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Weekly update January 8-14, 2021

Supports for Business

Expanding funding to support new businesses

Alberta’s government is expanding its relaunch grant to ensure new businesses have access to the supports they need. New Alberta businesses impacted by public health orders will need to demonstrate a 30 per cent reduction of revenue using revenue figures from November or December 2020 compared with any prior month between March to October 2020. The payment is 15 per cent of their monthly revenue, for a maximum of $15,000 in funding available for each business. Read more.

Personal and wellness services will be allowed to open by appointment only starting January 18

All Albertans, businesses, organizations and service providers must continue to follow all other existing health measures, ensuring the safety of Albertans, while balancing the uncertainty faced by Alberta businesses and service providers. Read more.

Home Office Expense updates and information from the CRA

The CRA has posted information in follow up to their question and answer sessions held. Employees who worked from home more than 50% of the time over a period of a least four consecutive weeks in 2020 due to COVID-19 will now be eligible to claim the home office expenses deduction for 2020. A new temporary flat rate method will allow eligible employees to claim a deduction of $2 for each day they worked at home in that period, plus any other days they worked from home in 2020 due to COVID-19 up to a maximum of $400. Under this new method, employees will not have to get Form T2200 or Form T2200S completed and signed by their employer. To simplify the process for employees choosing the detailed method, the CRA has launched simplified forms (Form T2200S and Form T777S) and a calculator designed specifically to assist with the calculation of eligible home office expenses. The CRA has also published a number of resources to assist both employees and employers, including the Home office expenses for employees web pages, Simplifying the process for claiming a deduction for home office expenses for employees working from home due to COVID-19, Employer-provided benefits and allowances: CRA and COVID-19 backgrounders, as well as Frequently asked questions – Home office expenses for employees, and an Infographic: Working from home?.

The CRA also encourages organizations who haven’t already done so to sign up for My Business Account or Represent a Client, as well as for Direct deposit. Please also refer to Protect yourself against fraud, if you have any concerns.

Agriculture Training Support program accepting applications

This program under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership provides support to agricultural and horticultural businesses and services to help address the impact of COVID-19. Find out more and apply.

Canadian Chamber Helps Set Major Supreme Court Precedent

Represented by our member Torys LLP, we contributed to a landmark Supreme Court of Canada ruling released on December 18, 2020. The judgment applies to all contracts in the country and helps promote greater honesty and certainty in business. Torys LLP explains what the ruling means for you. More information.

Canada Summer Jobs Program Applications Open

Canada Summer Jobs is an initiative of the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy, which aims to provide flexible and holistic services to help all young Canadians develop the skills and gain paid work experience to successfully transition into the labour market. Applications for funding are open until Jan. 29. More information.

All Canadian Importers Required to Register into Online Canada Customs Portal

To maintain and improve Canada’s competitive advantage on the global stage, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is modernizing the way they do business and collaborate with the importing community. The CBSA Assessment and Revenue Management (CARM) project will revolutionize the importation process for all importers, regardless of a company’s size or whether they pay duty and taxes on their imports to Canada. More information.

Minister Bibeau announces launch of consultation on the Canada Grain Act review

The consultation phase of the Canada Grain Act review will allow the federal government to hear the perspectives of the grain sector on how to reform the Act. The consultation portion of the Canada Grain Act review will be held online until April 30, 2021. The government is seeking feedback from grain industry stakeholders on ways to potentially update the legislation, which has largely been unchanged for almost half a century. More information.

Requests for Proposal launched for purchase of clean electricity in Alberta

The Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of Public Services and Procurement, announced the Government of Canada has launched Requests for Proposal to buy new clean electricity in the province of Alberta to power federal operations there. More information.

City Continues to Evaluate Opportunities with Commodity Assets

The City of Medicine Hat, through its Energy & Utilities Division, continues to explore commercial opportunities to evolve its asset portfolio when economic advantages are evident. The city plans to retain its unique opportunity to continue in the energy business but in a more diverse and less volatile position that better reflects the evolving economics and supply of global energy. The city’s transmission and distribution functions are not currently being considered for disposition. More information.

Canada’s Insurers Are Here for You in These Challenging Times

Read the latest CBRN guest blog with Don Forgeron, President and CEO of the Insurance Bureau of Canada, to learn about the support Canada’s insurers have put in place to ensure Canadian business thrive through this pandemic. Read more.

Statements on economic and job recovery

The Government of Canada issued a statement today following the release of Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey. Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation Doug Schweitzer issued a statement about the December 2020 Labour Force Survey.

Supports for Individuals

EMS now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

Alberta is expanding its COVID-19 vaccine distribution to vaccinate paramedics and emergency medical technicians. Alberta has administered 46,791 doses of vaccine at a rate of 1,058 per 100,000. By the end of January, Alberta will have capacity to administer 50,000 doses of vaccine per week. More information.

