COVID-19 - News and Government Updates
Information Updated September 4th, 10:30 am - AWE - Alberta Women Entrepreneurs - are providing financial support directly to women-owned businesses to address COVID-19 impacts. Regardless of the number of employees you have, they have up to $40,000.00 available. Apply today.
August 27 - The Government of Alberta released its first-quarter fiscal update and is facing the largest deficit in the province's history. A deficit of $24.2 billion is forecast for 2020-21, and Alberta's debt is projected to reach $99.6 billion.
August 20 - The federal government is extending the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) into September, before transitioning the millions of people who are still claiming CERB onto a revamped Employment Insurance program starting September 27. The new plan released today details how most people will be transitioned onto EI, though three new temporary benefits are also being established, including a form of paid sick leave. In total, these new financial assistance plans are budgeted to cost at least $37 billion over the next year.
August 18 - Changes to temporary layoffs, group terminations and variances took affect August 15. The Government of Alberta has passed the Restoring Balance in Alberta's Workplaces Act, which includes changes to employment standards rules that are intended to save employers time and money. Several other changes to employment standards rules take effect November 1.
August 11 - Government of Canada sets national temporary minimum unemployment rate for EI benefits calculations. As CERB is set to wind down at the end of August, the federal government has temporarily adjusted the EI program's unemployment rate to 13.1%, which will be applied nationally (except for in areas where the actual rate is higher). This temporary measure will set a uniform eligibility requirement for EI regular benefits, provide a minimum entitlement of 26 weeks and set the number of best weeks of earnings used in the calculation of the weekly benefit rate at 14. More information here.
August 7 - City of St. Albert passes temporary Bylaw mandating face coverings at indoor spaces. Bylaw comes into effect August 8, 2020 at 12:01 am. See copy of Bylaw.
July 31 - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today that the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance plan will be extended through the month of August. Trudeau also indicated today, a new sickness and caregivers benefit is on the way for those who are not covered at work if they or their loved ones get COVID-19 and they need to stay home. Prime Minister Trudeau announced that the millions of people who are claiming CERB will soon be transitioned onto the federal Employment Insurance program. Trudeau said that more details will be coming before the end of August, but said that "no one will be left behind".
July 29 - The proposed improvements to the CEWS passed through the Senate and received Royal Assent on July 27. Among other things, Bill C-20 extends the CEWS to December 19, introduces a sliding scale and made some eligibility improvements. These are improvements The Canadian Chambers of Commerce advocated for and are pleased to see implemented on behalf of our members. Click here for more information on bill C-20.
July 28 - Canada revenue agency extends payment deadline and provides interest relief for outstanding debts. The CRA is extending the payment due date for current year individual, corporate and trust income tax returns, including installment payments, from September 1, 2020 to 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 GST/HST returns.
July 20 - Friday the federal government released details of the proposed CEWS program extension and improvements. Legislative approval is still required, however the draft would:
- Allow the extension of the CEWS until December 19, 2020, including redesigned program details until November 21, 2020.
- Make the subsidy accessible to a broader range of employers by including employers with a revenue decline of less than 30% revenue and providing a gradually decreasing base subsidy to all qualifying employers. This would help many struggling employers with less than 30% revenue loss get support to keep and bring back workers while also ensuring those who have previously benefited could still qualify, even if their revenues recover and no longer meet the 30% revenue decline threshold.
- Introduce a top-up subsidy of up to an additional 25% for employers that have been most adversely affected by the pandemic. This would be particularly helpful to employers in industries that are recovering more slowly.
- Provide certainty to employers that have already made business decisions for July and August by ensuring they would not receive a subsidy rate lower than they would have under the previous rules.
- Address certain technical issues identified by stakeholders.
July 14 - Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) to be extended until December. Details on the extension are expected to be released later this week.
June 30 - The CRA has advised that T2 Corporate Income Tax Returns and T3 Trust Income Tax Returns that would have been due in June, July, or August are now due on September 1. For T2s and T3s, as previously announced, any income tax balance due on or after March 18 and before September 1 will also be due by September 1.
