Resources To Navigate Your Business During These Times

We are in unprecedented times, when normal practices and legislation are not necessarily relevant. As a team we have been doing extensive research, attending tons of webinars and connecting with HR and employment law experts to stay on top of the most current updates. We are Canadian, and in times like these, we need to pull together (albeit remotely) to support our workers, colleagues, communities, and businesses. We hope this information helps your business!

Government outlines plan to restart B.C. safely

British Columbians will move forward with safely restarting their province beginning in mid-May. Under B.C.’s Restart Plan, government will work closely with public health officials, businesses, and labour organizations to lift restrictions in phases, gradually allowing for more social and economic activity, while closely monitoring health information to minimize the risk to the public.

Any business restarting operations must ensure it is in compliance with the provincial health officer’s orders and in accordance with occupational health and safety guidance provided by WorkSafeBC.

B.C. is currently in Phase 1 of the restart plan. Phase 2, which will begin in mid-May, includes:

  • Small social gatherings;
  • A resumption of elective surgeries and regulated health services like physiotherapy, dentistry, chiropractors, and in-person counselling;
  • Provincial parks open for day use;
  • Opening more non-essential businesses in keeping with safe operations plans; and
  • Recalling the provincial legislature for regular sittings.
  • The target date for the start of Phase 3, which will include opening up of additional businesses and services, is between June and September 2020, if transmission rates remain low or in decline.

Phase 4 will only be achieved when the threat of COVID-19 has been significantly diminished through widespread vaccination, broad successful treatments, evidence of community immunity, or the equivalent.

Learn More

Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Details Announced

The government of Canada announced it has reached an agreement in principle with all provinces and territories to provide rent relief for small businesses. The program will see tenants receive a 75% reduction in their rent payments for April, May and June.

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.

Learn More

Government Funding for SMEs

The government has launched a number of broad measures to help support the liquidity challenges that firms are facing in response to COVID-19. Support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is anchored through the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP), the Canada Emergency Business Account and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy.

However, some SMEs may find that they don’t qualify for these measures or cannot access them. These accessibility gaps could be more pronounced in rural areas, in certain sectors like cultural, heritage and sport, or for innovative pre-revenue firms.

Today’s targeted measures will help better support these businesses.

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 sport

Read full article here.

Ongoing support for you and your business

The BC Government is deferring many provincial tax filings to Sept 30, 2020. This is effective as of March 23, 2020, and means the deadline  to file and pay for the following taxes has been extended. They include:

  • Employer Health Tax
  • Provincial Sales Tax
  • Carbon tax
  • Motor fuel tax
  • Tobacco tax

The BC Government is also delaying the increase of the Carbon Tax to Sept 30, 2020 (initially planned for April 1, 2020), and cutting the Provincial Property tax (i.e. Provincial School Tax) rate in half this year for commercial and industrial properties (Class 4, 5 and 6). The latter is especially important, as it is a tax cut and will translate into meaningful savings for your business if you are responsible for paying property taxes (e.g. own the property or are on a triple net lease).

To see the BC Government’s webpage on new COVID-19 support initiatives for businesses, click here.

CERB – Canada Emergency Response Benefit

To summarize the program, eligible employers may qualify may for a 75% wage subsidy to a maximum benefit of $847.00 per week for each employee on their payroll from March 15 to June 6, 2020.

Employers must make their best effort to top up each employee’s salary to bring them to pre-pandemic levels.
The goal of this program is to prevent further job losses, encourage employers to re-hire workers previously laid off as a result of COVID-19, and to help put companies in a better position to resume normal operations after the pandemic ends.
From an economic and people standpoint, the program also provides a greater benefit to employees and individuals facing job loss and hardship during COVID-19. For example, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) provides individuals with a benefit of up to $2,000 a month for up to four months, whereas the wage subsidy program may maintain the individual’s current salary or at least provide the employee with 75% of their pre-crisis wages.

