Weekly Update – 12 May 2021

Welcome back to our Weekly Update. Read on for the latest information for Canadians and Covid-19.

Canada Authorises Pfizer Vaccine for 12 Years Old and Above

Canada’s health regulator has authorised Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for those 12 years old and above. The vaccine was previously authorised for ages 16 and older. About one-fifth of all COVID-19 cases in Canada have occurred in children and teenagers, and having a vaccine for them is a critical part of the government’s plan.

Canada is scheduled to receive two million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this week.

Ontario Pauses Rollout of AstraZeneca Vaccine

Ontario suspended the use of the AstraZeneca COVID vaccine as a first dose amid increased risks of blood clotting. This followed Alberta’s announcement that it will also stop administering the vaccine over possible supply shortages.

These two provinces combined represent half of Canada’s population.

Government Encourages Businesses to Apply for Free Rapid Testing

The government is encouraging businesses and organisations to apply for free rapid tests for workplace screening projects. Rapid tests will be available to employers through:

  • Shoppers Drug Mart locations in COVID-19 hot spots in Ontario for small- and medium-sized enterprises;
  • The Canadian Chamber of Commerce will enable local chambers to distribute rapid tests to smaller organizations, based on the successful StaySafe Rapid Testing Program in Waterloo Region;
  • Non-profit, charitable and Indigenous community organizations can pre-register now to access rapid tests through the Canadian Red Cross;
  • Since April, larger organizations with close-contact employees have been able to request rapid tests directly through a new federal portal; and
  • More federal workplaces where workers are at higher risk of exposure to COVID-19 can launch workplace screening programs using rapid tests.

Clover-PayBright Relationship Allows More Small Businesses to Offer Buy Now, Pay Later Option

Businesses that use the popular Clover platform now have the option to offer PayBright’s buy now, pay later plans at checkout. This will allow merchants to offer their customers flexible biweekly or monthly installment payment options that better suit their budgets.

Merchants that offer Buy Now, Pay Later options typically see immediate results such as increased sales, larger average order values (AOV), and growth in repeat business.

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

Legislation enacted in March 2021 extends and expands the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB), the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) and Employment Insurance (EI) regular benefits.

The amendments include:

  • Extension of the maximum duration of CRB and the CRCB to 38 weeks (from 26 weeks)
  • Extension of the CRSB to four weeks (from two weeks)
  • Extension of the EI regular benefits so they’re available to a maximum of 50 weeks (from 26 weeks) for claims that are made between 27 September 2020 and 25 September 2021.

Self-employed individuals who have opted into the EI program will now be able to use a 2020 earnings threshold of $5,000 (previously $7,555). This change is retroactive for claims as of 3 January 2021 and applies until 25 September 2021.

More information can be found here.

HASCAP Loan Applications Now Open

Loan applications from the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP) opened February 1.

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 drop 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.

Strategies for Lowering Your Startup Costs

Starting a business can be expensive, even if you’re just working with something small and lean. This Forbes article shares some strategies to ease the financial burden that you might face upon entering the world of entrepreneurship:

  • Consider buying used equipment, machinery, or vehicles
  • Lease instead of buying expensive equipment
  • Reduce overhead expenses such as by reducing the size of your workspace
  • Hire only who you need– at least at first
  • Secure a floating line of credit
  • Invest in insurance for financial protection in a number of areas
  • Form mutually beneficial partnerships with other entrepreneurs

The earliest stage of your business development is going to be the hardest financially. So if you need more toughest advice, get in touch with us for a one-on-one consultation.

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