Weekly Update: February 26 – March 4, 2021
Supports for Business
Modifications for Indoor Fitness in Step 2 of Alberta's Path Forward
Effective immediately, updated health measures are in place for indoor fitness including:
- Unsupervised low intensity individual and group exercises are now allowed by appointment only.
- Mandatory physical distance of three metres is required between participants, including coaches and trainers, at all times, and masks must be worn at all times by trainers and those participating in low-intensity activities.
- All indoor fitness must be pre-registered – no drop-ins allowed.
- Low-intensity exercises include weightlifting, low-intensity dance classes, yoga, barre and indoor climbing, as well as the low-intensity use of treadmills, ellipticals and related equipment.
- High-intensity activities, including running, spin and high-intensity interval training, continue to be allowed only on a one-on-one with a trainer basis, or training with a household and one trainer.
- No change to outdoor fitness
Emergency Processing Fund supports 24 meat processing companies across the Prairies
The Emergency Processing Fund (EPF) is a one-time, federal investment of up to $77.5 million to help companies implement changes to safeguard the health and safety of workers and their families due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. More information.
Rollout of Funding Announced in the 2020 Fall Economic Statement Supporting Arts and Live Events Workers in Response to COVID-19
The federal government announced further about the implementation of $181.5 million in funding for the live arts and music sectors in 2021–2022. The Department of Canadian Heritage is receiving $40 million in new funding to stimulate short-term contracting of workers in the live events sector through three Canadian Heritage programs: Building Communities through Arts and Heritage, the Canada Arts Presentation Fund and the Canada Music Fund. Information on how to access the new fund will be available next week on the Canadian Heritage website. More information.
Alberta Critical Worker Benefit Update - Large Employers
The Government of Alberta is making it easier for larger employers to apply for the Critical Worker Benefit. Employers can use the ‘Employee Bulk Upload’ template to apply on behalf of 200 or more eligible employees. Employers can access the template by following the prompts when applying through the private sector application portal. More information.
Government Announces Wage and Rent Subsidy Amounts to Remain Unchanged Through to June
The federal government announced that the government intends to extend the current rate structures for Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy and Lockdown Support from March 14 to June 5, 2021. More information.
Supports for Individuals
Extension Granted for Assessment Notices
Due to the extenuating circumstance of 2020, the Minister of Municipal Affair has granted an extension as to when assessment notices will be mailed out to property owners.
This year, the anticipated mail date is April 14, 2021. This includes property owners of single-family residential, non-residential, multi-family and farmland. Assessment notices will be mailed out separately from the property tax notices. This allows the department more time to respond to, and deal with, individual assessment queries and concerns prior to when property tax payments are due. More information.
Get free help with your taxes!
Volunteers may be able to do your taxes for free through the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP). You could be eligible if you have a modest income and a simple tax situation. A list of tax clinics is posted on the CRA website and there are two located in Medicine Hat. Read more.
Alberta is extending the period between first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccine
Starting March 10, anyone who books a first dose of vaccine will have their second dose timeline extended up to four months, and the appointment will be booked at a later date. More information.
Alberta’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout set to expand
Within two weeks, participating pharmacies and Alberta Health Services will begin vaccinating Albertans between the ages of 65 and 74, and First Nations, Métis and Inuit persons age 50 or older, regardless of where they live.
Bookings for Phase 2A of the COVID-19 vaccine program will begin the week of March 15. To reduce wait times and vaccinate people as quickly as possible, appointment bookings will be offered by age group.
Starting March 10, 58,500 AstraZeneca vaccine doses will also be available to Albertans aged 50 to 64, who are currently in Phase 2D. Based on supply, anyone between the ages of 50 and 64 who does not have severe chronic illness will be able to book an appointment online.
Bookings for AstraZeneca will start on March 10 with individuals born in 1957. If supply exists, Albertans born in 1958 to 1971 will be offered a chance to book in the following days, rolling one year at a time.
Community Supports and Resources
Modified Step 2 in effect
Effective immediately, updated health measures are in place for indoor fitness and libraries, Changes to current restrictions for retail, children’s sports, and hotels, banquets, community halls and conference centres have been delayed to step 3. Libraries can now open but must limit capacity to 15 percent of fire code occupancy, not including staff.
