Weekly Digest – 8 July 2020
Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. We hope you and your family are safe and doing well. Read on for this week’s update.
International Border Closure, Mandatory Quarantine Order Extended
Canada has extended its global travel ban and mandatory quarantine measures which means people arriving in the country to self-isolate for 14 days. The mandatory quarantine order will last until at least August 31, while the travel ban for most travelers is extended to at least July 31. Meanwhile, travel by U.S. citizens is covered under a separate agreement, which was extended to keep the border closed to all non-essential travel until at least July 21.
Besides these border control measures, Canada is also set to launch a new COVID-19 contact tracing app as a response to the pandemic. Shopify and Blackberry have been working with local governments to develop a new app called COVID Alert which will use Bluetooth connections to swap randomly-generated codes with users in a geographic vicinity.
Those who have tested positive for the coronavirus self-report their status within the app using an eight-digit number from health officials to verify their positive result. The app will then alert people who came into contact with them. The new app is expected to be launched this month in Ontario, and then rolled out nationally.
Ontario Introduced Legislation to Extend Emergency Orders
Ontario introduced new legislation earlier this week to enable the extension of some pandemic emergency orders over the next year, as the province reports 112 new cases. Under current legislation, Ontario can only issue emergency orders while the state of emergency is in place.
As the province’s state of emergency is set to expire on July 15, the Premier’s office will introduce a motion to extend it until July 24 to ensure there is no gap between the provincial declaration and when the new bill takes effect.
If the bill passes, the government could move parts of Ontario back to earlier stages of the pandemic lockdown if necessary. Furthermore, it could also continue the redeployment of healthcare staff and change public health orders limiting social gatherings.
Ontario Launches Online Training to Promote Safe Workplaces
The Ontario government is investing $3 million to provide free online health and safety training, as the province gradually reopens its economy. These real-time virtual courses will make it easier for workers and jobseekers to acquire essential qualifications, while practising social distancing to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.
Up to 100,000 job seekers can now take free online workplace health and safety training through Employment Ontario. There are 10 courses on offer, which include topics such as infection control, conducting health and safety incident investigations, ladder safety, slips, trips and falls prevention, and preventing workplace violence and harassment. To enroll, contact an Employment Ontario service provider in your area.
Businesses Showing Resilience in the Face of Adversity
Businesses have taken a hit over the previous months due to COVID-19, but some innovative companies in Canada found the silver lining. Below are some of the most creative ways businesses adapted to this unprecedented crisis:
- A mobile supermarket in semi-open-air 53-foot-long trucks that shoppers can step aboard to grab essentials while maintaining social distancing are planned to be released this month: three in the Greater Toronto Area, two in the United States, and five more in Canada, mostly in the suburbs.
- A Toronto-based distillery has shifted its production facility from making vodkas and gins to hand sanitizers.
- Another distiller started producing hygiene products too by sourcing some aloe and making hand sanitizers and disinfectants. It prioritizes getting the items to first-responders and essential service providers.
- A salad chain, while still open for takeouts and deliveries, has added a new concept for the brand: groceries.
- A bookstore hit the rode with a new and free delivery service.
- Some Ontario factories have also offered to alter their production as they have the tools to make important health equipment such as ventilators.
You can read their inspiring stories here. If you want to talk about your specific situation, please get in touch with us and we’ll help you work out a strategic plan to come through stronger than ever and build a successful future-proof business.
Digitally-Connected Business Registration Access
On June 30, Canada launched the Multi-jurisdictional Registry Access Service (MRAS), which connects 14 business registries across Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia. By consolidating the business registries, the government hopes to reduce the registration complexity and cost for businesses.
Recently, the Ontario government has also partnered with the federal government to help businesses reach more customers with a $57 million investment in Digital Main Street, which will help up to 22,900 businesses in Ontario improve their online presence.
A part of this program is the Digital Main Street Grant, where a $2500 grant will be administered by the Ontario BIA Association for small businesses to adopt new technologies and embrace digital marketing. This is a good opportunity for you to improve your profitability in these challenging times! You can read more here or drop us an email if you need assistance in taking advantage of this new grant.
Assistance for Businesses in Canada
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce and Salesforce announced on June 29 that 62 businesses across the country have received the $10,000-grant from the Canadian Business Resilience Network Small Business Relief Fund.
Aside from this grant, the Government of Canada has launched programs for small- and medium-sized businesses to gain easier access to the capital they need to see them through the COVID-19 situation. These financial assistance schemes include:
Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)
The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) provides interest-free loans of up to $40,000 for small businesses and not-for-profits. The eligibility criteria now includes “many owner-operated small businesses”. Businesses with payrolls less than $20,000 are now eligible to apply. We can help you assess if you meet the requirements for these loans.
Business Credit Availability Program Guarantee
Export Development Canada will guarantee new operating credit and cash flow term loans to small- and medium-sized businesses, up to $6.25 million, under the Business Credit Availability Program Guarantee. This financial support is available until or before 30 September 2020.
The Co-lending Program will bring Business Development Bank of Canada together with other financial institutions to co-lend term loans to small- and medium-sized businesses to provide additional liquidity and help them meet their operational cash flow requirements.
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy
The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) scheme provides eligible employers a subsidy of 75% of employee wages for up to 24 weeks. This has recently been extended to August 29 and changes have been made to extend the eligibility of the program to include organizations, such as partnerships and educational and training institutions. As of June 8, only $10.5 billion in wage subsidies have been paid, out of the total budget of $45 billion. So if you haven’t applied for the CEWS yet, now is the best time to do so. Additional details on the CEWS can be found here, but feel free to chat with us for any clarifications or questions you may have.
Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance
The Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program provides relief for small businesses experiencing financial difficulties due to COVID-19 by offering unsecured, forgivable loans to eligible commercial property owners to reduce the rent owed by their impacted small business tenants. Property owners must offer a minimum of 75% rent reduction for the months of April, May, and June 2020. More information for property owners and tenants can be found here.
If you are unsure which relief assistance programs are best for your business, don’t hesitate to contact us and we will help you assess based on your current financial situation and business needs.
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