We understand updates have been arriving regularly, and it can be tough to keep track of the latest news. Here are the latest key updates regarding government supports and other important resources.
The Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan and the Government of British Columbia’s COVID-19 Action Plan provide a set of financial supports designed to help individuals and businesses navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. As the situation continues to develop, these resources will be updated to ensure every Canadian is receiving the assistance they need.
The B.C. Business COVID-19 Support Service provides guidance and answers questions relating to COVID-19 resources and support programs. Whether you’re an individual or business owner, our team is available to answer any questions you have about COVID-19 supports and your unique circumstances.
Applications Open for the Black Entrepreneurship Program - November 23rd, 2020
- The National Ecosystem Fund provides support, mentorship, financial planning, and business training for Black entrepreneurs. Applications close on December 21st, 2020 at 2pm PST.
- The Black Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub will conduct research on Black entrepreneurship in Canada. Applications close on January 18th, 2021 at 2pm PST.
Eligible businesses can now apply retroactively for the first CERS claim period: September 27th to October 24th. Apply through the CRA.
This subsidy will provide payments directly to qualifying renters and property owners, without requiring the participation of landlords.
New Support Programs to Help Businesses Receives Royal Assent - November 19th, 2020
Bill C-9 has received Royal Assent, implementing new, targeted support to help hard-hit businesses. These supports include:
- The new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS), which will provide direct and easy-to-access rent and mortgage interest support to tenants and property owners until June 2021 for qualifying organizations affected by COVID-19.
- The new Lockdown Support, which will provide an additional 25 per cent through the CERS for qualifying organizations that are subject to a lockdown and must shut their doors or significantly restrict their activities under a public health order.
- The extension of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) until June 2021. The wage subsidy will remain at the current rate of up to 65 per cent of eligible wages until December 19, 2020.
Mandatory Face Masks Mandated for Indoor Public Spaces - November 19th, 2020
Face Masks are now required for everyone in all public indoor settings and workplaces across BC. People who cannot wear a mask or who cannot put on or remove a mask on their own are exempt. Visit the link above to find out more, with tips on correct mask usage and where to source masks for business.
Read the mask mandate order.
Individuals are subject to a $230 fine if they:
- Do not wear a mask in an indoor public setting
- Refuse to comply with the direction of an enforcement officer, including the direction to leave the space
- Respond with abusive or belligerent behaviour
New Provincial Health Order Issued with Enhanced Restrictions - November 19th, 2020
Provincial Health Office, Dr. Bonnie Henry, has announced increased restrictions to help limit the spread of COVID-19 in our province.
By order and direction of the PHO, all individuals, places of work and businesses in B.C. must significantly reduce social interactions and travel.
The order is in effect from November 19, 2020 at midnight to December 7, 2020 at midnight.
- The order does not impact restaurants and bars. Restaurants and bars can continue to operate as long as they have a COVID-19 Safety Plan and employee protocols in place.
As part of this order, businesses must indefinitely suspend the following activities:
- Spin classes
- Hot yoga
- High intensity interval training (HIIT)
The following indoor group physical activities are temporarily suspended indefinitely until new guidelines are available:
- Dance studios
- Martial arts
- Strength and conditioning
Venues must use the new guidance to update and re-post their COVID-19 Safety Plan before resuming operations.
- Masks are now required for everyone in all public indoor settings and workplaces. People who cannot wear a mask or who cannot put on or remove a mask on their own are exempt.
- Employers are expected to enforce the mandatory mask policy with both employees and customers
- A customer can be refused entry or service if they do not wear a mask
- At this time, all non-essential travel should be avoided. This includes travel into and out of B.C. and between regions of the province.
Government of Canada Announces Support to Connect Canadians to High-Speed Internet - November 9th, 2020
The Prime Minister announced an investment of $1.75 billion to help connect Canadians to high-speed Internet across the country, grow businesses, and create jobs. This investment will connect 98 per cent of Canadians across the country to high-speed Internet by 2026, with the goal of connecting all Canadians by 2030.
The PHO has issued new public health orders for the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health regions. The orders require everyone in those communities, apart from Bella Coola Valley and Central Coast residents, to limit social interactions and stay in their local community until November 23rd at 12pm.
- Businesses and organizations that organize or operate indoor group physical activities, such as spin and yoga classes, must suspend these activities.
- Indoor sports where physical distancing cannot be maintained, such as hockey and martial arts, are also suspended.
- Indoor group physical activities can only resume when the business has updated their COVID-19 safety plan and received plan approval from their local Medical Health Officer. Businesses can submit their plans to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
- Party-buses and group limousines must stop operations immediately. Resuming operations is at the discretion of the PHO and may extend beyond November 23, 2020 at 12pm.
- Workplaces must ensure that all workers and customers maintain appropriate physical distance and wear masks when appropriate
- Extra care should be taken in small office spaces, break rooms and kitchens
Read the latest PHO Order:
- Prevention Regional Measures – November 11, 2020 (PDF, 360KB)
BC Small and Medium-Sized Business Recovery Grant Expression of Interest – November 5th, 2020
The B.C. Small and Medium Sized Business Recovery Grant program is seeking interested parties such as accountants, financial planners, bookkeepers and lawyers to assess the solvency of businesses and help develop recovery plans (template to be provided). Small Business BC matches the business to the service provider who invoices SBBC for reimbursement for services, up to a maximum of $2,000 (including taxes) per grant recipient at their normal hourly rate of up to $250/hour.
If you are one of the professions listed above, can support clients within a two week window, and would like to lend your skills, knowledge and expertise to assisting companies develop their economic recovery plans, and play a part in rebuilding a critical part of B.C’s economy, please submit your interest to Small Business BC by November 18th at 11:59pm PDT. Late applications will not be considered – no exception.
