Tag: COVID-19

Oakville Chamber’s message to all levels of government

Build the necessary infrastructure to support a digitized world and stay current in the latest technology to remain competitive in a post-COVID-19 world

COVID-19 has been surreal to many of us.  Over the course of a few days, businesses were shut down, nonessential workers were required to work from home and people were asked to self quarantine in an effort to control the virus. 

This created a need for organizations, businesses and people around the world in almost every industry to reinvent and adapt to one of the most challenging times since the Second World War.

The difference between then and now is the advancement of science and technology. Unfortunately, COVID-19 represents a tremendous economic shock and burden.  According to experts, recovery is what will be required over the next 18–24 months to get output back to its pre-crisis level.  

There is however some positive aspect and learnings that have developed as a result of the pandemic; technology has enabled hundreds of millions of people to remain connected, productive and healthy.  

For the better part of a decade, Digital Transformation has been the core driver of organizational change. The transition from legacy IT to cloud computing; the expansion of retail and banking into the mobile space; the rise of machine learning, artificial intelligence, and smart automation; and the growth of the IoT were, among other massively transformative technologies, at the heart of a generational forward evolutionary leap. And it is therefore not surprising that these very technologies have enabled businesses, governments, healthcare systems, students, and workers to adapt to the turmoil of disruption caused by the pandemic.[1]

The ability for us to adapt so quickly under these unprecedented conditions only underscores the critical need for governments to continue to invest in digital technology, innovation and a connected infrastructure.  

As part of the plan for recovery, the Oakville Chamber believes that governments at all levels will need to enhance digital connections amongst business, employees, citizens and government to create an attractive climate for business investment and job creation for economic growth.  

An increasingly digital economy will require major investments in sophisticated networks, cybersecurity and electronics.  It will also force businesses to adopt new technologies and business models to interact with customers, clients and employees.

In collaboration with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and its Roadmap to Recovery we will urge the federal government to commit to adopting technology and innovative measures to ensure a smart and lasting recovery.

Locally, the Oakville Chamber will continue to press the Town of Oakville to forge ahead with its development of both a Mobility Strategy as well as a Digital Strategy.  This is critical as part of our Town’s economic recovery.  Now, is the time to embrace technology and the economic benefits that ensue. 

[1] Forbes


Faye Lyons, Vice President, Governent Relations & Advocacy

The COVID-19 pandemic curve is starting to flatten and Canada needs a plan to restart the economy

On April 6th the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Government of Canada launched the Canadian Business Resilience Network (CBRN) to help the business community prepare, persevere and, ultimately, prosper in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This network is a coordinated, business-led, inclusive campaign that has focused on providing businesses with the tools they need to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on them, our economy and communities across the country. Its goal is also to help businesses emerge from this crisis and drive Canada’s economic recovery.

We are now seeing the COVID-19 pandemic curve flatten; provinces and territories are allowing businesses to reopen, and Canada needs a plan to restart the economy.

The shutdowns to protect public health showed the complexity of the supply chains that keep our economy going. The gradual re-starting of our economy is equally complex and will require lead-in time for businesses to prepare. This includes understanding what public health rules will be in place and what businesses can expect. Getting the re-opening right will ultimately lay the ground for a sustainable recovery. 

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has identified five key areas that need to be part of the country’s strategy to reopen the economy quickly and safely.

Stakeholder Consultation

The crisis has shown the best policy is made when it widely draws upon the advice of civil society, including businesses both large and small across sectors. The conversations need to start now in a structured manner to ensure that governments at all levels are receiving the best possible advice to minimize unintended consequences.

International best practices

Industrialized economies around the world are beginning the domestic processes to restart their economy. We should use this opportunity to learn from what is working and what is not working in other comparable jurisdictions.

Interprovincial alignment

Both in good times, and through the pandemic, we have seen the perils of misalignment between provinces and territories. Companies that operate across provincial and territorial boundaries need to have clarity and consistency to minimize confusion and ensure as seamless a reboot as possible. Companies also need to have clarity on public health rules as well as access to PPEs to meet those public health guidelines.

