Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. Read on for the latest updates and some ideas to help us all move forward.
Grant for Small Businesses in Ontario
Ontario is rolling out a new $10,000 grant for small businesses forced to close due to the pandemic. Eligible businesses include gyms, museums and galleries, tour services and before- and after-school programs.
Businesses that qualified for the Ontario Small Business Support Grant and that have been forced to close will be pre-screened for the new grant, and need not apply.
Quebec to Impose Health Tax on Unvaccinated Canadians
The premier of Quebec announced that it would be the first in the nation to financially penalise the unvaccinated in the form of a health tax. Only about 12.8% of Quebec residents are not vaccinated, but they make up nearly a third of all hospital cases.
The fee has not yet been decided, but will be “significant”, according to Premier Francois Legault.
Vaccination Mandate for Truckers
New rules came into effect on Saturday for truck drivers crossing the Canada-U.S. border. Truckers entering Canada from the U.S. will need to show proof of vaccination at the border starting 15 January, and experts say this could compound supply chain issues.
Also, unvaccinated Canadians trying to cross the border back into the country would have to take a test and enter isolation, while Americans without the jab would be turned away.
COVID-Business Aid Loan Repayment Extended to 2023
The federal government is extending the deadline for small businesses to pay back their Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loans to the end of 2023.
Originally, if claimants repaid the balance of their loan on or before the end of 2022, the government planned to forgive up to one-third of their loan. Now, eligible businesses “in good standing,” will have until 31 December 2023 to repay and be eligible for up to $20,000 of debt forgiveness.
55,000 Jobs Added in December
The Canadian economy added 55,000 jobs in December before COVID-19 cases began surging at the end of the month, prompting public health restrictions that forced many businesses to temporarily close.
In its labour force survey, Statistics Canada said the unemployment rate edged down to 5.9% compared with 6.0% in November. It was the lowest unemployment rate since February 2020 before the pandemic when it was 5.7%.
Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit Open for Applications
The federal government announced that the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit is open for applications. It gives temporary income support of $300 a week to employed and self-employed people who can’t work due to a COVID-19 lockdown.
The Canada Revenue Agency said British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador and Nunavut are designated as lockdown regions.
Payments will be retroactive to 19 December.
COVID-19 Recovery Programs
The government is taking immediate action to support Canadians and businesses facing hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You will find support for individuals, businesses, sectors, communities, and other measures here.
Ontario Extends Paid Sick Leave Program Into 2022
Labour Minister Monte McNaughton is extending the pandemic paid sick leave to 31 July. Originally, the provincial program was supposed to wrap up on 31 December. However, with the more contagious Omicron variant, the Labour Minister announced that it would continue.
HASCAP Loan Applications
Loan applications from the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP) is available until 31 March 2022.
Loans start at between $25,000 and $1 million for a single business depending on the size of the operation, and run up to $6.25 million for companies with multiple locations like a chain of hotels or restaurants. Interest rates are set at 4% across the board, terms will be up to 10 years, with up to a 12-month postponement of principal payments at the start of the loan.
To be eligible, companies will have to show a year-over-year revenue drop of at least 50% over three months, not necessarily consecutive, in the eight months before the application.
Further details can be found here.
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