It is hard to keep up with the flurry of changes, but here is our best to keep clients informed.
It is important to note that in both the provinces of Quebec and Ontario, Real Estate and Moving services are still considered essential and can continue through the recent changes, but with restrictions and guidelines that must be followed.
There is the curfew, but that has little effect on relocations into Quebec. Those arriving on flights that land after the curfew are whisked to their place of stay and they can stay there through their quarantine period. HOWEVER, given the curfew and the arrival of late flights, we are doubling down and very strongly recommending the use of our Self-Isolation Plan template, which includes an addendum on transport from the airport, so IRCC officials can see there is a formal plan to get to the assignee’s place of self-isolation, as well as any local enforcement officers.
RAMQ is closed. Yes, that’s right. No one in Quebec can attend at a RAMQ office and obtain their health insurance. Mail-in applications is the current requirement. All Points is supporting employees through this process. This service is not recommended until the assignee has proof of a permanent residence.
As of Thursday, January 14, 12:01 am, the province of Ontario entered an emergency stay-at-home order. This stay-at-home order does come with enforcement, the scale of which we do not know.
We are in direct contact with Services Canada, and they are currently advising us that they are staying open and are considered essential. This makes sense. When it comes to bringing in new assignees or expatriates, employers are obligated to ensure that they are being paid. (See Employer Compliance Inspections here). This means that they need Social Insurance Numbers to be put on payroll. So, under current direction, we understand this service can continue, in addition to opening bank accounts.
As mentioned above, Real Estate has been considered an essential service up until now and we have no indication that this will change. However, in practice things have changed (please see below specifically in home finding nationwide).
Approximately 2/3’s of Ontario’s Service Ontario offices have closed. All Points is continuing to provide services at those that are open.
The disaster that is driving nationwide.
For those coming from countries that do not have reciprocal driving relationships with the destination provinces, they have to take driver’s lessons to get their full license.
However, because of COVID, drive tests are radically behind. In some provinces, All Points was able to direct employees to drive test centers out of their region, for faster appointments. However, as of approximately 6 weeks ago, this practice started getting cracked down on by the drive test centers, who are now asking for ID proving that you are in the proper jurisdiction of the drive test.
The backlog for drive tests is immense, and immense is possibly not even a strong enough word. In many provinces, it takes months to obtain a driver’s test.
In many of these provinces, expatriates and assignees will be driving illegally within 60 or 90 days, if they drive on their old country license and have not converted to their new provincial license. We have spoken with multiple provincial jurisdictions on the matter, and none of them will commit to saying that assignees driving on their foreign driver’s licenses past day 60 or 90 will not be fined for driving illegally, if they are pulled over. In addition, driver’s lessons are not considered essential, so these are also closed. We predict the backlog could be significant when these open back up.
Far worse than that, is the reality of driver’s insurance. Getting driver’s insurance is expensive for assignees and expatriates at the best of times, but if they can only take their written test, and not complete their driver’s tests, and they attempt to obtain a car and put insurance on it, the rates are astronomical. They are simply not practical.
What are we telling assignees about driving?
We are waiting for drive tests to open up and we are advising them that their only recourse is to drive on their old country license and explain to a police officer their situation if they are pulled over. Of course, this does not help them in purchasing a vehicle and taking on a normal Canadian life.
All Points will keep you updated as more information becomes available that affect our client’s assignees and expatriates.
What services can we perform -nationally?
As a licensed real estate broker, All Points can provide real estate services including coordinating rental showings, although as noted above, virtual showings are highly encouraged and sometimes required (condo boards or individual real estate offices have their own policies). If a home is occupied by a tenant, we will not show it physically.
We can provide assistance with Social Insurance (we are booking appointments all the time), Bank account set-up, which are essential to getting someone set up to receive payment from their employer, which is a requirement under Canadian immigration laws.
Obtaining health care is also essential, as is driving legally. So we are continuing to assist with these services, of course, within the restrictions/challenges that have been described above. For driving, due to the stay-at-home order, we are only delivering driver’s license accompanied assistance if driving is required for the assignee’s work.
We are not providing orientations and we are only working with one passenger in our car at a time.
We will keep you apprised as to any changes that will occur in the near future.