Government financial assistance

Temporary financial support programs have been crucial to help some companies stay afloat through the pandemic. However, there is also a need to ensure sustainable public finances. What are the conditions that should guide how the already announced financial support programs are successfully concluded?

International trade

As a country dependent on the movement of goods and services to support the economy, it is crucial for Canada to stay plugged into the global economy. Border closures rolled out in response to COVID-19 have been justified to protect public health, but will be gradually rolled back. Companies will need certainty and lead-in time to fully re-engage with the global economy as these measures are lifted.

– Faye Lyons, Vice President of Government Relations & Advocacy

Oakville’s businesses face COVID’S wrath

It’s been a tough month for Oakville’s business community. They’re struggling to navigate the economic implications of COVID-19 and many are concerned about the future of their business.

Consequently, the Oakville Chamber has been actively working with policy makers at all levels of government to provide economic relief measures for businesses during COVID-19. 

To avoid a collapse of our economy, the federal government announced a wage subsidy program to help cover three-quarters of employees’ salaries for businesses that have seen their revenue drop by at least 30 per cent due to COVID-19.  In addition, a $40,000 interest-free loan has been extended where $10,000 can be forgiven if certain conditions are met.

As one of the advocates for the significant increase to the initial 10 per cent federal wage subsidy announcement,  the Oakville Chamber, and business organizations across the Country, applauded the proposed Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy that would cover 75 per cent of salaries for qualifying businesses, for up to 3 months, retroactive to March 15, 2020.

As details emerged in the days following the announcement, we heard from members across our community who had concerns with the way the program had been designed and feared that the program would not be enough to save their business and keep their workers employed.

To that end, the Oakville Chamber has spent the last few weeks engaging with our membership to better understand their concerns, challenges and most importantly seek feedback on what types of support they need from our Federal Government. 

Business models differ from sector to sector.  Some are reliant on foot traffic, some are essential but are operating at a reduced capacity.  All of these variables mean that not all businesses will benefit from the measures introduced so far from the government.

Some smaller businesses don’t have the cash reserves to sustain them long term.  So, time is of the essence. Understandably, they are hesitant to take on more loans as they can’t predict what’s in store for them for the next six months. 

Furthermore, the criteria for businesses to access the 75 per cent wage subsidy remains an issue for some that do not qualify.  These include businesses with small profit margins that are being hurt by a revenue decline of less than 30%, as well as service firms that are invoicing but do not know when or if these invoices will be paid.

Businesses need to see immediate execution of government programs to protect jobs and avoid delaying recovery.  We urgently need to get these funds into the hands of employers. Every day that we delay these funds will lead to more businesses shutting down and more Canadians facing unemployment.

Together, with our network of Chamber’s across the country, the Oakville Chamber is calling on all levels of government to set aside planned tax increases, new regulations and unnecessary consultations that place a burden on businesses.

This is a situation without precedent for the global and Canadian economy.   Our federal government has been responsive to our calls to action and must continue to do so as we navigate this unprecedented time together.

– Faye Lyons, Vice President of Advocacy and Government Relations

COVID-19: Business Resources and Updates

This is the Oakville Chamber of Commerce’s central hub for business resources and updates regarding COVID-19. Please visit this page often as we continue to provide the most up-to-date information. 

Order of Information Listed:
1. Oakville Chamber Updates
2. Recent Government Updates for Business
3. Direct Financial Support for Business
4. Direct Financial Support for Workers
5. Access to Capital
6. Tax Relief
7. Other Support Measures
8. Resources for Business: Health & Safety, Re-opening Guidelines, HR, Marketing & Operations


The Mayor’s Economic Task Force

Welcome Back Oakville Campaign

The Mayor’s Economic Task Force (the Oakville Chamber of Commerce, Oakville’s Business Improvement Areas, Visit Oakville, and the Town’s Economic Development Department) launched #WelcomeBackOakville to encourage residents to safely explore Oakville and support local business.

