Weekly Update: August 14 – 20
Supports for Business
Changes to temporary layoffs, group termination and variances took effect August 15
Government of Alberta has passed the Restoring Balance in Alberta’s Workplaces Act, which includes changes to employment standards rules that are intended to save employers time and money.
Changes to temporary layoffs, group termination and variances took effect August 15. Several other changes to employment standards rules take effect November 1.
Temporary layoffs not related to COVID-19 can now be 90 days total in a 120-day period (temporary layoffs due to COVID-19 can be a maximum of 180 days).
Group termination requirements are being simplified:
- Employers must give the Minister of Labour and Immigration written notice of at least four weeks if they intend to layoff 50 or more employees at the same location in a four-week period. If employers cannot provide four weeks’ notice, they must provide notice as soon as possible.
- Employers are no longer required to give employees and unions notice of group termination, but employers must provide individual termination notice to employees.
- Individual employers, employer groups or associations can now apply for either a Director or Ministerial variance or exemption.
- Ministerial variances and exemptions no longer have to have an expiry date, and can be renewed.
Resources for employers
Alberta Employment Standards will be offering free online webinars. The first set of webinars will cover the changes to temporary layoffs, group termination, and variances. Webinars covering employment standards changes taking effect on November 1 will also be available. More information on these webinars will be sent at a later date.
Canada Revenue Agency opens applications for enhanced Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy
Today, the government announced that the Canada Revenue Agency has opened applications for Period 5 – the first period of the enhanced CEWS program. Program changes for Periods 5-9 include:
- The extension of the CEWS, including redesigned program details, until November 21, 2020.
- Increased eligibility, meaning that all eligible employers who've experienced a revenue drop can now qualify for a base subsidy. The subsidy amount is based on the revenue drop.
- Employers who are especially hard-hit can qualify for a top-up of up to 25%.
- Provide certainty for employers that have already made business decisions for July and August, by ensuring they will not receive a subsidy rate lower than they would have under the previous rules.
As the economy re-opens, the Government of Canada is encouraging employers to take another look at the CEWS program and see how it can support their workers and their operations. The Canada Revenue Agency's updated CEWS calculator can help small and large employers alike, by guiding them through a step-by-step process to prepare their applications and giving them a preview of the subsidy they may qualify for, based on the information they enter.
Eligible employers can apply for period 5 of the CEWS through My Business Account or through the CRA's web form application. We would like to reassure applicants that we have added new security measures to the My Business Account portal following the recent cyber attack. Employers can submit their application securely as planned. Those who have registered their business payroll accounts for direct deposit can generally expect to receive subsidy payments within 3-5 business days.
City Council Meeting Highlights
The City of Medicine Hat has ratified a new collective agreement with Local #46 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees. The previous agreement expired on December 31, 2019. The new agreement is for a three-year term from January 1, 2020 until December 31, 2022. General wage increases include 0% effective January 1, 2020; 0% effective January 1, 2021; and 2% effective January 1, 2022. More information
City Council approved 1st reading of Bylaw #4635, a bylaw of the City of Medicine Hat to amend Bylaw No. 4168, the City of Medicine Hat Land Use Bylaw. The homeowners are proposing an amendment to Land Use Bylaw (LUB) No. 4168 to rezone the subject land (352, 354 & 358, 360 & 364, 366 Ranchlands Blvd NE) from Low Density Residential (R-LD) to Medium Density Residential (R-MD) to allow for 4 units on each parcel. More information
CanExport for Businesses (SMEs) and Alberta Export Expansion Package (AEEP)
Looking to grow your business globally? Apply online for up to $75,000 in CanExport SMEs funding to cover up to 75% of your international market development activities. Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) may choose up to (5) export markets to target, where your company has no or minimal business. We are committed to provide a decision within 60 business days. Find out more: CanExport or find out how funding can help export-ready companies and non-profit organizations enhance access to international markets and attract global buyers. Find out more about AEEP.
Canada and Taiwan Reach Arrangement for Trade of Organic Food
Canadian organic producers can export their products to Taiwan, and Canadian families shopping for organic food will have more choices following an interim arrangement reached between the governments of Canada and Taiwan.
