COVID-19

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Useful Information

The Government of Canada is taking action to help Canadians facing hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.  A very useful site to get information on all of the federal government measures is at Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan.  This site is continually updated and should be your first stop for information and links on federal measures.

The Province of British Columbia is also taking actions within its jurisdiction dealing specifically with the COVID-19 issue.  A very useful site to get information on all of the provincial government measures is at COVID-19 Provincial Support and Information.  This site is continually updated and should be your first stop for information and links on provincial measures.

 

Important Update

The government is taking targeted action to support Canadians and Canadian businesses, non-profits and charities that continue to face uncertainty and economic challenges because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On November 2nd, 2020, the federal government introduced Bill C-9, An Act to Amend the Income Tax Act (Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy and Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy), which would implement new, targeted support to help hard-hit businesses. These measures are designed to help businesses get through the second wave of the virus so they can protect jobs, continue to serve their communities, and be positioned for a strong recovery.  The business supports include:

  • The new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy, which would provide direct and easy-to-access rent and mortgage interest support to tenants and property owners until June 2021 for qualifying organizations affected by COVID-19. The new rent subsidy would support businesses, charities, and non-profits that have suffered a revenue drop by providing support up to a maximum of 65 per cent of eligible expenses until December 19, 2020. The government is proposing to allow claims retroactively for the period that began September 27 and ended October 24, 2020.
  • The new Lockdown Support, which would provide an additional 25 per cent through the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy for qualifying organizations that are subject to a lockdown and must shut their doors or significantly limit their activities under a public health order issued under the laws of Canada, a province or territory (including orders made by a municipality or regional health authority under one of those laws). Combined, this would mean that hard-hit businesses subject to a lockdown could receive rent support of up to 90 per cent.
  • The extension of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy until June 2021, which would continue to protect jobs by helping employers keep employees on the payroll and re-hire their workers. The wage subsidy would remain at the current rate of up to 65 per cent of eligible wages until December 19, 2020.

Here is Rate Structures Applicable in Periods 8, 9 and 10 (September 27 to December 19, 2020) for Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy and Lockdown Support.  

Minister Bains announces extension of Innovation Assistance Program (IAP) – the Government of Canada is providing over $155 million to extend the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program's (NRC IRAP) Innovation Assistance Program (IRAP IAP).  The new funding will ensure that Canada's high-potential, innovative firms can continue to weather the economic storm of COVID‑19.   The extension of IRAP IAP will allow existing recipients meeting the eligibility criteria to access funding, on a priority basis, for the period of June 24, 2020 through December 19, 2020, and will apply a declining scale of support, similar to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, meaning the maximum benefit will gradually decline as the program progresses. 

 

The Small and Medium-Sized Business Recovery Grant program provides fully-funded grants to businesses to ensure they have the support they need during and beyond COVID-19.  The program will invest up to $300 million in targeted financial support for some of the hardest hit businesses in B.C. that employ between two and 149 B.C. residents and have experienced declines in revenue since March 10, 2020.  Grants of $10,000 to $30,000 are available. An additional $5,000 to $10,000 grant is available to eligible tourism-related businesses that have been hit especially hard by COVID-19.  The program runs until March 31, 2021 or until the funds are fully allocated, whichever comes first.

  

The Government of Canada Programs related to COVID-19 are currently as follows:

Support to Businesses

Avoiding Layoffs:

