COVID-19

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Useful Information

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.

 

See also the Guide to Covid-19 Government Relief Programs in Canada

 

Important Update

 

Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) – This program provides interest-free loans of up to $40,000 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.  This will better position them to quickly return to providing services to their communities and creating employment.   Repaying the balance of the loan on or before December 31, 2022 will result in loan forgiveness of 25 percent (up to $10,000).  The eligibility criteria include businesses that paid between $20,000 and $1,500,000 in total payroll in 2019.  These eligibility criteria have been expanded and the program will now be available to a greater number of businesses that are sole proprietors receiving income directly from their businesses, businesses that rely on contractors, and family-owned corporations that pay employees through dividends rather than payroll.  The updated application process opened on Friday, June 26th.  You will note that the official CEBA link has been modified to include the updated eligibility for businesses.  The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) is accessed through the respective financial institutions that businesses work with.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) – The government has extended the CERB by eight weeks, to ensure Canadians have the help they need as they transition back to work.  This extension will make the benefit available to eligible workers for up to a total of 24 weeks.

The Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program is being extended to the end of July 2020.  Property owners, participating in the CECRA Program, must offer a minimum of a 75% rent reduction for the months of April, May, June and July 2020.  B.C. businesses eligible for rent support under the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) Program are protected from evictions as the B.C. government has issued an order under the Emergency Program Act (EPA).  Eligible businesses whose landlords choose not to apply for the federal CECRA program will be protected from evictions due to unpaid rent payments through to the end of July 2020.  The EPA order restricts the termination of lease agreements and the repossession of goods and property.

 

British Columbia has issued a Workplace Safety Plans Order that applies to Employers including a requirement for every business to develop a COVID-19 safety plan and post it on the business’s website.  There is no specified deadline to do so, but the most prudent course of action is to have it in place by the time you are ready to beginning a phased re-opening of your workplace.  WorksafeBC has indicated they will do complaint-based inspections, and you should expect an employee or client/patron to complain if they are on premises and there is no (or no satisfactory) plan in place and posted.

Employers are required to develop a COVID-19 Safety Plan that outlines the policies, guidelines, and procedures they have put in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. This plan follows the six steps outlined on COVID-19 and returning to safe operation.  Employers must involve frontline workers, joint health and safety committees, and supervisors in identifying protocols for their workplace. You do not need a formal plan in place to begin operation, but are expected to develop it while protecting the safety of your workers.  WorkSafeBC has released the sector-specific safe re-opening guidance for a number of sectors including one specifically for offices that can be found here.  These protocols provide guidance to any employer with office space. These employers may also benefit from reviewing other protocols if their workplace includes other work environments such as retail servicesor food and drink services

As more industries prepare to reopen, WorkSafeBC will provide additional tools and resources that may be useful for preparing and implementing an organization’s plans, including signage and decision guides.  Please note that WorkSafeBC does not need to review or approve the COVID-19 safety plans of individual employers.  However, during a WorkSafeBC inspection, employers will be asked about the steps taken to protect their workers in accordance with guidance provided on the WorkSafeBC website.  WorkSafeBC has issued an updated guide for employers and occupational first aid attendants dealing with OFAA protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic and employers guidance called Inspections during the COVID-19 Pandemic that answers many frequently asked questions.  This guidance is intended to outline what employers can expect from WorkSafeBC inspectors and inspections during the current pandemic, both during and after the inspection.   Workers and employers with questions or requiring additional advice or direction can call WorkSafeBC’s Prevention Information Line at 1.888.621.7233 to speak directly with a prevention officer.

 

More information on how to create appropriate COVID-19 Safety Plans for the workplace is given below under "BC's  Restart Plan".

 

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.  See link above on how to apply.
  • The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) – The wage subsidy is 75% of annual employee salary, for up to 3 months, up to an annual salary of $58,700 (up to $847 per week) per eligible employee and is being backdated to March 15, 2020.  Employers of all sizes and across all sectors of the economy are eligible with the exception of public sector entities. For a lot more information see Frequently Asked Questions.   The FAQs at this link are intended to provide more in-depth technical information on the most commonly anticipated technical questions from businesses and tax professionals. These will be updated periodically as new questions arise.  Applications for the CEWS are to be made online– instructions on how to apply can be found here.    CEWS claims will be subject to verification by the Canada Revenue Agency.  As a Canadian employer whose business has been affected by COVID-19, you may be eligible for a subsidy of 75% of employee wages for up to 24 weeks, retroactive from March 15, 2020, to August 29, 2020.
  • An excellent additional overview and explanation of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy
  • Changes to Canada Summer Jobs Program – In the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Department is implementing temporary flexibilities for Canada Summer Jobs 2020 in order to be more responsive to the challenges facing employers and youth. As a result, not all funding decisions have been finalized.

 

Access to credit:

  • Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) – This program provides interest-free loans of up to $40,000 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.  This will better position them to quickly return to providing services to their communities and creating employment.   Repaying the balance of the loan on or before December 31, 2022 will result in loan forgiveness of 25 percent (up to $10,000).  The federal government has expanded the eligibility criteria beyond businesses that paid between $20,000 and $1,500,000 in total payroll in 2019.  The program will now be available to a greater number of businesses that are sole proprietors receiving income directly from their businesses, businesses that rely on contractors, and family-owned corporations that pay employees through dividends rather than payroll.  More information on the increased eligibility for CEBA can be obtained here.   The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) is accessed through the respective financial institutions that businesses work with.
  • Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) - This fund, being delivered through Western Economic Diversification Canada,  helps businesses, organizations and communities relieve the economic impact of COVID-19 and help businesses prepare for recovery.  Specifically, the Fund is intended to help your firm to: mitigate financial pressures so that you can continue your operations and keep paying employees; and, support business projects to prepare now for a successful recovery.  Of particular note, this fund provides an interest-free repayable contribution of up to $40,000 to small and medium-sized businesses that are unable to access other COVID-19 business supports. (Unfortunately, sole proprietors are not eligible to apply for the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund)
  • Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) – More information on the Business Credit Availability Program can be found here.  As part of BCAP and COVID-19 specific efforts, the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC), both financial Crown corporations, are working closely with private sector lenders to improve access to financing for Canadian businesses. These programs are as follows:
    • EDC Loan Guarantee for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises – This program provides credit and cash flow term loans to small and medium-sized enterprises. Canadian businesses in all sectors that were otherwise financially viable and revenue generating prior to the COVID-19 outbreak are eligible to apply.  It allows financial institutions to issue operating credit and cash flow term loans of up to $6.25 million to existing clients, with 80 per cent guaranteed by EDC.   This money is to be used for operational expenses, not for dividend payouts, shareholder loans, bonuses, stock buyback, option issuance, increases to executive compensation or repayment/refinancing of other debt.  This program is now available at various financial institutions and credit unions.
    • BDC Co-Lending Program for Small and Medium Enterprises – This program provides term loans for operational and liquidity needs of businesses, which could include interest payments on existing debt. Similar to the EDC program, this program is available to businesses that were financially viable and revenue-generating prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.  The program is designed in three segments to target support to different business sizes:
      • Loans of up to $312,500 to businesses with revenues of less than $1 million.
      • Up to $3.125 million for businesses with revenues between $1 million and $50 million.
      • Up to $6.25 million for businesses with revenues in excess of $50 million.
      • Loans would be interest-only for the first 12 months, with a 10-year repayment period.   BDC has finalized the details of its new $20-billion Co-Lending Program, as part of the BCAP previously announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.  Financial institutions will progressively roll out the program to businesses as of April 242020 and in the coming days.   To access these loans, business owners must contact their primary financial institution which will assess their situation, structure the financing and disburse the capital as appropriate.
  • ​​​​​Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) describing a range of financing solutions now available as part of the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP).
  • 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.
  • More information on the Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF) can be found here.

 

 

Assistance with Commercial Rent:

  • Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) Program for small businesses – The federal government, in partnership with the provinces and territories, is implementing the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) Program for small businesses. This program will lower rent by 75 per cent for small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19.  The CECRA for small businesses application portal opens at 8:00 a.m. EST on May 25, 2020.  Further details on the program include:
    • The program will 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 (retroactive), 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.

 

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.