For one year, the Canada-Taiwan Organic Equivalency Arrangement means certain organic products may be sold as organic in Canada or Taiwan while the equivalency of the organic production and certification systems are finalized. This arrangement supports ongoing Government of Canada initiatives to eliminate trade barriers and increase consumer access to organic foods that meet Canadian organic standards.The interim arrangement applies to agricultural and processed products of plant origin, livestock and livestock products as well as aquaculture products. This includes products grown or produced within either territory or whose final processing or packaging occurs within either territory. More information
Food, Farming, and Forestry Challenge applications close August 27, 2020
Funding in the Food, Farming and Forestry Challenge is intended to accelerate innovation in support of long-term competitiveness and stimulate growth in the critically important agriculture, agri-food, fibre, and forestry sectors. Emissions Reduction Alberta will fund up to $5 million per project and up to 50 per cent of total project costs. Find out more and apply here.
ARPA COVID resilience grant
The Alberta Recreation and Parks Association is offering a new COVID-19 resilience stream grant. With a maximum allocation of $339,785,704, the grant is aimed at increasing federal cost-share for a broad range of infrastructure projects and a simplifying the approval process to allow work to get underway quickly. For additional information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Supports for Individuals
Statement from the Office of the Chief Information Officer of the Government Canada on recent credential stuffing attacks
The Government of Canada, like every other government and private sector organization in the world, deals with ongoing and persistent cyber risks and threats. That is why the government has robust systems and tools in place to monitor, detect and investigate potential threats, and neutralize them as quickly as possible.
The Government of Canada is taking action in response to “credential stuffing” attacks mounted on the GCKey service and CRA accounts. These attacks, which used passwords and usernames collected from previous hacks of accounts worldwide, took advantage of the fact that many people reuse passwords and usernames across multiple accounts. Read more
Access to programs while CRA e-services are down
You’ll still have access to CERB and CESB while our e-services are down. If you need to apply, call 1-800-959-8281. You can apply retroactively, and they’ll continue to accept applications for the benefits in September. http://ow.ly/SxXZ50B1UUt
Government of Canada announces plan to help support Canadians through the next phase of the recovery
The government announced changes to the Employment Insurance (EI) program and new income support benefits that will better support all Canadians. They also announced that in preparation for this transition and to ensure support continues for Canadians whose employment has been impacted by the pandemic, 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.
Additionally, to ensure Canadians receive the support they need during these challenging times, the government is proposing implement three new benefits:
- The Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) will provide $400 per week for up to 26 weeks, to workers who are self-employed or are not eligible for EI and who still require income support and who are available and looking for work. This benefit will support Canadians whose income has dropped or not returned due to COVID-19. The benefit will allow Canadians to earn more income while on claim as well as include links to Job Bank, Canada’s national employment service, with career planning tools for those seeking employment. In addition, the government will be working with provinces and territories to share information to ensure that Canadians have access to tools and training opportunities to successfully return to the workforce.
- The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) will provide $500 per week for up to two weeks, for workers who are sick or must self-isolate for reasons related to COVID-19.
- The Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) will provide $500 per week for up to 26 weeks per household, for eligible Canadians unable to work because they must care for:
- a child under age 12 due to the closures of schools or daycares because of COVID-19.
- a family member with a disability or a dependent because their day program or care facility is closed due to COVID-19.
- a child, a family member with a disability, or a dependent who is not attending school, daycare, or other care facilities under the advice of a medical professional due to being at high-risk if they contract COVID-19.
Community Supports and Resources
Do you know local projects that will help through recovery
Future for good is looking for inspiring projects helping people and communities get back on their feet, so if you think a project would make it in the top 100, share the inspiring story here before August 30, 2020.
ATB Cares matching donation program
ATB Cares makes it easy for all Albertans to support the causes they care about. Your charity of choice receives 100% of your donation through this site and ATB will match 15% of every dollar donated to Alberta, non-religious charities to an annual
limit of $240,000
Goats Returning to Police Point Park for Ongoing Weed Control
Dozens of goats will return to Police Point Park this week, helping to control an invasive weed species inside City limits. More than 150 goats will arrive at the park beginning Monday, August 17. Read more
Government of Canada releases Canada’s Flight Plan for safe air travel
The government announced Canada’s Flight Plan for Navigating COVID-19 (Canada’s Flight Plan), which is the foundation for Canada’s current and future efforts to reduce the public health risks of COVID-19 while travelling by aircraft. This action plan puts in place a multi-layered system of safety measures to support public health by protecting air travellers and air industry workers from COVID-19. The Government of Canada has worked with public health authorities, counterparts around the world, and industry partners to develop a plan for COVID safety in air travel that is aligned to emerging global safety standards and best practices.