The Government of Canada is pivoting the CanExport SMEs program to help small businesses access global markets when international travel is restricted due to COVID-19. Small businesses can apply for funding to:
- Develop and expand their e-commerce presence by covering partial costs associated with online sales platforms and digital strategy consulting, as well as advertising and search engine optimization
- Attend virtual trade shows and other business-to-business events
- Navigate new COVID-19-related trade barriers by helping pay for new international market certifications and requirements
Apply for funding through the CanExport website.
The Government of Canada announced over $200 million in new funding to provide support to Indigenous peoples and communities. This includes:
- $120.7 million to help Indigenous early learning and child care facilities safely operate during the pandemic.
- $59 million for First Nations to adapt their on reserve community infrastructure to implement public health and safety measures in community buildings.
- $25.9 million to provide immediate support to Indigenous post-secondary institutions in 2020-21. The investment will help these institutions address increased costs and financial uncertainty resulting from the pandemic.
CEBA Extended to Businesses Using Personal Bank Accounts - October 26th, 2020
The Government of Canada has announced the Canada Emergency Bank Account (CEBA) program is to be extended to include businesses operating out of a personal bank account. To be eligible, businesses must have been operating as a business as of March 1, 2020, must successfully open a business account at a Canadian financial institution that is participating in CEBA, and meet the other existing CEBA eligibility criteria. The deadline to apply for CEBA is December 31, 2020.
Canada United Small Business Relief Fund to be Extended - October 20th, 2020
The Government of Canada announced an investment of $12 million in the Canada United Small Business Relief Fund. The Fund provides relief grants of up to $5,000 to small businesses. The grant can be used for specific COVID-19 recovery efforts: purchasing PPE, renovating physical spaces, or developing your website or e-commerce capabilities.
The new application window for grants will open on October 26th, 2020.
Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) Opens for Applications - October 12th, 2020
The Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) opened for applications. You can apply for the CRB through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for one year for up to 13 two-week periods between September 27th, 2020 and September 25th, 2021.
Government Announces Expansion of Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) - October 9th, 2020
The Government of Canada announced the deadline for CEBA applications is extended to December 31st, 2020. They also announced an expanded Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA), which would enable businesses, and not-for-profits eligible for CEBA loans—and that continue to be seriously impacted by the pandemic—to access an interest-free loan of up to $20,000, in addition to the original CEBA loan of $40,000. Half of this additional financing would be forgivable if repaid by December 31, 2022.
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) Extended to June, 2021 - October 9th, 2020
The Government of Canada has announced the extension of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program until June, 2021. The subsidy will remain at the current subsidy rate of up to a maximum of 65 per cent of eligible wages until December 19, 2020. This measure is part of the government’s commitment to create over 1 million jobs and restore employment to the level it was before the pandemic.
BC Small and Medium-Sized Business Recovery Grant - October 9th, 2020
The $300 Million Small and Medium Sized Business Recovery Grant program will provide grants to B.C. businesses that employ between 2 and 149 B.C. residents and that have experienced declines in revenue since March 10, 2020.
The program will run until March 31, 2021 or until funds are fully deployed.
Government of Canada Announces Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) - October 9th, 2020
The Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) provides simply and easy-to-access rent and mortgage support until June 2021 for qualifying organizations affected by COVID-19.
This financial support helps businesses, charities, and non-profits that have suffered a revenue drop due to COVID-19, by subsidizing a percentage of their expenses, on a sliding scale, up to a maximum of 65 per cent of eligible expenses until December 19, 2020. Organizations would be able to make claims retroactively for the period that began September 27 and ends October 24, 2020.
Opening Date Announced for Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) - October 5th, 2020
The Government of Canada has announced applications will open for the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) on October 12th, 2020. You can apply for the CRB through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) from October 12th, 2020 for one year for up to 13 two-week periods between September 27th, 2020 and September 25th, 2021.
Applications Open for Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) - October 5th, 2020
Applications are now open for the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB). This benefit provides $500 per week, for up to two weeks, for employed and self-employed people who can't work because they are sick or must self-isolate due to COVID-19. It helps ensure all Canadian workers have access to paid sick leave.
Applications Open for Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) - October 5th, 2020
Applications are now open for the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB). This benefit provide $500 per week ($450 after taxes withheld) for up to 26 weeks. The benefit is for employed and self-employed people who can't work because they need to care for children under 12 or other family members who need supervised care, or if they are themselves sick. Apply through through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
Government of Canada Streamlines Procurement of Records of Employment (ROE) - October 5th, 2020
Service Canada has implemented temporary measures to help employers issuing records of employment (ROEs) for staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Changes are designed to streamline and simplify the process to allow affected individuals quicker access to COVID-related benefits.
Government of Canada Increases the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) - October 2nd, 2020
The Government of Canada announced an additional $600 million to support workers and businesses through the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF). This includes $455.7 million to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and organizations facing financial pressure. It brings the total RRRF support to over $1.5 billion. Canada’s Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) deliver the RRRF in their regions.
Government of Canada Announces Infrastructure Plan - October 1st, 2020
The Government of Canada has announced $10 billion in new major infrastructure initiatives. The Canada Infrastructure Bank’s (CIB) Growth Plan is a three-year plan to connect more households and small businesses to high-speed Internet, strengthen Canadian agriculture, and help build a low-carbon economy.
It includes $2 billion to connect around 750,000 homes and small businesses to broadband in underserved communities, so Canadians can better participate in the digital economy.
Learn more about the Canada Infrastructure Bank.
Government of Canada Announces New COVID-19 Recovery Benefits and Emergency Measures – September 24th, 2020
The Government of Canada has announced the creation of three new temporary Recovery Benefits to support Canadians who are unable to work for reasons related to COVID-19. These new Benefits are being proposed as part of the Government of Canada’s plan to support Canadians as we work to build back a stronger, more resilient economy.
The Benefits are as follows:
- Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) of $500 per week for up to 26 weeks.
- Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) of $500 per week for up to two weeks
- Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) of $500 per week for up to 26 weeks.
Canadians will be able to apply for the CRB, CRSB, and CRCB through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for one year up until September 25, 2021.
