Tag: COVID-19

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.

Oakville Chamber of Commerce

Canadian Business Resilience Network launches Small Business Relief Fund

(May 25, 2020)

The Canadian Business Resilience Network (CBRN) has announced the Small Business Relief Fund. It is a national initiative to provide small Canadian businesses with $10,000 grants to help in their COVID-19 recovery efforts. These grants are made possible by Salesforce. 

Applications for this grant opportunity will open June 1, 2020 and close June 12, 2020. 
Any business considering applying must hold a valid membership with a Chamber of Commerce, Board of Trade or any other business association that is a member of the CBRN.

Government of Canada partners with Canadian Chamber of Commerce to launch Busines Resilience Service

(May 25, 2020)

The Business Resilience Service (BRS) allows you to connect with experienced business advisors from across Canada for guidance on which government relief programs will be most appropriate to support your small- to medium-sized business, not-for-profit or charity on how to respond and reshape amid uncertainty.

The program, delivered to your organization free of charge, provides:

  • Guidance on COVID-19 financial support program options and eligibility
  • Direction on accessing the most appropriate support organizations
  • Help to make decisions to support recovery plans
  • Real time insights and feedback to policymakers

To access the BRS call 1-866-989-1080 to connect with a business advisor from the accounting profession. The service is available 7 days/week from 8am – 8pm ET (5am – 5pm PT).

Learn more.

May Events Update

(May 4, 2020)
As we continue to follow the recommendations of the Public Health Agency of Canada, all May have been postponed or rescheduled. Please continue to monitor our website for updates. If you have any questions regarding tickets purchased or your participation in any of our upcoming events, please do not hesitate to reach out to our team at info@oakvillechamber.com – we are happy to assist you with any inquiry.


Recent Government Announcements

Government of Ontario extends Emergency Orders Until June 9thMay 27, 2020

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance now open for applicationsMay 25, 2020

Ontario Helps People Impacted by COVID-19 Get Back to Work and introduces Ontario Tools GrantMay 22, 2020

Ontario makes legislative changes to allow corportations to operate virtually and electronicallyMay 22, 2020

Canada Emergency Rent Relief Program Open for Applications May 25thMay 20, 2020

Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility Program (LEEFF) Open for ApplicationsMay 20, 2020

Government of Canada Expands Eligibility Criteria for Canada Emergency Business AccountMay 19, 2020

Government of Canada Extends Emergency Wage SubsidyMay 15, 2020

Canada Summer Jobs start rolling out to keep young people working during COVID-19May 15, 2020

Government of Canada announces support for research staff in CanadaMay 15, 2020

Reopening the Ontario Economy: Stage One – May 14, 2020
Premier Doug Ford announced that the Government of Ontario will begin Stage One of Reopening the Economy on Tuesday, May 19th. The government also announced additional seasonal services and activities will be permitted to open as early as Saturday May 16th in time for the Victoria Day long weekend.

The government also launched the Workplace PPE Supplier Directory has an up-to-date list of Ontario companies and business associations that are ready to supply personal protective equipment.

Before your business reopens, review the Government of Ontario’s sector-specific guidelines and posters to help protect workers, customers and the general public from COVID-19


If you have questions about what will be open or impacts to your business, read the Government of Ontario’s frequently asked questions or call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659. Read the media release.

FedDev Ontario Launches Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF)
 May 13, 2020

Prime Minister announces Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility and Expansion of the Business Credit Availability Program
 May 8, 2020

Support for Business

Direct Financial Support for Businesses

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy
The Government of Canada will provide eligible businesses, charitable or not-for-profit organizations that have experienced at least a 15% decline in revenue in March 2020 and a 30% decline in revenue in April and/or May 2020, when compared to the same month in 2019, with a 75% wage subsidy for up to three months. Alternatively, organizations would qualify if they can demonstrate a drop in gross revenues of 30%+ in these months against January and February of this year.

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy will cover employees’ salaries on the first $58,700 earned this year – to a maximum amount of $847 per week. The program will be backdated to March 15, 2020 and is designed to protect jobs and maintain the important link between employees and employers. 

Frequently Asked Questions for the Temporary Wage Subsidy for Employers.

Learn more.
Before you calculate your subsidy, make sure you are eligible to apply.
After you apply for the wage subsidy, your claim will be subject to verification.

