• COVID-19 Resources

  • The Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce is actively monitoring new developments pertaining to COVID-19 and how this is affecting businesses in the Lethbridge community.  

    We know there is a lot of information out there, and to ensure your business is supported through this time of difficulty and uncertainty, we have, and will continue to gather resources to ensure you can stay informed.  

    We look forward to continuing to serve and support all of our members during this difficult time. Please check back often, as updates will be posted as they are received.

  • Lethbridge Chamber Statement on COVID-19 Lethbridge Chamber Statement on COVID-19

    We have all heard Dr. Deena Hinshaw refer to her goal of flattening the curve of COVID-19. That means reducing our impact on hospitals, heath care providers and suppliers of equipment by minimizing the number of cases at any one time. This will ensure our healthcare system can continue to function and that resources are available for everyone in need.

    This same strategy is important for our economy. We need to flatten the curve of a financial downturn caused by consumers doing their public duty and staying home and by businesses being ordered to close by the government. The more businesses that remain viable – even at a reduced level or in a maintenance mode – the sooner they can reduce operations and we can go back to a new normal and start an economic recovery. This very much matters for business owners and also for the vibrancy of our community, the future of employees as well as the revival of tax revenue to governments. 

    Government investment will help flatten the curve of business failures and will certainly contribute to governments’ financial picture down the road, and their ability to contribute providing public service.

    This past week, the Chamber vigorously advocated for the government to provide very generous support for businesses, as was done in many European countries. On Friday, we were extremely relieved to hear the announcement by the Prime Minister that Canada will provide a 75% wage subsidy for small to medium sized businesses to enable them to keep their employees, or hire them back. This is a much better option as it leaves more money in the pockets of employees and enables employers to hold on to their teams. We look forward to clarification of the eligibility criteria requiring a 30% drop in revenue to receive the wage subsidy. We ask the government to ensure that these criteria are for businesses to implement for accounting purposes.

    Prime Minister Trudeau announced that GST payments that are due at the end of this month can be delayed until June, which will help businesses preserve more cash for longer. This is helpful, but the Chamber will continue to ask for a reduction in taxes from all levels of government and not just deferrals. 

    The Prime Minister also stated that businesses can access $40,000 in loans that will be interest free for a year. This is in addition to the measures announced earlier this month delaying income tax payments.

    The Chamber acknowledges the Government of Alberta’s decision to close all non-essential businesses to help protect the spread of COVID-19. As we work together to take these necessary precautions, we need governments to ensure financial assistance flows to businesses quickly and without delay. 

    Our members have also asked for help with commercial rent, which we have advocated to our provincial government. We also continue to call for a large recovery fund, which the federal government may act on when we are closer to recovery. At the moment they are rightly focused on business preservation. 

    Yesterday, our team had a very good conversation with the Provincial Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism, Tanya Fir. Within the conversation we were able to highlight the regional impact of the current crisis, and detail the specific challenges that we are facing in Lethbridge.

    On Monday, April 6, Trevor Lewington, C.E.O, Economic Development Lethbridge and I will be making a presentation to Mayor and Council detailing the work of the Recovery Task Force as well as reinforcing the conversation that the Chamber team had with Minister Fir.

    Finally, the Chamber made a handful of recommendations in an open letter to Mayor and Council to lower the financial pressure faced by all the local businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. These recommendations included asking for:

    • Interest-free deferral of property tax installments 
    • Interest-free deferral of water/wastewater payments for all businesses
    • Cancelation of daily fixed water/wastewater charges for high water-usage businesses including restaurants and hotels
    • Elimination of all parking fees for business areas
    • Cancellation of development service department fees (building, planning, zoning) to stimulate construction activities
    • Cancellation of all business-related permit fees including signage permit fees

    I continue to be impressed by the coordinated efforts of our federal, provincial and local government to respond quickly to the drastic loss of business due to public health measures to control COVID-19. I am optimistic this help will continue through our recovery which, based on countries ahead of us in this pandemic, is hopefully only a month or so down the road.

     

    Sincerely,

    Cyndi Vos, M. Ed
    ​Executive Officer, Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce

  • COVID-19 Local Information *NEW* COVID-19 Local Information *NEW*

    April 7, 2020

    Lethbridge residents unable to make their utility payments on time will not face late payment penalties thanks to City Council.


    In the days ahead

    The Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce is pleased to see all orders of government working together to help our communities withstand this unprecedented economic and social crisis. We also know that more needs to be done to ensure that businesses don’t just survive the COVID-19 crisis, but that they emerge with enough strength and capacity to withstand the economic impacts of global oil prices collapsing for the second time in six years. We will continue to advocate for stronger supports, and reducing the red tape that makes it difficult for businesses to access these supports.


    Mar 18, 2020

    Wondering what city facilities are open? Do you want to know more information about how the City of Lethbridge is handling COVID-19?

