Weekly Update: December 4-10, 2020
Information and Resources for Business
New online marketplace launches: ShopYXH.ca
APEX Alberta, Community Futures Entre-Corp, Invest Medicine Hat and the Medicine Hat and District Chamber of Commerce are taking the local shopping experience online with a multi-vendor marketplace called Shop YXH, which launched on December 7th, just in time for Christmas.
With or without an existing website, a local business may use the marketplace to sell online. Shop YXH is an aggregated site that makes it easy to find, discover and buy local, and gives businesses a competitive advantage online. Within a few clicks, a small business can be up and selling on the Shop YXH marketplace. With no fees, powerful tools, support and education, Shop YXH will help small business start, manage, and sell their products and services.
From the consumer side, the marketplace search tools help buyers explore all the unique businesses and products in Medicine Hat and Southeast Alberta. Consumers can search by product, location or business. For further information about selling on Shop YXH, please email email@example.com or visit www.ShopYXH.ca.
New mandatory provincewide Covid-19 measures and additional support for Alberta Small Businesses
Stronger, mandatory restrictions are in effect across the province and will remain in place until at least January 12, 2021. There are no indoor or outdoor social gatherings and masks are mandatory in all indoor public spaces and workplaces across the provinces. Effective Sunday, Dec 13:
- Restaurants, pubs, bars, lounges and cafes closed to in-person service. Only takeout, curbside pickup and delivery services are permitted.
- Retail services, including malls, must reduce customer capacity to 15%. Curbside pickup, delivery and online services are encouraged.
- Places of worship limited to 15% capacity for in-person attendance.
- Casinos, bingo halls, gaming entertainment centres, racing entertainment centres, horse tracks, raceways, bowling alleys, pool halls, legions, and private clubs will be closed.
- Recreational facilities – fitness centres, recreation centres, pools, spas, gyms, studios, day and overnight camps, indoor rinks and arenas – will be closed.
- Outdoor recreation is permitted, but facilities with indoor spaces except for washrooms will be closed.
- Entertainment businesses and entities – libraries, science centres, interpretive centres, museums, galleries, amusement parks and water parks – will be closed.
- Hotels may remain open but must follow restrictions – no spas, pools or in-person dining. Room services only.
- Personal and wellness services, including hair salons, nail salons, massage, tattoos, and piercing, will be closed.
- Working from home is mandatory unless a physical presence is required for operational effectiveness.
Previously announced restrictions remain in effect until Dec. 13. Full restrictions details can be found online.
Additional Financial Support Announced
In order to provide additional financial support, the Government is expanding the relaunch grant to provide for a second payment that will now be 15 per cent of pre-pandemic monthly revenues up to a maximum of $15,000. This provides a total of up to $20,000 in potential funding available for each business, up from the original $5,000. Businesses can use the funding however they choose to offset the costs they must face as a result of the pandemic restrictions. This includes the costs of implementing measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including PPE and cleaning supplies, as well as rent, employee wages, or replacing inventory. The funds can also be used to help businesses expand their online presence or e-commerce opportunities so that they can continue to serve customers.
This second payment is available to businesses operating in areas on the provincial watch list where new health restrictions have been implemented. Additionally, the program is now expanding to include job creators who have experienced a 30 per cent revenue loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This lowers the threshold from the existing requirement of 40 per cent revenue loss. The 30 per cent threshold will be available to impacted businesses retroactive to March. Applications for the second payment in areas under enhanced measures will open the week of December 14 and is open to Alberta businesses, cooperatives, and non-profit organizations with fewer than 500 employees that faced restrictions or closures from public health orders.Read more and visit the SME Relaunch Grant program page. Applicants who have accidentally submitted a duplicate application will experience delays if not corrected and the program will be reaching out to those applicants we believe to be in this situation shortly.
Government expands Canada Emergency Business Account loans
Starting on Friday, December 4, 2020, eligible businesses facing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are able to access a second CEBA loan of up to $20,000 – on top of the initial $40,000 that was available to small businesses.
Support for Alberta Restaurants from SkipTheDishes
Skip has been working alongside the Government of Alberta on how to best support their partners, and are proud to extend a support package that includes:
- A 25% rebate on commission for local, independent restaurant partners
- 0% commission rate for any new restaurants joining the network during the restriction period
- A 10.5% commission rate to any restaurant partner looking to utilize their own staff to facilitate delivery while leveraging Skip's technology and customer base
- The continuation of Skip's restaurant tipping initiative, which has seen over $1.2 million in generous donations from customers go directly to local restaurants
- App functionality that allows partners to diversify their menu offerings, increasing orders and revenue
- Additional marketing and order-driving initiatives that can both increase repeat orders and attract new customers
This support package will begin on Sunday, December 13 when provincial restrictions take effect. Read more.