CEWS and CEBA to be Extended, BCAP to be Improved - September 23rd, 2020
The Prime Minister used the Throne Speech to outline Government of Canada priorities for helping people and businesses through COVID-19. Measures to help businesses include:
- Plans to extend the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) until summer 2021
- Expanding the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) to help businesses with fixed costs
- Improving the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP)
- Introducing further support for industries that have been the hardest hit, including travel and tourism, hospitality, and cultural industries
Other priorities announced in the speech include:
- Transitioning from CERB into establishing the EI system as the sole delivery mechanism for employment benefits, including for Canadians who did not qualify for EI before COVID-19
- A campaign to create over one million jobs to restore employment to pre-COVID levels
- Scaling up the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy, to provide more paid work experiences next year for young Canadians
- An Action Plan for Women in the Economy to help more women get back into the workforce
This fall, the Government will release an update to Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. This will set out new measures to implement this Throne Speech.
B.C. Government Announces Economic Recovery Plan - September 17th, 2020
The B.C. Government announced its $1.5 billion pandemic economic recovery plan to support people and jobs in the province. The plan includes extra support for businesses to help them reopen, hire more people, adapt, and grow. The plan includes:
- Small and Medium Sized Business Recovery Grants of up to $30,000 (up to $40,000 for tourism businesses) for eligible businesses. More details to be announced.
- The B.C. PST Rebate on Select Machinery and Equipment, which provides a 100% PST rebate on select machinery and equipment to help businesses invest in their own growth
- The B.C. Increased Employment Incentive, which is designed to encourage businesses to hire more workers. Businesses will receive a 15% tax credit of the payroll increase.
- InBC, a new $500 million strategic investment fund to help B.C. businesses scale up. More details to be announced.
The announcement also outlined plans to:
- Hire 7,000 new front-line health-care workers, increase support for mental health care in the workplace, and launch a new Hospital at Home initiative that will allow patients to receive medical services in their own home from a team of health professionals
- Invest in targeted and short-term skills training in in high-demand fields, expand Indigenous skills training, and create more affordable child-care spaces so that more parents, particularly women, can get back to work
- Invest over $400 million to revitalize community infrastructure and support local governments to provide valuable services
Deadline for New CECRA Applications and July, August Extensions Announced - September 15th, 2020
The deadline to submit a new CECRA application and opt-in for the July and August extension is September 30th, 2020. Information about the September extension will be available soon.
New Business Loan Program Announced for Black Entrepreneurs and Business Owners - September 9th, 2020
The Government of Canada announced $221 million in funding to launch Canada’s first-ever Black Entrepreneurship Program. As well as $93 million from the federal government over the next four years, Canadian financial institutions will provide $128 million.
This program will help thousands of Black business owners and entrepreneurs across the country recover from this crisis and grow their businesses. It includes:
- Up to $53 million to develop and implement a new National Ecosystem Fund to support Black-led business organizations across the country
- Up to $33.3 million in support through the new Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund that will provide loans of between $25,000 and $250,000 for Black business owners and entrepreneurs.
- Up to $6.5 million to create and sustain a new Black Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub that will collect data on the state of Black entrepreneurship in Canada and help identify Black entrepreneurs’ barriers to success as well as opportunities for growth
Restrictions Announced for Pubs, Restaurants, and Night Clubs - September 8th, 2020
In response to rising COVID-19 cases and to encourage people to return to smaller and safer social interactions, the Provincial Health Officer has amended the order on bars, nightclubs, and banquet halls:
- All night clubs and stand alone banquet facilities must close immediately
- All bars, pubs, and restaurants must stop selling alcohol by 10pm
- All bars, pubs, and restaurants must close by 11pm, unless they are providing a full meal service, in which case they may stay open, but may not serve liquor until 11 am the next day
- Music and background sounds (DJs, TVs, etc) must be no louder than normal conversation level
Read the new Provincial Health Officer orders:
Extension of Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) Announced - September 8th, 2020
The Government of Canada extended the CECRA rent relief program for small businesses by one month to cover rent in September. The deadline for applying for rent relief for July and August (currently September 14th, 2020) is also to be extended.
The Government of Canada extended the CEBA application deadline from August 31st to October 31st, 2020. The government is also working closely with financial institutions to make the CEBA program available to those with qualifying payroll or non-deferrable expenses that have so far been unable to apply due to not operating from a business banking account.
Further details on these changes will be released in coming days.
If you have already applied for CEBA and have questions, please contact the new CEBA Call Centre at 1-888-324-4201 to receive a status update on your CEBA application. The CEBA call centre is open Monday to Friday from 8:00 am to 9:00 pm EST and can address the following types of questions:
- What is the status of my application?
- Why was my application declined?
- Why was my submitted document rejected?
Government of Canada Extends the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) - August 31st, 2020
The Government of Canada has extended the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) until June 2021. Through BCAP, the government is supporting the flow of additional credit that businesses need to maintain operations and keep employees on the payroll.
BC Moves to Phase 3 of Return to Sport Guidelines - August 24th, 2:15pm
Athletes throughout British Columbia will be able to engage in more organized sport activities and some competitive play as the Province moves to Phase 3 of the Return to Sport Guidelines.
Under Phase 3 of the Return to Sport Guidelines, amateur sport activities may be able to engage in:
- additional training opportunities;
- modified games and matches; and
- league play and competitions within sport cohorts.
Face Masks Now Mandatory on BC Ferries and Translink Services - August 24th, 09:05am
Beginning Monday, August 24th, non-medical masks or face coverings are now required on board Translink and BC Ferries services.
Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit Announced – August 20th, 3:10pm
The new Canada Recovery Caregiver Benefit, would be effective from September 27, 2020 for one year, and provide $500 per week, for up to 26 weeks per household to eligible Canadians.
The closure of schools and other daycare and day program facilities to prevent the spread of COVID 19 has meant that many Canadians have been unable to work because they needed to provide care to children or support to other dependents who had to stay home. While it is anticipated that facilities will gradually re-open as the economy restarts, the Government of Canada recognizes that access may vary over time and across communities. The Government is committed to ensuring that parents and others with dependents do not need to choose between caring for them and paying the bills.
Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit Announced – August 20th, 3:00pm
The new Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit would provide $500 per week, for up to two weeks, effective September 27, 2020 for one year, for workers who are unable to work because they are sick or must self-isolate due to COVID-19. This new benefit would fulfil the Government of Canada’s commitment as part of the Safe Restart Agreement with provinces and territories to provide up to two weeks of sick leave to all Canadians in the context of COVID-19.
The benefit would be available to:
- Residents in Canada who are at least 15 years of age and have a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN);
- Workers employed or self-employed at the time of the application; and
- Workers who earned at least $5,000 in 2019 or in 2020.
Workers would not be required to have a medical certificate to qualify for the benefit. Workers could not claim the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit and receive other paid sick leave for the same benefit period. Workers would need to have missed a minimum of 60% of their scheduled work in the week for which they claim the benefit.
Government of Canada Announces Simplified Employment Insurance (EI) Program – August 20th, 2:40pm
As we safely restart Canada’s economy, the Government of Canada will be transitioning to a simplified Employment Insurance (EI) program, effective September 27, 2020, to provide income support to those who remain unable to work and are eligible.
Here are the key changes:
- 120 hours of work in 2020 required to qualify
- Minimum benefit rate of $400 per week
- At least 26 weeks of regular benefits
Government of Canada Announces new Canada Recovery Benefit – August 20th, 2:40pm
Effective September 27th, 2020 for one year, the Canada Recovery Benefit provides a benefit of $400 per week, for up to 26 weeks, to workers who are not eligible for EI. This will mainly support the self-employed and those working in the gig economy. The benefit is available to residents in Canada who:
- are at least 15 years old and have a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN);
- have stopped working due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are available and looking for work; or are working and have had a reduction in their employment/self-employment income for reasons related to COVID-19;
- are not eligible for Employment Insurance;
- had employment and/or self-employment income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in 2020; and,
- have not quit their job voluntarily
Workers would apply after every two-week period for which they are seeking income support and attest that they continue to meet the requirements. In order to continue to be eligible for the benefit the claimant wound need to look for and accept work when it is reasonable to do so. The benefit is taxable.
Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) Extended Final Four Weeks - August 20th, 2:15pm
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland has announced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) will be extended by an additional four weeks to a maximum of 28 weeks. This means that for the many Canadians expecting to exhaust their CERB benefits at the end of August, they will now be able to access an additional month of support.
CECRA Extension for July/August Opens Today - August 18th, 9:45am
Businesses who have already submitted a CECRA application for the period of April - June can now log back into the online portal and opt-in for an extension of either the month of July, or for July and August.
If you have not yet submitted an application for the period of April - June, when submitting an application you will have the option of opting-in for an extension of either the month of July, or July and August, at the same time.
No additional documents are required to opt-in for an extension. You will be asked to make certain confirmations and agree to certain terms and conditions.
The Government of Canada has responded swiftly to a “credential stuffing” cyberattack that compromised GCKey and CRA accounts.
The attacks saw hackers fraudulently obtain usernames and passwords to accounts on other websites, taking advantage of the fact many people use the same password and username across multiple websites.
The main focus of the attacks was the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and GCKey, a secure online portal that allows Canadians to access services such as employment insurance, veterans’ benefits and immigration applications.
The affected departments are in the process of contacting users whose credentials were compromised to provide instructions on how to receive a new GCKey.
Eligible employers who had any drop in revenue can now qualify for the CEWS wage subsidy, starting with the claim periods that began July 5th, 2020. CEWS now runs until November 21st, 2020.
Stronger Tomorrow, Starting Today is the BC Business Council’s proposed economic recovery plan for BC. The plan was developed with input from over 100 business, Indigenous, post-secondary, and NEXT leaders. It contains 24 separate recommendations to help BC recover economically.
New Mobile App Launches to Help Notify of Possible COVID-19 Exposure - July 31st, 09:45am
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and the Premier of Ontario, Doug Ford, today announced that COVID Alert, a new national mobile app, is now available to Canadians for free download. The app, first developed in Ontario, helps notify users if they may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Use of COVID Alert is voluntary, and serves as another tool to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Once the app is fully functioning in their province or territory, users who test positive for COVID-19 will receive a one-time key from their health authority that they can enter into the app. When the key is entered, COVID Alert will notify other users who may have come in close contact with that person for at least 15 minutes in the past 14 days, so they can contact their local public health authority for guidance.
To safeguard the confidentiality and privacy of all Canadians, the app uses strong measures to protect any data it collects, and does not track a user's location or collect personally identifiable information. The Privacy Commissioners of Canada and Ontario were consulted on the development of COVID Alert, to ensure the highest level of privacy for Canadians using the app.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced that the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) will be extended by one month to help eligible small business pay rent for August. All provinces and territories continue to participate in this initiative, and collaborate with the federal government to provide rent supports to those small businesses most in need.
As of July 30, 2020, 63,000 small business tenants have been supported, representing over 616,000 employees, for a total of over $613 million in rent support. Additionally, CMHC is working with large property owners to help provide CECRA to more than 20,000 small businesses. Thousands of new applications continue to be regularly submitted, demonstrating a strong interest in CECRA from property owners and small business tenants and the importance of this one month extension as businesses get through this challenging period.
Business Council of BC Releases Economic Recovery Plan for British Columbia - July 30th, 1:40pm
Created by the Business Council of BC, Stronger Tomorrow, Starting Today is a commitment from B.C.’s leaders to invest, partner, and embrace bold actions that will get British Columbians rehired and employed in new jobs in every part of the province, by acting on bold ideas in five different areas. The Plan is made from 24 recommendations under five broad themes – focused on getting people back to work quickly, and public and private sector investment flowing that creates good jobs:
- Spur Economic Recovery…Starting Today
- Improve Conditions for Hiring and Private Sector Investment
- Empower People, Talent and Skills
- Accelerate Homegrown Innovation
- Make the World Cleaner and Protect the Environment
British Columbia Moves to Stage 2 of the Provincial Education Restart Plan - July 29th, 3:20pm
Enhanced safety measures and additional resources will enable most students in grades K-12 to return to school on Sept. 8, 2020, with full-time in-class learning as the province moves to Stage 2 of B.C.’s Education Restart Plan.
Stage 2 Details
Stage 2 is a full return to in-class instruction for all students for the maximum time possible within learning group limits.
Parents will be contacted by their school or school district/authority to confirm the educational program options available for September 2020. Visit your school and district websites for regular information updates.
Over $95 Million in Relief and Recovery Funds Flow to Western Canada - July 28th, 11:30am
On May 13th, the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) was launched. This $962-million fund is designed to support businesses across Canada that have been unable to get access to other federal relief measures and might be in danger of falling through the cracks.
In Western Canada, Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) is delivering, in collaboration with the Community Features Pan West Network, over $300 million to help businesses pay their rent, keep their employees, and recover from the impact of the pandemic.
So far, over $95 million has been distributed across Western Canada through the RRRF. These interest-free repayable contributions are now flowing to more than 1,760 businesses.
New Provincial Health Order Issued for Guest Accommodations - July 28th, 10:30am
Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, has issued a new order limiting the number of people allowed to be present at rental accommodations. The new order applies to rental properties (including Airbnb), boats (including houseboats), hotel rooms and yurts.
"The number of people is limited to the capacity of the space, plus a maximum of five visitors," Dr. Henry explains.
"That means you cannot have a large number of people over to party in your hotel room or on your boat during this period of our COVID summer."
The new order also clarifies the provincial rules around gatherings of up to 50 people, which remain legal in British Columbia as long as the right conditions are met.
CRA Announces Extension to Payment Deadline for Tax Payment Deadline - July 27th, 2:35pm
The CRA is extending the payment due date for current year individual, corporate, and trust income tax returns, including instalment payments, from September 1, 2020, to September 30, 2020. Penalties and interest will not be charged if payments are made by the extended deadline of September 30, 2020. This includes the late-filing penalty as long as the return is filed by September 30, 2020.
The CRA is also waiving interest on existing tax debts related to individual, corporate, and trust income tax returns from April 1, 2020, to September 30, 2020 and from April 1, 2020, to June 30, 2020, for goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) returns.
Revised Public Health Order in Effect for Licensed Premises - July 24th, 9:20am
Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, has released a revised Public Health Order for all licensed premises in British Columbia. The order applies to all bars, restaurants and nightclubs. Key changes are listed below. This order repeals and replaces the PHO order made on June 19, 2020.
- All patrons will be required to remain seated at an assigned table, booth or counter
- Patrons who are not in the same party must be seated two metres apart unless separated by a physical barrier
- There must be no more than six patrons seated at a table or booth, even if they belong to the same party
- Liquor may only be served to patrons who are seated and there will be no self-service (no walking to the bar to get a drink)
- Dance floors must remain closed with physical barriers or occupied with tables
- Patrons must not sing or dance on the premises.
The Alacrity Digital Marketing Bootcamp is an online course developed by the B.C. government and Alacrity Canada. The bootcamp is open to businesses and employed and unemployed British Columbians, with priority given to employers and individuals impacted by COVID-19. There are up to 500 places available, and registration is open until July 31st, 2020. The course starts on August 4th, 2020. Apply here
Wholesale Liquor Pricing for Restaurants and Bars Takes Effect - July 20th, 12:45pm
Measures enacted by the Province in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that temporarily allow restaurants and pubs to purchase beer, wine and spirits at wholesale cost instead of liquor store retail prices came into effect on Monday, July 20, 2020.
Hospitality customers who have registered with the Province’s Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) can now use a searchable hospitality price list to help with their buying decisions. A complete online hospitality product catalogue will launch Sept. 1, 2020.
The temporary authorization will remain in effect until March 31, 2021. A provincial review of the program during this temporary reform will help government determine the financial costs and benefits of the change.
Online Tool Speeds Up Temporary Layoff Application Process, July 20th, 12:40pm
Employers and workers who need to extend temporary layoffs due to COVID-19 can more easily apply for a variance using the Employment Standards Branch’s new online application.
The new online application simplifies and streamlines the process for employers and workers to jointly apply for an extension beyond Aug. 30 by eliminating the need for hardcopy documents and signatures, while ensuring the integrity of the branch’s decision-making process.
Employers are encouraged to apply as soon as they have received worker support. An application deadline of Aug. 25, 2020, has been set to ensure that all applications will be processed by the Aug. 30 expiry date.
There are now two steps. Employers must:
- Survey their workforce to obtain more than 50% support from workers before applying. Workers will receive information about the variance, including what their rights are and can provide their support using a new online response tool;
- Once worker support is documented, employers complete the online form and submit the document in a new portal directly to the Employment Standards Branch.
- There are new supportive templates and tools to assist employers and workers in taking these steps.
Find Non-Medical PPE for Your Business - July 20th, 10:10am
As we move through the four phases of B.C.’s Restart Plan and businesses start to reopen and operate, non-medical Personal Protective Equipment – PPE – will play a key role in helping keep us all safe.
Small Business BC has created the Non-Medical PPE Marketplace to connect businesses with suppliers of non-medical safety equipment.
Details of Proposed Changes to Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) Announced - July 17th, 12:00pm
The Government of Canada announced proposed changes to the CEWS to broaden the reach of the program and provide better targeted support so that more workers can return to their jobs quickly as the economy restarts. The proposed changes include:
- Extend the program until November 21st, 2020, with the intent to provide further support until December 19th, 2020.