 

Business Resilience Service (BRS) – This program is run through the Canadian Chamber’s Canadian Business Resilience Network in collaboration with EY and with support from Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada)  The BRS program, coordinated by EY, will be provided for four weeks from Monday, May 25, and will involve support from approximately 125 business advisors from across the accounting profession. The BRS will provide options for any vulnerable small to medium-sized business, not-for-profit or charity to immediately connect with experienced accounting and tax professionals across the country from professional services firms. The program, delivered to organizations free of charge, will:

•        Provide guidance on program options and eligibility

•        Rapidly direct businesses – including enterprises involving Indigenous peoples, women and diverse groups – to the most appropriate support organizations

•        Help organizations make decisions to support recovery plans

•        Provide real time insights and feedback to policymakers

 

Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s Canadian Business Resilience Network Reopening Toolkit – This toolkit is designed to provide guidance, or access to guidance, for business owners and senior managers responsible for re-establishing their operations while ensuring the health and safety of operators, staff, customers and the general public is at the forefront.  It is also available in pdf format here.   With this document in hand, you should have the resources you need in order to:

1        Update your Operations Plan.

2        Update your Health and Safety Plan.

3        Communicate those plans and procedures to your staff, customers and suppliers.

4        Know how to access any required personal protective equipment.

5        Continue to access government financial supports.

6        Understand the social services, such as childcare, that are available to you and to your staff.

7        Be aware of the wide array of additional supports, resources and guides that are available.

 

More flexibility:

 

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

Work-Sharing Program - Temporary special measures:

https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/work-sharing/temporary-measures-forestry-sector.html

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

Updates on changes to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) services, due dates and programs affected by the pandemic.

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

Export Development Canada COVID-19

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

Business Development Bank of Canada

https://www.bdc.ca/en/pages/special-support.aspx?special-initiative=covid19

COVID-19: Supports for Canadian Businesses – This compilation of federal and provincial government support measures for business focusses 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.

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. 

Department of Finance: Details on Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2020/04/government-announces-details-of-the-canada-emergency-wage-subsidy-to-help-businesses-keep-canadians-in-their-jobs.html

The Government of Canada Announces New Measures for Ferries and Commercial Passenger Vessels Capable of Carrying More Than 12 Passengers

www.canada.ca/en/transport-canada/news/2020/04/the-government-of-canada-announces-new-measures-for-ferries-and-commercial-passenger-vessels-capable-of-carrying-more-than-12-passengers.html

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

 

Support for individuals

Support for individuals and families

Support for people facing unemployment

Support for people who are sick, quarantined, or in directed self-isolation

Support for people who are unable to work

Support for people who need it most

Support for seniors

Support for students and recent graduates

  • A moratorium on the repayment of Canada Student Loans
  • Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) – This program applies to post-secondary (college and university) students who are currently in school, are planning to start school in September 2020, or who graduated from school in December 2019.  Students are eligible for the CESB if they have lost work or cannot find work due to the pandemic.  Working students that are earning less than $1,000 per month are also able to apply for the benefit if their hours have been cut due to COVID-19.  More detailed information on the CESB can be found here.

 

External Links

Facebook Small Business Grants Program

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

Canadian Chamber of Commerce

http://www.chamber.ca/resources/pandemic-preparedness/

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

Save Small Business.ca

https://savesmallbusiness.ca/

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

COVID-19: How to adapt your business to thrive in the new normal

Watch Webinar

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:

 

BC’s Restart Plan – 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:

·         Review the Health and Safety Guidelines as well as best practices and other resources from WorkSafeBC.  Of particular relevance on the WorkSafeBC site is What employers should do;

·         Review WorkSafeBC’s Preventing exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace to assess the risks and controls in the workplace.  A useful guide is Preventing exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace: A guide for employers.   Also relevant are the industry information pages for determining preventative measures to protect workers in specific industries from COVID-19;

·         Review the BC COVID-19 Go-Forward Management Checklist (PDF, 320KB) and understand the BC COVID-19 Go-Forward Management Strategy (PDF, 634KB); and,

·         Adapt these materials into appropriate COVID-19 Safe Plans for the workplace.

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 – To help B.C. businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the B.C. government, through the Ministry of Jobs, Economic Development and Competitiveness and the Government of Canada, through Western Economic Diversification Canada, have partnered with Small Business BC (SBBC) to launch a new 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 will serve 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. 
  • Vancouver Island Economic Alliance – VIEA’s Video Conference Series – This series are short bursts of single topic 'how to' information to help you take the next step in this uncertain journey--one step at a time and one issue at a time...
  • 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: (1) 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; and (2) Postponing the date that late payment penalties apply for commercial properties in classes 4,5,6,7 and 8 to Oct. 1, 2020, to give businesses and landlords more time to pay their reduced property tax, without penalty.
  • 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.
  • Temporary layoff period under the ESA extended from 13 to 16 weeks   The provincial government announced that they are extending the temporary layoff period under the Employment Standards Act from 13 weeks to 16 weeks for COVID-19 related purposes. Previously, a layoff longer than 13 weeks in any 20-week period would be considered a permanent layoff under the Act, thereby triggering employer requirements around working notice and/or severance payments to employees. The three-week extension of the temporary period is intended to lighten the financial burden on businesses in BC. The COVID-19 emergency temporary layoff provisions are not intended to be permanent and will be repealed when no longer needed.  More information is here: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/employment-business/employment-standards-advice/employment-standards/forms-resources/igm/esr-part-7-section-45-01

 

ABCMI E-Bulletin - June 17, 2020

Information for You

The Association of British Columbia Marine Industries (ABCMI) is working to get information out to you quickly and accurately. The ABCMI website has a COVID-19 tab, with updated links, government initiatives, and other helpful information.  Go to this tab for information on federal and provincial government measures to help business and employees.

 

Rather than repeating all the information in our previous bulletins and that is also resident on our COVID-19 tab, we’ll just touch upon some important updates to federal and provincial COVID-19 programs that you should know about.  These are:

 

Federal Government

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.

 

Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) – This program provides interest-free loans of up to $40,000 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.  This will better position them to quickly return to providing services to their communities and creating employment.   Repaying the balance of the loan on or before December 31, 2022 will result in loan forgiveness of 25 percent (up to $10,000).  The eligibility criteria include businesses that paid between $20,000 and $1,500,000 in total payroll in 2019.  These eligibility criteria have been expanded and the program will now be available to a greater number of businesses that are sole proprietors receiving income directly from their businesses, businesses that rely on contractors, and family-owned corporations that pay employees through dividends rather than payroll.  The updated application process is set to open on Friday, June 19th.  You will note that the official CEBA link has been modified to include the updated eligibility for businesses but will be updated again to reflect the program being ready for expanded applications on Friday, June 19thThe Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) is accessed through the respective financial institutions that businesses work with.

 

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.

 

Business Resilience Service (BRS) – This program is run through the Canadian Chamber’s Canadian Business Resilience Network in collaboration with EY and with support from Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada)  The BRS program, coordinated by EY, will be provided for four weeks from Monday, May 25, and will involve support from approximately 125 business advisors from across the accounting profession. The BRS will provide options for any vulnerable small to medium-sized business, not-for-profit or charity to immediately connect with experienced accounting and tax professionals across the country from professional services firms. The program, delivered to organizations free of charge, will:

•        Provide guidance on program options and eligibility

•        Rapidly direct businesses – including enterprises involving Indigenous peoples, women and diverse groups – to the most appropriate support organizations

•        Help organizations make decisions to support recovery plans

•        Provide real time insights and feedback to policymakers

 

Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s Canadian Business Resilience Network Reopening Toolkit – This toolkit is designed to provide guidance, or access to guidance, for business owners and senior managers responsible for re-establishing their operations while ensuring the health and safety of operators, staff, customers and the general public is at the forefront.  It is also available in pdf format here.   With this document in hand, you should have the resources you need in order to:

1        Update your Operations Plan.

2        Update your Health and Safety Plan.

3        Communicate those plans and procedures to your staff, customers and suppliers.

4        Know how to access any required personal protective equipment.

5        Continue to access government financial supports.

6        Understand the social services, such as childcare, that are available to you and to your staff.

7        Be aware of the wide array of additional supports, resources and guides that are available.

 

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) – The government is extending the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) by eight weeks, to ensure Canadians have the help they need as they transition back to work.  This extension will make the benefit available to eligible workers for up to a total of 24 weeks.

 

Filing 2019 taxes through the COVID-19 crisis – At this link the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) expands on measures to help those that need to file taxes in 2020 and what they need to know.   More information is also given for extended filing and payment deadlines.