     

    Provincial Information *NEW* Provincial Information *NEW*

    April 7, 2020

    Employment Standards Changes

    • Creating a job-protected leave for employees caring for children affected by school and daycare closures or ill or self-isolated family members due to COVID-19
      • The 90-day employment requirement is waived.
      • The leave length is flexible and linked to guidance from the Chief Medical Officer.
      • A medical note is not required.
      • Regular personal and family responsibility leave rules continue to apply for all other circumstances.
    • Removing the 24-hour written notice requirement for shift changes
    • Removing the requirement for 2 weeks notice for changes to work schedules for those under an averaging agreement
    • Removing the employer requirement to provide group termination notice to employees and unions when 50 or more employees are being terminated
      • Individual termination entitlements remain in effect.
      • Employers must still give group termination notices to the Minister of Labour and Immigration as soon as is practical.
    • Increasing the maximum time for temporary layoffs from 60 days to 120 days
      • This change is retroactive for temporary layoffs related to COVID-19 that occurred on or after March 17
    • Streamlining approvals for modifying employment standards (variances and exemptions) related to COVID-19

    Business, workplace and facility closures

    Retail businesses

     

    Albertans are prohibited from attending all non-essential retail businesses, including:

    • gift, hobby, antique and specialty stores

    • non-essential health and beauty care providers

    • clothing stores that sell mens’, ladies’ and children’s wear as well as unisex, lingerie and maternity wear, shoes, bridal wear, jewellery and accessories

    • retail stores that sell, luggage, art and framing supplies, computers and gaming equipment, toys, photos, music, books, and sporting goods

    These businesses may choose to offer online shopping and curb-side pick-up.

    Exempt retail businesses

    Retailers that can remain operational with appropriate public health measures in place are identified on the essential workplaces list as “retailers.”

    Recreation and entertainment

    Albertans are prohibited from attending all public recreation facilities and private entertainment facilities, including:

    • gyms, swimming pools and arenas

    • science centres, museums and art galleries
    • libraries, community centres, children’s play centres and bowling alleys
    • casinos, racing entertainment centres, and bingo halls

    Restaurants, cafes and bars

    • All dine-in services are prohibited. Take-out, delivery and drive-through services are still allowed.

    • Albertans are prohibited from attending bars and nightclubs, where law prohibits minors.

    • Restaurants in a food court may stay open for take-out only (no seating).

    • Licensed facilities are permitted to deliver liquor (PDF, 112 KB)

    • Not-for-profit community kitchens, soup kitchens and religious kitchens are exempt at this time, but risk mitigation strategies must be followed.

    Other businesses

    All passenger ropeways, like gondolas and chairlifts, are closed until further notice under the Safety Codes Act.

    Personal services

    Albertans are prohibited from accessing close contact personal services, including personal services facilities, cosmetic enhancement services, wellness studios and clinics, non-emergency and non-critical health services.

    Personal services facilities and cosmetic enhancement services include:

    • esthetics
    • manicure
    • pedicure
    • body waxing
    • make-up
    • body, nose and ear piercing
    • tattoos
    • artificial tanning and spray tanning
    • hairstyling
    • barbering
    • facial treatments
    • eyebrow and eyelash treatments
    • laser hair and tattoo removal
    • cosmetic skin and body treatments

    Wellness studios and clinics include:

    • floatation tanks
    • colonic irrigation
    • massage
    • reflexology

    Non-emergency and non-critical health services provided by regulated health professionals or registered professionals include any non-emergency or non-urgent:

    • dentistry
    • physiotherapy
    • massage
    • foot care and podiatry
    • acupuncture and acupressure
    • chiropractic services
    • naturopathy

    Other workplaces

    Workplaces that are not otherwise restricted or ordered to close can have more than 15 workers on a work site as long as they follow all public health guidelines, including physical distancing measures. Employers should:

    • self-assess and find alternate ways to organize large group meetings
    • cancel workplace gatherings of 15 or more people in a single space (e.g. training events)
    • employ mitigation strategies to limit risk
    • continue business continuity planning to prepare critical operations for any potential interruption

    Mar 25, 2020

    New government enforcement measures

    As of yesterday, law enforcement agencies have been granted full authority to enforce public health orders and issue fines.

    In addition, it is now mandatory for travellers returning from outside of Canada to self-isolate.

    This legal requirement also applies to close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases, as well as to any individual with symptoms such as a fever, cough, sore throat, or runny nose.


    Mar 24, 2020

    Alberta Government announces new financial support

    The Alberta Government announced three new decisions to support Albertans and employers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Education property tax freeze
    • Education property tax deferral for business
    • WCB premiums deferral for private sector businesses and support for small and medium businesses

    More social distancing enforcement expected this week

    Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Marcia Johnson said Alberta Justice is working to finalize enforcement measures, such as fines, after some members of the public have failed to follow public health recommendations. Details are expected later this week.


    Mar 18, 2020 

    March 17, 2020, Alberta declares a state of emergency:

    What does this mean?

    • Prohibiting organized events of 50+ people and closing facilities providing recreational programs, libraries, private schools, licensed child care centres, bars and restaurants (takeout and delivery permitted), theatres, cinemas and concert venues. 

    March 18, 2020, Changes to job-protected leave: 

    • Today, the Provincial Government announced that they intend to introduce legislation that, if passed, would immediately provide job-protected leave to employees in isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19, or those who need to be away from work to care for children because of school or day care closures. https://www.alberta.ca/covid-19-support-for-employers.aspx

    What does this mean?

    • Employees will have the right to job-protected leave for COVID-19 quarantine or isolation, or to care for children.
    • Employees will not have to provide a doctor's note for COVID-19 leave.