The campaign includes an interactive map to see what businesses are open or if they are offering modified services. The map also includes a list of local PPE Suppliers.

Oakville businesses can use the easy to share graphics to join the campaign on social media, using the hashtag #WelcomeBackOakville.



Recent Government Announcements


Government of Ontario announces The Resilient Communities Fund  – August 5, 2020

Paid parking resumes in Oakville beginning August 4, 2020  – July 31, 2020

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program extended to August – July 31, 2020

Ontario implements additional measures at bars and restaurants to help limit the spread of COVID-19
– July 31, 2020

Canada and Ontario invest in modern, green public transitfor residents of Oakville 
– July 29, 2020

Toronto and Peel Region to enter Stage 3 – July 29, 2020

CRA announces an extension to the payment deadline and offers interest relief on outstanding tax debts during COVID-19
July 27, 2020

Safe Restart Agreement represnts new funding for priority programs in Ontario
 – July 27, 2020

Ontario delivers up to 4 billion to support municipalities and transit
– July 27, 2020

Halton Region to enter Stage 3 as of 12:01am on Friday, July 24th  – July 20, 2020
The Region of Halton to move forward into Stage 3 as of 12:01am on Friday, July 24th.

The Chief Medical Officer of Health, public health experts and other officials have advised the following, high-risk places and activities are not yet safe to open in Stage 3, due to the likelihood of large crowds congregating, difficulties with physical distancing, or challenges maintaining the proper cleaning and sanitation required to prevent the spread of COVID‑19.
Businesses and services listed as not yet safe to open:
  • Amusement parks and water parks;
  • Buffet-style food services;
  • Dancing at restaurants and bars, other than by performers hired by the establishment following specific requirements;
  • Overnight stays at camps for children;
  • Private karaoke rooms;
  • Prolonged or deliberate contact while playing sports;
  • Saunas, steam rooms, bath houses and oxygen bars;
  • Table games at casinos and gaming establishments.
All other businesses and public spaces will be permitted to be open, subject to ensuring the appropriate health and safety measures are in place, as well as limits on gathering sizes. More information on restrictions and gathering limits in Stage 3 is available below.
The government invites businesses not able to open or resume full activities due to Stage 3 restrictions to visit Ontario.ca/reopen to submit a reopening proposal.
For questions on restrictions that will remain in place during Stage 3, review the Stage 3 Emergency Order on the emergency information portal or call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.

Halton Regional Council approves Temporary Mandatory Face-Covering By-Law effective July 22nd  – July 15, 2020
Effective July 22, 2020, wearing a non-medical mask or face covering is mandatory in certain enclosed indoor public places in Halton region. Some individuals are exempt. Please be kind and support each other. The by-law is in effect until November 30, 2020, unless extended by Regional Council. To learn more, read the by-law , media release , watch the webinar on the by-law, or frequently asked questions. There are also posters and a sample mask policy available for businesses on the Halton Region website.

Support for Business

Direct Financial Support for Businesses

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)

Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF)

Direct Financial Support for Workers

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

Employment Insurance

Access to Capital

Business Credit Availability Program
Through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC), the new Business Credit Availability Program will increase the credit available to small, medium and large Canadian businesses, providing more than $65 billion in direct lending and other types of financial support.

Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF)

The government’s support for large employers through LEEFF will be delivered by a subsidiary of the Canada Development Investment Corporation (CDEV), in cooperation with Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) and the Department of Finance. Visit the CDEV website. Broader sectoral dynamics for LEEFF applicants will be considered through processes led by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. Learn more.


Financial Relief Offered by Canadian Banks
Banks will provide financial relief to businesses affected by the economic consequences of COVID-19. The Bank of Montreal, CIBC, National Bank of Canada, RBC Royal Bank, Scotiabank and TD Bank will work with personal and small business customers, on a case-by-case basis, to provide flexible solutions to help them manage challenges, such as pay disruption, childcare disruption due to school closures or those facing illness from COVID-19.