Expanding COVID-19 testing for asymptomatic Albertans
Albertans with no symptoms of COVID-19 will now be able to access timely testing in their community by booking asymptomatic test appointments at Shoppers Drug Mart and pharmacies in stores owned by Loblaw. More than 50 Shoppers Drug Mart and Loblaw pharmacies in Real Canadian Superstore locations are already offering asymptomatic testing, and by September 1, 2020 all 234 of the company’s pharmacies in Alberta (including pharmacies at Independent Foods, Extra Foods, City Market, and No Frills) will offer asymptomatic COVID-19 testing. More information
Supporting recovery and combatting drugs in Medicine Hat
A new drug treatment court in Medicine Hat will help support addiction treatment and recovery, while increased support for law enforcement will target drug-related crime in southeastern Alberta. Alberta’s government is announcing that Medicine Hat will have one of the five drug treatment courts established outside of Edmonton and Calgary as part of a four-year investment of up to $20 million toward expanding the program across the province.
The government is also providing Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT) with a $50 million budget increase for initiatives to disrupt and dismantle organized crime. A portion of this new funding has been used to establish a specialized team in southeastern Alberta to investigate property crime motivated by the trade in illegal drugs. More information
Weekly Alberta Chambers of Commerce Call
We connect with Chambers of Commerce, including the Alberta Chambers of Commerce, across Alberta on a weekly basis, with our most recent meeting held on Tuesday, August 18th. We discussed updates on the Canada Revenue Agency and the online service being down. We chatted about the resignation of Finance Minister Bill Morneau and the appointment of Chrystia Freeland as the new Finance Minister marking the first time a woman will occupy this powerful post. We also discussed the intent to prorogue parliament with the announcement being made later that day on August 18th. With the throne speech slated for September 23rd, it will provide an opportunity for a confidence vote on the new plan as well. We also heard from Michele Evans, Assistant Deputy Minister, Economic Development, Trade and Tourism about the Government’s economic recovery plan, with a particular focus on the strategies for diversification. We also discussed the status of the SME relaunch grant with a continued push for businesses to apply. There have been about 12,000 applications so far and were anticipating 40,000 submissions, so there is still room. Application intake will remain open until August 31 or for 4 weeks following the start of Phase 3 of Alberta’s Relaunch Strategy – whichever is later. An official date for intake closure will be posted when Phase 3 of Alberta’s Relaunch Strategy is announced. This grant offers financial assistance to Alberta businesses, cooperatives, and non-profit organizations that were ordered to close or curtail operations, and that experienced a revenue reduction of at least 50% in April or May 2020 in comparison to April 2019, May 2019 or February 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible organizations can apply for 15% of their pre-COVID-19 revenue, up to a maximum of $5,000 in funding. The Government has committed to $200 M in funding for the program and there is not indication yet of when the Government will start Stage 3, as many businesses previously listed in Stage 3, were accelerated into Stage 2. The Government did also state that about 20% of applications are manually reviewed.
Alberta Colleges Economic Recovery Task Force issues initial recommendations to support provincial economic recovery
“Alberta’s colleges have played, and will continue to play, a pivotal role in our province’s economic resiliency by addressing growing industry demands and immediate programming needs. The speed at which we can adjust to meet market needs is a cornerstone of our college system, and these initial recommendations reflect that flexibility. Our collective goals remain to create long-term opportunities for our communities to build Alberta’s and Canada’s economic strength.” - Dr. Robert Murray, President and CEO of the Grande Prairie Regional College. The Task Force’s initial recommendations focus on four key areas including workforce data, micro-credentialing, work-integrated learning and innovation that will leverage the competitive strengths and agility of Alberta’s 11 Comprehensive Community Colleges (CCCs) in enhancing Alberta’s economic competitiveness. Read more.