    Federal Information Federal Information

    April 6, 2020

    Canada Emergency Business Account

    The new Canada Emergency Business Account will provide interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits, to help cover their operating costs during a period where their revenues have been temporarily reduced.

    • To qualify, these organizations will need to demonstrate they paid between $50,000 to $1 million in total payroll in 2019.
    • Enrollment for the loan will be an online application through your financial institution.  

    This loan program is expected to roll out starting the week of April 6, 2020, and interested businesses should work with their current financial institutions.   


    The Canada Emergency Business Account details are as follows:

    • It’s a $40,000 government‑guaranteed loan to help eligible businesses pay for operating expenses, payroll and other non-deferrable expenses which are critical to sustain business continuity.
    • Until December 31, 2020, the Canada Emergency Business Account will be funded as a revolving line of credit for $40,000.
    • After December 31, 2020, any outstanding balance on the revolving $40,000 line of credit will be converted into a non-revolving 5‑year term loan maturing on December 31, 2025, at which time the balance must be paid in full.
    • No interest applies until January 1, 2023.
    • Commencing on January 1, 2023, interest accrues on the balance of the term loan at the rate of 5% per annum, payable monthly on the last day of each month.
    • If you pay 75% of the balance of the term loan (as at January 1, 2021), on or before December 31, 2022, the remaining balance of your term loan will be forgiven. For example, if your balance is $40,000 on January 1, 2021 and you repay $30,000 on or before December 31, 2022, the remaining $10,000 will be forgiven.
    • If you do not repay 75% of the balance of the term loan (as at January 1, 2021) on or before December 31, 2022, the full loan balance and all accrued and unpaid interest will be due and payable on December 31, 2025.

    April 1 2020

    Temporary Wage Subsidy Program

    The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy would apply at a rate of 75 per cent of the first $58,700 normally earned by employees – representing a benefit of up to $847 per week. The program would be in place for a 12-week period, from March 15 to June 6, 2020.

    • Eligible employers who suffer a drop in gross revenues of at least 30 per cent in March, April or May, when compared to the same month in 2019, would be able to access the subsidy.
    • Eligible employers would include employers of all sizes and across all sectors of the economy, with the exception of public sector entities.
    • For non-profit organizations and registered charities similarly affected by a loss of revenue, the government will continue to work with the sector to ensure the definition of revenue is appropriate to their circumstances. The government is also considering additional support for non-profits and charities, particularly those involved in the front line response to COVID-19. Further details will be announced in the near term.
    • An eligible employer’s entitlement to this wage subsidy will be based entirely on the salary or wages actually paid to employees. All employers would be expected to at least make best efforts to top up salaries to 100% of the maximum wages covered.
    • For more information, please go to: https://zcu.io/Cz3S

    Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

    • Applications open April 6
    • Set up your MYCRA account before April 6
    • If you have already applied for EI you will be moved automatically to CERB
    • If you have not applied for EI, apply for CERB
    • If you are receiving the Temporary Wage Subsidy through your employer you cannot also receive CERB
    • Choose direct deposit will get the money in your hands in 3-5 days; people in CERB will have to check-in with CRA each month

     


    Mar 30, 2020

    Update from Federal Government

    Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

    • businesses that have seen their revenues decrease by 30% because of COVID-19 will be eligible
    • it will be available to all size of employers, non-profit and charities
    • cover up to 75% on the first $58,700 of earnings; which could be up to $847 per week
    • this program will be back dated to March 15th, 2020
    • money expected to flow within two weeks 


    Businesses asked to:

    • hire back employees laid off in the past two weeks
    • top up wages if possible
    • not take advantage of the program.

    Mar 27, 2020

    Update from Federal Government

    The Prime Minister announced today two new programs for business and some more measures:

    • Increasing the Temporary Wage Subsidy for small and medium-sized businesses up to 75%

    • Loans of up to $40,000 for small/medium businesses interest free for one year and if requirements are met up to 10% or $10,000 could be forgivable. This will be through the Canada Emergency Business Account.
    • $12.5B to BDC and EDC for guaranteed loans
    • Defer GST and HST as well as import duties on imports until June.
    Prime Minister Trudeau encouraged businesses that will be able to benefit from these updated measures to hire their employees back.
     
    More specifics are expected next week.

    Mar 25, 2020

    Economic Response Plan - Update: March 25

    Economic Response Plan

    Canada Emergency Response Benefit

    The Government of Canada will provide a taxable benefit of $2,000 a month for up to 4 months to:

    • workers who must stop working due to COVID19 and do not have access to paid leave or other income support.
    • workers who are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19.
    • working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children that are sick or need additional care because of school and daycare closures.
    • workers who still have their employment but are not being paid because there is currently not sufficient work and their employer has asked them not to come to work.
    • wage earners and self-employed individuals, including contract workers, who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance.
    • Application details will be available through My CRA and My Service Canada, beginning the first week of April.

    Temporary Wage Subsidy Program

    (10% wage subsidy for a period of three months up to $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer).  