Bank of Canada Interest Rate
The Bank of Canada cut its overnight rate to 0.25% – the interest rate at which major financial institutions borrow and lend one-day (or “overnight”) funds among themselves.

Tax Relief

The Canada Revenue Agency
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is extending the payment due date for individual, corporate, and trust income tax returns, including instalment payments, from September 1, 2020, to September 30, 2020. Penalties and interest will not be charged if payments are made by the extended deadline of September 30, 2020. This includes the late-filing penalty as long as the return is filed by September 30, 2020.

The CRA is also waiving interest on existing tax debts related to individual, corporate, and trust income tax returns from April 1, 2020, to September 30, 2020 and from April 1, 2020, to June 30, 2020, for goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) returns. While this measure for existing tax debts does not cancel penalties and interest already assessed on a taxpayer’s account prior to this period, it ensures that a taxpayer’s existing tax debt does not continue to grow through interest charges during this difficult time. 
Deferred Provincial Taxes

Beginning April 1, 2020, the Government of Ontario is providing flexibility to about 100,000 businesses in Ontario to help manage their cash flows during this challenging time. This will continue for a period of five months, up until August 31, 2020.

For this period, the Province will not apply any penalty or interest on any late-filed returns or incomplete or late tax payments under select provincially administered taxes, such as the Employer Health Tax, Tobacco Tax and Gas Tax.

Additional Assistance For Business

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program
The Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program provides loans, including forgiveable loans, to commercial property owners who in turn will lower or forgo the rent of small businesses for the months of April (retroactive), May, and June. Learn more.
 
Digital Main Street
The Government of Ontario in partnership with the Government of Canada, is helping small businesses enhance their online presence through the Digital Main Street Platform.
Through the $57-million contribution to the Digital Main Street platform, businesses will be able to take advantage of three new programs to support their digital transformation:


1. shopHERE powered by Google:
The program will hire highly skilled and trained students to build and support the launch of online stores for businesses that previously did not have the capacity to do so themselves.

2. Digital Main Street Grants:
The grant will help main street small businesses be digitally more effective, through a $2,500 grant administered by the Ontario BIA Association. Small businesses will be able to adopt new technologies and embrace digital marketing. Municipalities, Chambers of Commerce, and Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) can apply for a Digital Service Squad grant, which will allow them to establish teams to provide personalized, one-on-one support.

3. Future-Proof Main Street:
The program will provide specialized and in-depth digital transformation services and support that helps existing main-street firms adapt to changes in their sector and thrive in the new economy. By leveraging teams of digital marketing professionals and talented students, these firms will be able to create new online business models, develop and implement digital and e-commerce marketing strategies, and maximize digital tools, platforms and content.


Sign-up for the Digital Main Street Program.

 
Distantly.ca
Distantly.ca is an online donation platform that allows community members to make direct donations to small businesses.

Recovery Activation Program

The Recovery Activation Program (RAP) is an immersive online workshop program that connects businesses with industry experts for guidance, mentorship and practical advice about process modernization and end-to-end digital transformation. It is completely free for businesses and supports firms of any size across Ontario. Learn more.


Stop the Spread Business Information Line
The Government of Ontario has launched a toll-free line 1-888-444-3659 to provide support to Ontario businesses who have questions about the province’s recent emergency order to close at-risk workplaces following recommendations by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.

Help is available from Monday to Sunday, from 8:30 a.m.―5:00 p.m. A complete list of essential services is available on the Government of Ontario’s website.

Work-Sharing Program
The Government of Canada has enhanced its Work-Sharing Program to support employers and their workers who are experiencing a downturn in business by expanding the program from 38 to 76 weeks and by streamlining processes to improve access.

Learn more.

WSIB Deferred Payments

The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) will allow employers to defer payments for a period of six months. This will provide employers with $1.9 billion in financial relief.

