Daily COVID 19 Update: March 27, 2020
Supports for Business
Wage Subsidy for Employers
A major change was announced today by the Prime Minister in his daily press conference. The previously announced 10% wage subsidy has been increased to 75% to help small businesses keep operating and retain their employees. This 75 per cent wage subsidy for qualifying businesses is for up to 3 months and retroactive to March 15, 2020. This will help businesses to keep and return workers to the payroll. More details on eligibility criteria will be shared before the end of the month. Read more.
Deferral of GST/HST payments until June
The Government of Canada is allowing 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. 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.
Canada Emergency Account
The Canada Emergency Business Account will provide up to $25 billion to eligible financial institutions so they can provide interest-free loans to small businesses 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. 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 percent interest rate, so they can pay for rent and other important costs over the next number of months.
Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Loan and Guarantee
The Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Loan and Guarantee program 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. 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 in order to assist small and medium-sized companies that require greater help to meet their operational cash flow requirements. This will be available through businesses financial institutions who will then work with EDC and BDC to allow businesses to access these funds.
Tourism Levy payments deferred
Hotels and other lodging providers can delay paying the tourism levy until Aug. 31 for amounts that become due to the government on or after March 27. Hotels and other lodging providers are still expected to file returns, as required by legislation, and must continue to collect the tourism levy from guests staying at their properties during this period. Payments deferred until Aug. 31 will not be subject to penalties or interest. Read more.
Supports for Individuals
Changes to Service Canada Centres
- All in person Service Canada Centres are closed to the public and clients can now apply for critical services online.
- Citizen Service Officers will be providing personalized service support for EI and pensions applications through an e-service available online and on mobile phone.
- To support access to critical programs and services for clients without access to technology, Service Canada Community Outreach and Liaison Service staff are contacting communities to offer alternative service delivery methods that will continue to support accessing critical programs, services and benefits.
Increased Security For Alberta Renters
- Effective immediately, tenants cannot be evicted for non-payment of rent and/or utilities before May 1.
- Effective immediately, rents will not increase while Alberta’s state of public health emergency remains in effect.
- Effective April 1, late fees cannot be applied to late rent payments for the next three months.
- Effective April 1, landlords and tenants need to work together to develop payment plans while the state of public health emergency is in effect. Read more
Community Information and Support
City Launches Information Line
As part of the City’s COVID-19 response, the telephone service will provide information to residents and help connect them to community resources. The information line number is 403-529-8106. The service will be operated by City staff Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The City of Medicine Hat has also launched a webpage outlining the numerous supports and resources available in the community as part of the COVID-19 response. The list includes government agencies, cultural supports, financial assistance, grocery stores, mental health resources, and many more. Visit the City website here.
Emergency Social Services Support Available for Local Organizations Impacted by COVID-19
Emergency Social Services Support is now available through the local Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) Grant Program. The Emergency Social Services funding will be used to support a range of services, including at-home help for seniors, crisis and helplines, food security, emotional and mental health counselling and other identified community concerns. For services to be eligible, they must address the social well-being of those most affected by COVID-19 and the measures implemented to limit the spread of the virus. Please visit www.medicinehat.ca/emergencyfcssfunding for eligibility criteria and to apply.
Closure of Non-Essential Businesses
As a result of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, attendance at certain businesses and organizations across the province will be prohibited effective immediately.
Restrictions will be in place for the following classifications of business:
- Close contact businesses including hair salons and barbershops, tattoo and piercing studios, esthetic services, as well as wellness studios and clinics and non-emergency and non-critical health services provided by regulated health professionals or registered professionals including dentistry, physiotherapy, massage, podiatry, chiropractic and optometry services.
- Dine-in restaurants will no longer be able to offer dine-in service. Take-out and delivery services will continue to be available.
- Non-essential retail services that fall into the categories of clothing, computer and gaming stores, and services in shopping malls and shopping centres such as hobby and toys, gift and specialty items and furniture.
A more complete list of affected businesses is available online.
New Restrictions on Mass Gathering
People are now prohibited from attending gatherings of more than 15, and they must observe two metres of social distancing. This includes:
- open spaces such as trails, fields and parks
- public and private gatherings where people are brought together in a single room or space at the same time, including funerals, weddings and other formal and informal events
Further details on gathering restrictions are available online.
Fines for Violation of Orders
Any business or organization not following the public health order will be subject to a fine. Courts have the power to administer fines of up to $100,000 for a first offence and up to $500,000 for a subsequent offence for more serious violations. Individuals aware of any businesses violating these orders can submit complaints online.