    Mar 24, 2020

    Ensuring access to capital flow

    • The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC) will be administering the Business Credit Availability Program, which will provide $10 billion of supports to small and mid-sized businesses. (https://www.bdc.ca/en/pages/special-support.aspx) (https://www.edc.ca/en/campaign/coronavirus-covid-19.html
    • EDC will provide loans, guarantees and insurance policies for exporters through the Canada Account, and added flexibility has introduced to increase the size of the Canada Account as needed.
    • The federal Work-Sharing program is expanded from 38 to 76 weeks, and processes are being streamlined to make access to this program easier.
    • Increased credit is available to farmers and the agri-food sector through Farm Credit Canada.
    • Tourism operators and SMEs impacted by the sudden shifts in the economy who need pressing assistance can contact Western Economic Diversification for help with access to federal funding, advice and pathfinding services to other federal programs and services.
    • Farm Credit Canada will receive an additional $5 billion in lending capacity to producers, agribusinesses, and food processors. See: https://www.fcc-fac.ca/en/covid-19/program-details.html
    • All eligible farmers who have an outstanding Advance Payments Program loan due by April 30 will receive a Stay of Default, which is an additional six months to repay the loan. Farmers who still have interest-free loans outstanding will have the opportunity to apply for an additional $100,000 interest-free portion for 2020-2021, provided that their total APP advances remain under the $1 million cap (See: http://www.agr.gc.ca/eng/agricultural-programs-and-services/advance-payments-program/?id=1462198969862). At the same time, the Government has announced new deadlines for Advance Payments Program loans are as follows: 
      • September 30, 2020 for 2018 cash advances for grains, oilseeds, and pulses.
      • September 30, 2020 for 2018 cash advances for cattle and bison.
      • October 31, 2020 for 2019 cash advances on flowers and potted plants

    Cutting fixed costs

    • Federal corporate tax payments and installment payments are not required until August 31st. 
      • Due date for filing federal income taxes has been pushed back to June 1st.
    • Eligible small businesses can apply for a temporary 10% wage subsidy for 90 days, up to a maximum of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer. This will be delivered by reducing income tax remittances to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
    • CRA is suspending audit interactions with businesses for four weeks.
    • 12 million low- and modest-income families will receive $5.5 billion through a one-time GST credit. This will mean payments of roughly $400 for an individual and $600 for couples.
    • Maximum Canada Child Benefit payments will increase by $300 per child.
    • Canada Student Loans payments will be deferred interest-free for six months.
    • The Emergency Care Benefit will provide up to $900 in bi-weekly payments, for up to 15 weeks. This is administered through CRA, and applications will become available in April 2020. (https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/campaigns/covid-19-update.html)
    • Federal EI benefits allow up to 15 weeks of assistance if a person cannot work due to medical reasons such as self-isolation or self-quarantine. The one-week waiting period for Employment Insurance benefits has been waived.

    Using your business to flatten the curve

    • The Government of Canada is calling on Canadian manufacturers and businesses that can assist Canada in meeting the need for medical supplies (e.g., masks, ventilators, hand sanitizer). Support for re-tooling, scale-up and other needs is available.
    • New expeditated innovative procurement streams will allow more businesses to develop solutions and products for COVID-19 as soon as possible.

    Mar 18, 2020 

    March 18, 2020, Support for Canadians & businesses:

    • The Government of Canada is taking immediate, significant and decisive action to help Canadians facing hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.  
    • What does this mean for businesses?
    • The Government will provide up to $27 billion in direct support to Canadian workers and businesses. 
    • These measures are being implemented in an effort to help stabilize the economy. 
    • There will be income support, flexibility for taxpayers, mortgage default management tools, among others, to help Canadians. 
    • response plan will be introduced to help encourage employers to keep workers. (The subsidy will be equal to 10% of remuneration paid during that period, up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer.)
    • The 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 today and before September 2020.
    • The Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) will allow the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC) to provide more than $10 billion of additional support, largely targeted to small and medium-sized businesses. 

    March 17, 2020, Are you a business that can supply products and services in support of Canada’s response to COVID-19?

    •  

    Business Support Services Business Support Services

    Mar 25, 2020

    Free webinar: Negotiating rent relief in a coronavirus world

    CRE Radio & TV founder and host Howard Kline, along with panelists, will host a free webinar on Thursday, March 26 at 12 p.m. MT to discuss landlord and tenant strategies for negotiating rent relief with an eye towards economy recovery post-COVID-19. Register online.


    Mar 18, 2020 

    Financial help:

    • The Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) will allow the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC) to provide more than $10 billion of additional support, largely targeted to small and medium-sized businesses. 

    • The Lethbridge Chamber is working closely with the Alberta Chamber of Commerce, and our local MP and MPP to bring the latest information to you. Please stay tuned. 

    Plans, toolkits & templates:

    BDC's business continuity plan & template for entrepreneurs

    • This provides you with templates to ensure your business has a continuity plan to ensure your business has the plans and resources needed to deal with emergencies. 

    Workplace health & safety

    • Ensure your business is adhering to health & safety standards. 

    Canadian Chamber of Commerce's Pandemic Preparedness guide

    • This toolkit provides a checklist to help your business prepare for current and future emergencies. 

    Job protection & employment insurance: 

    Export & Trade Information Export & Trade Information

    Mar 18, 2020 

    Lethbridge Chamber's Certificate of Origin Program:

    To ensure minimal disruption to your organization, we are still currently signing certificate of origins. Please note that CO's are only available for signature on Thursday's between 9:00am - 1:00pm. Additional cautionary measures are being put in place to ensure our staff's well-being is a priority. Please email office@lethbridgechamber.com for more information, or to book an appointment. 