 

 

Provincial Government

A very useful site to get information on all of the provincial government measures is at British Columbia’s Response to COVID-19.   This site is continually updated and should be your first stop for information and links on provincial measures.   Another summary of all identified supports for B.C. businesses affected by COVID-19 is being updated regularly and is available at COVID-19: Supports for Businesses in British Columbia

 

For Businesses working in British Columbia

British Columbia has issued a Workplace Safety Plans Order that applies to Employers including a requirement for every business to develop a COVID-19 safety plan and post it on the business’s website.  There is no specified deadline to do so, but the most prudent course of action is to have it in place by the time you are ready to beginning a phased re-opening of your workplace.  WorksafeBC has indicated they will do complaint-based inspections, and you should expect an employee or client/patron to complain if they are on premises and there is no (or no satisfactory) plan in place and posted.

Employers are required to develop a COVID-19 Safety Plan that outlines the policies, guidelines, and procedures they have put in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. This plan follows the six steps outlined on COVID-19 and returning to safe operation.  Employers must involve frontline workers, joint health and safety committees, and supervisors in identifying protocols for their workplace. You do not need a formal plan in place to begin operation, but are expected to develop it while protecting the safety of your workers.

 

WorkSafeBC has released the sector-specific safe re-opening guidance for a number of sectors including one specifically for offices that can be found here.  These protocols provide guidance to any employer with office space. These employers may also benefit from reviewing other protocols if their workplace includes other work environments such as retail services, or food and drink services

 

A key component of the WorkSafeBC approach is to provide industry-specific information to support businesses with their health and safety needs as they reopen, complementing the existing COVID-19 information and resources on worksafebc.com.  WorkSafeBC has developed a general guide on COVID-19 and returning to safe operation that outlines six steps to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission as business operations resume and frequently asked questions about returning to safe operations.  

 

As more industries prepare to reopen, WorkSafeBC will provide additional tools and resources that may be useful for preparing and implementing an organization’s plans, including signage and decision guides. Please note that WorkSafeBC does not need to review or approve the COVID-19 safety plans of individual employers.  However, during a WorkSafeBC inspection, employers will be asked about the steps taken to protect their workers in accordance with guidance provided on the WorkSafeBC website.  WorkSafeBC has issued an updated guide for employers and occupational first aid attendants dealing with OFAA protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic and employers guidance called Inspections during the COVID-19 Pandemicthat answers many frequently asked questions.  This guidance is intended to outline what employers can expect from WorkSafeBC inspectors and inspections during the current pandemic, both during and after the inspection.   Workers and employers with questions or requiring additional advice or direction can call WorkSafeBC’s Prevention Information Line at 1.888.621.7233 to speak directly with a prevention officer.

 

WorkSafeBC announced that it is extending the deferral period for quarterly premium payments for an additional three months, without penalty or interest. Employers are still required to report their payroll for the first and second quarters by July 20, 2020, however payments for these quarters will not be due until October 20, 2020, when the third quarter payments are due. This announcement only impacts those employers who are required to report payroll and pay premiums on a quarterly basis.  If a business reports and premiums on an annual basis, it can disregard this announcement, as it is not required to report payroll or pay premiums until March 2021.

 

COVID-19 Related Opportunities

Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS) Program: New COVID-19 Challenges – As part of the larger pan-government response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the IDEaS program is participating in a multi-departmental initiative seeking innovative solutions to help in the fight.  The challenges are focused on improving disease tracking and likely exposure to COVID-19 using data analytics as well as making sure those on the front lines have a safe operating environment through a combination of better decontamination technology and improved personal protective equipment.  The following challenges are still available:

 

•        Rapid response: Real-time insights for pandemic decision-making

•        Scrubbing your scrubs: Finding ways to re-use COVID-19 protective gear

•        Super sanitize: Cleaning sensitive equipment and workspaces

 

Innovators will have until June 23, 2020 to submit their proposals to the IDEaS Program.

 

ABCMI E-Bulletin - May 26, 2020

Information for You

ABCMI is working to get information out to you quickly and accurately. The ABCMI website has a COVID-19 tab, with updated links, government initiatives, and other helpful information.  Go to this tab for information on federal and provincial government measures to help business and employees.

Rather than repeating all the information in our previous bulletins and that is also resident on our COVID-19 tab, we’ll just touch upon some important updates to federal and provincial COVID-19 programs that you should know about.  These are:

Federal Government

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.

NOW ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS – Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) – This fund, being delivered through Western Economic Diversification Canada,  helps businesses, organizations and communities relieve the economic impact of COVID-19 and help businesses prepare for recovery.  Specifically, the Fund is intended to help your firm to: mitigate financial pressures so that you can continue your operations and keep paying employees; and, support business projects to prepare now for a successful recovery.  Of particular note, this fund provides an interest-free repayable contribution of up to $40,000 to small and medium-sized businesses that are unable to access other COVID-19 business supports. (Unfortunately, sole proprietors are not eligible to apply for the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund)

·         Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) — funding requests up to $40,000 – find out about eligibility and how to apply.  For loans up to $40,000 the RRRF is open to businesses that are not eligible for the Canadian Emergency Business Account (CEBAprogram or Community Futures Emergency Loan Program

·         Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) – funding requests over $40,000 – find out about eligibility and how to apply.  For loans with interest free repayable funding up to $1,000,000, the RRRF is open to businesses that have been operating in Western Canada for a minimum of 2 years and pre-revenue businesses.  Businesses that have received support from other Government of Canada relief funding measures, including the Business Development Bank of Canada's Co-Lending Program, Working Capital Loan, and Oil and Gas Sector Capital Loan, as well as Export Development Canada's Business Credit Availability Program, but require additional funding to mitigate liquidity pressures may still apply.

·         Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) – Eligibility Questionnaire – Go here to determine your eligibility for the amount of funding that you are requesting through the RRRF.

 

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy - The wage subsidy is 75% of annual employee salary, for up to 3 months, up to an annual salary of $58,700 (up to $847 per week) per eligible employee and is being backdated to March 15, 2020.  Employers of all sizes and across all sectors of the economy are eligible with the exception of public sector entities. For a lot more information see Frequently Asked Questions.   Applications for the CEWS are to be made online through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) My Business Account portal.  CEWS claims are subject to verification by the CRA.  Funds for approved applications began to be released on May 5.  On Friday, May 8, the Prime Minister announced the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (“CEWS”) will be extended beyond its previously announced end date of June 6.  More details on this extension are expected to be released soon.

 

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.

 

Provincial Government

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.   Another summary of all identified supports for B.C. businesses affected by COVID-19 is being updated regularly and is available at COVID-19: Supports for Businesses in B.C. 

On May 6, 2020, Premier Horgan announced 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, to protect our health care system and maintain access to key services and supplies. Many non-essential businesses remained open, provided they could operate safely.  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.  As the BC Restart Plan progresses, some things are clear:

  • The “re-start” isn’t starting until after Victoria Day weekend and the “new normal” is expected to last 12-18 months.
  • Existing closure orders (restaurants, personal services) are still in force.  Dr. Henry has said that provided things continue to go well, these will be replaced with new, modified orders before May 19th.
  • We still have the virus in our communities, so public health surveillance, contact tracing and stopping transmission is a continued focus.
  • Re-starting will happen in stages, opening is not mandatory and is expected to vary depending on business type, sector, customers/employees/clients and their risk factors.
  • Prior to re-starting, every organization must have an explicit plan for how it will operate, and post that plan in a visible spot (eg., their door, their website).
  • That explicit plan must include clear policies to ensure:
    • no one with symptoms comes into the workplace, and policies enable staff being off sick or working at home to enable self-isolation for ten days (at minimum)
    • employees have fewer workplace contacts (shorter times, fewer people), through such measures as staggered shifts, smaller teams, occupancy limits, virtual meetings, continuing to work from home
    • higher levels of frequent cleaning of ‘high touch’ areas in workplaces, availability of hand sanitizer around workplaces
  • The plan must be based on an assessment of the risks present in the organization’s workplace, involving workers, supervisors, joint health and safety committees and/or worker representatives.  
  • Organizations must train and adequately supervise employees to ensure they implement the measures appropriately.  Communications including signage and reminders should be used.
  • Risks must be re-assessed and plans updated as needed, if circumstances change or as guidance is updated.
  • Any organization that has operated in the last two months may need to update their plans to fit with updated health and safety guidelines, best practices and resources.
  • Enforcement will be graduated, focusing on education, consultation and inspections.  Enforcement measures will be considered if employers fail to develop and implement a COVID-19 safety plan.
  • WorkSafeBC guidance is to be used by organizations to develop their own plan.  Each organization is accountable for its own plan.

