Employers are implementing strategies to protect their workforce from the COVID-19 virus while endeavouring to operate their business. Although many businesses have shifted to remote work, other businesses are unable to. This section provides tools and links to help employers and employees continue to operate in accordance with public health guidelines.

The Government of Canada has also made a number of resources available to help individuals and businesses cope with the COVID-19 outbreak on its website.

Essential Workers

  • Identifying Critical Industries and Services

    As government authorities manage the COVID-19 outbreak, there is an urgent need to identify critical industries and services and exempt their workforces from isolation orders in order to help Canadians and keep supply chains going.

    Remember to focus on the health and safety of these workers – as well as to thank them for their service during these times.

    Most workers fall under provincial and territorial jurisdiction, and the links cited below will help navigate regulations that will apply to your business.

  • Movement across the Canada-U.S. Border

    The border is currently closed, apart from essential travel. Exemptions to self-isolation for fourteen (14) days will be provided to healthy workers who provide essential services. This includes workers in the trade and transportation sector who are important for the movement of goods and people across the border, such as truck drivers and crew on any aircraft, train or marine vessel crossing the border. It also includes healthy people who have to cross the border to go to work, including health care providers and critical infrastructure workers.

    More information is available from the Canada Border Services Agency here.

Employment and Human Resources Strategies

  • Strategic Overview

    COVID-19 has forced many of us to work from home. However, thanks to modern technology, it is possible for employees to be as productive at home as they would be in the office.

    Having the right tech tools in place for your team is essential, but you also need a plan for keeping everyone engaged and focused on their work.

    Most families are now quarantined in their homes together, so employees are facing more distractions than normal. Your employees may also be anxious about their health and safety.

  • Communicating with Employees

    • Embrace consistent, transparent communication. This is especially important as the COVID-19 situation develops. Ensure you have multiple ways to reach employees, including chat software and email.
    • Get your team on video. Video conferencing tools, like Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Google Hangouts, are ways to keep your regular meeting schedule. Encourage participants to turn on their cameras to increase social interaction. Don’t worry about family “background noise” – it helps team bonding.
    • Project management: Help keep your team on track and maintain regular workflows by using project management tools such as Trello, Basecamp, Asana, Airtable or Monday.com. These tools make is easy to assign and break down tasks, provide status updates and track progress.
    • Don’t forget about corporate social culture. Use video conferencing and internal direct messaging for virtual socializing and team building activities.
  • Working from Home Tips

    • Establish a dedicated workspace. Working from the kitchen table or couch might be easy but setting up a dedicated desk will make you happier and more productive.
    • Establish a morning routine and stick to it. Just because you are working remotely doesn’t mean you don’t need to get ready in the morning. While some people enjoy working in their pajamas, many find that getting ready like they were going to the office helps them maintain focus and work effectively.
    • Make sure your tech works. Invest in reliable internet access and be prepared to use your phone as a backup.
    • Create an online “small talk” space with coworkers. Create general conversation Slack channels, spend some time making small talk in video calls and meetings and generally put an emphasis on getting to know each other.
    • Grant Thornton: Working from home: Securing your new workplace

Travel and Events

  • Travel

    An official global travel advisory is in effect. The Government of Canada has instructed Canadians to avoid non-essential travel outside Canada until further notice. Travel advisories can be found on the government’s website.

    Essential transportation workers, such as truck drivers, rail or air crew, are required to travel to ensure the movement of goods and people necessary for the COVID-19 response and the ongoing functioning of the country. Essential workers are not required to self-isolate for 14 days after work-related travel but are required to self-monitor closely for symptoms and to self-isolate immediately if they develop even mild symptoms.

  • Cancelling or Postponing Events

    While cancelling an event can hurt your bottom line and create other inconveniences, public health officials have made it clear that large group gatherings can only help the virus spread and that avoiding crowds is one way to protect yourself against infection.

    More organizations are making the decision to cancel or postpone events. As a result, many event planners, ticket sellers and airlines are offering to refund tickets or waive cancellation fees if organizers decide to cancel.

    Your decision on attending personal gatherings or events should be made based on the best public health information available at the time.

  • Transitioning to Virtual Events

    COVID-19 has caused many companies to cancel or postpone key events, such as customer/partner meetings, product launches or significant announcements or employee symposiums. These gatherings, no matter the size, are critical forums for important conversations and information exchange. An alternative is to replicate events virtually.

    The tools to power these virtual events are readily available, and home-bound employees are becoming adept at using them.

    Live streaming and video conferencing are the most common. The key to creating a successful virtual event is how you use these platforms:

    • Live streaming – Platforms like LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook Live, Workplace or VIMEO Enterprise are best considered for sharing information from a few select presenters with a small to large group (20 to 1,000+ participants).
    • Video conferencing – There are many options for hosting a video conference or a webinar, including: Zoom, WebEx, GoToMeeting, Join.me and Google Hang Out. These platforms are effective for creating a more intimate exchange and an active discussion.

    Your company may already have existing relationships with providers and/or your company’s technical ecosystem may also have features and functions that can be used.

  • Where Can I Travel Right Now?

    The Canadian Travel & Tourism Roundtable has created an Interactive Map to provide you with key travel information for destinations across Canada and beyond.

    Access it here.

Communicating with Clients and Suppliers

  • Best Practices

    • Reach out and check in. Call your clients and suppliers. Don’t email them and don’t avoid their calls. A personal touch is extremely important. Ask your clients how they are doing, both personally and professionally.
    • Be honest and listen. Be upfront with clients and suppliers about your issues as soon as possible so they can start to deal with the situation. Be ready to hear them out. Your clients will likely have a lot of questions, and it is important to answer them to the best of your ability.
    • Show empathy and concern. Clients and suppliers will be worried about a wide range of issues, such as future income, losing contracts or laying off employees. Or, they may be worried about their health or a loved one. 
    • Respect clients’ comfort levels. Respect that some clients may not want to speak with you right away. There are various stages in accepting a situation such as this, and if and when a client wants to reach out, they will.
    • Follow up. Take notes and ask follow-up questions every time you speak with a client or a supplier. Acknowledge their concerns and show that you care.

Provincial and Territorial Resources

Additional Resources

“We know that Canadian businesses of all sizes are facing incredible economic hardship in these difficult and uncertain times. Our government is taking strong and decisive action to provide them with immediate relief—helping them keep costs low, keep up with their operational costs like rent, and keep Canadians employed. The Canadian Business Resilience Network will support businesses and keep them informed as we navigate this incredible challenge.”

Hon. Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade


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