The CERB would cover Canadians who

  1. Have lost their job, are sick, or quarantined.
  2. Taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19.
  3. Parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures.
  4. Additionally, workers who are still employed, but are not receiving income because of disruptions to their work situation due to COVID-19, would also qualify

The CERB would apply to wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI). For complete information on the program, please visit https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2020/04/the-canada-emergency-wage-subsidy.html

Quick Chart for Emergency Benefits

Measure Details Implementation
Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) ·        $10 billion in financial support via BDC and EDC to support SMEs.

·        EDC: please contact your existing EDC rep or contact them via 1 866 716 7201, or support@edc.ca

·        BDC has a specific page addressing COVID-19, please see here. For general inquiries, please call 1-800-INFO-BDC.

Immediately
Flexibility for Businesses Filing Taxes ·        Allow all businesses to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after March 18th and before September 2020.  No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period. Immediately
Wage Subsidy for Employers ·        A temporary wage subsidy for eligible small businesses for a maximum of 3 months.

–     The 10% wage subsidy has been increased to 75% March 27th  for qualifying employees

·        The max per employee and employer TBD ($25,000 per employer??)

Immediately

(Supporting legislation to follow)

Flexibility claiming EI For Canadians without paid sick leave (or similar workplace accommodation) who are sick, quarantined or forced to stay home to care for children, the Government will:

·        Waive the one-week waiting period for those individuals in imposed quarantine that claim Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits.

·        Waive the requirement to provide a medical certificate to access EI sickness benefits.

·        Instructions on how to apply are available on Employment & Social Development Canada’s website here.

Immediately
Emergency Care Benefit ·        Details: Up to $900 biweekly, for up to 15 weeks, to provide income support to workers, including the self-employed, who have to stay home and don’t qualify for paid sick leave or employment insurance

·        Eligibility Requirements:

o   Workers, including the self-employed, who are quarantined or sick with COVID-19 but do not qualify for EI sickness benefits.

o   Workers, including the self-employed, who are taking care of a family member who is sick with COVID-19, such as an elderly parent, but do not quality for EI sickness benefits.

o   Parents with children who require care or supervision due to school closures, and are unable to earn employment income, irrespective of whether they qualify for EI or not.

·        Applications will open in April, at a date to be determined. When that happens, Canadians will be able to apply for them through CRA MyAccount or My Service Canada Account or by calling a toll-free number that has not yet been made public.

Early April
Emergency Support Benefit ·        Payments of undisclosed amounts to unemployed workers not eligible for EI

·        Applications will open in April, at a date to be determined. When that happens, Canadians will be able to apply for them through CRA MyAccount or My Service Canada Account or by calling a toll-free number that has not yet been made public.

Early April
Canada Child Care Benefit ·        $2B in payments through the Child Care Benefit May

Help….I am working at home with kids!

We have been doing some extensive research on ‘remote work spaces’ to help our staff manage their family and work well. Many parents are facing a new challenge and a great challenge – how can we focus on work and engage our kids with social distancing, school, day cares, camps, and extra-curricular activities closed, postponed, or cancelled – in some cases, indefinitely. We have put together some of our own findings to help you –

  • First, go easy on yourself and manage expectations well, with your employers and your family.
  • As tempting as it may seem to park your kids in front of a screen all day so you can get work down, children need structure and interaction.
  • Have regular meetings with them, keep a routine, post it somewhere they can see it, send them on a quest or have them create a project. Add an element of competition. to this.
  • Let them have a say in the schedule so they are buying into it, experts recommend. Some suggest setting goals as well.
  • Your coworkers are more understanding than you think about your kids singing in the background, having a complete meltdown or making an appearance in a video call.
  • There is no professional advantage to pretending things are normal – you will reduce your anxiety if you accept this and work around this.
  • With younger kids set short blocks of time like 15 minutes, so you can answer three emails, for example. Set bigger blocks of time, such as an hour, for older children.
  • If you are fortunate to have a partner working from home as well, take turns with the kids.

Sometimes thinking of activities to keep kids engaged while working from home seems like it’s harder than unscrambling eggs, but the truth is that there are limitless possibilities. By putting a bit of time and effort into planning out a routine that will keep your kids engaged, you can carve out some time for yourself to be productive.

Source: HR Downloads, CTV New, CNN Business