More support for Alberta’s tourism sector
Hotels and other lodging providers will now be able to keep the tourism levy amounts collected between March 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021. This extension of the original abatement period, which was to end Dec. 31, will free up to $10 million in additional cash flow for the sector to employ staff, maintain operations and continue providing valuable services through the winter season. The Alberta government has also expanded Travel Alberta’s role to help develop new travel destinations and expand tourism across the province, in addition to marketing and promoting Alberta as a must-see tourism destination. Travel Alberta will also conduct key industry research that will give tourism businesses and stakeholders a more thorough understanding of the current state of the sector so they can make informed business decisions. Read more.
Reminder: November 1st Employment Standards Changes
Under the Restoring Balance in Alberta’s Workplaces Act several Employment Standards provisions changed on November 1, 2020. These include:
- payment of earnings
- statements of earnings
- averaging arrangements
- average daily wage
- youth employment
- administrative penalties
Workplace Safety Video Contest Open to Youth Across Canada
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) invites youth aged 13 to 19 across Canada to share their perspective about what working safely means to them through the national Focus on Safety Youth Video Contest. Youth are encouraged to produce an original video (in two minutes or less) to illustrate the importance of working safely.The winning individual or team will receive $1,000 in the regional qualifier and the first-place video at the Canadian finals will win $2,000, second place will receive $1,500, and third place will receive $1,000. Deadline to apply is April 15, 2021.
Supports for Individuals
Government of Canada temporary childcare support
The Government of Canada is proposing new temporary support of up to $1,200 per child under the age of six to further assist families with young children. This support will help families cover the costs of tools for at-home learning, help families provide the necessary care for their children, and for many, help with the higher costs associated with temporary child care arrangements.
Alberta removes licence plate stickers
Due to advances in technology, starting Jan. 1, Albertans will no longer require expiry stickers on their licence plates as the province moves toward adopting reflective plates. Alberta drivers and vehicle owners will still be responsible for renewing their registration on time, and will still require a valid certificate of vehicle registration. Albertans can sign up to receive an electronic renewal notice through a registry agent, the Alberta Motor Association, or MyAlberta eServices. Read more.
Safety Notice - Water World Tubs
The City of Medicine Hat issued a safety warning to residents who have received services provided by Water World 2062939 ALBERTA LTD., also known as “Water World Tubs.” Hot tubs, spas or swimming pools that were incorrectly installed or serviced may present an unsafe condition, posing a safety risk to persons or property. Anyone who has received hot tub, spa or swimming pool services from Water World 2062939 ALBERTA LTD., (“Water World Tubs”), or who otherwise has concerns about the safety of their hot tub, spa or swimming pool, should immediately discontinue use and contact the city’s Safety Codes Services by phone at 403.529.8374 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Callers are required to provide their name, address, phone number and relevant service dates.
Community Supports and Resources
New Mandatory Provincewide Measures
Due to Alberta’s high case numbers, aggressive action and mandatory restrictions apply provincewide and will be in place at least until January 12, 2021. Effective Dec. 8, all indoor and outdoor social gatherings have been prohibited, close contacts are limited to household members only and masks are now mandatory province-wide in all indoor public spaces and workplaces. This will be enforced with $1,000 fines. Read more.
In accordance with the additional province-wide restrictions announced by the Government of Alberta, the City of Medicine Hat will close all entertainment, cultural and recreational facilities effective Sunday, December 13, 2020. These mandatory restrictions include art galleries, museums, gyms, studios, fitness and recreation centres, as well as indoor rinks and arenas. City Hall will remain open to the public at a reduced customer capacity of 15%. The following facilities will close to the public by the end of day Saturday, December 12, 2020:
- Family Leisure Centre
- Co-op Place
- Kinplex Arena
- Hockey Hounds Arena
- Nature Centre at Police Point Park
- Esplanade Arts & Heritage Centre – temporary closure effective Friday, December 11 at 5 pm
Numerous outdoor amenities will remain open to the public, including all parks, trails, toboggan hills, Saamis Tepee and dog parks. For a full list of open recreational amenities, visit the City website. Online cultural experiences are available online here. Read more.
Fighting COVID-19 and Strengthening Health Care
The Government of Canada will cover 100% of the cost of procuring vaccines for all Canadians, and the supplies needed to administer them. In addition, the Prime Minister proposed the following health care areas in which to begin work, supported by new federal investments: improving long-term care and health care delivery for people across the country, increasing mental health services, coordinating on digital platforms and information sharing between jurisdictions, and making progress on a national, universal pharmacare program while lowering the cost of drugs.