Use the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Calculator

Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)
The Government of Canada is providing businesses with interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to help cover operating costs during a period where their revenues have been temporarily reduced due to COVID-19. This program is for businesses with a total payroll between $20,000 to $1.5 million in 2019. Repayment of the loan on or before December 31, 2022 will result in loan forgiveness of 25% (up to $10,000). This will better position companies to quickly return to providing services to their communities and create employment. Applications are available through your primary bank or credit union.

Learn more.

On May 19th, the Government of Canada announced an expansion to the eligibility criteria for the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) to include many owner-operated small businesses. This extended measure will help small businesses protect the jobs that Canadians rely on. Read the media release. More details, including the launch date for applications under the new criteria, will follow in the days to come.

Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF)
The Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) is being delivered by Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) to help more businesses and organizations in sectors across the economy such as manufacturing, technology, tourism and others that are key to the regions and local economies. As the RDA for southern Ontario, FedDev Ontario will work with key partners, such as the Community Futures Development Corporations, across the region to help southern Ontario businesses during these difficult times.

Learn more.

Facebook Small Business Grants
Facebook knows that your business may be experiencing disruptions resulting from the global outbreak of COVID-19. They’ve heard that a little financial support can go a long way, so we’re offering $100M in cash grants and ad credits to help during this challenging time.

Up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in more than 30 countries will be able to receive a grant from Facebook. To be eligible to apply, your business must:

  • Have between 2 and 50 employees
  • Have been in business for over a year
  • Have experienced challenges from COVID-19
  • Be in or near a location where Facebook operates

Apply / Learn more.

Direct Financial Support for Workers

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
The CERB provides direct financial support of $500 per week for up to 16 weeks to Canadians who have lost their job, have had their hours reduced, have had their EI recently run out, are seasonal workers, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, as well as working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures. Employed workers who earn up to $1,000 per month may still qualify for the CERB. CERB applications are available through Service Canada and the CRA, though please only apply through one of the portals – not both. Payments will be received within 10 days of application with payments made every four weeks for the period of March 15 to October 3, 2020.

Learn more.

Employment Insurance
Ongoing access to the Employment Insurance (EI) program is available for eligible workers who have lost their job. EI is designed to provide temporary financial support for those workers who have lost their job, are sick, pregnant, caring for a newborn or adopted child, caring for a family member who is seriously ill with a significant risk of death or providing care or support to a critically ill family member. 

Learn more.

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 program will support Canada’s largest employers, whose needs during the pandemic are not being met through conventional financing. LEEFF will help successful applicants keep their operations going. The objective of this support is to help protect Canadian jobs, help Canadian businesses weather the current economic challenges, and avoid bankruptcies of otherwise viable firms where possible. This support will not be used to resolve insolvencies or restructure firms, nor will it provide financing to companies that otherwise have the capacity to manage through the crisis.

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. Additional information on the application process is available on 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. Effective immediately, 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

Deferred Income Tax Payment for Businesses
Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will allow all businesses to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after March 18 and before September 2020, with no interest or penalties applicable during this period.
Deferred GST/HST Remittance
CRA will defer the Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) remittances to June 30, 2020.
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.

Deferred Property Tax in Town of Oakville

Tax installments due April 24: Penalty and interest for non-payment, and non-sufficient funds charges for returned payment will be waived until June 30, 2020.

Outstanding property taxes: Penalty and interest will be waived until June 30, 2020.

Pre-authorized payment plans: Property owners may opt-out without penalty from April 1 to June 30, 2020. Property owners must contact finance@oakville.ca by the 15th of the month to opt-out before payment is set to withdraw.

Learn more.

Additional Assistance For Business

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program
On April 16th,  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the government’s intent to introduce The Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program. This program will seek to provide 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.
Implementation of the program will require a partnership between the Federal Government and Provincial and Territorial Governments.

On April 24th, the Federal Government announced that this program will lower rent by 75 per cent for small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19. Read the media release.

On May 20th, the Federal Government announced that application documents and updated criteria for Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses are now available, and that the program will be opened for applications beginning on May 25th. Learn more.
 
Distantly.ca
Oakville’s Economic Task Force announces the launch of Distantly.ca in Oakville; an online crowd-funding platform to connect small business with community donations. Learn more.   Learn how to set up your business page.
 
Elecricity Rates Reduction
The Government Ontario is temporarily reducing electricity rates for small businesses, farms, and residential customers that pay time-of-use (TOU) rates. TOU rates will be suspended until at least May 8, 2020, holding electricity prices to the off-peak rate of 10.1 cents-per-kilowatt-hour.

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

Human Resources

Safety and Security

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.