Weekly Update – 22 July 2020
Welcome back to our Weekly Update. We hope you and your family are safe and doing well. Read on for this week’s update.
What You Need to Know About the New Extended Canada-U.S. Border Closure
On July 16, Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau announced that the Canada-U.S. border closure will be extended until at least August 21. The announcement comes as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the U.S, whereas Canada has had more success in flattening the curve of the global pandemic.
Last month, the border restrictions were eased, with immediate family members of citizens or permanent residents being permitted to enter Canada as of June 9. The new rule states that immediate family members are defined as:
- A spouse or common-law partner;
- A dependent child, as defined in section 2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, or a dependent child of the person’s spouse or common-law partner;
- A dependent child, as defined in section 2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, of a dependent child referred to in paragraph (b):
- A parent or step-parent or the parent or step-parent of the person’s spouse or common-law partner;
- A guardian or tutor.
More information on who qualifies to cross the Canada-U.S. border can be found on the government of Canada’s website.
All travelers who enter the country, except from those deemed essential, must still undergo a 14-day quarantine. Penalties for not following quarantine requirements may include:
- a fine of up to $750,000
- 6 months of jail time
- being found inadmissible, removed from Canada and banned from entering for 1 year.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business has initiated the #SmallBusinessEveryDay Campaign to encourage consumers to support independent businesses in any way they can. Since its launch, thousands of Canadians have already participated. One way is by sharing their experience with the business on social media using the hashtag #SmallBusinessEveryDay.
As a business owner, you can go to the official website to download posters to welcome customers back and thank them for shopping local, as well as posting badges and banners on your website and social media.
If you need personalized business advice to get your business back up to speed in these challenging times, you may also drop us a message so we can work out a plan.
Ontario to Move More Regions Into Stage 3
The Ontario government is allowing seven more regions to enter Stage 3 on Friday after consulting with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and based on positive local trends of key public health indicators.
The following public health units will be allowed to move into Stage 3 on Friday, July 24, 2020 at 12:01 a.m.:
- Durham Region Health Department;
- Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit;
- Halton Region Health Department;
- Hamilton Public Health Services;
- Lambton Health Unit;
- Niagara Region Public Health Department; and
- York Region Public Health Services.
They will join the 24 public health regions that entered into Stage 3 last July 17. Under the Three-Step Framework for Reopening, Stage 3 involves loosening public health restrictions in nearly all businesses and public spaces. Gathering limits will also increase to 50 people for indoor gatherings and 100 people for outdoor gatherings, with social distancing measures in place. For more information about the framework and the list of regions that will remain in Stage 2, visit Ontario.ca/reopen.
Growing Your Network When There are No Networking Events
As a business owner, you may have been part of the typical ways of networking like attending conferences and business dinners. However, with so much of the world in lockdown at the moment, growing your professional connections the traditional way may not be possible.
While you can build relationships virtually by engaging on LinkedIn and other social media platforms, this insightful Harvard Business Review article shares other strategies to consider including:
- Turning canceled conferences into private networking opportunities.
- Rethinking geographic boundaries when creating guest lists for virtual cocktail gatherings.
- Inviting senior leaders to online working group meetings.
Aside from virtual conferences, sharing your expertise, whether by volunteering, creating online content or courses, or contributing to online communities, can introduce you to new people who need what you offer. If you want to talk about your specific situation and rethink your business strategy, please get in touch with us and we’ll help you work out a plan.
Beware of COVID-19 Scams
Scammers are taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to con people into giving their money or confidential personal information. Here are some of the COVID-19 scams to look out for:
- Scams offering COVID-19 testing, vaccines, or a cure
- Fake charities
- “Person in need” scams
- Scams targeting Social Security benefits
While the reason behind the fraud is new, the tactics are familiar. The best defence is to say No if anyone contacts you asking for your personal information like, bank account or credit card details, or driver’s licence number; someone you don’t know requests money through a payment app or pre-paid gift cards; someone you don’t know sends you a cheque for some reason and asks you to send a portion back; or simply your gut tells you that it is too good to be true or it doesn’t feel right.
It pays to be wary in these situations so please be on the lookout for these scams.
Ontario Launches Online Training to Promote Safe Workplaces
The Ontario government announced that it 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.
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 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 new loan 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 for this program now includes “many owner-operated small businesses”. Businesses with payrolls of 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 (EDC) 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 support is available until 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. Justin Trudeau announced the extension of the federal wage subsidy program until December 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 July 6, only $18 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 might be a good 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, June, and July 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.
Get in touch
Contact us if you have any questions or want to discuss your next steps for your business.