Support Health Care Workers
Frontline medical workers need protection. If you, or your business, have extra N95 face masks, safety glasses, sanitized goggles, isolation gowns or coveralls, sanitizer or latex, nitrile or vinyl gloves to donate, please contact our public health authority.
Vehicle Restrictions Applied to Parks and Recreational Areas
The restrictions, which came into effect March 27 at 1 p.m. through two ministerial orders, are in place to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus and are the same restrictions currently in place at national parks. Albertans who choose to access the province’s parks and recreation areas should follow the advice of government health experts on physical distancing and public gatherings. The suspension applies to motor vehicle access to parking lots and staging areas. Albertans should choose recreation opportunities close to home, like going for a walk in their neighbourhood, but if they do travel to provincial parks or recreation sites, access is by non-motorized means only. Read more.
Important Changes to Canada's Postal Service
Canada Post has initiated changes to delivery operations and retail postal network including changes to the hours of service, social and physical distancing, transactions, parcel pick-up and parcel delivery. You can view the details of the changes here with a link to their frequently asked questions here.
Chamber network gets results on wage subsidy
We applaud the government’s responsiveness and willingness to work with the business community. Our members were clear the 10 per cent subsidy previously announced was insufficient. The federal government clearly heard that small businesses needed more and acted decisively. News release.
Canadian Chamber Technical Briefing
Today on a call with 190 chambers and associations from across the country we held the first in a series of briefings by federal officials responsible for programs that will support Canadian SMEs and their employees. This first briefing was focused on Employment Insurance, the Work-Sharing Program, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, and the Temporary Foreign Workers Program. Two additional teleconferences will happen next week with more of a focus on border and supply chain issues and on access to capital.
COVID-19: Entire food supply chain must be declared essential
Agriculture Minister Devin Dreeshen stated that Alberta will formally ask the federal government to declare the entire food supply chain an essential service. That would allow producers, processors, delivery services and retailers to remain operating throughout the pandemic. Read More. As a Chamber of Commerce, we echo this request and have heard the same sentiments from our producers.
AUMA’s a guide to the financial supports available to municipalities, employers, employees, and the self-employed.
Google has just announced an $800+ million global effort to help small and medium-sized businesses, health organizations and governments, and health workers on the frontline of this global pandemic. For Canada specifically, Google is donating ad grants to help organizations, including Health Canada and the Public Health Agency, provide critical information on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This follows previous efforts Google Canada has taken to help Canadians receive authoritative information in times of need, such as its SOS Alert in Search connecting people to info from Health Canada and YouTube, directing users to the Public Health Agency of Canada. Additionally, Google is providing $340 million globally in Google Ads credits available to all SMBs, including Canadian SMEs, with active accounts over the past year.
Bank of Canada introduces wide range of measures to limit economic damage
The Bank of Canada cut its overnight rate by 0.5 percentage points to 0.25 per cent this morning. This move brings Canada’s overnight rate in line with the US Federal Reserve’s federal funds rate. Read more.
On Demand Webinars
YXH Business Support (Recorded Facebook Live): Amy Zuk, F&S Safety Buzz, “Alberta Occupational Health & Safety Impacts in our Workplace During COVID-19”. Watch Now.
The Importance of Human Resources & Being Strategic When Your Business is Being Temporarily Impacted. Watch Now.
How to cope with the impacts of COVID-19 on your business. Watch Now.
Social Media in a Crisis: Bloggity Inc.: Watch Now.
Destination Canada: The Visitor Economy: Watch Now.
Rent Relief in a World of the Coronavirus: Watch Now.
Webinars Series from the Calgary Chamber of Commerce. Watch Now.
Webinar Series from the Conference Board of Canada, Mental Health and COVID-19. Watch Now.
March 31: Workplace Safety Issues & COVID-19. Register here.
March 31: Maintaining Mental Fitness - Gratitude. Register here.
March 31: Managing Stress in a Changing Environment, Dale Carnegie. Register here.
April 1: The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages. Click to Join
April 1: Business & Economic Recovery during the COVID-19 Crisis. Register here.
April 1: Business Planning in Uncertain Times. Register here.
April 1: Leading and Laughing During These Turbulent Times. Register here.
April 2: Temporary Layoffs and Frustration of Contract. Register here.
April 3: Handling HR During Crisis. Register here.
April 3: Managing Stress in a Changing Environment, Dale Carnegie. Register here.
April 6: Financing Options for Small Business. Register here.
April 7: Managing a Remote Workforce. Register here.
April 7, 2020: Preparing Your Startup for the Impact of COVID-19. Register here.
April 13: : Business Development in Trying Times. Register here.
Economic Developers Alberta: COVID-19 Webinar Series
CPHR Alberta Webinar Series: HR Pandemic Essentials