Satellite vaccine clinics open in emergency departments

Satellite vaccine clinics have opened in emergency departments in hospitals around the province. Nine satellite clinics have already taken place, with more than 425 emergency department staff vaccinated. As more vaccine becomes available, additional clinics will be opened for eligible staff. Alberta Health Services and Covenant Health are piloting the use of temporary clinics to increase opportunities for eligible emergency department staff and physicians to get vaccinated. More information.

Canada Revenue Agency to begin issuing T4As to COVID-19 emergency and recovery benefit recipients

Canadians will begin receiving T4A slips from the CRA for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, Canada Emergency Student Benefit, Canada Recovery Benefit, Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit to support their tax filing. The T4A is virtually identical to the T4 slips Canadians are used to receiving from their employers, but rather than employment income, they provide the amounts of COVID-19 benefits received from the CRA in 2020. If you have questions about the slip, including if you think there may be a mistake or have received it in error, please contact the CRA by phone at 1-800-959-8281. More information.

Government of Canada to ensure that international travellers cannot access recovery benefits during mandatory quarantine

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Government of Canada has strongly urged Canadians to stay home to stop the spread of COVID-19. The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, along with the other recovery benefits, was never intended to incentivize or encourage Canadians to disregard public health advice. The Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, will be proposing legislation so that, retroactive to January 3, 2021, all international travellers who need to quarantine upon return to Canada, including people returning from vacation, visiting loved ones, and attending to real estate matters abroad, will not be eligible to receive support from any of the Canada Recovery Benefits for the period of their mandatory quarantine. More information.

Government of Canada announces new policy to help former international students

As part of the Government of Canada’s efforts to support international students through this challenging time, the Honourable Marco E. L. Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, today announced that former international students who hold or held a PGWP will have the opportunity to apply for an open work permit. More information.

Community Supports and Resources

Limited provincewide changes to public health measures

Easing of restrictions for outdoor gatherings, personal services and funeral attendance will take effect Jan. 18. While indoor gatherings remain prohibited, up to 10 people will be allowed at outdoor social gatherings. Personal and wellness services will be allowed to open by appointment only. Funeral ceremony attendance will be increased to 20 people, with mandatory masking and two-metre physical distancing. Funeral receptions are still not allowed. More information.

Updates to COVID-19 reporting in schools

Language describing case numbers of COVID-19 in schools is being updated based on feedback from education partners – including parents, schools and boards. Currently, schools with COVID-19 cases are described as either being on alert, outbreak or watch. Each category reflects a certain number of cases at a particular school. As of Jan. 18, the following terms will be used:

  • Alert: one to four cases
  • Outbreak: five-plus cases

More information.

COVID-19 units added to vaccine priority list

Starting immediately, vaccine appointments will be offered to health-care workers in medical, surgical and COVID-19 units.
This means about 3,300 COVID unit staff and 15,400 medical and surgical unit staff are now eligible for the vaccine. In addition, a directive from Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw has been issued that will allow doctors, nurses and pharmacists who are not Alberta Health Services employees to deliver the vaccine. Read more.

Nominations open for Alberta’s highest honour

Albertans are encouraged to nominate remarkable citizens, leaders and innovators for membership in the Alberta Order of Excellence.
Up to 10 individuals will be inducted into the Order this year in recognition of remarkable contributions to their community, the province and beyond. Nominations are accepted year-round but must be received by Feb. 15 to be considered for investiture this year. Nominations not selected in 2021 will be considered for up to three years. Read more.

Heads up! Bell Let’s Talk Campaign

January 28 is Bell Let’s Talk Day. This year, more than ever, mental health matters. We urge you consider getting involved in this campaign; Bell has created assets that are easy to use and share. Access the toolkit.

Statement from the Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health: Implementing COVID-19 Vaccination in Canada — Vaccine Dose Interval

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) addresses the question of delaying the second dose of vaccine in their updated Recommendations on the use of COVID-19 Vaccine. Within the limitations of currently available data, NACI advises that while the second dose should be given according to the approved schedule if possible, jurisdictions may consider delaying the second dose due to logistic or epidemiologic reasons until further supplies of the vaccine become available, preferably within 42 days (6 weeks) of the first dose. Canada’s Chief Medical Officers of Health support NACI’s recommendations. More information.

CRTC launches consultation to strengthen Canadians’ online safety

The CRTC launched a consultation on its proposed framework to address botnets, harmful networks of malware-infected computers that are under the control of a malicious actor. Canadians are invited to submit their comments by March 15, 2021. More information.