Commentary: Japan Can Be Canada’s Partner In Combatting COVID
In the absence of American leadership, Canada needs to redouble its focus on key bilateral relationships. Traditional allies like the United Kingdom, France, and Australia will remain key. However, our low-profile relationship with Japan offers considerable opportunity for stepping up collaboration to the benefit of both countries. Read more
The Canadian Chamber’s Council For Women’s Advocacy Publishes Recommendations
This week, our Council for Women’s Advocacy (CWA) published five recommendations to support women, foster inclusive recovery and ensure sustained economic growth. The CWA is a cornerstone of our diversity and inclusion initiative, established to bring the voice and perspectives of women to national policies, inform our initiatives in advancing the gender equality agenda and drive meaningful action to address the identified issues and barriers. Read the news release
Canadian Chamber Responds to the Government’s EI and Benefits Proposals
All Canadians understood the need to provide emergency temporary financial support to keep everybody afloat during the pandemic. Now is the time to focus on getting Canadians back to work and to ensure the country’s long-term financial sustainability. Read more
How to Get Visitors to a New Website (Even If You Don't Know Where to Begin)
“How do I drive more traffic to my online store?”. At some point, that thought crosses the mind of every entrepreneur selling online. Whether you’re trying to attract your first customer or your 1,000th customer, generating more traffic to your online store is a crucial part of growing your business. If your site is properly optimized for conversions, getting an increase in web traffic could mean more customers and more sales. Find out more.
Series on strategies to find your way forward from MNP
MNP has a new article series offering insight on considerations and risk trends businesses are facing during these tumultuous times. Subscribe to MNP’s Business Advice Centre to be notified when new articles in the series are available. Subscribers will also receive bi-weekly emails from MNP highlighting all the latest insights, information and strategies to find your way forward. [Post to business supports on COVID page]
Google Ad Grants for Charitable Non Profit organizations
Imagine what you could do with $10,000 USD of in-kind advertising every month from Google Ads, an online advertising solution from Google. You could recruit more volunteers. Attract more donations. And share your story. Find out more. [post to virtual business tools on COVID page]
Toolkit to help policymakers strengthen competition in Canada’s economy
The Competition Bureau released a toolkit today to help policymakers across the country promote competition in Canadian industries.
The toolkit provides a step-by-step guide to help policymakers at all levels of government assess the competition impact of new and existing policies, and tailor those policies to maximize the benefits of competition to the economy.
Toronto Region Board Of Trade’s Returning To Physical Workplaces Toolkit
Working together with its members, TRBOT has developed a free digital toolkit, accessible from its website, that guides business owners and operators across Ontario on how to safely welcome employees back in four easy steps. You are encouraged to share the toolkit with your members.
Surveys and Consultations
Strike Action Impacts local businesses
Canada’s leading national industry associations, including the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association, the Forest Products Association of Canada, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, the Retail Council of Canada, and Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters are calling on the federal government to facilitate a resolution to the ongoing negotiations between the longshoremen and the Maritime Employers Association (MEA) at the Port of Montreal.
Labour action at the Port of Montreal has a direct and significant impact on the operations of thousands of companies and their employees, including those in our own region. Labour action is straining already weakened supply chains and we need action. If this has impact your business, please relay your stories to us at email@example.com, so that we can gather information and evidence on how far reaching this issue is across the Country and not just in the east.
Competition Bureau seeks input from market participants to inform an ongoing investigation of Amazon
The Competition Bureau is inviting market participants to provide input to inform its civil investigation into conduct by Amazon. The Bureau’s investigation is ongoing and there is no conclusion of wrongdoing at this time. The Bureau is examining whether Amazon is engaging in conduct on its Canadian marketplace, Amazon.ca, that is impacting competition to the detriment of consumers and companies that do business in Canada.
The Bureau is conducting its investigation under the restrictive trade practices provisions of the Competition Act, with a focus on potential abuse of dominance. Areas of interest to the Bureau include:
- any past or existing Amazon policies which may impact third-party sellers’ willingness to offer their products for sale at a lower price on other retail channels, such as their own websites or other online marketplaces;
- the ability of third-party sellers to succeed on Amazon’s marketplace without using its “Fulfilment By Amazon” service or advertising on Amazon.ca; and
- any efforts or strategies by Amazon that may influence consumers to purchase products it offers for sale over those offered by competing sellers.