All employers covered by the WSIB’s workplace insurance are automatically eligible for the financial relief package. Schedule 1 employers with premiums owed to the WSIB will be allowed to defer reporting and payments until August 31, 2020. The deferral will also apply to Schedule 2 businesses that pay WSIB for the cost related to their workplace injury and illness claims. In addition, no interest will be accrued on outstanding premium payments and no penalties will be charged during this six-month deferral period.

Learn more.


Resources for Business

Navigating the support programs for business


Business Continuity and Recovery

Business Services, Operations and Marketing Support
  • #WelcomeBackOakville Marketing Campaign – Welcome Back Oakville
  • eBay: Register as a new Canadian business seller on eBay before  August 22nd, 2020 and receive an all-in-one online business solution to get more out of the eBay marketplace and millions of buyers. Learn more. 
  • Ontario Made program for Ontario Manufacturers – Government of Ontario
  • Canada Post – Think Small Program.
    • Until August 31st, re-connect with your community with a mailing to inform customers that you’re open, re-opening or incentives to visit you: choose from the Shared Mailer, or the Solo Mailer. 
    • Until October 31st, take advantaged of an integrated marketing campgin to help keep your business top of mind: choose from a Canada Post Smartmail Marketing partner, or use Snap Admail.
    • Learn more.
 
Health & Safety, and Security

PPE


Human Resources

Monitor COVID-19

Stay up-to-date on the rapidly evolving situation, and on the nature of the virus itself, by frequently checking municipal, provincial, and national websites.



      COVID-19 Update from The Chambers Plan

      The Chambers Plan has developed a COVID-19 updates link to provide up-to-date information. Please check back to the link regularly as the document will be constantly updated.

      Questions in relation to coverage by (insured) employers and employees should be directed to the plan at info@johnstongroup.ca or call the Customer Service line at 1-800-665-3365. Due to high call volumes, the fastest current response is by email.
       
      Below are resources that are available to you with the Chambers Plan coverage:
       
      • Teladoc telemedicine service is available, at no charge, providing medical access to a doctor from your smartphone.
      • Healthy Business Bookmark a full suite of HR resources, is available at www.my-benefits.ca under your Admin Access including templates and letters.
      • Business Assistance Service (BAS) provides 9 hours of legal, accounting and HR advice every calendar year (by phone) to help with issues related to your business and employees

      Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan

      The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced a new set of economic measures to help stabilize the economy. These measures will provide up to $27 billion in direct support to Canadian workers and businesses, plus $55 billion to meet liquidity needs of Canadian businesses and households through tax deferrals to help stabilize the economy.

      Below we have summarized what businesses and workers need to know.

      Business

      • All businesses can defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today and before September 2020. This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as instalments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period. This measure will result in businesses having more money available during this period.
      • Increased credit is available to small, medium, and large Canadian businesses. As announced on March 13, a new Business Credit Availability Program will provide more than $10 billion of additional support to businesses experiencing cash flow challenges through the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada.
      • Expansion of Export Development Canada’s ability to provide support to domestic businesses.
      • Provide flexibility on the Canada Account limit, to allow the Government to provide additional support to Canadian businesses, when deemed to be in the national interest, to deal with exceptional circumstances.
      • Launch of an Insured Mortgage Purchase Program to purchase up to $50 billion of insured mortgage pools through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. As announced on March 16, this will provide stable funding to banks and mortgage lenders and support continued lending to Canadian businesses and consumers.

