The circumstances arising from the COVID-19 pandemic is giving rise to unprecedented consequences in global securities markets. The unfolding crisis will likely give rise to material impacts to the business operations of many public issuers. Since most public issuers have deployed rapidly evolving internal crisis management operations, this dynamic situation may lead to greater dissemination of and greater access to material non-public information by internal and external employees and advisors. This makes it all the more important to establish and implement robust internal corporate controls and procedures.
Many businesses in Quebec are currently feeling a series of shocks as a result of the emergency measures implemented by governments to counter the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Some are closed by government order or have had to lay off staff, while others are unable to meet their contractual commitments.
In this context, how can businesses navigate the COVID-19 crisis while formulating long-term strategies to ensure a prosperous post-crisis period and equip themselves with better tools to face the next crisis?
In a press release, which has remained altogether quiet, Quebec’s labour standards, equity and occupational health and safety agency (CNESST) has announced it will offer employers relief measures, to help them face the COVID-19 crisis.
In response to the economic shock caused by the numerous public health measures to control the spread of COVID-19, the provincial government announced, on March 19, 2020, the creation of a $2.5 billion program to assist Quebec businesses.
In a matter of days, thousands of Quebec workers were confined to their homes, creating unprecedented logistical challenges for the province’s business leaders. While each industry will have its own unique challenges, all businesses will eventually confront a common problem. As soon as social distancing measures are lifted, each company will require a business continuity plan to enable it to relaunch its activities.
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly compromised the ability of many businesses and individuals to fulfill their existing contractual obligations. In some cases, those failing to carry out their obligations due to the pandemic – or the measures taken by authorities to contain it – could avoid civil liability on the grounds of a superior force or force majeure.
COVID-19: Order 2020-4251 and the suspension of limitation periods, forfeiture periods and procedural deadlines
On March 15, 2020, the Chief Justice of Quebec and the Minister of Justice issued Order 2020-4251 (the “Order”) pursuant to Section 27 of the Code of Civil Procedure, following the declaration of a health emergency on March 13, 2020 resulting from the coronavirus and COVID-19 crisis.