    What Canadians exporters need to know:

    Click here to read Export Development Canada's (EDC) FAQ document on exporting in our current climate.

    Trade Commissioner Service:

    Click here to read information from Canada's Trade Commissioner.

    Canadian Chamber of Commerce Canadian Chamber of Commerce

    April 1 2020

    Temporary Wage Subsidy Program

    The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy would apply at a rate of 75 per cent of the first $58,700 normally earned by employees – representing a benefit of up to $847 per week. The program would be in place for a 12-week period, from March 15 to June 6, 2020.

    • Eligible employers who suffer a drop in gross revenues of at least 30 per cent in March, April or May, when compared to the same month in 2019, would be able to access the subsidy.
    • Eligible employers would include employers of all sizes and across all sectors of the economy, with the exception of public sector entities.
    • For non-profit organizations and registered charities similarly affected by a loss of revenue, the government will continue to work with the sector to ensure the definition of revenue is appropriate to their circumstances. The government is also considering additional support for non-profits and charities, particularly those involved in the front line response to COVID-19. Further details will be announced in the near term.
    • An eligible employer’s entitlement to this wage subsidy will be based entirely on the salary or wages actually paid to employees. All employers would be expected to at least make best efforts to top up salaries to 100% of the maximum wages covered.
    • For more information, please go to: https://zcu.io/Cz3S

    Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

    • Applications open April 6
    • Set up your MYCRA account before April 6
    • If you have already applied for EI you will be moved automatically to CERB
    • If you have not applied for EI, apply for CERB
    • If you are receiving the Temporary Wage Subsidy through your employer you cannot also receive CERB
    • Choose direct deposit will get the money in your hands in 3-5 days; people in CERB will have to check-in with CRA each month

     


    Mar 30, 2020

    Update from Federal Government

    Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

    • businesses that have seen their revenues decrease by 30% because of COVID-19 will be eligible
    • it will be available to all size of employers, non-profit and charities
    • cover up to 75% on the first $58,700 of earnings; which could be up to $847 per week
    • this program will be back dated to March 15th, 2020
    • money expected to flow within two weeks 


    Businesses asked to:

    • hire back employees laid off in the past two weeks
    • top up wages if possible
    • not take advantage of the program.

    Mar 27, 2020

    Update from Federal Government

    The Prime Minister announced today two new programs for business and some more measures:

    • Increasing the Temporary Wage Subsidy for small and medium-sized businesses up to 75%

    • Loans of up to $40,000 for small/medium businesses interest free for one year and if requirements are met up to 10% or $10,000 could be forgivable. This will be through the Canada Emergency Business Account.
    • $12.5B to BDC and EDC for guaranteed loans
    • Defer GST and HST as well as import duties on imports until June.
    Prime Minister Trudeau encouraged businesses that will be able to benefit from these updated measures to hire their employees back.
     
    More specifics are expected next week.

    Mar 25, 2020

    Economic Response Plan - Update: March 25

    Economic Response Plan

    Canada Emergency Response Benefit

    The Government of Canada will provide a taxable benefit of $2,000 a month for up to 4 months to:

    • workers who must stop working due to COVID19 and do not have access to paid leave or other income support.
    • workers who are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19.
    • working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children that are sick or need additional care because of school and daycare closures.
    • workers who still have their employment but are not being paid because there is currently not sufficient work and their employer has asked them not to come to work.
    • wage earners and self-employed individuals, including contract workers, who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance.
    • Application details will be available through My CRA and My Service Canada, beginning the first week of April.

    Temporary Wage Subsidy Program

    (10% wage subsidy for a period of three months up to $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer).  


    Mar 24, 2020

    Ensuring access to capital flow

    • The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC) will be administering the Business Credit Availability Program, which will provide $10 billion of supports to small and mid-sized businesses. (https://www.bdc.ca/en/pages/special-support.aspx) (https://www.edc.ca/en/campaign/coronavirus-covid-19.html
    • EDC will provide loans, guarantees and insurance policies for exporters through the Canada Account, and added flexibility has introduced to increase the size of the Canada Account as needed.
    • The federal Work-Sharing program is expanded from 38 to 76 weeks, and processes are being streamlined to make access to this program easier.
    • Increased credit is available to farmers and the agri-food sector through Farm Credit Canada.
    • Tourism operators and SMEs impacted by the sudden shifts in the economy who need pressing assistance can contact Western Economic Diversification for help with access to federal funding, advice and pathfinding services to other federal programs and services.
    • Farm Credit Canada will receive an additional $5 billion in lending capacity to producers, agribusinesses, and food processors. See: https://www.fcc-fac.ca/en/covid-19/program-details.html
    • All eligible farmers who have an outstanding Advance Payments Program loan due by April 30 will receive a Stay of Default, which is an additional six months to repay the loan. Farmers who still have interest-free loans outstanding will have the opportunity to apply for an additional $100,000 interest-free portion for 2020-2021, provided that their total APP advances remain under the $1 million cap (See: http://www.agr.gc.ca/eng/agricultural-programs-and-services/advance-payments-program/?id=1462198969862). At the same time, the Government has announced new deadlines for Advance Payments Program loans are as follows: 
      • September 30, 2020 for 2018 cash advances for grains, oilseeds, and pulses.
      • September 30, 2020 for 2018 cash advances for cattle and bison.
      • October 31, 2020 for 2019 cash advances on flowers and potted plants