A key component of the WorkSafeBC approach will be to roll out industry-specific information to support businesses with their health and safety needs as they reopen, complementing the existing COVID-19 information and resources on worksafebc.com.  To begin, WorkSafeBC has developed a general guide on COVID-19 and returning to safe operation that outlines six steps to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission as business operations resume and frequently asked questions about returning to safe operations.  As more industries prepare to reopen, WorkSafeBC will provide additional tools and resources that may be useful for preparing and implementing an organization’s plans, including signage and decision guides. Please note that WorkSafeBC does not need to review or approve the COVID-19 safety plans of individual employers.  However, during a WorkSafeBC inspection, employers will be asked about the steps taken to protect their workers in accordance with guidance provided on the WorkSafeBC website.  Workers and employers with questions or requiring additional advice or direction can call WorkSafeBC’s Prevention Information Line at 1.888.621.7233 to speak directly with a prevention officer. 

Temporary layoff period under the ESA extended from 13 to 16 weeks – The provincial government announced that they are extending the temporary layoff period under the Employment Standards Act from 13 weeks to 16 weeks for COVID-19 related purposes. Previously, a layoff longer than 13 weeks in any 20-week period would be considered a permanent layoff under the Act, thereby triggering employer requirements around working notice and/or severance payments to employees. The three-week extension of the temporary period is intended to lighten the financial burden on businesses in BC. The COVID-19 emergency temporary layoff provisions are not intended to be permanent and will be repealed when no longer needed.  More information is here.

 

 

ABCMI E-Bulletin - May 7, 2020

Information for you

ABCMI is working to get information out to you quickly and accurately. The ABCMI website has a COVID-19 tab, with updated links, government initiatives, and other helpful information.  Go to this tab for information on federal and provincial government measures to help business and employees.

Rather than repeating all the information in our previous bulletins and that is also resident on our COVID-19 tab, we’ll just touch upon some important updates to federal and provincial COVID-19 programs that you should know about.  These are:

Federal Government

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.

NRC IRAP Innovation Assistance Program (IAP) – The Government of Canada announced $250 million in funding for the Innovation Assistance Program (IAP) to assist Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).  The call for applications is now closed.  All applicants are encouraged to consult the IAP Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for the latest program updates.  Following the assessment and approval of applications, applicants will be notified in writing on the status of their application as early as the week of May 11, 2020.  IAP will begin making payments to successful applicants starting the week of May 11, 2020.

Regional Relief and Recovery Fund: COVID-19 – This new fund will help businesses, organizations and communities relieve the economic impact of COVID-19 and help businesses prepare for recovery. Specifically, the Fund will help your firm to: mitigate financial pressures so that you can continue your operations and keep paying employees; and, support business projects to prepare now for a successful recovery.   Through the existing Community Futures Program, the RRRF will provide struggling small businesses with financial support, offer technical aid and resources and support local economic diversification initiatives.  Watch for more information to come soon at Western Economic Diversification (WD) - Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF)  Contact WD at 1-888-338-9378 to find out how they can help your business.

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) Program – The federal government, in partnership with the provinces and territories, is implementing the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) Program for small businesses. This program will lower rent by 75 per cent for small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19.  It is expected that CECRA will be operational by mid-May.  Further details on the program include:

  • The program will 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 (retroactive), 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.

Guidelines on the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) Program – expansion on guidelines provided by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

 

Provincial Government

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.   Another summary of all identified supports for B.C. businesses affected by COVID-19 is being updated regularly and is available at COVID-19: Supports for Businesses in B.C. 

On May 6th, 2020, Premier Horgan announced 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, to protect our health care system and maintain access to key services and supplies. Many non-essential businesses remained open, provided they could operate safely.  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 after the Victoria Day long weekend 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

Temporary layoff period under the ESA extended from 13 to 16 weeks – The provincial government announced that they are extending the temporary layoff period under the Employment Standards Act from 13 weeks to 16 weeks for COVID-19 related purposes. Previously, a layoff longer than 13 weeks in any 20-week period would be considered a permanent layoff under the Act, thereby triggering employer requirements around working notice and/or severance payments to employees. The three-week extension of the temporary period is intended to lighten the financial burden on businesses in BC. The COVID-19 emergency temporary layoff provisions are not intended to be permanent and will be repealed when no longer needed.  More information is here: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/employment-business/employment-standards-advice/employment-standards/forms-resources/igm/esr-part-7-section-45-01

 

Information for You

ABCMI is working to get information out to you quickly and accurately. The ABCMI website has a COVID-19 tab, with updated links, government initiatives, and other helpful information.  Go to this tab for information on federal and provincial government measures to help business and employees.

Rather than repeating all the information in our previous bulletins and that is also resident on our COVID-19 tab, we’ll just touch upon some important updates to federal and provincial COVID-19 programs that you should know about.  These are:

 

Federal Government

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.

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) Program for small businesses – The federal government, in partnership with the provinces and territories, has implemented the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) Program for small businesses. This program will lower rent by 75 per cent for small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19.  The CECRA for small businesses application opened on May 25, 2020 – see here for details on the staggered approach to applications and program details.  Further information on the program includes:

·         The program will 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 (retroactive), May, and June. 

·         The loans will be forgiven if the 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.

ABCMI would like to hear from you if you are in a situation where as a small business tenant you qualify for assistance through the CECRA Program but your landlord is choosing not to participate in the program.

 

Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) – This program provides interest-free loans of up to $40,000 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.  This will better position them to quickly return to providing services to their communities and creating employment.   Repaying the balance of the loan on or before December 31, 2022 will result in loan forgiveness of 25 percent (up to $10,000).  The federal government has expanded the eligibility criteria beyond businesses that paid between $20,000 and $1,500,000 in total payroll in 2019.  The program will now be available to a greater number of businesses that are sole proprietors receiving income directly from their businesses, businesses that rely on contractors, and family-owned corporations that pay employees through dividends rather than payroll.  More information on the increased eligibility for CEBA can be obtained here.  You will note that the official CEBA link does not yet include the updated eligibility for businesses as this is still being worked out with participating financial institutions.   It is anticipated that this expanded version of the CEBA Program (CEBA 3.0) will be ready for applications in the first week of June 2020.  The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) is accessed through the respective financial institutions that businesses work with.

 

Business Resilience Service (BRS) – This program is run through the Canadian Chamber’s Canadian Business Resilience Network in collaboration with EY and with support from Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada)  The BRS will provide options for any vulnerable small to medium-sized business, not-for-profit or charity to immediately connect with experienced accounting and tax professionals across the country from professional services firms. The program, delivered to organizations free of charge, will:

  • Provide guidance on program options and eligibility
  • Rapidly direct businesses – including enterprises involving Indigenous peoples, women and diverse groups – to the most appropriate support organizations
  • Help organizations make decisions to support recovery plans
  • Provide real time insights and feedback to policymakers

 

Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s Canadian Business Resilience Network Reopening Toolkit – This toolkit is designed to provide guidance, or access to guidance, for business owners and senior managers responsible for re-establishing their operations while ensuring the health and safety of operators, staff, customers and the general public is at the forefront.  It is also available in pdf format here.   With this document in hand, you should have the resources you need in order to:

  1. Update your Operations Plan.
  2. Update your Health and Safety Plan.
  3. Communicate those plans and procedures to your staff, customers and suppliers.
  4. Know how to access any required personal protective equipment.
  5. Continue to access government financial supports.
  6. Understand the social services, such as childcare, that are available to you and to your staff.
  7. Be aware of the wide array of additional supports, resources and guides that are available.

Filing 2019 taxes through the COVID-19 crisis – At this link the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) expands on measures to help those that need to file taxes in 2020 and what they need to know.   More information is also given for extended filing and payment deadlines.

 

 

ABCMI E-Bulletin - April 27, 2020

Seeking your input

The Government of British Columbia is seeking feedback as it is working on a phased recovery plan to open up the economy in the coming months.  The government is asking the following questions:

  • Are companies in the marine sector thinking about how they are going to resume operations, as applicable, to get their businesses fully functioning again?  Are plans being formulated in this regard?
  • If so, how are plans intending to address any personnel protective equipment (PPE) requirements – including the supply of required PPE?
  • Do businesses anticipate a need for additional guidance from the government on recovery, or are the existing guidance frameworks sufficient for their planning?

