week, a number of facilities across the province will begin to increase their surgical activity. This includes increased surgical activity at Health Sciences Centre, the Pan Am Clinic, Concordia Hospital, Misericordia Health Centre, Grace Hospital, St. Boniface Hospital, Victoria General Hospital, Boundary Trails Health Centre, Selkirk Regional Health Centre and Brandon General Hospital.

Surgeries will be scheduled for the most urgent cases first and all necessary precautions, including point of care testing, appropriate PPE and limiting the number of staff in the room to those who are essential for patient care, will be taken to protect staff and patients from the risk of COVID-19. Patients will be contacted directly about scheduling their surgery.

Manitoba is part of a national effort to share important medical equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE) and has agreed to divert 100 vital sign monitors to Quebec and Ontario – two of the hardest-hit provinces in the fight against COVID-19. The equipment was to arrive in Manitoba next week but will now be diverted to Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto and the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal. Manitoba is early in the response to COVID-19 and clinical leaders are confident the province is able to provide this assistance without risk to Manitobans. Another shipment of equipment is expected to arrive in Manitoba in about a month. 

Public health officials have expanded testing criteria. It is important for people who meet the criteria and are showing even mild symptoms of COVID-19, including a cough, a runny nose, a sore throat and a fever, to be tested to better determine the spread of the virus in Manitoba. 

Manitobans are reminded that if they are showing symptoms of COVID-19 and meet testing criteria, they can call Health Links–Info Santé at 204-788-8200 or (toll-free) at 1-888-315-9257 for more information. 

For up-to-date information on testing criteria and community screening sites, visit For more information and to access the online screening tool for COVID-19, visit

Public health is also advising people to remain within or close to their home communities. This includes limiting travel, even within Manitoba, to essential trips only. Visits to cottages are not recommended at this time. Services at smaller health centres could be strained if seasonal visitors become ill. 

Manitobans needing assistance to cope with the stress and anxiety created by COVID-19 are encouraged to access the online virtual therapy program. The program is a free and confidential behavioural-therapy service for all Manitobans 16 years old and over. Services are available in English and French and can be accessed at

Crisis mental-health services continue to be available through partner organizations in Manitoba at

A comprehensive list of Manitoba government COVID-19 measures can be found at:

11:07 a.m. Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program unveiled

Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau has announced today 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.

The program will also provide forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners to cover 50 per cent of three monthly rent payments that are payable by eligible small business tenants who are experiencing financial hardship during April, May, and June. 

The loans will be forgiven if the mortgaged property owner agrees to reduce the eligible small business tenants' rent by at least 75 per cent for the three corresponding months under a rent forgiveness agreement, which will include a term not to evict the tenant while the agreement is in place. The small business tenant would cover the remainder, up to 25 per cent of the rent. 

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.

10:09 a.m. Summer Student recovery plan announced

The Manitoba government has launched the Summer Student Recovery Plan, a new wage subsidy program to support high school and post-secondary students employed in the private and non-profit sectors, Premier Brian Pallister announced today.

“The new wage subsidy program will support our students and connect them to summer jobs that help pay for their studies and also provide the opportunity to gain valuable work experience,” said Pallister. “Students can help businesses adapt their workplaces for social distancing as work resumes and this new wage subsidy program will help offset staffing costs in this challenging time.”

Under the new program, up to $120 million is available for employers to access a $7 per hour wage subsidy, up to a maximum of $5,000 per student. The program is open to Manitoba students aged 15 to 29, with an employment period from May 1 to Sept. 4. Employers can be subsidized to hire up to five students. Reimbursement will be provided at the end of the employment period, upon proof of payment of student wages.

Employers must place students in jobs that can be accommodated under current public health orders and be able to adapt to recommendations provided by public health officials over the summer. 

For the first two weeks of the program, priority will be given to employers who do not qualify for the various federal government assistance programs.
“While we work toward carefully re-opening our economy during the COVID-19 pandemic, more opportunities will be available for students as the summer progresses,” said Pallister. “Our students need the support and experience, and the Summer Student Recovery Plan will help stimulate our economy and move Manitoba forward.”

In addition to the subsidy program, Manitoba recently announced that it is deferring payments on student loans which will assist post-secondary students who are affected by the economic impact of COVID-19, the Premier noted. 

For more info on the programs, including how employers can apply for the wage subsidy, visit

A comprehensive list of Manitoba government COVID-19 measures can be found at: