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.
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.