    Cutting fixed costs

    • Federal corporate tax payments and installment payments are not required until August 31st. 
      • Due date for filing federal income taxes has been pushed back to June 1st.
    • Eligible small businesses can apply for a temporary 10% wage subsidy for 90 days, up to a maximum of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer. This will be delivered by reducing income tax remittances to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
    • CRA is suspending audit interactions with businesses for four weeks.
    • 12 million low- and modest-income families will receive $5.5 billion through a one-time GST credit. This will mean payments of roughly $400 for an individual and $600 for couples.
    • Maximum Canada Child Benefit payments will increase by $300 per child.
    • Canada Student Loans payments will be deferred interest-free for six months.
    • The Emergency Care Benefit will provide up to $900 in bi-weekly payments, for up to 15 weeks. This is administered through CRA, and applications will become available in April 2020. (https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/campaigns/covid-19-update.html)
    • Federal EI benefits allow up to 15 weeks of assistance if a person cannot work due to medical reasons such as self-isolation or self-quarantine. The one-week waiting period for Employment Insurance benefits has been waived.

    Using your business to flatten the curve

    • The Government of Canada is calling on Canadian manufacturers and businesses that can assist Canada in meeting the need for medical supplies (e.g., masks, ventilators, hand sanitizer). Support for re-tooling, scale-up and other needs is available.
    • New expeditated innovative procurement streams will allow more businesses to develop solutions and products for COVID-19 as soon as possible.

    Mar 18, 2020 

    March 18, 2020, Support for Canadians & businesses:

    • The Government of Canada is taking immediate, significant and decisive action to help Canadians facing hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.  
    • What does this mean for businesses?
    • The Government will provide up to $27 billion in direct support to Canadian workers and businesses. 
    • These measures are being implemented in an effort to help stabilize the economy. 
    • There will be income support, flexibility for taxpayers, mortgage default management tools, among others, to help Canadians. 
    • response plan will be introduced to help encourage employers to keep workers. (The subsidy will be equal to 10% of remuneration paid during that period, up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer.)
    • The 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 today and before September 2020.
    • The Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) will allow the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC) to provide more than $10 billion of additional support, largely targeted to small and medium-sized businesses. 

    March 17, 2020, Are you a business that can supply products and services in support of Canada’s response to COVID-19?

    •  

    Alberta Chambers of Commerce Alberta Chambers of Commerce

    ACC letter to Premier Kenney

    ACC President and CEO Ken Kobly sent a letter to Premier Jason Kenney outlining key recommendations to support Alberta's business community during COVID-19.

    • Freeze collection of insurance premiums tax.

    • Require commercial landlords to amortize deferred rent payments.
    • Mandate municipalities to defer property taxes and utility services payments.
    • Freeze municipal franchise fees at current rates until at least 2022

    Chamber of Commerce Group Benefits Plan Chamber of Commerce Group Benefits Plan

    Anyone with ChamberPlan health benefits can access Teladoc Telemedicine to speak with a doctor within an hour at no cost. Download the app or call 1-888-983-5236.

    https://files.constantcontact.com/46a16d18101/972a7022-8611-4734-ab17-c05f07cf5b0b.pdf

    Chambers Plan continues to update its COVID-19 web page with resources and contact information.

    Employer updates Employer updates

    Mar 24, 2020

    Temporary Wage Subsidy for Employers

    See the Government of Canada's list of frequently asked questions.

     


    Sick Leave - Alberta

    On Friday, March 13, 2020 the Alberta government announced changes to the Employment Standards Code Regulation prohibiting employers from requiring sick notes from employees, expanding job-protected leave from 5 to 14 days, and waiving the requirement that employees be employed for 90 days before being entitled to this job-protected leave. At the time, the government indicated that this leave would be paid, though did not provide specifics. 

    Unfortunately, the government has not yet been able to provide further information about how this leave would be "paid". The amended Regulation has not been published. We understand there may be discussions underway between various levels of government with respect to compensation for employees who need to access this leave. When the Regulation is published, we expect it may be retroactive to March 13, 2020. The Prime Minister today indicated that there would be a further announcement tomorrow involving financial measures, and we anticipate this will include expanded measures to provide employees/employers with financial assistance as a result of COVID-19.

     

    Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits

    In the interim, a separate phone line has been set up through Service Canada for queries related to EI sickness benefits relating to COVID-19. The phone number is 1-833-381-2725. The federal government has waived the one (1) week waiting period for Canadians requiring EI sickness benefits for COVID-19, including those who are in a 14-day isolation period. Canadians can apply right away. For employers who do not offer sick leave, or for employees who have exhausted sick leave entitlements, this is an option to provide some compensation. 

    We have reached out to Alberta Labour with the goal of setting up a webinar to discuss the legal realities and minimum requirements for employers when a pandemic occurs. We will keep you posted as we have information to share.