June 29 - The Government of Alberta announced it's recovery plan today. Today's announcement includes several measures advocated for by the Alberta chambers network, including:
- Moving the general business tax rate from 10 per cent to 8 per cent on July 1 - an important step to making Alberta the most competitive jurisdiction in Canada;
- Creating 7,400 jobs by moving forward with Keystone XL Pipeline Construction;
- Accelerating natural gas and petrochemical development;
- Investment in apprenticeship and experiential job placements;
- Attracting foreign talent and investment in technology and innovation; and
- Amending the Alberta Labour Relations Code to further cut red tape
June 29 - Starting June 29, eligible small and medium-sized businesses, co-ops and non-profits can apply for funding so they can open their doors and get Albertans back to work.
- Eligible job creators can apply for up to $5000 through this program
- Must have 500 or fewer employees
- Full program details can be found in the program guidelines
- To manage the expected volume of applications, during the first week of application intake (June 29 to July 3), a specific application day has been designated for specific regions of the province. Note: this is not a first-come-first-serve process. From July 4 onwards, organizations from all regions may apply to any time until applications intake for the program closes.
- For the Edmonton region, the application intake days are as follows (map can be found on Page 13 of the program guidelines)
- Tuesday June 30 - Sturgeon County, Lamont County, Strathcona County, Leduc County, Parkland County and all municipalities within these boundaries except Leduc.
- Wednesday July 1 - Urban - Leduc
- Friday July 3 - Edmonton
- Saturday July 4 onward - Anyone may apply at any time until the program closes.
Application forms will be available when application intake opens at 10 am on Monday, June 29 at the online application portal through the program webpage at www.alberta.ca/sme-relaunch-grant.aspx
June 26 - Eligibility Expanded - Canada Emergency Business Account is now open to businesses with annual payroll $20,000 during 2019, and eligible non-deferrable expenses for 2020 projected to be between $40,000 and $1.5 million (including rent, property taxes, utilities, and insurance). With the change, there are now two ways to apply based on your organization's circumstances:
- Simplified Payroll-based: businesses with annual payroll between $20,000 and $1.5 million (based on the sum of all employment income reported on all employee T4's for 2019) will apply via their lending institution, with their CRA payroll number.
- "New" Non-deferrable expense-based: businesses with annual payroll less than $20,000 during 2019, and eligible non-deferrable expenses for 2020 projected to be between $40,000 and $1.5 million, will apply via a two step process. First, initiate the process through your lending institution and second, upload evidence of eligible non-deferrable expenses via the Government of Canada's CEBA website for verification. Businesses will need a 9 digit CRA Business Number, verifiable business information from most recent CRA business tax filing (2018 or 2019). And evidence of eligible non-deferrable expences for 2020 (e.g. commercial leases, property tax statements, utility bills) to upload to the Federal Government's website.
June 25 - Prime Minister announces support for students serving their communities and opportunities to gain work experience. The Prime Minister announced the launch of the Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG) which will support post - secondary students and recent graduates as they volunteer to serve in their communities. The CSSG will provide these volunteers with a one-time payment of between $1000 and $5000 based on the number of hours they serve. The Government is also helping young Canadians with the following activities.
- Supporting an additional 20,000 job placements for post-secondary students in high demand sectors.
- Creating 10,000 new job placements for young people between the age of 15 through 30 through the Canada Summer Jobs program.
- Creating 5,000 new internships through Mitacs for college and university students across Canada with small and medium -sized businesses.
- Increasing funding for Digital Skills for Youth (DS4Y) program by 40 million.
- Creating over 3,500 new job placements and internships through Youth Employment and Skills Strategy.
- Providing $6.7 million for Computers for Schools Plus (CFS+) program.
- Creating 5,000 to 10,000 more work-integrated learning opportunities through the Business + Higher Education Roundtable (BHER).
June 23 - Federal government extends time periods given to employers to recall employees laid off due to COVID-19. The amendments, which are set out in the Canada Labour Standards Regulations, temporarily extend these time periods by up to six months.
- For employees laid off prior to March 31, 2020, the time period is extended by six months or to December 30, 2020, whichever occurs first.
- For employees laid off between March 31 and September 30, 2020, the time period is extended until December 30, 2020, unless a later recall date was provided in a written notice at the time of layoff.
- Changes came into effect June 22, 2020, do not apply to employees who are covered by a collective agreement that contains recall rights.
June 19 - Finance Minister Bill Morneau said on Thursday that the expected broadening of eligibility for the Canada Emergency Business Account - which offers government-backed loans of up to $40,000, wouldn't be launching on schedule. It was scheduled for today June 19th. Morneau tweeted "Work continues around the clock to ensure the program can securely launch across over 230 financial institutions. We know how important the program is to small businesses and want to launch as quickly as possible".