  • The Work-Sharing Program – Work-Sharing (WS) is a program that helps employers and employees avoid layoffs when there is a temporary decrease in business activity beyond the control of the employer. The program provides Employment Insurance (EI) benefits to eligible employees who agree to reduce their normal working hours and share the available work while their employer recovers. Work-Sharing is an agreement between employers, employees and the Government of Canada.  The Program allows employers to: retain qualified and experienced workers, and avoid recruiting and training new employees.  The Program allows employees to: keep their jobs, and maintain their work skills.
  • Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) – This program will be extended to June 2021.  In addition, other enhancements are being proposed to the program to ensure that it provides continued support to employers. These changes complement the new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy.  The wage subsidy consists of a base subsidy for all employers whose revenues have been impacted by the pandemic, as well as a top-up subsidy for employers that are hardest hit.  There is a separate rate structure for furloughed workers.   It is proposed that the base subsidy rate for September 27 to October 24, 2020 continue to apply from October 25 to December 19, 2020.   As such, the maximum base subsidy rate would be set at 40 per cent for this period, and the maximum top-up subsidy rate would remain at 25 per cent.  To make the top-up subsidy more responsive to sudden changes in revenue, the revenue-decline test for the base subsidy and the top-up subsidy would be harmonized from September 27 onward.  Instead of using the current three-month revenue-decline test for the top-up subsidy, both the base and top-up would be determined by the change in an eligible employer's monthly revenues, year-over-year, for either the current or previous calendar month. This means an employer with a 70 per cent or greater revenue loss in a period would be eligible for a 65 per cent wage subsidy.  More information can be found here and here.

Access to credit:

  • Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) – This program provides interest-free loans to small to medium-sized 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.  Repaying the balance of the loan on or before December 31, 2022 will result in loan forgiveness of 25 percent.  The eligibility criteria include businesses that paid between $20,000 and $1,500,000 in total payroll in 2019.   The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) is accessed through the respective financial institutions that businesses work with.  An expanded Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) is being proposed, which would enable businesses, and not-for-profits eligible for CEBA loans—and that continue to be seriously impacted by the pandemic—to access an interest-free loan of up to $20,000, in addition to the original CEBA loan of $40,000.   Half of this additional financing would be forgivable if repaid by December 31, 2022.   Additionally, the application deadline for CEBA is being extended to December 31, 2020.   An attestation of the impact of COVID-19 on the business will be required to access the additional financing.  As of October 26, 2020, eligible Canadian businesses that are currently operating through a personal bank account are now able to apply for CEBA.
  • If you have already applied for CEBA and have questions, please contact the CEBA Call Centre at 1-888-324-4201.   An agent will return your call within 3 business days between Monday and Friday from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm EST and can address the following types of questions:
    • What is the status of my application?
    • Why was my application declined?
    • Why was my submitted document reject?
  • Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) – This program is administered by Western Economic Diversification Canada and aims to help western Canadian businesses cope with the financial hardship resulting from COVID-19.  Go to the site to find out if you are eligible to receive funding through this program.
  • Co-Lending Program for Small & Medium-Sized Enterprises – Through the Business Credit Availability Program, Business Development Canada (BDC) is working with financial institutions to co-lend term loans of up to $6.25 million to SMEs for their operational cash flow requirements.   The program offers differing maximum finance amounts based on business revenues.  This program is now available at various banks and credit unions.  This support is available until June 2021.
  • Loan Guarantee for Small & Medium-Sized Enterprises – Through the Business Credit Availability Program, Export Development Canada (EDC) is working with financial institutions to guarantee 80% of new operating credit and cash flow term loans of up to $6.25 million to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).  This financing support is to be used for operational expenses and is available to both exporting and non-exporting companies.  This program is now available at various banks and credit unions.  This support is available until June 2021.
  • Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF) – This program is to provide bridge financing to Canada's largest employers, whose needs during the pandemic are not being met through conventional financing, in order to keep their operations going.  The LEEFF will provide support to employers with annual revenues of more than $300 million whose credit needs aren't being met through conventional financing.    The federal government will also expand the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) to mid-sized companies with larger financing needs. Support for mid-market businesses will include loans of up to $60 million per company, and guarantees of up to $80 million. Through the BCAP, Export Development Canada (EDC) and the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) will work with private sector lenders to support access to capital for Canadian businesses in all sectors and regions.
  • Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) –will provide direct and easy-to-access rent and mortgage interest support to tenants and property owners until June 2021 for qualifying organizations affected by COVID-19.  The new rent subsidy will support businesses, charities, and non-profits that have suffered a revenue drop by providing support up to a maximum of 65 per cent of eligible expenses until December 19, 2020.  The government is proposing to allow claims retroactively for the period that began September 27 and ended October 24, 2020.  
    • Lockdown Support – Qualifying organizations that have been significantly affected by a mandatory public health order issued by a qualifying public health authority would receive an additional 25% of rent support through the CERS.   Combined with the other support received under the CERS, this means that hard hit businesses, non-profits, and charities could receive a rent subsidy of up to 90%.  The CERS including the Lockdown Support will be available until June 2021. 