- Expand eligibility by including employers with a revenue decline of less than 30 per cent and providing a gradually decreasing base subsidy to all qualifying employers.
- Introduce a top-up subsidy of up to an additional 25 per cent for employers that have been most adversely affected by the pandemic.
Since its launch, about 3m employees have had their jobs supported through the CEWS.
Canada-United States Border to Remain Closed until August 21st - July 16th, 3:25pm
Province Outlines Repayment Framework to Support Tenants, Landlords – July 16th, 3:00pm
In March, the B.C. government announced a ban on evictions, a ban on rent increases, and the Temporary Rent Supplement program (BC-TRS) of up to $500 a month due to COVID-19. The government has today announced it is implementing a framework to ensure renters have a reasonable timeframe to pay back any rent they owe.
Landlords must give tenants until July 2021 to repay outstanding rent, as long as monthly installments are paid. Alongside this move, the B.C. government has announced they will lift the ban on evictions for non-payment of rent on September 1st.
The ban on rent increases will remain in place until December.
The Temporary Rental Supplement (BC-TRS) program originally ran from April to June, but was extended until the end of August.
New Supports Announced for Post-Secondary Students this Fall - July 16th, 10:25am
Applications for StudentAid BC, along with the new non-repayable B.C. Access Grant, are now open.
This up-front grant, along with new funding for students with disabilities, expanded open education resources and online support through BCcampus, will open doors for students to return to school and earn the college or university credential of their choice.
Terry Duguid, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (Western Economic Diversification Canada), has announced $8.3 million in funding through the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund to support the Women’s Enterprise Initiative (WEI) organizations across Western Canada.
The Women’s Enterprise Centre in British Columbia, Alberta Women Entrepreneurs, Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan, and the Women’s Enterprise Centre of Manitoba will each receive $2 million in additional loan funds for women entrepreneurs. In addition, $300,000 in operating funding will be divided equally among the four WEIs to meet the increased demand for advisory services and business supports.
B.C. Government Releases Comprehensive Economic Update - July 14th, 12:05pm
The B.C. government has released an economic and fiscal update for 2020-21 to provide a summary of COVID-19 investments to date, as well as a scenario of revenue and deficit projections.
Government has supported people and businesses with $6.26 billion in COVID-19 supports to date. That includes the $5 billion in supplementary spending for B.C.’s COVID-19 Action Plan supports, such as workers benefits, rent supplements, income and disability assistance supports and economic recovery funding. These are in addition to $1.26 billion in other tax and relief measures for people and businesses, including the one-time increase to the climate action tax credit and property tax reductions for businesses.
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) to be Extended to December - July 13th, 11:55am
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has confirmed the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Program (CEWS) will be extended to December, 2020. The program covers 75 per cent of wages, to a weekly maximum of $847, for workers at businesses affected by the economic slowdown caused by COVID-19.
"This week we'll be announcing an extension to the wage subsidy program until December, to give greater certainty and support to businesses as we restart the economy," said Trudeau.
A full news release is expected later this week.
Stats Canada Releases June Labour Force Survey - July 10th, 11:30am
Statistics Canada have released their June Labour Force Survey, highlighting positive signs of recovery in the BC economy. According to the data, the number of people employed in BC rose by 118,000 in June, following an increase of 43,000 in May. These gains have brought back around 40 per cent of the total job losses seen in BC since February.
“While these numbers are encouraging, the road ahead is a challenging one, as total job losses since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic remain at 235,000. B.C.’s June unemployment rate is down 0.4% since May at 13.0%. The rate stood at 5.0% at the start of the pandemic in February,” Carole James, BC Minister of Finance.
Government of Canada Release Economic and Fiscal Snapshot - July 8th, 2:50pm
Finance Minister Bill Morneau has released the Government of Canada’s economic and fiscal snapshot, detailing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. This 168-page document offers a short-term economic analysis and a detailed account of government spending on the various COVID-19 support programs.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on the social and economic well-being of Canadians in every part of the country. For many it has meant lost jobs, lost hours and lost wages. Our government has understood, from the moment this pandemic began, that it was our role to step in to support Canadians and stabilize the economy. Our investments have meant that Canadians and Canadian businesses, instead of drowning in debt and closing up shop, will be better positioned to get back at it. As economies gradually and safely reopen, we will continue to ensure that Canadians have access to the support they need.”
Travelling Within BC During Phase 3 - July 6th, 2:55pm
Like most aspects of our lives, travel has been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This may not be the year for international vacations, but our collective successes in flattening the curve has meant residents of British Columbia are free to enjoy a “staycation” within our province – if it’s carried out in a smart, safe and respectful manner. In this article, we run through some tips and best practices for keeping yourself, and our communities, safe this summer.
Emergency Supports Extended for Vulnerable People – July 6th, 10:00am
The B.C. government has announced the extension of federal employment insurance exemptions and the provincial temporary crisis supplement.
On April 2nd, the Province announced a three-month exemption of all federal employment insurance benefits, including the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, for people already receiving income or disability assistance at that time.
This exemption, which now includes the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (effective May 1, 2020), has been extended for the duration of these federal emergency support programs so that eligible people will continue to fully benefit without any reductions to their monthly income or disability assistance payments.
For those who are not eligible for the federal benefits, the Province’s temporary COVID-19 Crisis Supplement, which has been provided since April, will be extended an additional two months.
In April, SBBC launched the B.C. Business COVID-19 Support Service to provide guidance and answer questions relating to the various COVID-19 resources and support programs that were rapidly coming on stream.
During this time, we have served more than 4,200 businesses through phone, chat and email, while our Knowledge Centre has received more than 200,000 visits.
As we continue to navigate the four phases of B.C.'s Restart Plan, our B.C. Business COVID-19 Support Service remains as important as ever. In the months ahead we will remain active to help entrepreneurs navigate a rapidly shifting business landscape. We will continue providing the assistance needed to support our business community, and our team is standing by to assist in any way they can.