    How the private sector can help the province How the private sector can help the province

    Alberta Emergency Management Agency: Unsolicited Offers Program has been set up in response to growing offers of generosity from individuals and organizations to help. 
    • The Alberta Purchasing Connection (APC) is a tool that lets public and private sector users manage, advertise, distribute, and download public purchasing opportunities for goods, services, and construction in Alberta. With APC, purchasers advertise opportunities for tender and vendors find opportunities to sell their products or services.
    • The Emergency Response Data Base allows individuals and organizations to fill out an online form detailing what services they have to offer. Should there be an emergency requirement for a product or service, the province said the appropriate vendor will be contacted by the government.

    Top Q & A for Businesses Top Q & A for Businesses

    We are not sure how long this situation will last – What do employers need to know?

    • Remain positive and calm. 
    • This situation is unprecedented for all businesses as we adapt to these continuous changes.  Restaurants, bars, cinemas, theatres and concert venues have been ordered to close.  Bars and restaurants may only provide takeout and delivery service.
    • It is recommended that employers facilitate virtual work arrangements to enable employees to work from home wherever possible.
    • If a virtual workplace is not possible, employers should use their judgment to sustain operations in a manner that maintains social distancing.

    What are all levels of government doing to support business during this pandemic?

    All levels of government are working hard to ensure that business continuity is protected as much as possible, while protecting residents.  Many announcements have been made this week at all levels of government. 

    Information updates from all levels of government are being shared continuously through their respective COVID-19 webpages.  This is a rapidly evolving situation and updates are shared on dedicated webpages for each of the sites.

    Will there be relief for payments, loans and taxes?

    Each level of government is looking for ways to support residents and businesses during this time. The federal government has announced an $82 -billion aid package to help Canadians and businesses cope with the global COVID-19 pandemic, including income supports, wage subsidies and tax deferrals. The package includes direct supports as well as business liquidity through tax deferrals.

    Further, agencies such as Business Development Bank of Canada are introducing relief supports to assist companies during this transitional phase.

    How can I access these relief packages?

    Procedural approvals across all levels of government are required before details on how the relief packages will be distributed.  Stay tuned to the following websites for the latest up to date information.
    Government of Canada
    Province of Alberta
    BDC

    How can I protect my businesses and property while it is closed?  What municipal measures are being undertaken?  I am worried about my property being vandalized.

    We understand that this is an ongoing concern for many local businesses, especially those in the downtown area.

    Best practice and guidelines for securing your business:

    • Keep the lights on
    • Remove all cash and receipts
    • Do NOT leave any valuables visible or accessible
    • All safe and registers/tills should be emptied and moved offsite for safe storage
    • Keep all cash tills and drawers empty and open to show that there is nothing in them.
    • All ATMs should be emptied and moved off-site.
    • All alcohol products should be removed from the restaurant/bar and moved to a secure storage area (no alcohol should be left visible from the outside)
    • Consider posting “no cash or valuables on-premises” signage
    • Deactivate all scheduled FOB door openings for cleaners and delivery services
    • Disconnect all kitchen gas lines from their gas source
    • Make regular site visits to monitor your shop/business and to manage inventory and storage conditions (consider scattering the time that this is done to discourage establishing a pattern)
    • Be a good business neighbour and check on your neighbour’s business and alert them if necessary.

    Will my insurance cover business interruption?

    It is highly recommended that every business take the time to review your insurance policies and contact your insurance broker to obtain up to date information. In many cases, business interruption insurance is exempt from a pandemic.

    How can I be using this time wisely for maximum effect?

    Although this is a difficult time to be operating a business, it is important to stay engaged in your business.  Lethbridge is a resilient community and when we move from crisis to recovery, we want businesses to be as prepared as possible. Some suggestions to keep working on your business that you haven’t had time for:
    • Small, minor repairs that you have been meaning to cross off your list.
    • Continue telling your story on your social media channels to keep your customers engaged and to create value for them. Suggestions include: if you have inventory, film and share an unboxing, or a tutorial on how to use one of your popular products/services- share the story of how your company started and why you wanted to become an entrepreneur- consider offering a digital or online service, or the development of an online platform or course- consider staging content photos if you can safely access your office, or create your own branded stock photos from home to use later.
    • Cleaning and organizing the space and files
    • Re-design your window display
    • Get that PAPERWORK done!!!!
    • Take some free online courses on marketing and business planning
    • Tidy up your website
    • Strategize and plan your next marketing and advertising campaign to welcome back customers and visitors.
    • Plan your re-opening party or customer celebration events. 
    • Help others in the community to stay connected. Check on your neighbour
    • Stay #brightertogetheryql

    When the all-clear is announced – What are the resources and plans for recovery to get our customers and visitors back?

    We are still in the early stages of learning about all the programs and resources.  More details will be developed over the coming days and weeks.

    How do we manage the negativity in social media?

    Support each other’s business.  Every business has different needs and customers to serve.  Each business owner is doing the best they can to charter this unprecedented territory.  Let’s keep it positive and support where we can safely.
    • Share/like/comment and engage with others on their social media in a positive manner. This costs nothing to do.
    • Leave a review or testimonial on the social channel or Google page of a small business or supplier that you use in which you had an excellent experience or enjoy. This can help with their SEO and reviews

    What can I do as a business owner to help?

    We recognize that this is a very challenging time for business owners. Information is changing at a rapid pace. It is very important that agencies advocate on your behalf and inform the government and associations of your changing concerns.
    • Please be supportive of each other
    • Answer surveys – they provide real-time data for us to provide to our elected officials
    • Work with and support your employees during this time
    Know that we are resilient, and your agencies are doing their best to support you during this time.