June 18 - Minister of Finance Bill Morneau announced that as of Friday June 19, 2020, applications will be accepted so that more small businesses can access the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA). This means owner-operated small businesses that had been ineligible for the program due to lack of payroll, sole proprietors receiving business income directly, as well as family-owned corporations remunerating in the form of dividends rather than payroll will become eligible tomorrow.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau will present an Economic and Fiscal Snapshot on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. The snapshot will provide information on the current state of the economy and the Government of Canada's response to support Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic.
ATB has created a new workbook full of industry leading advice and guidance you may need to address disruptions to many areas of your business.
June 15 - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the federal government is looking at extending the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, and is promising an update by the end of the week. Trudeau announced that the eligibility has been expanded for Canada Emergency Business Account, or CEBA, to include more companies, with updated application process set to open on Friday. Trudeau announced that the applications for the surplus food program are now open. Fishers or farmers who can't sell their harvest can apply and the federal government will send the surplus to northern communities or food banks.
June 12 - On June 10th, a new bill was tabled in the House of Commons that will allow the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry to issue orders to extend various deadlines for federal businesses, not-for-profits, cooperatives, and boards of trade. Bill C-17 affects the following acts administered by Corporations Canada:
- Canada Business Act
- Canada Not For Profit Corporations Act
- Canada Cooperatives Act
- Boards of Trade Act
The bill grants authority to extend the period for holding annual meetings and, for boards of trade, the deadline for filing annual returns summaries. More information will follow as it becomes available.
June 9th - Premier Kenney announced Stage 2 of relaunch on June 12, one week ahead of schedule. Stage 2 includes public libraries, wellness services, most personal services, movie theatres, community halls and sports teams. K-12 schools will also be able to reopen for diploma exams and summer school. Indoor gatherings, including weddings and funerals have been raised to 50 people, as long as physical distancing is maintained. Outdoor events and indoor seated meetings, plus entertainment and sport, conferencing and public events, can have up to 100 people. 50% capacity for bars, lounges, restaurants and cafes will also be lifted in Stage 2, will limit of 6 people per table.
June 5 - Premier Kenney announced new financial supports for businesses this morning.
- One time relaunch payment, which will account for 15% of a business's monthly sales revenue and provided to organizations with less than 500 employees that were forced to close due to Covid-19. It is intended for things like inventory, supplies, wages, rent and PPE.
- The Alberta government is taking measures to prevent businesses from being evicted by landlords for non-payment of rent due to public health emergency, and ensure tenants will not face rent increases.
- The province will work to address shortcomings in the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program.
- Alberta government is contributing $67 million to provide repayable loans.
June 2 - Applications are now open for the Canadian Business Resilience Network Small Business Relief Fund. These grants are made possible through the generosity of Salesforce and will be offered as a one-time payment of $10,000 to 62 businesses across the country. Applications will be accepted until Friday June 12, 2020 at 8:00 pm EST.
June 1- Federal Government announced today immediate action to support small towns and big cities across the country to restart the economy, and create good, well-paying jobs.
May 28 - Now available: The Business Resilience Service - a hotline SMEs, not-for-profits and charities can call for free tax and accounting advice to help them navigate COVID-19 uncertainty and plan their recovery. Call 1-866-989-1080 or learn more here: www.CBRN.ca/BRS
PPE Matchmaking Portal - Connects producers with businesses in need. RRP Canada is free to use and provides a matchmaking service to "connect the dots" between manufacturers and businesses in need of PPE. PPE products on the Rapid Response Platform include hand sanitizer, surgerical masks, N95 masks, surface sanitizer, face shields and gowns.
May 25 - The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced applications are now being accepted for Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CERCA) for small businesses. Property owners will reduce rent by at least 75% for the months of April, May (retroactive) and June, for their small business tenants.
May 20 - The Prime Minister announced today that the application documents and updated criteria for Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CERCA) for small businesses are now available, and that the program will be opened for applications beginning on May 25th.
- CERCA will provide forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners, whether they have a mortgage on their property or not. The loans will cover 50% of three monthly rent payments that are payable by eligible small business tenants who are experiencing financial hardship during April, May, and June.
- The loans will be forgiven if the qualifying property owner agrees to reduce the small business tenants' rent by at least 75% under a rent reduction agreement, which will include a term not to evict the tenant while the agreement is in place. The small business tenant would cover the remainder, up to 25% of the rent.