We are grateful for the continuing support of our partners in the B.C. government, and the Government of Canada.
B.C. Families to Receive Boosted Climate Action Tax Credit - July 2nd, 09:35am
Starting this week, more than 80% of families and individuals in British Columbia will automatically receive an enhanced climate action tax credit.
Eligible individuals will receive up to $218, children will receive up to $64 in a one-time increase and a family of four will receive up to $564. That is a $174.50 boost for individuals, a $51.25 increase for children and a lift of $451.50 for a family of four – double the annual amount eligible households would have received prior to B.C.’s COVID-19 Action Plan.
The Government of Canada has extended the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program through the end of July. Alongside this update, Carole James, B.C. Minister of Finance, has confirmed the provincial emergency order protecting eligible businesses from eviction will remain in place for the duration of CECRA:
"The B.C. government welcomes the federal government's decision to extend the CECRA program for an additional month for businesses most impacted by the pandemic. Our government has been advocating for an extension beyond June for businesses that need more time to reopen and begin their recovery.
"As the CECRA program will be extended through the month of July, the Province's emergency order protecting eligible businesses from being evicted continues. The restriction will remain in place for the duration of the federal rent assistance program."
- Only those tenants approved in the April, May and June application are eligible for the July extension.
- If a business had an average revenue decline of 70% or more in April, May and June, they are deemed eligible for the additional month of rent relief. However, not all tenants in the original application need to be included for the July extension.
Support Announced for Taxi/Limousine Industries - June 30th, 10:35am
The Government of BC has announced a reduction in the annual licence renewal fee for commercial operators who hold a Passenger Directed Vehicle Authorization. This includes taxi and limousine operators.
In the past, these licensees paid an annual fee of $100 per vehicle with no overall fee cap. It has been reduced to $50 per vehicle with a licence fee cap of $5,000.
GST/HST Deferral Period to End June 30th as Planned - June 29th, 3:25pm
On March 27, the government announced it would allow businesses, including self-employed individuals, to defer all Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) payments, as well as customs duty payments owed for imports, until the end of June.
Today, the Government of Canada has confirmed this deferral period will end as planned on June 30th. Businesses are still free to avail of the various programs available to them should further support be needed.
The Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG) Open for Applications - June 25th, 2020
Students and recent graduates aged 30 or under can support Canada’s response to COVID-19 by volunteering in their community during summer 2020. In return for their service, students can get a Canada Student Service Grant of between $1,000 and $5,000 to put toward their education in the fall.
B.C. Government Extends Temporary Layoff Period During COVID-19 - June 25th, 12:45pm
Following conversations with business and worker representatives, the Province of British Columbia has extended the temporary layoffs provisions to a maximum of 24 weeks expiring on Aug. 30, 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The extension will give employers and workers additional flexibility to support economic recovery in the province with the expectation that businesses honour their obligations to workers and reach agreement with their employees in the event a further extension is required.
Small Business BC Launches PPE Marketplace for Businesses - June 24th, 2:35pm
As we move through the four phases of B.C.’s Restart Plan and businesses start to reopen and operate, non-medical Personal Protective Equipment – PPE – will play a key role in helping keep us all safe.
Small Business BC has created the Non-Medical PPE Marketplace to connect businesses with suppliers of non-medical safety equipment.
British Columbia Announces Move to Phase 3 of our Restart Plan - June 24th, 1:00pm
B.C. Premier, John Horgan, has announced the move to Phase 3 of British Columbia's Restart Plan. This will allow businesses and industries such as hotels and resorts, parks, the film industry and select entertainment, like movie theatres to reopen under the guidance of WorkSafe BC.
The move to Phase 3 also allows for the safe and respectful return of travel and tourism within the province.
Government of Canada Extends Temporary Layoff Period - June 23rd, 12:25pm
The Government of Canada has announced changes to extend time periods for temporary layoffs to allow employers more time to recall laid-off employees.
Prior to these changes, employers could temporarily lay-off employees for up to three months if no notice with a recall date was provided, or for a period of up to six months if they provided notice with an expected recall date.
The amendments, which came into effect on June 22, extend these time periods by up to six months:
- For employees laid off prior to March 31, 2020, the time period is extended by six months or to December 30, 2020, whichever occurs first.
- For employees laid off between March 31, 2020, and September 30, 2020, the time period is extended until December 30, 2020, unless a later recall date was provided in a written notice at the time of the layoff.
Building BC's Recovery Together - June 19th, 09:25am
As British Columbia begins the economic recovery process from COVID-19, the choices we make in the coming weeks and months can help us build an economy - and a province - that works for everyone.
The B.C. government is calling on all of us to share our ideas and give our input on key questions like:
- What do we need to do together to strengthen and improve our health care system?
- What is the top priority for individuals when it comes to improving quality of life?
- What would most help to improve work life or work prospects?
- Is our province on the right track? Do you see your concerns and needs reflected in this approach?
Share your thoughts by completing B.C.’s online survey, participating in a townhall, and letting the B.C. government know your priorities. The survey will remain open until July 21, 2020 at 4pm.
B.C. Government Extends Temporary Rental Supplement (BC-TRS) Until End of August - June 19th, 09:15am
The B.C. government has announced the extension of the provincial temporary rental supplement (BC-TRS) program until the end of August 2020.
This program provides $500 per month for eligible households with dependents, and $300 per month for eligible households with no dependents.
Those already approved for TRS do NOT need to reapply. Instead, they will receive an email asking them to confirm they plan to live at the same address through July and August.
Government of Canada Extends CERB - June 16th, 9:30am
The Government of Canada announced it is extending the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) for another eight weeks.
CERB now provides taxable payments of $2,000 to Canadians who lost income because of COVID-19 for up to six months.
Canada-U.S. Border Closure Extended Until July 21st - June 16th, 9:20am
The Government of Canada announced it is extending the Canada-U.S. border closure for non-essential travel for 30 days until July 21st. Immediate family members separated by the temporary COVID-19 border restrictions can now cross into Canada and self-quarantine for 14 days.
