Weekly Update – 5 August 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.

Canada Extends Travel Ban to August 31

Canada has recently extended the travel ban for most foreign travelers to August 31, and launched a new contact tracing app to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Canada has a separate agreement for border controls with the United States. Last month, the two countries agreed to extend restrictions on non-essential travel to August 21. Meanwhile, the new app called COVID Alert will be fully functional in Ontario at first, but will be rolled out across the country in the coming days.

Using Bluetooth to send random codes between phones, the app can trace and contact people who have been exposed to a COVID-19 positive individual. Alberta has its own app with 231,000 registered users, and has not yet decided whether it will participate in the roll-out of the federal app.

Employment Recovering in Canada

The Labour Force survey released in July showed that initial recovery in Canadian employment was sharper than previous economic downturns. Newly-released data by Statistics Canada also indicate that average weekly earnings increased in May, rising 2% to $1,139.

Furthermore, retail sales climbed by 18.7% in May– though still 20% below the February level– and month over month employment losses in the retail industry slowed.

Canada to Transition People Off COVID-19 Emergency Benefits

Canada will start transitioning people off the emergency income support schemes onto traditional unemployment benefits starting September, as it winds down the costly aid plan. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also announced that they will create a parallel benefit for people who are not eligible for traditional employment insurance, such as gig or contract workers.

Assistance for your business

If you’re wondering what assistance is available to your business, please get in touch with us. There is a range of programs and grants including the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA), the Co-lending Program, the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) and more.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us and we will help you assess based on your current financial situation and business needs.

Rent Relief Program Extended

The government announced that the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program has been extended once again to cover a portion of August’s rent for businesses that qualify. To be eligible for the rent relief program, businesses will have to prove a 70% decline in sales for July or August.

Click here to learn more about this program. For assistance on your application for CECRA or other financial support schemes that you may be eligible for, please get in touch with us.

#SmallBusinessEveryDay Campaign

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 Launches Online Training to Promote Safe Workplaces

The Ontario government announced last week that it is investing $3 million to provide free online health and safety training, as the province gradually reopens. 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.

Tips to Adapt Your Small Business During the Pandemic

As COVID-19 continues to impact the way businesses operate and consumers shop, many small businesses may struggle to stay afloat, let alone thrive. Below are some of the simple, yet effective, ways on how you can build a stronger brand, earn more sales, and survive in these uncertain times.

Showcase locally-made products

  • Now, more than ever, consumers want to buy from local brands to support the domestic economy. By highlighting that you are a local brand and are selling locally-made products on your website and ads, you may be able to attract some customers and boost sales

Present information that is relevant to consumers

  • Make sure that your website and marketing collateral feature key information that consumers need including product availability, speed of delivery, return policy, and shipping fees. You might also want to modify your product descriptions for them to become more relevant to your customers’ changing needs during the pandemic.

Offer online gift cards

  • As people switch to online shopping, now is a good time to offer online gift cards that will encourage them to purchase products even without going to your physical store.

Engage customers through social media

  • Connect with your customers in a time of social distancing through popular social media platforms. Stay active and post relevant content that will promote discussion to give your brand a human element.

Manage your customers’ expectations when it comes to delivery

  • Make sure that you make your customers aware of the possible delays on delivery, especially if you’ve just transitioned to ecommerce. It is better to be honest and transparent than to lose customers because of miscommunicated time estimates.

Want to discuss your specific business situation? Drop us a message so we can schedule a session to plan your business recovery.

How to Manage an Underperformer Remotely

Although many businesses are re-opening and some people are returning to the office, the work from home setup will persist. As a business leader, you will be faced with new challenges such as managing an underperformer in your remote team. This Harvard Business Review article shares some tips on how to handle such situation effectively so your operations won’t be affected:

Revisit your expectations.

  • Review your recent directives and check if you have communicated your expectations clearly and consistently from the beginning. Also, identify where the underperformer’s difficulties come from.

Learn more about them.

  • Know their goals and what they care about. Learn about their remote set-up, schedule, and home obligations so you can adjust your management approach to match their needs.

Level with them and be specific.

  • Provide feedback to give them an opportunity to actively make some changes in their practices that are not working.

Help them learn how to improve their own performance.

  • You can avoid micromanaging by using questions so they can self-assess, modify what needs to be improved, and project into their own future.

Stay in close enough contact.

  • Stay in touch regularly and keep them in the loop. If you feel like you’re not getting a good read on your team member’s state of mind because you communicate mostly via email or chat messages, plan some of your interactions by phone and listen intently. The tone of their voice will give you more clues about what needs intervention.

If you need more techniques to strengthen your relationship with your team, improve performance, and consequently boost your business results, feel free to get in touch with us.

Watch out for 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, vaccine, or 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 bank account information, credit card details, or driver’s licence number; someone you don’t know requests money through 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.

On the Bright Side…

We’re now in the third quarter of 2020 and we are still in the grips of a global pandemic– leaving many scared, frustrated, and struggling. However, among the dire news, there have been a few bright spots, as this article points out, with a listing of 100 positive things that have happened so far in 2020. For example, drive-in movie theatres are showing a resurgence, adoption and fostering of homeless animals has risen, and museums around the world have opened for virtual tours.

We understand that this year seems incredibly hard, and it surely doesn’t feel like a moment when you can easily see the glass as half full or make lemonade out of lemons. While it’s okay to not be okay, we encourage you to find the silver linings.

Get in touch

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

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