- Impacted small business tenants are businesses that are paying less than $50,000 per month in gross rent in a given location, with annual revenues of less than $20 million, and who have experienced at least a 70% drop in pre-COVID-19 revenues.
May 19 - Prime Minister Trudeau announced changes to CEBA which will allow more Canadian small businesses to access interest free loans that will help cover operating costs during a period when revenues have been reduced, due to the pandemic. To qualify under the expanded eligibility criteria, applicants with payroll lower than $20,000 would need:
- a business operating account at a participating financial institution
- a Canada Revenue Agency business number, and to have filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return
- Eligible non-deferrable expenses between $40,000 and $1.5 million. Eligible non-deferrable expenses could include costs such as rent, property taxes, utilities, and insurance.
The government announced more details of the CEWS extension. The wage subsidy will be extended to August 29, 2020 and additional types of organizations are now eligible to apply. Neither the 30% drop in revenue requirement nor the allowed types of payroll used in calculations have changed.
May 15 - The Alberta Chambers of Commerce, Economic Developers Alberta, and Community Futures Alberta have launched a short pulse check survey as Alberta begins the process of relaunching its economy. The survey will help our network gather insights on the barriers businesses face re-opening in phases one of Alberta's relaunch as well as ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and low oil prices. Please take the survey and share your insights.
May 12 - The Alberta government has developed guidance for reopening called Alberta Biz Connect found at Alberta.ca.
Alberta Chambers of Commerce has released their recent survey data that shows obstacles to Alberta's relaunch.
May 12 - Prime Minister Trudeau announced Monday additional support for businesses to help save Canadian jobs.
- Establish a Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF) to provide bridge financing to Canada's largest employers, whose needs during the pandemic are not being met through conventional financing, in order to keep their operations going.
- Expand the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) to mid-sized companies with larger financing needs.
- Continue to provide financing to businesses through Farm Credit Canada, the BDC, and EDC, including through the Canada Account.
May 8 - Prime Minister Trudeau announced the extension of the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy beyond June. The subsidy was implemented to incentivize employers to keep staff on the payroll, and the prime minister said that more details on how much longer employers will be able to claim the federal funding will be unveiled next week.
May 7 - Alberta Government introduces the Utility Payment Deferral Program Act. If passed, the Utility Payment Deferral Program Act will allow electricity and natural gas providers to apply for loans either from Balancing Pool or from the Government of Alberta, ensuring they have the cash flow to support Albertans through the Utility Payment Deferral Program.
May 7 - The Government of Canada will provide up to $3 billion in support to increase the wages of low-income essential workers. Each province or territory will determine which workers would be eligible for support, and how much support they will receive. These measures are part of the Government of Canada's comprehensive economic plan to help Canadians and businesses through this period of uncertainty.
May 5 - Please follow the link to the latest Workplace Guidance for Business Owners. The document has changed considerably since it was first put out in March and is up to date as of May 3rd. Keep checking this link often as Alberta Health will be making adjustments to this document as things change with the COVID-19 situation. Also, do check the Alberta COVID-19 site often, it has a wealth of information and is updated as things change.
May 5 - The federal government announced it is providing $252 million in new federal assistance for Canadian farmers and others in the agri-food sector whose livelihoods have been impacted by the COVID-19, to help redistribute food and better protect workers in processing plants.
- $77 million to help food processors purchase PPE for workers, adapt to health protocols like physical distancing and expand domestic processing capacity to increase the amount of food in Canada.
- $125 million to help cattle and hog producers who are raising more animals than can currently be processed and as a result are seeing their costs increase because they are keeping these animals longer.
- $50 million on a food surplus purchasing program that will see the government buy large quantities of surplus products and redistribute them to areas where food insecurity is an issue, to avoid waste and allow the producers to still be compensated.
April 30 - The Canadian Hospitality Worker Relief Fund (CHWFR) https://chwrf.ca/ recently launched with the goal of supporting restaurant and hospitality workers financially impacted by COVID-19. The fund will start accepting applications on May 6 and will provide one-time $500 grant to eligible applicants. The fund is administered by registered charity, the Design Exchange. CHWRF founding partners, include Uber Eats and Garland - Welbilt Canada, have pledged more than $1 million to launch the fund.