Government of Canada Announces Increased Access to CEBA for Small Businesses - June 15th, 10:35am
19th June, 2020 update: The extension of CEBA has been delayed. Details of the new launch date will be provided shortly.
Minister of Finance Bill Morneau announced that as of Friday, June 19, 2020, applications will be accepted so that more small businesses can access the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA). This means that owner-operated small businesses that had been ineligible for the program due to their lack of payroll, sole proprietors receiving business income directly, as well as family-owned corporations remunerating in the form of dividends rather than payroll will become eligible this week.
To qualify under the expanded eligibility rules, CEBA applicants with payroll lower than $20,000 will need:
- A business operating account at a participating financial institution;
- A Canada Revenue Agency business number;
- A 2018 or 2019 tax return; and
- Eligible non-deferrable expenses of between $40,000 and $1.5 million.
Provincial Health Officer Replaces Order Relating to Restaurants and Bars - June 11th, 3:50pm
In her daily briefing, Dr. Bonnie Henry, BC's Provincial Health Officer, announced she has revoked and replaced the most recent health order concerning restaurants and bars. Instead of all establishments operating at 50 per cent capacity, owners and operators will now be required to identify a number for their capacity that allows for social distancing to be maintained, while also accounting for patios. Other notable points include:
- Establishments must state total amount of patrons that can be seated (two metres apart) except for the same party
- Max party sizes are maintained at six individuals
- Applies to all license holders – food primary, bar etc.
- Does not apply to hospitals, care facilities and other settings with a cafeteria
The Government of Canada has partnered with the People Outside Safely Together (POST) Promise program, an initiative launched by Canadian private sector organizations to help businesses across the country reopen safely.
The “POST Promise” is a voluntary commitment that business owners and managers can make by following five key public health actions that will help prevent the spread of COVID-19:
- Maintaining physical distance
- Washing and sanitizing hands
- Cleaning and disinfecting regularly
- Staying home if unwell and self-monitoring for symptoms
- Practising respiratory etiquette (including wearing a mask when physical distancing is difficult)
By displaying the “POST Promise” logo, participating businesses can reassure customers that they are doing their part to help protect Canadians’ health and safety.
As we take steps toward restarting the economy, the Government will continue to work with POST Promise to ensure its platform provides businesses with accurate and up-to-date health and safety guidelines.
Government of Canada Creates Hub for Procuring PPE – June 9th, 1:55pm
Today, the Government of Canada launched a new web hub to bring together available resources for organizations buying and selling personal protective equipment (PPE). As organizations re-open for business, they need reliable information on how to buy and sell the necessary supplies required to keep themselves and others safe.
The Supply Hub connects Canadian organizations from coast to coast to coast with federal, provincial, territorial and other resources and information about PPE, including consumer guidance. Buyers will find PPE supplier lists, in addition to guidance to help plan their PPE purchases. As Public Services and Procurement Canada continues to engage with our partners and advisory groups, the hub will evolve to include additional resources.
Federal Gas Tax Fund Payment Brought Forward – June 9th, 1:50pm
The Government of Canada have announced funding delivered through the federal Gas Tax Fund will be accelerated this year to help communities as quickly as possible, while respecting public health guidelines. This $2.2 billion in annual federal infrastructure funding will be delivered in one payment in June.
B.C. Strengthens Federal Commercial Rent Program - June 1st, 12:30pm
B.C. businesses eligible for rent support from the federal government will be protected from evictions as the B.C. government issues a new 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 June 2020, as determined by the federal program timelines.
Province of British Columbia Extends State of Emergency for Further Two Weeks - May 28th, 11:25am
Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, has extended British Columbia's provincial State of Emergency until June 9th. This decision is based on the recommendations from health and emergency management officials and has been in place since March 18th.
WorkSafeBC Announces Additional Supports for Employers Impacted by COVID-19 - May 26th, 1:00pm
WorkSafeBC is waiving premiums for employers who are approved to receive the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) for furloughed workers (employees on leave with full or partial pay).
WorkSafeBC recognizes the challenges employers are facing during this extraordinary time, and in light of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic will waive premiums on wages paid to furloughed workers of employers receiving CEWS subsidies. This change will be retroactive to the March 15, 2020 start date and continue for the duration of the CEWS program. Eligible employers will need to maintain documentation to identify workers that were furloughed as a result of this provincial health emergency.
Facebook Canada Launches Grant Program for Small Business – May 26th, 11:00am
Applications are now open for Facebook Canada’s small business grant program. Nearly $3.5 million is being made available to approximately 650 small businesses in cities where Facebook has offices: Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Vancouver.
To be considered eligible for Facebook’s grant program, businesses must satisfy the following criteria:
- Be a for-profit business
- Have between 2 and 50 employees
- Have been in business for over a year
- Have experienced challenges from COVID-19
- Be located in one of the following eligible communities in BC:
How to Apply:
- Have your CRA Payroll Program Account Number to hand
- Visit Facebook’s Application Portal
Business Resilience Service (BRS) Launches – May 26th, 10:30am
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has announced the launch of the new Business Resilience Service (BRS). This program allows business owners to connect with experienced business advisors from across Canada for guidance on which government relief programs are most appropriate to apply for, and how to respond and reshape amid uncertain times.
Key Program Points:
- Provide guidance to businesses on COVID-19 program options and eligibility
- Rapidly direct businesses – including enterprises involving Indigenous peoples, women and diverse groups – to the most appropriate support organizations for their needs
- Help organizations make decisions to support recovery plans
- Provide real time insights and feedback to policymakers
Commercial property owners with small business tenants can now apply for Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA). CECRA offers unsecured, forgivable loans to eligible commercial property owners to reduce the rent owed by their impacted small business tenants and meet operating expenses on commercial properties. Property owners must offer a minimum of a 75% rent reduction for the months of April, May, and June 2020.