Weekly Update – 19 May 2021

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

Canada-US Border Restrictions Extended to 21 June

The Canada-U.S. border will remain closed to non-essential travel for at least another month to 21 June. Non-essential travel restrictions have been in place between the two countries since March 21, 2020.

According to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, cases need to be under control and over 75% of people need to be vaccinated before Canada gets back to normal. Canada has vaccinated 46.05% of its population with a first dose and just 3.77% have received a second dose, according to CTV News’ Vaccine Tracker.

COVID-19 Cases Continue to Plunge; Manitoba and Alberta Still Struggling

Canada’s COVID-19 cases continue to decline to levels not seen since March, as more people get vaccinated. However, some provinces are still struggling with high infection rates and straining intensive care units.

While hospitalizations have declined in Ontario, which was among the worst hit during the third wave, Manitoba and Alberta warned that they were reaching new peaks for intensive care admissions.

65% of Canadian Small Businesses Give Themselves 5 Years or Less to Make It

Xero released a new report “The Tipping Point: Making the Jump to Self-Made” which showed that 65% of the 1,200 Canadian small business owners surveyed give themselves five years or less to make it or break it. Only 29% of respondents placed no time limit on their success or failure. Also, 74% of survey respondents believe the pandemic will have a long-term economic impact.

Need help keeping on track to reach your goals? Get in touch with us for expert business advice.

$199 Million Investment to Help Ontario Medical Facility Produce mRNA Vaccines

The government is investing $199.16 million towards a Mississaugua-based medical facility that could produce millions of mRNA vaccines each year. The investment will support Resilience Biotechnologies Inc. to boost its manufacturing of a number of vaccines and therapeutics, including those that use mRNA technology.

Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are mRNA vaccines, which differ from regular vaccines in terms of how they help your body build immunity against a pathogen.

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.

Building and Implementing a Business Resilience Plan

Resilience plans are designed to help businesses cope with unprecedented challenges and market disruptions. In this Forbes article, members of the Forbes Business Council shared critical tips to implement a resilience plan that works regardless of external factors.

  • A resilience plan must start from the company’s mission, vision, and internal culture. Ensure your foundation is strong.
  • Embrace tension instead of avoiding it. Engage in constructive dialogue to find a resolution to a specific challenge.
  • Develop a roadmap for the overall vision of the company. Your resilience plan must involve adaptation, securities, continuity, and recovery.
  • Cultivate a resilience mindset so your team can respond dynamically.
  • Conduct solid market research and analysis to create effective future strategies.
  • Keep your processes organised and adapt them when circumstances change to reduce friction in product or service delivery.
  • Enhance adaptability without losing focus on your goals and mission.
  • Focus on your customers’ pain points and uphold transparency and authenticity to provide exceptional customer experience.
  • Establish what metrics to measure before you start. Test, listen to the data, and quickly adjust accordingly.
  • Treat it like a fire evacuation plan— identify mission-critical operations and key assets and carry out a risk assessment.
  • Take an iterative approach. Develop a plan of action, assess progress, and adapt as needed.
  • Provide employees with access to content and technology they need, whenever and wherever.
  • Focus on employee training and gaining their trust. Leave room for flexibility to empower employees to be creative to best serve the interest of the company and its customers.

Need expert help in developing a business resilience plan? Book a one-on-one consultation with us.

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