April 29 - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau releases joint statement by First Ministers for restarting the economy. This is a set of common principles for restarting the economy, based on science and experts. The statement identifies the criteria and measures that need to be in place to begin to take steps to restart the economy:
- COVID-19 transmission is controlled, so new cases are contained at a level that our health care system can manage.
- Sufficient public health capacity exists to test, trace, isolate and control the spread of the virus.
- Expanded health care capacity exists to support all needs, including COVID-19 and non COVID-19 patients.
- Supports are in place for vulnerable groups, communities, and key populations.
- Support and monitoring of workplace protocols are in place to keep Canadians safe at their jobs, and prevent the introduction and spread of COVID-19.
- Restrictions on non-essential travel are eased and managed in a coordinated manner.
- Communities are supported in managing local disease activity, including in child care, schools, and public transportation, and industry and economic sectors are engaged to support the health of Canadians, reduced viral activity, and protection of economy as it restarts.
April 27th - The Government of Canada is now accepting applications for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. Applications can be made through your "My Business Account" or "Represent a Client" (for tax preparers) portal. Alternatively, businesses may apply via the CRA website with their access code. There is no rush to apply; all applications will be processed on May 4th. It is recommended to use calculator on the CRA website first, print the calculation results. Enter line by line from calculations.
April 24 - Prime Minister Trudeau announced today the federal government has reached an agreement in principle with the provinces and territories to implement the Rent Assistance Program. The program would lower rent by 75% for small businesses. The Program is for small businesses, non-profits and charities that:
- Pay less than $50,000 per month in rent.
- Have temporarily ceased operations or have experienced at least a 70% drop versus pre-COVID-19 revenues.
The program will provide forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners to cover 50% of the eligible rent payments. The loans will be forgiven if the property owner agrees to reduce the eligible small business tenants' rent by at least 75% and agrees not to evict the tenant.
April 23 - Federal government commits $1.1 billion for COVID-19 vaccine, clinical trials, and immunity research.
April 22 - Prime Minister Trudeau announced $9 billion in funding. The benefit will see eligible students receive $1,250 a month from May to August. If you have dependents or taking care of someone with disabilities, that amount increases to $1,750 monthly. Working students earning $1000 or less per month can also apply. The federal government is also;
- Creating additional 76,000 jobs for young people in sectors that need a hand right now.
- Investing $291.6 million to extend scholarships, fellowships and grants for next four months to keep research projects and placements going.
- Broadening eligibility for financial assistance and raising maximum weekly amount.
- Launching a new Canada Student Service Grant for students volunteering in the COVID-19 fight to go towards fall tuition.
- Doubling the Canada Student Grants for all eligible full-time students.
- Providing $75.2 million to specifically increase support for First Nations, Inuit, and Metis Nation Students.
Johnson Insurance has announced updates to it Customer Care Program in response to COVID-19.
April 21 - As of Monday April 27th employers will be able to apply for the 75% wage subsidy to keep staff on payroll. A new calculator on the Canada Revenue Agency website will help businesses determine how much they will be able to claim through the subsidy. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government is setting up a $350 million Emergency Community Support Fund to help charities and non-profits keep programs running during the pandemic.
April 17th - Prime Minister Trudeau has announced a range of targeted new financial measures to help Canada's energy sector with $1.7 billion to clean up orphan wells in Alberta, Saskatchewan and BC. The aid is expected to create 5,200 jobs. The government will also establish a $750 million emission-reduction fund, with a focus on methane, to create jobs in efforts to cut pollution. For small businesses that may not qualify for the CEBA and the wage subsidy:
- $962 million to regional development agencies and the Community Futures Network
- $250 million to the Industrial Research Assistance Program and $20 million to Futurpreneur Canada
- $500 million to Canadian Heritage to support people working in arts, culture and sports.
April 16th - Prime Minister Trudeau announced a new Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program. The program will help small businesses cover their rents for April, May and June. The assistance is being rolled out in collaboration with the provinces and territories as it's within their jurisdictions. The federal government is also opening up the eligibility criteria the Canada Emergency Business Account. The current eligibility requires applicants to prove that they paid between $50,000 and $1 million in payroll in 2019. Now companies who paid between $20,000 and $1,500,000 in total payroll in 2019 will be eligible to receive a loan.