Any feedback on these questions is much appreciated!  Respond by simply replying to this bulletin or sending an email to contact@abcmi.ca

 

Information for you

ABCMI is working to get information out to you quickly and accurately. The ABCMI website has a COVID-19 tab, with updated links, government initiatives, and other helpful information.  Go to this tab for information on federal and provincial government measures and other resources to help businesses and employees.

Rather than repeating all the information in our previous bulletins and that is also resident on our COVID-19 tab, we’ll just touch upon some important updates to COVID-19 programs that you should know about.  These are:

 

Federal Government

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. 

 

NRC IRAP Innovation Assistance Program (IAP) – On April 17, 2020, the Government of Canada announced $250 million in funding for the Innovation Assistance Program (IAP) to assist Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).  IRAP IAP provides a wage subsidy to eligible employers for up to 12 weeks.   SMEs pursuing technology-driven innovation who have been unable to secure funding under the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) are eligible and can apply for financial assistance under IRAP IAP.  If you meet all eligibility criteria listed at the IAP link above, please complete an application.  The call for applications will close Wednesday, April 29, 2020 at 11:59 pm EDT.  Don’t delay!

 

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) – The wage subsidy is 75% of annual employee salary, for up to 3 months, up to an annual salary of $58,700 (up to $847 per week) per eligible employee and be backdated to March 15, 2020.  Employers of all sizes and across all sectors of the economy are eligible with the exception of public sector entities.  Go to the CEWS link above for a step by step guide to determine eligibility, compensation amount, and how to apply.  For more information see a Simple Overview of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy as well as Questions & Answers.  Applications for the CEWS will be made online through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) My Business Account portal.  The CRA opened the application process on April 27, 2020. CEWS claims will be subject to verification by the CRA.  Funds for approved applications will begin to be released on May 5, 2020.

 

BDC Co-Lending Program for Small and Medium Enterprises – This program is now open and provides term loans for operational and liquidity needs of businesses, which could include interest payments on existing debt.  The commercial support, developed by the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) in partnership with financial institutions across the country, is intended to help Canadian businesses impacted by COVID-19 fund their operational cash flow needs. Eligible businesses may obtain incremental credit amounts up to $6.25 million, 80% of which would be provided by BDC, with the remaining 20% from their financial institution.  This program is available to businesses that were financially viable and revenue-generating prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.  The program is designed in three segments to target support to different business sizes:

  • Loans of up to $312,500 to businesses with revenues of less than $1 million.
  • Up to $3.125 million for businesses with revenues between $1 million and $50 million.
  • Up to $6.25 million for businesses with revenues in excess of $50 million.

 

Loans will be interest-only for the first 12 months, with a 10-year repayment period.   BDC has finalized the details of its new $20-billion Co-Lending Program as part of the federal government’s Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP).   To access these loans, business owners must contact their primary financial institution which will assess their situation, structure the financing and disburse the capital as appropriate.   For more information, click here.

 

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) – The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced on April 24, 2020, 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.  It is expected that CECRA will be operational by mid-May, and further details will be announced soon.  This program will lower rent by 75 per cent for small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19.  Further details on the program include:

  • The program will 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 (retroactive), 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.

 

Western Economic Diversification (WD) - Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) – This new fund will help businesses, organizations and communities relieve the economic impact of COVID-19 and help businesses prepare for recovery. Specifically, the Fund will help your firm to: mitigate financial pressures so that you can continue your operations and keep paying employees; and, support business projects to prepare now for a successful recovery.   Through the existing Community Futures Program, the RRRF will provide struggling small businesses with financial support, offer technical aid and resources and support local economic diversification initiatives.  More information to follow soon.   Contact WD at 1-888-338-9378 to find out how they can help your business.

 

Provincial Government

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.   Another summary of all identified supports for B.C. businesses affected by COVID-19 is being updated regularly and is available at COVID-19: Supports for Businesses in B.C.   

 

The BC Economic Development Association has posted their  #COVID19 Resources for BC Businesses Guide andas of April 15; the Small Business British Columbia (SBBC) has established the B.C. Business COVID-19 Support Service.   These sites provide a comprehensive listing of information including, federal and provincial government programs, industry specific resources, utilities, insurance and banking information, links to webinars and more.

The SBBC service will feature an interactive service that will serve 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.

 

Business Opportunities

On the innovation front we are happy to see Innovative Solutions Canada issue three new marine-oriented challenges, from Transport Canada, that could be of interest to our members.  These are Development of quiet depth finder technologyFiltration of microplastics in ship greywater, and Reducing Underwater Noise from Escort Tugs.  The closing date for these challenges is June 10, 2020, 14:00 EDT.  We’re also happy to report that the IDEaS Program in DND will start launching challenges on COVID-19 topics in the very near future and seven previously forecast challenges, in a fourth Call for Proposals (CFP), are expected in the next several months with another CFP coming in the Fall.

 

 

ABCMI E-Bulletin - April 15, 2020

 

Seeking your input

HOW CAN WE HELP? We are looking for information as the COVID-19 crisis continues.  How is your business faring?  What are your immediate challenges? What help do you need?  What government programs are working or not working for you?  What do you want ABCMI to represent or make known on your behalf?   When we get your input, we represent your concerns and situation to the federal, provincial and municipal governments and other institutions and strive to get answers.  Respond by simply replying to this bulletin or sending an email to contact@abcmi.ca

Information for you

ABCMI is working to get information out to you quickly and accurately. The ABCMI website has a COVID-19 tab, with updated links, government initiatives, and other helpful information.  Go to this tab for information on federal and provincial government measures to help business and employees.

Rather than repeating all the information in our previous bulletins and that is also resident on our COVID-19 tab, we’ll just touch upon some important updates to federal COVID-19 programs that you should know about.  These are:

Federal Government

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 Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy - The wage subsidy will be 75% of annual employee salary, for up to 3 months, up to an annual salary of $58,700 (up to $847 per week) per eligible employee and be backdated to March 15, 2020.  Employers of all sizes and across all sectors of the economy are eligible with the exception of public sector entities. On Saturday, April 11, legislation was enacted to implement the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) that was announced by the federal government on April 1.  Since that time, the government has announced a number of additional modifications to CEWS that are explained very well at a  Simple Overview of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy as well as Questions & Answers.  Applications for the CEWS will be made online through the CRA's My Business Account portal or through a web-based application form, when available – the timing for the roll-out of CEWS expected by end of April at the earliest.

Canada Emergency Business Account - This program provides interest-free loans of up to $40,000 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.  This will better position them to quickly return to providing services to their communities and creating employment.   Repaying the balance of the loan on or before December 31, 2022 will result in loan forgiveness of 25 percent (up to $10,000).  The federal government has expanded the eligibility criteria for the program to 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.  To date, more than 195,000 loans have been approved through this program.

Changes to Canada Summer Jobs program – If you visit the Canada Summer Jobs Program website you will note that applications for the program are now closed – the applications having closed on February 28, 2020.  That said, if you missed the deadline, you are asked to approach your local federal Member of Parliament (MP) and let them know that your business would like to make an application to the program.  The temporary changes to the program for this year include:

  • an increase to the wage subsidy, so that private and public sector employers can also receive up to 100 per cent of the provincial or territorial minimum hourly wage for each employee
  • an extension to the end date for employment to February 28, 2021
  • allowing employers to adapt their projects and job activities to support essential services
  • allowing employers to hire staff on a part-time basis

NEW!! – Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program – will help small businesses cover their rents for April, May and June.  The assistance is being rolled out in collaboration with the provinces and territories, as commercial rent is within their jurisdictions.  We will be updating this link and posting the Government of Canada guidance on this new program once it is issued.

Provincial Government

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.   Another summary of all identified supports for B.C. businesses affected by COVID-19 is being updated regularly and is available at COVID-19: Supports for Businesses in B.C.   

The BC Economic Development Association has posted their  #COVID19 Resources for BC Businesses Guide andas of April 15; the Small Business British Columbia (SBBC) has established the B.C. Business COVID-19 Support Service.   These sites provide a comprehensive listing of information including, federal and provincial government programs, industry specific resources, utilities, insurance and banking information, links to webinars and more.