      Workers

      • Boosting the Canada Child Benefit payments
      • Introduction of the Emergency Care Benefit of up to $900 bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks to provide income support to workers who must stay home and do not have access to paid sick leave.
      • Introduction of an Emergency Support Benefit delivered through the Canada Revenue Agency to provide up to $5 billion in support to workers who are not eligible for EI and who are facing unemployment.
      • Provide additional assistance to individuals and families with low and modest incomes with a special top-up payment under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) credit.
      • Waive, for a minimum of six months, the mandatory one-week waiting period for EI sickness benefits for workers in imposed quarantine or who have been directed to self-isolate, as announced on March 11.
      • Waive the requirement for a medical certificate to access EI sickness benefits.
      • Extend the tax filing deadline for individuals to June 1, and allow all taxpayers to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today and before September 2020. This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as instalments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period.
      • Provide eligible small businesses a 10 per cent wage subsidy for the next 90 days, up to a maximum of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer. Employers benefiting from this measure would include corporations eligible for the small business deduction, as well as not-for-profit organisations and charities. 
      • Provide increased flexibility to lenders to defer mortgage payments on homeowner government-insured mortgage loans to borrowers who may be experiencing financial difficulties related to the outbreak. Insurers will permit lenders to allow payment deferral beginning immediately.
      Learn more.


      COVID-19 Update from the Oakville Chamber

      Further to the press conference held today by the Government of Canada and Public Health Officials, Canadians are being asked to practice social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and as a result recommend the cancellation or postponement of events.

      The Oakville Chamber of Commerce is taking action to help protect the health and safety of our members, partners and our employees. We are currently implementing measures to do our part in containing the further spread of the virus.

      As a result, we will be postponing all Chamber events and meetings until April 6th.

      We will continue to monitor the situation and will keep members updated through our website, emails and social media for the status of our other scheduled events.

      If you are registered for an event that was scheduled to take place before April 6th, 2020 we will be contacting you directly to communicate a new event date and/or facilitate full refunds.

      To assist and support the business community with preparing and responding to COVID-19, please refer to these resources from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce:

      For specific information and updates on COVID-19 please refer to:

      Our offices remain open and fully functioning.  Please do not hesitate to reach out to us with your concerns or questions.

      During this period of uncertainty, we ask you to consider ways to support our local businesses. This includes purchasing gift cards that can be used at a later date, or ordering from them online. For your local needs, please refer to our Member Directory.



      COVID-19 CORONAVIRUS: Oakville Chamber Event Update

      The Oakville Chamber of Commerce (OCC) continues to monitor and assess new developments pertaining to COVID-19 (Coronavirus). In terms of the OCC’s upcoming events, we are taking our lead from Public Health, who is currently not suggesting the postponement or cancellation of any scheduled events. As a result, we are proceeding as planned with all upcoming OCC events.

      The safety and well-being of our members and community are of the utmost importance to us. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and will update this policy as required. We will communicate any event changes to registrants, our members, and the public through email, social media posts, and updates on our website. Should the directive from the Region of Halton Public Health change, the OCC will have alternative options for our events – including holding virtual programs and consider rescheduling events.

      Currently, we encourage all event attendees to:

      Evaluate their own health (and the health of people they’re in close contact with), when deciding to attend an upcoming OCC event. A temporary change to our refund policy has been made for those who are no longer able to attend an event (see below).

      Follow the guidance of the Region of Halton Public Health, everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of viruses, including but not limited to:
      • Wash your hands often with warm water and soap or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
      • Avoid contact with people who are sick
      • Stay home when you are sick
      • Sneeze and cough into your sleeve
      • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
      • Use sanitization materials offered complimentary at Chamber events
      • Greet other event attendees with a fist bump or wave, instead of a handshake
        Temporary Change to the OCC Refund Policy

        During this time, we have revised our OCC Event Refund Policy for registrants. If you are not able to attend an in-person event, please contact the Chamber by email prior to the event. For select events being held using virtual technology, the 3-Business Day Cancellation Policy will remain in effect; registrants for these events will be notified of this policy via email communication. If you are no longer able to attend an event that you are registered for, please send an email to info@oakvillechamber.com as soon as possible.

        As published on the Region of Halton Public Health site, symptoms of the COVID-19 Coronavirus can range from mild – like the flu and other common respiratory infections – to severe, and can include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. If you are unwell, we encourage you to stay home to recover.