Government of Canada invests $1M in a COVID-19 evidence network to support decision-making

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve throughout the country, with more than 618,000 reported cases as of January 5, 2021. While the arrival of vaccines brings hope for Canadians, there are still critical knowledge gaps we must fill to further support ongoing decision-making as we respond to this virus to keep Canadians safe. Led by Dr. John Lavis from McMaster University, the COVID-19 Evidence Network will work with Canadian and international partners to better develop and coordinate groundbreaking research on COVID-19, while reducing the duplication of efforts so our experts can focus on the latest research and developments to keep Canadians safe. More information.


ACC calls on government to safely reopen shuttered businesses

Ten months into the COVID-19 pandemic, the Alberta Chambers of Commerce is calling on the Alberta government to find ways to safely reopen closed businesses wherever possible. The call comes after Premier Jason Kenney announced last week that current COVID-19 restrictions will remain in place for at least another two weeks. Read the full press release.

Canadian Chamber Statement on Federal Cabinet Changes

First and foremost, we thank Minister Bains for his years of public service and working alongside Canadian business. We welcome François-Philippe Champagne to the post at Industry. As well as Marc Garneau as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jim Carr, as Special Representative for the Prairies and Omar Alghabra as Minister of Transport.

It has become increasingly apparent that in order to manage the devastating effects of COVID-19, Canadians, business and government must work together. Read the full statement.

Renewed Calls for Targeted Support for Airline Industry

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is worried about the implications of airline service reductions. Upon learning the news that r, Air Canada, is being forced to further reduce service and its workforce, the Canadian Chamber renewed the call for the federal government to provide targeted financial support for the hardest hit sectors, including the beleaguered travel industry. Read the statement.

Alberta Chambers of Commerce Letter to Prime Minister: Enbridge Line 5

The ACC issued a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in support of the continued operation of Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline. Read the letter.

New Resources

A Mini-guide to Help Employee’s Mental Health through Winter

With the challenges brought on by cold weather and the holidays, winter can often be a difficult time. But with COVID-19, this year’s winter may be even more demanding on our mental health and well-being.

The Mental Health Commission of Canada has prepared a mini-guide designed to help employers provide workers with specific tools and resources during the winter months. Access the guide.

Canada Summer Jobs Grant open until January 29th

Don't forget, you can access this funding to hire student talent, but the deadline is January 29th. Find out more.

Canada 360° – A Business-led Recovery

Set aside February 17th to attend the Canada 360° Economic Summit for FREE. The program will feature panel discussions, one-on-one conversations and keynote addresses that will harness the creativity of Canadian businesses to incite the innovative public policies needed to foster a business-led recovery. To take advantage of this free opportunity, please select the "Attendee - CA $69.99" option and use the discount code CCCMember upon registration. Program information and Register Now.

FAQ on Claiming Work-from-home Expenses

The Canadian Payroll Association has made a Q&A document available for download that answers commonly asked questions about the simplified process for claiming workspace-in-the-home expenses on your 2020 tax return. Access the document.

MNP also has a resource to explain home office expense deductions here.

Featured Webinars

Fuel up, Save the Dates and Register for these upcoming sessions

January 18

What’s next? Managing your business’s finances in 2021 | Register Now.

WESTEM Breaking Down Barriers: The First Steps to Success | Register Here.

January 19

WESTEM Breaking Down Barriers: Set Yourself Up for Successs | Register Here.

Discuss COVID-19's Impact on Business with the Industry Strategy Council | Register.

January 20

Finding new customers: How to diversify your markets | Register Here

WESTEM Value Proposition | Register Here.

January 21

Reimagining the Customer Experience (During and After Covid-19) | Register Now.

Grant Writing 101 | Register now.

Breaking Down Barriers: Money Management for Success | Register Here.

Psychological Safety in your organization. | Register here.

January 25

Breaking Down Barriers: Successfully Build & Optimize Your Website | Register Here.

January 26

Breaking Down Barriers: Successfully Reaching Potential Clients | Register Here.

State of the City Address | Register today

January 27

Tax year-end filing for businesses | Register here.

January 28

Food for Thought: Leveraging the Value of Culinary Tourism | Register Now.

February 4

Google Guide for SMEs | Register Now.

February 17

Canada 360 Virtual Summit | Register Now with discount code CCCMember

February 25

Employer Workshop - Understanding and Recruiting Gig Workers | Register

Various Dates in January and February

Canada Summer Jobs 2021 Overview and how to apply | Register here.

Culinary Tourism February 9 and 16 | Register here.

Women Entrepreneurs in STEM: Breaking Down Barriers to Starting a Business | Register here.

Board Development Series | Register here.

Employer Workshop Series

Family Business Series | Family Business Consulting Group

Succession Planning Series

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