    How is the Government helping Canadian Suppliers?

    ACTION: The Government of Canada is seeking information from suppliers on their ability to provide products and services in support of Canada’s response to COVID-19.
    BACKGROUND: Products: Disposable N95 masks, Disposable Surgical masks, Nitrile gloves, Vinyl gloves, Gowns, Bottles of hand sanitizer, Other prevention products
    Services: Guard/security services, Nursing services, Food services, Laundry services, Accommodation maintenance services, Personal services, IT support services, Other services  
    NEXT STEPS: Fill out this form if you can provide items from the list above, or any other product or services not listed.
    TIMELINE: As soon as possible
    PLEASE DIRECT INQUIRIES TO: Your local Provincial Senior Business Advisor or Strategic Account Manager
    For inquiries regarding the Government of Canada Call for Suppliers Martin Montreuil: martin.montreuil@tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca / Tel: 613-793-3594 Alain Dorion: alain.dorion@tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca / Tel: 613-790-0974

    I may have to consider laying off my employees – What do I need to know?

    Employment Standards Act (ESA) - for provincially regulated employees. 
    The existing leave provisions under the ESA remain in effect. Namely, any employee who has worked for at least two consecutive weeks is eligible for three days of leave (unpaid) due to personal illness. In addition, employees may also be allowed an additional three days of leave (unpaid) to care for children, a spouse or another close relative who is experiencing illness or a medical emergency. The Alberta government has passed legislation to provide job protection for employees unable to work because due to:
    1. being under medical investigation, supervision or treatment for COVID-19, or providing care to a person related to COVID-19, including a school or day-care closure.
    2. being in isolation or quarantine.

    Temporary COVID-19 Income Support for Workers

    Special allowances are being made for employees on payroll who do not have paid sick leave and who are sick due to COVID-19, quarantined or who must remain at home to care for children.  In these cases the federal government’s Employment Insurance (EI) will:
    1. Waive the one-week waiting period for those individuals in quarantine that claim Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits. This temporary measure became effective on March 15, 2020.
    2. Waive the requirement to provide a doctor’s note or medical certificate.
    Based on the Prime Minister’s public statements, many have (understandably) been led to believe that staff lay-offs brought about by economic causes due to COVID-19 related pressures will also be able to take advantage of these accelerated EI allowances. This is not the case. At this time, the one-week waiver does not apply to employees who are out of work due to temporary lay-offs or business closures.

    Staff who have already completed their application for EI sickness benefits can call to request their one-week waiting period waived, 1-833-381-2725 (only for sick or quarantined employees affected by COVID-19).
    Stay tuned, this is a changing issue. The latest EI program information is available online at, https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/corporate/notices/coronavirus.html

    Temporary COVID-19 Income Support for the Self-Employed

    The Emergency Care Benefit has been created by the Federal government and will provide up to $900 bi-weekly, for as many as 15 weeks. This income supplement will be administered through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and provide income support to:
    1. Workers, including the self-employed, who are quarantined or sick with COVID-19 but do not qualify for the EI sickness benefits discussed above.
    2. Workers, including the self-employed, who are taking care of a family member who is sick with COVID-19, but who would not otherwise qualify for EI sick benefits.
    3. Parents with children who require care or supervision due to school closures, and are unable to earn employment income, regardless of whether they qualify for EI or not.
    The government is only setting this system up now, and the benefit will have to be claimed retroactively in April 2020.  Workers will need to certify that they meet eligibility requirements, and will need to re-certify eligibility every two weeks while claiming the benefit. The easiest way to apply for this benefit will be through your “CRA MyAccount secure portal” at, https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/e-services/e-services-individuals/account-individuals.html.  Provided you do online banking, you will be able to access the portal through that log-in process which will appear at the link above. A toll-free number will also be provided shortly for those without internet access.

    There is also the Emergency Support Benefit which was announced in the Economic Response Plan.  This benefit is for those who do not qualify for EI benefits, have lost their job, or are self-employed and not caring for sick relative or in self-quarantine as mentioned above.  There has been $5B set aside for this benefit and is designed for 14 weeks of support.  Further details on this program are expected shortly.

    Longer-Term Supports for Workers & Businesses

    The EI Work Sharing Program (https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/work-sharing.html) has been in place for sometime and provides EI benefits in workplaces experiencing a general slow-down but do not wish to close or lay-off staff completely.  Workers who agree to reduce their normal working hours can take advantage of this program during which the company would pay wages for the reduced hours worked each week while the EI program ‘tops-up’ the balance.

    The government has indicated it will ease the otherwise fairly stringent eligibility requirements and will simplify the application process. This was announced on March 11, 2020 and we recommend you consult the weblink provided above if this is a program that may assist your workplace.

    Reduction of Payroll Taxes

    Eligible small employers will be able to apply for a temporary wage subsidy for a period of ninety days.  The subsidy is equal to 10% of your payroll up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and a total of $25,000 per employer.  More details are expected on exactly how this will roll out. 

    Video conferencing services Video conferencing services

    With Canadians encouraged to limit in-person contact, many organizations are shifting to working and/or meeting remotely. The below article provides six free video conferencing apps to help you stay connected during this time.