The Bureau encourages sellers and businesses with relevant information to confidentially share their experiences with the Bureau by providing the following information via email (firstname.lastname@example.org):
- their name,
- the name of their business,
- their contact information, and
- an overview of the issues they wish to discuss with Bureau representatives, with an emphasis on the three areas of interest noted above.
Government of Canada Launches Public Engagement on First-Ever Aquaculture Act
The government launched the next phase of the Government’s public engagement on the first-ever Aquaculture Act. The proposed Act will provide more clarity and certainty as this industry continues to develop across Canada, while respecting federal, provincial, and territorial jurisdictions.
A discussion paper providing background on aquaculture in Canada, rationale for the proposed legislation and an overview of the elements proposed for the new Act, is now available online with key questions to guide feedback to the Government on this important initiative. The public is invited to visit https://dfo-mpo.gc.ca/aquaculture/act-loi/consultations-eng.html, and will have until January 15, 2021 to participate in this round of consultation.
Survey: Impacts Of COVID-19 On Canadians: Experiences Of Discrimination
Have you experienced discrimination based on race, sex, gender identity or expression, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, age, disability or language? Has this changed during the COVID-19 pandemic? Take the survey
Alberta Government UCA consultation
The Government of Alberta is engaging with Albertans and stakeholders this summer to identify opportunities to improve the Utilities Consumer Advocate (UCA). The government has scheduled a meeting on Monday, August 24 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. to hear from small business utility customers. Please email UCA.Feedback@gov.ab.ca if you're able to attend.
August 21, 2020 at 11:00 MST
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) Session. Register here.
August 25, 2020 at 11:00 MST
Attracting and Retaining Diverse Board Members. Register here.
August 25, 2020 at 12:00 MST
The Four Cornerstones of Nonprofit Board Governance. Register here.
August 26, 2020 11:00 MST- Think like an e-commerce leader this holiday – and beyond: Tips for thriving in retail’s new conditions
The retail industry has seen significant change so far in 2020 and COVID-19 will continue to have a significant effect on businesses and consumers for the coming months – including the upcoming holiday season.
As a retailer, you need to properly prepare. This means focusing on what will truly help move the needle with consumers and evaluating what makes most sense for your business as the landscape continues to evolve.
So where do you start? Register now to find out more.
August 27, 2020
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) Session. Register here.
August 27, 2020 at 9:00 MST
Learn the Secret to Google Ads Success: Landing Page Optimization. Register here (limited to not for profit organizations).
Online Course Provides Guidance on Returning to Work Safely During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) has released the e-course Pandemic Planning: Reopening for Business, to help organizations across Canada safely return to work during the COVID-19 pandemic. The course will guide employers, supervisors, managers and workers on how to prepare for a safe return to work, and what controls are needed to be put in place to protect everyone and minimize the impact of the pandemic. Topics covered in the course include how coronavirus spreads and its symptoms, employer and worker duties and responsibilities in a COVID-19 return to business plan, methods of control (including cleaning and disinfecting), how to manage the workplace and prepare workers for a safe return, and understanding the impacts of a pandemic on mental health. Register here
RECORDING: Network call with Michele Evans
We were pleased to once again welcome Michele Evans, Assistant Deputy Minister for Economic Development, Trade, and Tourism, to this week's network call to discuss Alberta's economic reopening. If you missed it, the recording is now available.
August 27: Building Digital Resiliency During COVID-19. Register now
August 21: Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) Session. Register here.
August 25: Attracting and Retaining Diverse Board Members. Register here.
August 25: The Four Cornerstones of Nonprofit Board Governance. Register here.
August 26: Tips for thriving in retail’s new conditions Register now
August 27, 2020
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) Session. Register here.
August 27: Learn the Secret to Google Ads Success: Landing Page Optimization. Register here
September 10: Presentation And Q&A With Tiff Macklem, Governor Of The Bank of Canada. Register by Emailing the Canadian Chamber.
November 5: Mental Health S.O.S. Register here.