COVID-19 Business Update – 14 April 2021

Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. Read on for the latest updates and some ideas to help us all move forward.

20% Have Received at Least 1 COVID-19 Shot

Canada has hit a vaccination milestone, as one-fifth of the population (over 7.6 million people) have now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Canada has a population of about 37.7 million people, and about 31.5 million people are over 16 years old and eligible to receive a COVID-19 jab. At present, 2.1% of the population is fully vaccinated.

Government Invests in StaySafe Rapid Screening Program in Waterloo

The government has announced the launch of the StaySafe COVID-19 Rapid Screening Program in Ontario’s Waterloo Region, through a $430,000 investment.

This program will provide free rapid screening tests for local workers of SMEs, with a target of 3,000 rapid tests per week. This will provide an extra layer of defense against the spread of the deadly virus.

Business Sentiment Jumps to Third-Highest Ever in Canada

Business sentiment surged to near record levels on an improved outlook for both domestic and foreign demand, according to the Bank of Canada.

The Bank of Canada’s composite gauge of sentiment rose to 2.9 in the first quarter, the highest since 2018 and the third highest score in data going back to 2003.

Alberta Expands Financial Support Program to SMEs

Alberta is expanding its Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant to include another payment of up to $10,000 for eligible businesses. This marks the third time the $10,000 payment has been made available to Alberta organizations. It will also be available to businesses that started operating between 1 March 2020 and 31 March 2021.

The Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant offers financial assistance to Alberta businesses that experienced at least a 30% decline in revenue because they were ordered to shut down or limit operations due to COVID-19.

Government Extends Access to COVID-19 Benefits

Minister Carla Qualtrough announced the government’s intent to introduce amendments to increase the number of weeks of benefits available for the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB), the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) and Employment Insurance (EI) regular benefits.

The proposed changes include:

  • increase the number of weeks available under the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) by 12 weeks extending the maximum duration of the benefits through regulation from 26 weeks to up to 38 weeks;
  • increase the number of weeks available under the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) through regulation from the current 2 weeks to 4 weeks; and
  • increase the number of weeks of EI regular benefits available by up to 24 weeks to a maximum of 50 weeks through legislation, for claims that are made between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021.

More information can be found here.

HASCAP Loan Applications Now Open

Loan applications for the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP) have opened.

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.

Canada Emergency Business Account Deadline Extended

Eligible businesses facing financial difficulties due to COVID-19 can access a second CEBA loan of up to $60,000 with up to $20,000 of that being forgivable.

CEBA has two streams of eligibility: the Payroll stream and the Non-Deferrable Expense stream. If you previously received a loan of up to $40,000, you can apply for the CEBA expansion to increase your loan by an additional $20,000 ($10,000 of which is forgivable if repaid before Dec 31, 2022).

Applications for CEBA have been extended to June 30, 2021. More information can be found here. Alternatively, if you have any questions or require assistance, simply send us a message.

Government Support for Businesses

The federal government continues to enact measures to mitigate the financial impact of the pandemic. Here is an overview of the assistance you may be able to take advantage of:

Wage Subsidies

  • The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) is intended to help businesses cover a portion of wages and keep employees on payroll. It continues until June 2021.
  • The work-sharing program allows employees whose hours got reduced by an average of 10% to 60% to claim employment insurance for lost wages. This has been extended to 76 weeks from 38.

Rent Relief

  • The Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy provides rent and mortgage assistance until June 2021. Businesses can make claims retroactively for the period of Sept. 27 to Oct. 24, 2020.

Business Loans

  • The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) offers government-guaranteed bank loans of up to $40,000 for small businesses. The deadline for the application has been extended to March 31, 2021.
  • For mid-sized companies, the Business Development Bank of Canada’s mid-market financing program provides commercial loans between $12.5 million and $60 million.

Upcoming Key Dates

Below are the upcoming key payment and filing dates to take note of:

  • Your tax return for 2020 has to be filed on or before 30 April 2021.
  • For self-employed individuals, if you or your spouse or common-law partner carried on a business in 2020, your return for 2020 has to be filed by 15 June 2021. However, if you have a balance owing for 2020, you have to pay it on or before 30 April 2021.

What Causes Your Profit Problem?

Do you ever feel stuck in your business? After all the time and effort you’ve put into it, your revenue seems to have plateaued or maybe has even decreased. If you’re having a profit problem, it can be a sign of a deeper issue that needs to be fixed.

Below are the three key areas that you should look into:

  • Products or services– Are your customers happy with what you’re offering? Listen to what they have to say and make the necessary improvements.
  • Systems and structure in place– Next, evaluate if you’ve put a good structure and systems in place. As your business grows, some systems you created in the beginning may no longer work. Also ask your staff for their opinions as they may draw insights on issues you didn’t know existed.
  • People and company culture– Did you hire the right people for the job? Are you lacking key talent that could potentially boost your business performance? Also, take a good look at the company culture you’ve created. You may be surprised to find out that you have fostered an unsustainable working environment full of inefficiencies, disarray, or burnout.

While some business challenges are out of your control, it’s important to first cross out possible issues that are within your control. The good thing about finding out that the cause of your profit problem is something internal is that it also means that you have the power to fix it.

Need tailored business advice? Get in touch with us and let’s talk about your specific situation.

Get in touch

Contact us if you have any questions or want to discuss the next steps for your business.

Want to grow your business? Our Free Resources will Help