 

Other Assistance:

P.O.S.T.—People Outside Safely Together – The POST promise – What is the POST Promise?  The POST Promise is a self-declaration that a business is working to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Once completed, a business is provided with the necessary communication and implementation tools to educate employees on the five key steps to workplace safety, which were created to be consistent with what has been recommended by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Businesses who make the promise will be able to use and prominently display the POST Promise logo which is a nationally recognized symbol of a business’ commitment to doing their part to protect their customers’ and employees’ health and safety as COVID-19 restrictions ease. Participating business can also purchase a kit which will include additional communication tools like window decals, posters and tent cards which can be used to further build awareness of their commitment within their place of business. 

 

Other sites of interest - Business Support:

Resources for Canadian businesses: COVID-19 

https://www.canada.ca/en/services/business/maintaingrowimprovebusiness/resources-for-canadian-businesses.html

Department of Finance - Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan: Support for Canadians and Businesses:

https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2020/03/canadas-covid-19-economic-response-plan-support-for-canadians-and-businesses.html

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Resources for Canadian businesses: 

https://www.tradecommissioner.gc.ca/campaign-campagne/ressources-entreprises-COVID-19-business-resources.aspx?lang=eng

Canada Revenue Agency - Helping Canadians with the economic impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic 

https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/campaigns/covid-19-update.html

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) – Employment and Social Development Canada

https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/corporate/notices/coronavirus.html

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

Support for your business – Canada COVID-19 Programs Matching and Search Tool – Find COVID-19 support and other programs and services.

Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) – COVID-19: WD support for western Canadian businesses – As a trusted federal government partner, WD is taking action to support small and medium-sized businesses.  If your small- or medium-sized business or organization is affected by the sudden shifts in the economy and needs pressing assistance, WD can assist you with: access to federal funding to help you stay in business; and, advice and pathfinding services to other federal programs and services available.  Contact WD at  1-888-338-9378

Export Development Canada COVID-19

https://www.edc.ca/en/campaign/coronavirus-covid-19.html

Business Development Bank of Canada COVID-19

For more information on BDC's initiatives, visit bdc.ca/coronavirus. The Bank will be updating the page regularly with tools, financial solutions and additional measures to help entrepreneurs through the situation. 

COVID-19: Supports for Canadian Businesses – This compilation of federal and provincial government support measures for business focuses on: Access to capital and other liquidity support measures; Measures to avoid or minimize the impact from layoffs; Provincial /Territorial Measures; and, Resources and Additional Information

COVID-19: 7 steps to sustain your business through the disruption – comprehensive steps that every business should consider taking

BDC ‘COVID-19: Business planning tools for entrepreneurs’ – The COVID-19 global pandemic has triggered widespread disruption to how businesses operate, requiring many entrepreneurs to pivot and adapt quickly. A crisis is a good time to re-examine all elements of your business plan. Identifying the critical functions and people within your business tells you what to protect and also highlights opportunities to grow and innovate.  These planning tools and tips can help you map out your next steps, identify new opportunities, mitigate risk and create resilience in your company, so you can emerge strong in recovery.

Best practices to ensure the health and safety of your employees during the COVID-19 pandemic – While these are temporary measures, businesses will need to implement mitigation measures in their operations to continue or resume their operations in the months ahead.