The SBBC service will feature an interactive service that will serve 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.

Business Opportunities

On our COVID-19 tab you will notice a COVID-19 Business Opportunities sub-tab that lists federal and provincial business opportunities related to COVID-19 needs.  New in this tab is the news that Innovative Solutions Canada is launching a COVID-19 Call for Proposals (CFP) under their Testing Steam (formerly the Build in Canada Innovation Program).  Through this competition, the federal government hopes to discover leading-edge prototypes that can be tested by federal, provincial, and municipal organizations in their own operational setting to help fight COVID-19.  The CFP is aimed at Canadian innovators who have a prototype that can help Canada combat COVID-19 or similar future outbreaks.  More information is provided at Call for prototypes to help combat COVID-19

As stated in our last bulletin of April 1 – ABCMI has been advocating actively on behalf of its members on a wide range of topics including:  getting the federal government innovation programs to expand and expedite their innovation challenges to industry; keeping capital projects going by getting governments to fast track plans to build new vessels and marine infrastructure, upgrade existing vessels and infrastructure, conduct repair work, conduct design studies for future plans; expediting payment for those working on government projects;  and, asking the federal government to work with the provinces in providing commercial rent/lease relief to small and medium-sized businesses.  

On the innovation front we are happy to see Innovative Solutions Canada issue three new marine-oriented challenges, from Transport Canada, that could be of interest to our members.  These are Development of quiet depth finder technologyFiltration of microplastics in ship greywater, and Reducing Underwater Noise from Escort Tugs.  The closing date for these challenges is June 10, 2020, 14:00 EDT.  We’re also working to get new marine-related challenges from other federal government departments and hopefully more information on this will be forthcoming soon.

 

 

ABCMI E-Bulletin - April 1, 2020 

 

We, at the Association of British Columbia Marine Industries (ABCMI), are trying to get information out to you as quickly and accurately as possible as we move through these uncertain and unprecedented times.  On the ABCMI website we have created a COVID-19 tab, where we have posted many useful links, government initiatives, and other useful information that we are continually updating as the situation changes from day to day.  The Governments of Canada and the Province of British Columbia are taking economic measures and actions to help businesses 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.  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.

Federal Government

Federal support for businesses includes:

Work-Sharing program. Canada is extending the maximum duration of the Work-Sharing program from 38 weeks to 76 weeks. The Work-Sharing program is offered to workers who agree to reduce their normal working hours because of developments beyond the control of their employers.

Apply to the Work-Sharing program

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy.   The new Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy will cover 75 per cent of salaries for qualifying businesses, for up to 3 months, retroactive to March 15, 2020.  Employers of all sizes and across all sectors of the economy would be eligible with the exception of public sector entities. This program is designed to help employers hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic to keep and retain workers.   Organizations that do not qualify for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy may qualify for the previously announced wage subsidy of 10 per cent of remuneration paid from March 18 to before June 20, 2020. Eligible employers would be able to access the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy by applying through a Canada Revenue Agency online portal. More details on how to apply will follow soon.

More information about this measure

Business Credit Availability Program.  Canada has established a Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) to provide $65 billion of additional support through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC).  BDC and EDC are working with private sector lenders to coordinate on credit solutions for individual businesses. This program includes:

Canada Emergency Business Account.  The new Canada Emergency Business Account will provide interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits, to help cover their operating costs during a period where their revenues have been temporarily reduced. To qualify, these organizations will need to demonstrate they paid between $50,000 to $1 million in total payroll in 2019.

Loan Guarantee for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises.  EDC is working with financial institutions to issue new operating credit and cash flow term loans of up to $6.25 million to SMEs.

Co-Lending Program for Small and Medium-Sized EnterprisesBDC is working with financial institutions to co-lend term loans to SMEs for their operational cash flow requirements. Eligible businesses may obtain incremental credit amounts of up to $6.25 million through the program.

These programs will roll out in the three weeks after March 27, and interested businesses SHOULD FIRST APPROACH AND WORK WITH THEIR CURRENT FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS IN APPLYING FOR THESE PROGRAMS.

Learn more about the Business Credit Availability Program

Provincial Government

On March 26, Emergency Management BC, in consultation with other government ministries and the Provincial Health Officer (PHO), defined “essential services”.  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. The list is here. We are confident that this list applies to all those businesses working in the marine sector in British Columbia as non-listed business, that has not specifically been ordered to close, may stay open provided that it can comply with the orders and guidance.

On March 25, the PHO issued guidance to the BC manufacturing sector in order to take all necessary precautions to minimize the risks of COVID-19 transmission and illness to themselves and their employees.  The guidance given to the manufacturing sector is also applicable to businesses working in the industrial marine sector and can be found at ‘Manufacturing Sector Guidance’.  ABCMI has responded to the government and indicated that the requirements for no more than 50 people in one work space and to maintain a distance of two metres apart from each other may be impossible to meet given the working environment in the shipyards, industrial sites and on vessel platforms.  Two person jobs require close quarters sharing tools and materials.  Just from a safety perspective, the requirement to stay two metres apart could endanger the safety of personnel.   Thus, to meet the intent of the PHO directive, work requiring workers to be closer than two metres apart will require them to wear PPE (masks, gloves, safety glasses).

Business Opportunities

Are you a business that can supply products and services in support of B.C.'s COVID-19 response?  As worldwide demand increases, the BC Government is looking for both medical and non-medical products and services to help with the response.  See Supply Products and Services to Support B.C.'s COVID-19 Response and see the priority products needed.  You are invited to submit an offer.

Also see ‘Call to action: Canadian manufacturers needed to help combat COVID-19’ and NRC COVID-19 Response - this latter link will take you to some programs that may be relevant for your company.  Be sure to register for them at the provided ‘Register’ links.  The COVID-19 Challenges Procurement Program (NRAP and Innovative Solutions Canada) will soon commence with ‘Industry Pitch Sessions’ – more information to follow.  There is also a Pandemic Response Challenge Program (NRC) that focuses on the health side of COVID-19 where your capabilities may be applicable

Seeking your input

As always, we are looking for information from you as this COVID-19 crisis continues.  When we get your input, we represent your concerns and situation to the federal and provincial governments and strive to get answers.  We are on daily calls with the federal government and twice weekly calls with the BC COVID Cabinet representing about 80 industry and business associations in the Province.  Things that we are working on include: getting the federal government innovation programs to expand and expedite their challenges to industry; keeping capital projects going by getting governments to fast track plans to build new vessels, upgrade existing vessels, conduct repair work, conduct design studies for future plans; expediting payment for those working on government projects;  addressing holdbacks that the federal government, in major capital projects, have instituted against Prime Contractors – these being subsequently exercised on all subcontractors and sub sub-contractors; passing legislation that prevents commercial landlords from cancelling commercial leases due to rent debt due to COVID-19 causes for a period of 3 months (or other reasonable term); and, many other items as you bring them to our attention.

Hope you are healthy and remain safe!

 

Prime Minister announces support for small businesses facing impacts of COVID‑19 - March 27, 2020

The Government of Canada is focused on helping Canadians and businesses through this tough economic time. We will continue to protect the health and safety of Canadians, while supporting families and businesses and keeping our economy strong in the face of uncertainty.

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced additional new measures to support small businesses dealing with the economic impacts of the pandemic. These measures will help Canadian businesses protect the jobs that Canadians depend on, and pay their workers and bills during these difficult times.

Today’s announcement is a part of the government’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, which already commits $107 billion in support to Canadians so they can buy groceries, pay rent, and care for their loved ones, and also supports businesses through this difficult time. 

To further support small businesses, the Government of Canada will:

  • Announce a 75 per cent wage subsidy for qualifying businesses, for up to 3 months, retroactive to March 15, 2020. This will help businesses to keep and return workers to the payroll. More details on eligibility criteria will start with the impact of COVID-19 on sales, and will be shared before the end of the month.
  • Allow businesses, including self-employed individuals, to defer all Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) payments until June, as well as customs duties owed for imports. This measure is the equivalent of providing up to $30 billion in interest-free loans to Canadian businesses. It will help businesses so they can continue to pay their employees and their bills, and help ease cash-flow challenges across the country.
  • Launch the new Canada Emergency Business Account. This program will provide up to $25 billion to eligible financial institutions so they can provide interest-free loans to small businesses. These loans – guaranteed and funded by the Government of Canada – will ensure that small businesses have access to the capital they need, at a zero per cent interest rate, so they can pay for rent and other important costs over the next number of months.
  • Launch the new Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Loan and Guarantee program that will enable up to $40 billion in lending, supported through Export Development Canada and Business Development Bank, for guaranteed loans when small businesses go to their financial institutions to help weather the impacts of COVID-19. This is intended for small and medium-sized companies that require greater help to meet their operational cash flow requirements.