2021 Wildfire Season
Wildfire season runs from March 1 to Oct. 31 in Alberta, which means permits are now required for activities such as residential, industrial or agricultural debris burning. Up-to-date information on fire restrictions, fire bans, OHV restrictions and general wildfire information is available at albertafirebans.ca or by calling 1-866-FYI-FIRE (1-866-394-3473). To report a wildfire, call 310-FIRE (310-3473) toll-free, from anywhere in Alberta. Read more.
Health Canada allows more flexible storage and transportation conditions for Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine
Health Canada authorized a submission from Pfizer-BioNTech to allow its COVID-19 vaccine to be stored and transported at standard freezer temperatures (between -25°C and -15°C) for up to two weeks instead of ultra-cold conditions, facilitating more flexible transportation and local re-distribution of this vaccine. More information.
Modified COVID-19 vaccines for variants to be fast-tracked
Health Canada announces new guidance issued today by the Access Consortium—a coalition of regulatory authorities from Canada, the U.K., Australia, Singapore and Switzerland. The guidance, developed by Health Canada in consultation with its Access partners, lays out what information regulators would need to approve any modifications to authorized COVID-19 vaccines, should virus mutations make them less effective at preventing COVID-19. With this guidance, authorized COVID-19 vaccines that are modified in response to new variants will need to be reviewed and authorized. More information.
GDP Numbers Released: Confirmation that 2020 Was a Grim Year
While Canada’s 5.4% contraction is the steepest annual decline on record, today’s numbers also tell a tale of a diverging, two-track economy. While goods-producing industries saw growth at the end of last year, today’s numbers show that the services-producing industry edged down once again in December. The uneven economic impact on these businesses has been more pronounced in Canada due to the trade-off between restrictions and economic activity for these sectors. Read the Canadian Chamber statement.
Extension of CEWS and CERS Rates Provides Certainty and Continuity for Businesses and Employees
The Government of Canada announced that the CEWS and CERS programs will continue at the current support rates until June. This will provide much-needed certainty for businesses who continue to grapple with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has been urging the government to publish the details on what support rates will look like past March 13 and yesterday’s announcement from the Prime Minister answered those calls. Businesses can now plan with certainty this spring, knowing what level of support they will receive from these critical support programs through June of this year.
Questions on CEWS, CERS or home office deductions? Join our FREE webinar next week.
Business Leaders Send Letter Urging Government to Consider Regulatory Burden on Businesses
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce reached out to the government to ask for its help in lightening the regulatory load on hundreds of thousands of Canadian businesses of all sizes during the pandemic. The last thing industry needs right now is unnecessary paperwork.
Our request is for government to resist the urge to develop new non-essential regulations that will require extensive engagement from the private sector and take away from its ability to focus on the health and safety of employees, contractors and the communities in which they do business. Read the letter
Freeze the Alcohol Tax: Why Automatic Tax Hikes Were — And Still Are — a Bad Idea
Few tax experts, economists or accountants would argue that automatic tax increases are good tax policy. The current situation facing our restaurants, pubs and hospitality sector exemplifies this. As our Director of Campaigns Harrison Ruess writes in iPolitics, “Now is clearly not the moment for higher taxes that would put even more pressure on these businesses and on Canadians.” Read the op-ed.
Have Your Voice Heard
The Alberta Chambers of Commerce is undertaking a comprehensive, province-wide survey about Alberta’s labour market and the skills we need to continue to grow. This annual survey helps compare trends year over year—a comparison that is more important than ever as the labour market continues to evolve in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey is open until March 26. Take the survey here: https://www.albertaperspectives.ca/c/r/skills-LMI2021
Canada's Digital Marketplace - Technation Portal
A new resource has come to our attention that we wanted to share with all of you. CANADA'S DIGITAL MARKETPLACE - powered by TECHNATION is a platform that allows business to business and business to government connections. If you're looking for a tech solution or would like to showcase your business this may be a portal that you're looking for.
March is Fraud Prevention Month
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is hosting a series of webinars this month to protect you and your business. Find links to this series of webinars on their website. With four weeks of training focused on Cybercrimes & Online Scams, Identity Theft & Fraud, Business Fraud & Scams and Mass Marketing & Phone Scams. More information.
Mandatory Vaccination Policies in the Workplace – Should You Implement One?
With the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines underway in Canada, many employers are now asking whether they can or should implement a mandatory vaccination policy to ensure worker safety.
The ability to make vaccination a mandatory condition of employment depends on a number of factors, including the nature of an employer’s business, whether employees are unionized and if there are any human rights issues at play.
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