First COVID-19 immunizations to start next week
The first 3,900 doses of Pfizer vaccine will arrive in Alberta during the week of Dec. 14. Since the initial shipments of the vaccines must be administered on-site at dedicated vaccine sites, and cannot be transported to long-term care or other facilities, the first immunizations will focus on health-care workers crucial to supporting vulnerable Albertans and caring for critically ill patients. Read more.
AHS Continues to Hire Contact Tracing Staff
AHS has continued to enhance contact tracing teams to meet demand. They now have more than 800 contact tracers in Alberta and are on track to double it once more, bringing the province closer to 1,600 contact tracers by the end of 2020. Anyone who is interested in becoming a contact tracer is encouraged to visit ahs.ca/careers and apply for an open position.
Supporting world-class COVID research in Alberta
The University of Alberta will receive $20 million in funding over four years to accelerate leading-edge research and commercialization of pharmaceutical and vaccine treatments and build on Alberta’s successes. Read more.
Canada to receive early delivery of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine
The Government of Canada announced that Canada will receive up to 249,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in December 2020, contingent on Health Canada authorization of the vaccine.
2021 City Budget Update Aims to Address $23M Gap
The City of Medicine Hat 2021 Budget Update presented on December 7th reflects the City’s enhanced Accelerated Financially Fit Initiative, which aims to address a $23M gap created by the loss of oil and gas dividend revenues from City-owned assets. Unlike other levels of government, municipalities are unable to plan deficit budgets. To achieve a balanced budget, the City must ensure expenses do not exceed funding. The original 2019-2022 Budget approved in December 2018 was based on the assumption of an annual property tax increase of 4%. The 2021 Budget Update was adjusted to include a 0% property tax increase for both 2020 and 2021 to support the community through financial hardships created by COVID-19 and other recessionary factors. This decision and the related reduction of $7.3M in tax revenues added further pressure to the City’s operating budget.
Summary of 2021 Budget Update
- 0% property tax increase in 2020 and 2021.
- Significant net cost reduction of $14.8M (11%) with a thoughtful, measured approach.
- Reduced reliance on financial reserve of $1.2M from the initial 2019-2022 budget. The City will need to find further solutions to eliminate continued reliance on financial reserves in the future.
- Service enhancements in some areas, with minimal adverse adjustments to service in some others.
- As two-thirds of the City’s budget is related to staffing, cost reductions are needed in this area to achieve budget targets and much of this will be reached through voluntary reduction or attrition. Additional analysis is underway to find further efficiencies across the organization.
- Bargaining units and all non-union staff are budgeted to receive a 0% increase for 2020 and 2021
- Included in the 2021 Budget Update is a divisional realignment, which will result in excess of $250,000 in direct cost savings. The realignment also consolidates like functions to reduce overlap, and offers improved business case planning and analysis to ensure more efficient planning and execution of projects.
Potential Service Level Adjustments and Facility Closures
- COVID closures and required capital investments have forced careful consideration of the future of some aging recreational facilities, including Crestwood Rec Centre, Moose Rec Centre and Heights Pool. Future investment in community amenities will be based on community needs and operatingefficiencies through such solutions as consolidated, multi-purpose facilities.
- The City continues to pursue cost reduction strategies that minimize adverse impacts on services and subsequently residents. An initiative like MHTnow – transit on demand, actually reduced costs while enhancing service to many users. Leveraging technology and digital innovation in order to serve and connect with residents will continue.
While the 2021 Budget Update signals significant progress toward financial sustainability, City officials are quick to point out that more work needs to be done. Read more.
30 Simple Changes in Tax Policy to Help Canadians and Businesses through COVID-19
As part of the national Think Growth Campaign, the Canadian Chamber compiled a list of 30 things the government could do regarding tax changes that could help businesses struggling through the pandemic. A more comprehensive report will be published early next year that sets out ideas for long-term structural reform.