April 15th - Part-time and seasonal workers are now eligible to claim the $2000 Canada Emergency Response Benefit. Now, workers who are earning less than $1000 a month or who have seasonal employment and can't find a job due to COVID-19, as well as those who are running out of employment insurance, can apply. The Federal Government, in collaboration with the provinces and territories, are going to be boosting wages for essential workers who are making less than $2,500 a month. This expansion is set to allow gig economy, contract and long-term care workers to receive the benefit while still doing some work.
April 14th - On Monday, Dr. Hinshaw said Alberta Health Services would test any Albertan displaying the coronavirus' symptoms, such as fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath and runny nose. Click here to see update.
April 9th - Pandemic Supports Available for Small Business
Business Link will serve as as one-stop shop to help small businesses learn about and connect to available COVID-19 supports based on their unique business needs. Business Link can provide on-on-one guidance to Albertans who operate a small business or are pursuing an entrepreneurial venture. Small businesses can access a list of available supports on Business Link's website, or connect with a business strategist by phone, email or live chat. Business Link is also offering free programming through June, including webinars on a variety of topics, online events, and free expert sessions with lawyers, accountants, marketing specialist, e-commerce specialists and more.
The Chamber learned of several important changes to the wage subsidy program that will help more businesses access funding:
- A business will now be able to compare its revenue to the same month last year OR an average of January and February 2020
- A business needs only to demonstrate a 15% reduction in gross revenues for March. A 30% reduction will still be required to receive the subsidy in April and May.
- The program will now allow businesses to use either accrual or cash accounting methods.
- Employer paid Employment Insurance (EI), Canada Pension Plan (CPP), premiums will be reimbursed.
- Registered charities and not-for-profit organizations are eligible employers to apply for the wage subsidy. They also have the choice of whether or not to include government funding in their revenue calculations.
- Businesses can start applying for interest-free loans today - April 9th. Applications are available through local financial institutions.
April 8 - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced changes to the Canada Summer Jobs program this morning. The temporary changes to the program for this year include:
- An increase to the wage subsidy, so that private and public sector employers can also receive up to 100% of the provincial or territorial minimum hourly wage for each employee.
- An extension to the end date for employment to February 28, 2021
- Allowing employers to adapt their projects and job activities to support essential workers.
- Allowing employers to hire staff on a part-time basis.
Prime Minister Trudeau also announced new criteria for the Wage Subsidy Program. Under the proposed new rules, businesses can use January and February of 2020 as comparison months to measure their revenue drop - instead of just the same month last year - which should help new or scaled-up businesses qualify.
The Alberta Government announced temporary rules to provide job protection for workers and flexibility for employers during the pandemic.
- Providing employees access to unpaid job-protection leave if they are caring for children affected by school and daycare closures or ill or self-isolated family members due to COVID-19.
- Increasing the maximum time for a temporary layoff from 60 days to 120 days.
- Removing the 24-hour written notice requirement for shift changes and the two weeks' notice for changes to work schedules for those under an averaging agreement.
- Removing the requirements to provide the group termination notice to employees and unions when 50 or more employees are being terminated.
- Streamlining the process for approvals related to modifying employment standards.
The Alberta Chambers of Commerce has continued to engage with the Alberta Government on these issues, including sending a letter to Labour Minister Jason Copping last week.
Updated April 7 - Alberta Government rolled out the Alberta Emergency Management Agency Bits and Pieces Program for those businesses that have a product or service to offer assistance.
Updated April 6 - The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) portal for applications is now open. Applications are to be submitted according to one's birth month. For more information or to apply click here.
- CERB applications are expected to open online on Monday April 6th.
- Direct deposit payments will be made withing three to five days of applying, with cheques taking approximately 10 days.
- Canadians who have already applied for EI do not need to apply again - applications will be automatically enrolled in CERB.
Government announced details on the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy
The Canadian Government announced further details of the proposed Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy.
- The program would be in place for a 12-week period, from March 15 to June 6, 2020.
- Eligible employers would be able to access the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy by applying through a CRA online portal. Employers would have to reapply each month.
- Government will work with non-profit organizations and registered charities to ensure the definition of revenue is appropriate to their circumstances.
- The government expects employers will receive the wage subsidy six weeks after applying.
Updated March 31 4:00 pm - The Prime Minister announced new partnerships with Canadian Industries to fight COVID-19 Click here for more information.
Updated: March 30 2:00 PM - The Work-sharing Program maximum duration has been extended from 38 weeks to 76 weeks. Click here for Guidelines and Application. Further to Friday's announcement regarding a 75% wage subsidy: "More details on eligibility criteria will start with the impact of COVID-19 on sales, and will be shared before the end of the month (March)."