These new investments will help Canada’s financial institutions provide the credit and liquidity options that a range of Canadian businesses need immediately.

Quick Facts

  • The deferral to June of GST/HST payments, as well as customs duties owing on imports, will generally apply to remittances that become due in March, April, and May. These amounts would normally have been due to the Canada Revenue Agency and the Canada Border Services Agency as early as the end of this month. This measure will take effect immediately, through existing authorities.
  • The Canada Revenue Agency is introducing a series of administrative measures to remove some of the burden on businesses experiencing financial hardship.
  • The new Canada Emergency Business Account will provide funding to eligible financial institutions so that they can provide interest-free loans in the form of lines of credit of up to $40,000 to businesses with payrolls of less than $1 million. A quarter of this loan (up to $10,000) is eligible for complete forgiveness.
  • The new Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Loan and Guarantee program will operate as follows:
  • Export Development Canada will provide guarantees to financial institutions so that they can issue new operating credit and cash flow term loans of up to $6.25 million to small and medium-sized businesses. These loans will be 80 per cent guaranteed by Export Development Canada, to be repaid within one year.
  • Small and medium-sized businesses can also get support through a new Co-Lending Program that will bring the Business Development Bank of Canada together with financial institutions to co-lend term loans to these businesses for their operational cash flow requirements. Eligible businesses may obtain incremental credit amounts of up to $6.25 million through the program, which will be risk-shared at 80 per cent between the Business Development Bank of Canada and the financial institutions. Eligible financial institutions will conduct the underwriting and funding directly for customers.
  • The government has already introduced several measures to support businesses affected by COVID-19:
  • Providing eligible small employers a temporary wage subsidy for a period of three months. The subsidy will be equal to 10 per cent of remuneration paid during that period, up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer. Businesses will be able to benefit immediately from this support by reducing their remittances of income tax withheld on their employees’ remuneration.
  • Extending the maximum duration of the Work-Sharing program, from 38 weeks to 76 weeks, for workers who agree to reduce their normal working hours because of developments beyond the control of their employers.
  • Establishing a Business Credit Availability Program, largely targeted to small and medium-sized businesses, through the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada. These organizations are working closely with private sector lenders to coordinate on credit solutions for individual businesses, including in sectors such as oil and gas, air transportation, and tourism.
  • Increasing credit available for farmers and the agri-food sector through Farm Credit Canada.
  • Deferring the payment of income taxes. The government is allowing all taxpayers to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of income tax amounts owed on or after March 18 and before September 2020. This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as instalments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period.

 

Related Link:

Additional support for Canadian businesses from the economic impact of COVID-19

 

 

Letter Sent from ABCMI to Government Ministers and Senior Government Officials - March 21, 2020

Additional Recommendations for COVID-19 Economic Response Measures

 

The Association of British Columbia Marine Industries (ABCMI) continues to reach out to its members and over 1000 businesses that constitute the industrial marine sector in British Columbia.  This is in order to provide the provincial and federal governments some feedback in order to understand the market impacts of the COVID-19 virus and thus, be able to form an appropriate industrial response strategy and measures.  We hope that our feedback will get to those in the federal government that are working on formulating Canada’s economic response measures.   

At this time (Saturday, March 21st, 2020) – we would like to highlight 4 areas for consideration as the federal government continues to refine and add to its economic response measures.  It is recognized that the Government of Canada may already have, in some way, addressed some of these points – things are changing so rapidly – but we thought it won’t hurt to emphasize these points. These are:

 

  1. A temporary deferral of ALL payroll deduction remittances – In the federal government’s economic measures that we heard about on (Wednesday, March 18th – we now have a deferral of income tax instalment payments as well as measures that allow all businesses to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after March 18th and before September 2020.  What we would like to see added to this initiative is the temporary deferral of ALL payroll deduction remittances, including CPP, EI and income tax payroll deductions.  This will reduce pressure on businesses cash reserves and will allow those same businesses to pay their employees, suppliers, rent and service their debt.

 

  1. Making capital available to SMEs – Further initiatives that see the Government of Canada work with financial lending institutions to provide much-needed capital to small and medium businesses (SMEs).  This could include zero-interest loans, extended lines of credit, and deferred payment terms – all backed by and underwritten by the federal government.  Initiatives like the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) offered through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) are an excellent start but need to become even more accessible to SMEs that are not existing BDC clients.  Another idea, is much like the pending Facebook Small Business Grants Program, is to set aside money as cash grants to small businesses that are struggling with overhead and operations costs, while also trying to retain valuable employees that will be key to their longer term survival and recovery.  Finally, where businesses have been working and delivering on government contracts, consideration should be given to expediting immediate payments to these firms, upon receipt of invoices, and not delaying payment as per NET30 terms.

 

  1. Maintaining and expanding on government Innovation Programs – Many of our businesses have been working with federal government innovation programs like those offered through the National Research Council (NRC), Innovative Solutions Canada (ISC) and the Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS).  Certainly, we applaud the creation of the NRC's new COVID-19 Challenge Program and having the NRC Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) build on its existing relationships with SMEs to expedite technology development for the COVID-19 innovation response, and the new NRC COVID-19 Challenge Program.  It’s also encouraging to see NRC IRAP bring promising solutions for procurement into Innovative Solutions Canada.  However; in our marine sector, many companies do not have the ability to pivot immediately into creating innovative solutions and products required to address COVID-19 needs and yet are still reliant on getting federal government funding to progress with innovative ideas, research & development, proof of concept, and commercialization of products that expand the horizon and capabilities of the marine and defence spaces.  Instead, we are seeing a postponement and indefinite hold on new challenges being issued by the IDEaS Program and a delay of challenges being issued by the ISC Program.  We ask that the government innovation programs continue, or be re-energized, to support our SMEs across the full range of innovation so as to allow them to receive much-needed fiscal support in maintaining their businesses.

 

  1. Calculated COVID-19 tax/business payroll credit for those facing staffing shortages – Many of the businesses in British Columbia’s industrial marine sector require their employees to work on shop floors, in workshops and industrial facilities, and/or marine platforms.  Thus, the concept of ‘working remotely from home’ does not work for them and they are seeing substantial reductions in their workforce as employees are following through on ‘social distancing’ and ‘staying at home’ messaging coming from federal, provincial and municipal governments and health authorites.  In British Columbia, the on-line COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool asks a number of questions including whether or not the person is exhibiting symptoms including fever, cough, sneezing, and sore throat.   Should ‘Yes’ be indicated in the survey against this question, the outcome recommendation is for the person to self-isolate for 14 days.  At a time where many people have been experiencing the common cold – the messaging around COVID-19 is really having a devastating impact on the availability of labour for many of our businesses.   We are very much support the health precautions being taken in order to ‘flatten the COVID-19 curve’ – what we are advocating is some sort of calculated COVID-19 tax/business payroll credit that provides a real reduction in business expenses payable for those losing their employees to these precautions.

 

We commend Prime Minister Trudeau, his Cabinet, and the federal government team for making an outstanding effort to support individuals, employees and businesses in these unprecedented and uncertain times.  We, the Association of British Columbia Marine Industries, look forward to continue to assist and support the federal government in this effort.

 

Useful Information for B.C. Businesses Coping with COVID-19 ABCMI March 19 Email

Useful Information for B.C. Businesses Coping with COVID-19 

Thank you to those that responded to our call to provide the federal government some feedback in order to understand the market impacts of the COVID-19 virus and thus, be able to form an appropriate industrial response strategy and measures.  We received substantial feedback from you and have passed that on to those in the federal government that are working on formulating Canada’s economic response measures.

Please note that we are advocating that the government of Canada approve a temporary deferral of all payroll deduction remittances (ie. CPP, EI, and Income Tax) and income tax installment payments.  This will reduce pressure on businesses cash reserves and will allow those same businesses to pay their employees, suppliers, rent and service their debt.

The vast majority of the responses, we have received to date, indicate that our industry is very much in support of this proposed action.