Western Canada Executive Summit
Over 200 attendees joined virtually on November 24th for discussions on how tax policy can be used to support Canadians and businesses during and after the pandemic, the impacts of Canada’s regulatory burden and how to leverage regulatory reform to be a key driver of economic growth as well as discussions surrounding how the pandemic has altered supply chains, either temporarily or permanently. Read the What We Heard document summarizing the event or watch the sessions:
- Regulatory Competitiveness
- Mobilizing Capital for Recovery
- Canadian Transportation and Trade Infrastructure 2020 and Beyond
- Fireside Chat With the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, President of the Treasury Board
Canadian Survey on Business Conditions
There has been a lot of talk about how COVID-19 has been affecting Canadian business – but what’s the real story? The Canadian Chamber released a deeper dive into the most recent numbers from Statistics Canada’s Canadian Survey on Business Conditions. Read the Insights
Have Your Say
New provincial restriction business impact survey
The Alberta Chambers of Commerce launched a one-minute survey on the new provincial restrictions and how they will impact businesses. Participants must sign up to Alberta Perspectives to view and complete the survey before December 12.
Canadian Chamber Business Survey
While policy and advocacy will remain at the core of the Canadian Chamber's mission, they have increasingly focused on serving Canadian businesses in additional ways and want to accelerate that momentum. Please take a few minutes to let the Canadian Chamber know what services would be valuable to you on a federal level. The deadline for providing your input is December 18: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/chamber2025
Regional Vitality Planning Project: Thought Exchange
We need your input to build a united and vital Southeast Alberta! As we collectively build a united southeastern Alberta what do you see as the region's key strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats? Join the Conversation. Read more about the project.
Startup Canada 2020 Canadian Entrepreneurship Census Survey
This 15 minute survey will provide a snapshot of what Canada’s network needs to create an environment that supports their growth, mental health, and social impact during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Every entrepreneur who completes the Census will receive the Census Summary Report and will be entered to win prizes valued at $4,000 including a guest spot on the Startup Canada Podcast, a guest spot on the Thrive Podcast, a fully branded Startup chat, 15 $50 Visa Gift Cards, Gift Boxes featuring Indigenous entrepreneurs, and their products, and spotlights on the Startup Canada Newsletter (5 spots available). Please complete the Census by January 8, 2021.
Business Link's interactive Business Plan Builder
Business Link's brand new business planning tool breaks writing a business plan down into easy-to-manage steps and sections. When you're done, you can also submit your business plan for review and 1:1 coaching and support.
5 things Canadian retailers need to know about the most digital holiday shopping season on record
Here’s what retailers need to know to prepare for the most unpredictable holiday season on record.
Get your test results faster with MyHealth Records
Access COVID-19 test results for you and your children through MyHealth Records, a free and secure online service that helps keep track of your health information. Sign up online.
Would you be interested in an app that has thousands of services, programs, helplines & benefits available across Canada? What about an assessment tool designed to gauge an individual’s wellbeing across 15 dimensions, such as income, housing, health and safety?
There are now two apps that can help you. Download HelpSeeker and the Wellbeing Screener apps from Google Play or Android. Find out more.
The HelpSeeker apps let you:
- Find help fast on the go, in 23 languages
- Help more people while saving time
- Find the best fit program
- Share services via email, text or WhatsApp
- View up-to-date information about eligibility and access
Important changes for CRA representatives – what you need to know
As of October 19, 2020, the CRA online Represent a Client (RAC) service allows you to submit legal documents, such as a will or a power of attorney, to identify you as a legal representative. This means you don't have to mail or fax us documents, saving you time and postage.
As of January 2021, if you are a representative associated with a firm, a business or a group, you must have your own RepID and provide it to the CRA before you can represent your client. This will significantly enhance the security of confidential taxpayer information by allowing our agents to verify that you are authorized on the taxpayer's account. Read more.
CRA Online services are fast, secure and convenient
Canadians are encouraged to file their taxes online and sign up for direct deposit to get their refund faster, avoid any delays, and reduce your potential exposure to COVID‑19. The CRA's digital services are the fastest and easiest way to view your tax and benefit information. We encourage you to sign up for My Account ahead of time, and gather all your information for filing your return. Find out more about paper filing, income tax and benefit package delivery and other ways you can file here.
Read the December Occupational Health & Safety Newsletter now online. The newsletter contains information about prevention for slips, trips and falls, employment standards, 2021 Certificate of Recognition program update & recent OHS incidents.
Trade Mission to CES LAS VEGAS
Did Vegas get your attention...we thought it might, so we put this in for fun. While this is just going to be virtual you can be part of the delegation to CES, taking place January 11 to 14, 2021, for as little as $100. This will provide the opportunity to:
- Network with other companies that are part of the delegation through a digitally hosted event
- Have B2B meetings set up through Trade Service Canada
- Access to live-streamed content & expert-led workshops
- Get a pre-show briefing, company exposure, and on-demand support
For more information contact Aaron at email@example.com or register at https://event.techwestcanada.ca/ces-2021. Registration closes: December 14, 2020