Updated: March 27 10:30 AM - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today more help for small and medium-sized businesses. In an effort to keep employees on payroll the Prime Minister announced a 75% wage subsidy, increased from 10%, and guaranteed interest-free loans. Wage subsidies will be backdated to March 15th, 2020. The government will also guarantee loans of up to $40,000 for small businesses which will be interest free for the first year. Click here for the announcement.
Alberta Chambers of Commerce 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.
Updated: March 24 3:00 PM - The Alberta Government announced three new decisions yesterday 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.
The Government of Canada announced new supports for farmers and agri-food businesses:
- Farm Credit Canada will receive support from the Government of Canada that will allow for an additional $5 billion in lending capacity to producers, agribusinesses, and food processors.
- All eligible farmers who have an outstanding Advance Payments Program (APP) loan due on or before April 30 will receive a Stay of Default, allowing them an additional six months to repay the loan.
Updated: March 20 12:00 PM - For ongoing general updates: www.canada.ca .For general business information: www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan.html#business .The Government of Canada offers the Work-Sharing Program, which is designed to help employers and employees avoid layoffs when there is a temporary reduction in the normal level of business activity that is beyond the control of the employer. For more information check the Work-Sharing program website or call the employer Contact Centre at 1-800-367-5693. www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/work-sharing.html .The Government of Canada offers benefits for individuals who may qualify if they have lost their job. http://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei.html .
- Covid-19 EI claims can be made at 1-833-381-2725.
- Income Support Program: https://www.alberta.ca/income-support.aspx
- Information on employment rules for layoffs and terminations: http//www.alberta.ca/tempory-layoffs.aspx and https://www.alberta.ca/Layoff-and-recall-directive.aspx
- Flexibility regarding filing taxes: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2020/03/canadas-covid-19-economic-response-plan-support-for-canadians-and-businesses.html#Flexibility_for_Tax-filers
Updated: March 19 3:30 PM - Important information from Canadian Chamber of Commerce regarding announcements from the Prime Minister and Minister Morneau yesterday. On top of the $55 billion to support Canadian businesses and households, here are other measures for businesses.
- Essentially eliminating the payroll tax for three months by providing a 10% wage subsidy.
- Helping businesses with cash flow by deferring tax payments until August 31st, 2020.
- Increasing credit available to farmers through Farm Credit Canada.
- Introducing a new Emergency Care Benefit of up to $900 bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks for self-employed people who are not eligible for EI sickness benefits.
Visit Government of Canada's website of business for information about supporting your employees and your business. Download the Canada Business App to find tailored supports. Consult the Canadian Chamber's pandemic preparedness guide to help prepare your business in the days and weeks to come.
Updated: March 19 9:00 AM - The Provincial Government announced new supports for Albertans and businesses. Premier Jason Kenney announced a new set of economic measures to help stabilize the economy during this challenging period. These measures, delivered as part of the Alberta Government's financial relief measures, will provide support to Alberta workers and businesses. Visit COVID-19 info for Albertans for the most recent Government of Alberta updates.
- Support for Albertans (Immediate relief for Albertans affected by the COVID - 19 pandemic)
- Supports for employers (Covid-19 support for Employers and Employees)
- New public health measures (Prevent and Prepare)
Updated: March 18 - The Federal Government announced new supports for Canadians and businesses. The Prime Minister announced a new set of economic measures to help stabilize the economy during this challenging period. These measures, delivered as part of the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, will provide up to $27 billion in direct support to Canadian workers and businesses.
Click here for a complete list of:
Support for Canadians ( Income Support for Individuals Who Need it Most / Flexibility for Taxpayers / Mortgage Default Management Tools / Role of Financial Institutions )
Support for Businesses ( Supporting Canadian Businesses Through the Canada Account / Helping Businesses Keep Their Workers / Flexibility for Businesses Filing Taxes / Ensuring Businesses have Access to Credit / Supporting Financial Market Liquidity )
Update: March 17 - New Public health measures are now recommended to limit the time Albertans spend in large crowds and crowded spaces. Effective today: Mass gatherings are now limited to no more than 50 attendees. Albertans are prohibited from attending public recreation facilities and private entertainment facilities. Albertans are restricted from attending bars and nightclubs, where minors are prohibited by law. Sit-down restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, food courts and other food-serving facilities, including those with minors allowed liquor license, are limited to 50% capacity to a maximum of 50 people. Click here for more details.