 

External Links

Facebook Small Business Grants Program

https://www.facebook.com/business/boost/grants?ref=alias

Learn how your province or territory is taking action on COVID-19

https://www.canadaspremiers.ca/covid-19/

World Health Organization COVID-19 -  Business and Employees

https://www.epi-win.com/advice-and-information/business-and-employees

Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters COVID-19 Resources

https://cme-mec.ca/coronavirus-covid-19-resources/

Facebook – Business Resource Hub

https://www.facebook.com/business/boost/resource

Canadian Federation of Independent Business:

https://www.cfib-fcei.ca/en/tools-resources/covid-19-coronavirus-business

COVID-19: How to get through the crisis with an online strategy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewCeeO3oxEI&utm_campaign=Webinar-COVID19-eCommerce--Recorded--EN&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Eloqua

Planning for recovery: How to restart your business in the wake of COVID-19 - Online Webinar

View BDC Recording

View BDC Presentation PDF

 

The firm of Norton Rose Fulbright has launched Returning to the workplace: A global guide that offers a high level overview of some key issues employers are facing in terms of health and safety as the global economy beings to cautiously and gradually reopen.  Employers now face new questions over how to reintegrate their workforces in a safe, efficient, and legally compliant manner. The interactive guide will help employers navigate these challenges in a number of key jurisdictions.  The Canada section of the guide is here.   The following issues are addressed in this guide:

1.     What risk mitigation efforts should the prudent employer take before employees return to the workplace?

2.     Who should be involved in the decisions to return to the workplace?

3.     What can the prudent employer do to enhance the likelihood of physical distancing in terms of the work space?

4.     What can the prudent employer do to enhance the likelihood of physical distancing in temporal terms?

5.     What protections should the prudent employer consider implementing, in addition to physical distancing?

6.     How can an employer screen its employees, including temperature taking, COVID-19 testing and questioning? 

7.     What are the requirements regarding travel – either to or from the office or business travel?

8.     How does the prudent employer decide which employees should return to the workplace?

9.     What if an employee refuses to return to the workplace ?

10.  What other considerations should the prudent employer be thinking about at this time?

 

The Province of British Columbia programs related to COVID-19 are currently as follows:

Small Business BC

COVID Support Service - our dedicated B.C. Business COVID-19 Support Service – SBBC is British Columbia’s premier resource centre for small business information and services, including business planning, financing, registration and any other issues related to starting and growing a business in B.C.   The service serves as a one-stop resource to answer pressing questions about support available to businesses from the provincial and federal governments, industry, and community partners during this time.  Advisors can be reached by phone toll-free at 1-833-254-4357, by email covid@smallbusinessbc.ca and live chat.   Hours of operation are Monday to Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Support will be available in several languages and a call-back feature will be in place to help manage high call volumes.  SBBC will also continue to provide usual services, like access to expert business advisors, educational services, and free easy-to-use resources in the context of COVID-19.   From prioritizing the health of your customers & employees to strategizing ways your business can adapt, SBBC's resources are valuable for any business looking to make the most of the new normal and grow.  

Find PPE for Your Business - SBBC's PPE Marketplace connects businesses with suppliers of non-medical PPE, plexiglass and signage.

COVID-19: The future of events - the pandemic has hit the events industry hard. Read about the innovations being made to host events once more.
How to reopen at reduced capacity - as businesses grapple with physical distancing requirements, read our tips for operating at reduced capacity.

Restarting your business – restarting your business in the ‘new normal’.
Travelling within BC during Phase 3 - thinking of taking a trip within BC? Read our best practices for keeping yourself, and our communities, safe.

Export Navigator Website - grow your business beyond BC with free one-on-one export support. Visit the website to find out more.

Export Navigator for B.C. Businesses – Includes very useful information on exporting goods and services.  ‘Learn about Exporting’  features upcoming seminars and events to grow your skillset and learn how to expand your market.  ‘Find Export Resources’ – from reports on particular sectors to COVID-specific resources, the by-industry directory will help you find information that’s relevant to your business. If you want to speak to an Export Navigator advisor – there is ‘Speak with an Advisor’ - Fill out our quick form and they will match you with an advisor who will get to know you, your business, and your community.