In the federal government’s economic measures that we heard about yesterday (Wednesday, March 18) – we now have a deferral of income tax installment payments but not yet the rest of what we have been asking for.

To ensure you understand what economic measures have been taken and are being put into place, we provide you a number of useful links for your information and some very useful input that we have received from KPMG.  On March 18, 2020, the Prime Minister announced a new set of economic measures to help stabilize the economy during this challenging period.  These measures, delivered as part of the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, will provide direct support to Canadian workers and businesses. 

Support for Canadians

Support for Businesses

For other links that provide more information on the federal government measures that are being put into place, see:

The firm of KPMG has summarized and offered further clarification on the federal government measures released yesterday in the presentation titled “COVID-19 — Tax Deadline Delay and More Relief Announced” (link below) and provides useful guidance to employers in the formulation of their COVID-19 contingency plans in the document titled “Employers — Prepare Your COVID-19 Contingency Plan” (link below).

You may also be interested in these additional resources for businesses affected by COVID-19:

Additional business resources featuring advice on exporting:

This is a rapidly-evolving situation, and it's possible that guidance for businesses may change. For live federal and provincial directives and recommendations, please consult The Government of B.C.'s COVID-19 Provincial Support and Information page.

Finally, your health and safety, and that or your employees, are of paramount concern thus, please be aware of the BC COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool

The Association of British Columbia Marine Industries (ABCMI) will continue to advocate to the federal and provincial governments on your behalf and work to let the governments know what is happening in our industry.  Thus, we very much continue to welcome your feedback and input as this unprecedented activity takes its course.  We will also work hard to keep you informed as more information becomes available to us.

 

Tax Deadline Delay and more Relief Announced

Employers Prepare your COVID-19 Contingency Plan

 

 

Need your Input Soonest - Federal Government Industrial Response Strategy/Measures to COVID-19 ABCMI March 17 Email

Federal Government Industrial Response Strategy/Measures to COVID-19 | Respond in Order to Help Your Business!

As the Government of Canada is crafting its industrial response strategy to the COVID-19 virus, the federal government is looking to hear from Canadian industry and businesses to understand the market impacts of the COVID-19 virus, in order to be able to form an appropriate industrial response strategy and measures.  

As such, ABCMI would very much appreciate hearing from you if you have identified any impacts on your company and its supply chain, as well as any mitigation measures that you have implemented or would like to see implemented.

One suggestion that has come to us already, is a solution that can be implemented quickly, can provide an immediate cash infusion to businesses and can be reconciled with the Government of Canada (GoC) at a later date when more time is available to determine who is eligible for GoC COVID-19 program funding.

IT IS PROPOSED THAT THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA APPROVE A TEMPORARY DEFERRAL OF ALL PAYROLL DEDUCTION REMITTANCES (ie. CPP, EI, and Income Tax) AND INCOME TAX INSTALLMENT PAYMENTS.  This will reduce pressure on businesses cash reserves and will allow those same businesses to pay their employees, suppliers, rent and service their debt.

IF YOU ARE IN SUPPORT OF THESE MEASURES BE SURE TO LET US KNOW SOONEST as the federal government is now formulating its responses to help the Canadian industry.

Also please find below, links to support your company though the upcoming period.

Key Information Tools - Business Supports:

  • Work-Sharing Program - Temporary special measures / Programme de travail partagé - Mesures spéciales temporaires:

https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/work-sharing/temporary-measures-forestry-sector.html

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

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

  • Export Development Canada COVID-19:

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

  • Business Development Bank of Canada – Support for Entrepreneurs impacted by coronavirus:

             https://www.bdc.ca/en/pages/special-support.aspx?special-initiative=covid19

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

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

  • COVID-19 subscription for Public Health Updates:

       https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/corporate/stay-informed-stay- connected/public-health-updates/subscribe.html

These are unprecedented times with challenges that we are only beginning to understand.  The Association of British Columbia Marine Industries (ABCMI) will do everything it can to help businesses in Western Canada’s marine sector cope with these challenges and help them get through this very difficult time.

Support for Small Business - From Small Business BC

More than ever - we are here to help you 

We believe this is a time for the small business community to come together to help each other overcome challenges and find solutions.

At Small Business BC we've been working hard to provide you relevant resources to help you navigate the current business landscape. 


1. Get the latest COVID-19 small business updates - please continue to check our COVID-19 resources page, we update it daily with any new announcements and support information.

2. Share your impact and feedback with government -complete this short survey and share what would help your small business directly with government.

3. Download the B.C. Gov small business directory - most of the information in one document - with contact details for major programs, support networks and more. 

4. Read our Frequently Answered Questions re:COVID-19 - got a question? We may already have the answer. Read our FAQ's.

5.April at Small Business BC - here's our monthly article about what's going on at SBBC - education, resources and updated COVID-19 opening hours.

On Our Radar

BDC Support for Entrepreneurs

BDC is taking additional measures to provide relief to Canadian entrepreneurs during these difficult times. These include:

  • Working capital loans of up to $2 million with flexible terms and payment postponements for up to six months for qualifying businesses;
  • Postponement of payments for up to six months, free of charge, for existing BDC clients with total BDC loan commitment of $1 million or less;
  • Reduced rates on new eligible loans;
  • Additional details regarding Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) measures, including industry specific support, to be announced in the coming days.

To read the full press release, click here.

Over the past couple of days, we’ve received many questions from partners and clients about BCAP, so we’ve compiled some of the key ones below: 

  1. How do I access BCAP?

·       Businesses seeking support through BCAP should first contact their financial institutions for an assessment of their situation.

·       Financial institutions will refer to EDC and BDC their existing clients whose needs extend beyond what is available through the private sector alone.

·       Existing BDC clients should reach out to their account manager for additional information.

 

  1. Why financial institutions first?

·       Canada’s financial institutions have made a commitment to work with small business customers on a case-by-case basis to provide flexible solutions to help them manage through these challenges.

·       Financial institutions have a longstanding history of standing by Canadians through challenging times, like now.

·       BDC complements the work of Canada’s private-sector financial institutions, with whom we work closely.

 

  1. Why is it taking so long?

·         We are receiving an unprecedented volume of requests. We understand the urgency of the situation and have mobilized all BDC teams to respond as quickly as possible.

Information and Links to Updates on COVID-19 ABCMI March 12 Email

Information and links to updates on COVID-19

At the risk of over-loading your incoming information on the Coronavirus (COVID-19), our Association is sending you some information that you will want to consider.  A very helpful source of information is the Government of Canada site - Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Being prepared  - which outlines tips for individuals and for workplaces amongst others.  Also, on the Government of Canada site, is information on the following:

  • Outbreak update
  • Symptoms and treatment
  • Prevention and risks
  • For health professionals
  • Canada's response
  • Travel advice
  • Awareness resources
  • Guidance documents

For the workplace, the following are some good points, provided through the Washington State Municipal Research Services Center (MRSC), that you should consider:

  • What are the infection control measures being put in place in your company?  What special policies or procedures are being considered to cope with a widespread outbreak of this disease within your geographic area or the larger population?
  • Are there any special infection protocols being implemented for your workplaces?
  • Schools are critically important to your own employee’s ability to be at work. Under what conditions will they close a school?  
  • If your child’s school or daycare closes for several days/weeks, is there any provision for workplace childcare or perhaps telecommuting for employees?
  • What type of internal personnel policies do you have in place concerning your ability to send people home if they come to work sick?
  • What protocols will you use for the wearing of protective masks?
  • Consider how your own elected body will be able to continue to meet with a quorum of members, when and if social distancing is implemented.
  • What is entailed with social distancing in your respective workplaces?
  • There might still be time to do some limited cross-training of critical positions. Everyone has a person who knows everything about a particular job.  What happens when they are not available and there is an issue that needs fixing?

As individuals, remember the hygiene basics:

  • Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Use your sleeve, not your hands.
  • Stay home if you’re sick. Don’t go to work, or school, or anywhere else, particularly care homes, hospitals, or other places where vulnerable people are.
  • Stay away from others. Engage in what is called social distancing. 
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • The virus can live on surfaces for several hours, but normal household cleaning products are good at dealing with it, so use them.
  • Wash your hands with warm, soapy water.  Scrub thoroughly.

This is certainly a challenging time for us all, our businesses, our country, our world – we will continue to work with you in order to represent and support our membership and the industrial marine sector in British Columbia.