Update: March 16 - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is urging Canadians abroad to come home while they still can, as Canada is shutting the border to non-Canadian citizens, with limited exceptions, to limit the spread of COVID-19. Permanent Canadian residents, the immediate family members of Canadian citizens, diplomats, air crews, and U.S. citizens are still being allowed into Canada at this time. Access to Canada will be restricted beginning March 18, at 12:01 a.m. EDT.
Update: March 15 - Effective immediately, student attendance at schools is prohibited. Post-secondary classes are cancelled. Campuses will remain open. All licensed child care facilities, out-of-school care programs and preschool programs are closed indefinitely. All long-term care and other continuing care facilities are advised to limit visitation to essential visitors only. Places of worship are no longer exempt from restrictions on mass gatherings.
Update: March 13 - Finance Minister, Bill Morneau, announced the federal government will establish a $10 billion credit facility to lend money to businesses under stress as a result of the spreading COVID-19 pandemic. This will be facilitated through Crown-owned entities, Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada, to help businesses access cash and keep exporting to markets. The governor of the Bank of Canada, Stephen Poloz, announced a cut to the bank rate by half a percentage point to 0.75 per cent, which will lower the cost of borrowing money for individuals and businesses. It was also announced that a fiscal package will be announced next week and that Ottawa is considering extending the deadline to file taxes beyond April 30. These measures build on the Government of Canada $1 billion COVID-19 Response Fund announced earlier.
The Chief Public Health Officer of Canada has recommended that Canadians should avoid and cancel non-essential travel outside the country with enhanced screening measures at airports to be announced. The federal budget has been postponed and will not be delivered on March 30. Parliament and the Senate stands adjourned until April 20.
On March 12, 2020 the World Health Organization announced that the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, has become a global pandemic. Currently, the risk level to Albertans is low and the cases in our province, and Canada, have been travel related and have been isolated to prevent further transmission.
What you need to know:
We encourage everyone to heed the advice of medical professionals and take these precautionary steps.
- Effective March 12, all Albertans currently outside Canada should self-isolate for 14 days when they return.
- If employees have visited a Italy, Iran or China’s Hubei province in the last 14 days, it is recommended they isolate themselves until two weeks have passed since that visit. This is recommended even if they are feeling well.
- Employees should self-isolate and call Health Link 811 for additional precautions and follow-up testing if they have travelled to anywhere outside of Canada and experienced any of the following:
- contact with someone who was suspected or confirmed to have the novel coronavirus
- were in a health-care facility
- have symptoms, such as cough or fever
If an employee does not meet the exposure criteria above, they do not need to stay away from work, and do not need any testing or a physician’s note to attend work.
If an employee has to self-isolate
- Employees and employers should work together to explore alternate working arrangements:
- Working from home or remotely
- Doing work that does not require the employee to contact other people in the community or at work
- If an alternate working arrangement is not possible, employees can use paid sick time if their employer offers this.
- Changes to the Employment Standards Code will allow employees who are required to self-isolate or are caring for a loved one with COVID-19 to take 14 days of paid job protected leave to cover the self isolation period being recommended by Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Health
- There will be no requirement to have a medical note for such leave or to have worked for an employer for 90 days to qualify for such leave.
Business continuity plans
Review or create a Business Continuity Plan for your organization, ensuring it contains:
Process to follow if an employee becomes ill;
Policies around travel;
Policies around sick leave;
How to mitigate risk so essential business functions can continue; and
Internal and external communications plans.
Guidelines: Government of Canada: COVID-19 Travel Advice
Preventative Measures for Business
- Encourage good hygiene practices. Encourage your staff to wash their hands frequently, and ensure that tissues and hand sanitizer are available throughout your property for all staff and visitors to use.
- Stay home if you aren’t feeling well. Encourage staff to stay at home and away from others if they are exhibiting flu-like symptoms, such as fever or a cough.
- Consider additional social distancing measures, such as working remotely.
- Posters: Handwashing, Work Station Cleaning, Vehicle Cleaning
- Guidelines: CDC: Keeping your workplace, school, and home safe
- Guidelines: Health Canada decision-making guidelines for mass gatherings during COVID-19
While it is important to be cautious and heed all medical advice from Chief Medical Officers and government it is also important to be measured in our response to this situation.