 

 

BC Government

BC’s Restart Plan – a plan that constitutes 4 phases with the first phase already in progress where unlike many other places that imposed strict “lockdown” policies, B.C.’s approach was to require safe operation of a broad range of services designated as essential services.  BC’s industrial marine sector continued to operate in this first phase and is guided in its operations in its industrial sites by Guidance to B.C. manufacturers during COVID-19.   The second phase is due to commence on May 19th and will see a number of services and amenities reopen including retail businesses that had closed.  For office-based organizations, where possible, they are to continue to encourage working from home for part of the time to reduce “contact intensity” and “number of contacts” in the work place.  Where this is not possible or in addition to working from home policies, office-based organizations are to enable employees to have less contacts by:

  • Using staggered shifts or work hours for individuals or groups;
  • Have teams working together virtually or small team task groups; and,
  • Forgoing in person group meetings as much as possible.

 

Like essential services during the pandemic, all employers must demonstrate that they can operate safely.  Employers will be required to:

Sectors that have operated during the pandemic may need to update their COVID-19 Safe Plans to fit with updated Health and Safety Guidelines, best practices and resources.  If you are an employer, it is your responsibility to ensure a healthy and safe workplace. One more useful link that provides steps to help employers develop a plan to ensure they are minimizing the risk of COVID-19 appropriately, and that the business can operate safely is COVID-19 and returning to safe operation.

  • COVID-19 Provincial Support and Information
  • Financial Supports in Response to COVID-19
  • COVID-19: Supports for Businesses in B.C.
  • BC Economic Development Association #COVID19 Resources for BC Businesses Guide – This shareable, live document is being continually updated with the most relevant information, tools and resources for the BC business community.   It contains 80+ pages of information including industry specific resources, utilities, insurance and banking information, links to webinars and more.
  • Small Business British Columbia - B.C. Business COVID-19 Support Service 
  • Changes to B.C.’s property tax framework respond to COVID-19 – The Province is providing enhanced relief for businesses by reducing most commercial property tax bills by an average of 25%, along with new measures to support local governments facing temporary revenue shortfalls due to COVID-19. The Province is taking new steps to support B.C. businesses, non-profits, and other organizations through the COVID-19 pandemic by further reducing the school property tax rate for commercial properties to achieve an average 25% reduction in the total property tax bill for most businesses.  This enhances the 50% reduction to the provincial school property tax rate that was originally announced for classes 4, 5, and 6 as part of B.C.’s COVID-19 Action Plan
  • British Columbia List of COVID-19 Essential Services - This list was developed by Emergency Management BC in consultation with other government ministries and the Provincial Health Officer (PHO). In consultation with the PHO, essential services should and are encouraged to remain open.  This list may be updated as government’s response to COVID-19 evolves.  British Columbia has defined “essential services” as “those daily services essential to preserving life, health, public safety and basic societal functioning.  They are the services British Columbians rely on in their daily lives.”  These services are encouraged to remain open, provided they can follow the orders and guidance already issued with respect to social distancing and safe workplace practices.  Any non-listed business that has not specifically been ordered to close may stay open provided that it can comply with the orders and guidance.

 

Small and Medium-Sized Businesses Business Recovery Grant – The Small and Medium Sized Business Recovery Grant program is open and receiving applications. It will help businesses with long-term recovery, investing up to $300 million in targeted financial support for some of the hardest hit businesses in B.C.  Grants of $10,000 to $30,000 are available, and an additional $10,000 will be available to eligible tourism-related businesses that have been hit especially hard by COVID-19.  The program and funding will until March 31,2021.

Fraser Health – Shareable COVID-19 Resources – Information and downloadable material to help answer questions about COVID-19.