LAST UPDATED: December 22, 2020
CRA posts names of companies that received the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) released the names of all companies that received the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy on Monday, and urged employees to report any suspicious activities related to the pandemic-relief program, which has paid out more than $54-billion since April.
The names are in a searchable online database. The information shows only the names of the companies. It does not indicate the amount of the subsidy, or when it was received.
The CRA also states that to protect the privacy of individuals, only the corporations will be identified.
To date, the agency says, more than 368,000 businesses, non-profits and charities in Canada have received the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS).
Immediately underneath the search tool, the CRA includes a link for Canadians to report suspected fraud.
Before the release of the database, the CEWS recipients that had been identified were mainly large public companies that revealed such information through routine disclosures of revenue and expenses.
A recent review of CEWS disclosures by the Financial Post found that at least 68 publicly-traded Canadian companies continued to pay out shareholder dividends while receiving the wage subsidy. The review found those companies got at least $1-billion in CEWS and paid out more than $5-billion in dividends.
The CEWS program was administered through the CRA so that it is easier for the federal government to audit businesses that received the subsidy. Those audits began in August 2020 but may ramp up depending on the number of news stories that result from the online database released Monday.
CFA Advice to Members
With the public release of CEWS recipients, media outlets may develop stories in the new year about large companies and well-known brands that received support under the CEWS. Many franchise systems are nationally and internationally recognizable brands and may become highlighted by the media in these kinds of stories.
These stories may fail to acknowledge that franchisee businesses are independently owned and operated by local small businesspeople. This could lead to the mistaken perception in the stories that franchisor corporate head offices are beneficiaries of the CEWS.
While the CFA is constantly working to educate and promote that franchisees are independent, local small business owners who live and work in their communities, there are still many people outside of franchising that do not fully understand the franchise business model.
The CFA recommends that franchisors work with their franchisees to proactively develop messaging and protocols in advance to help manage any media enquiries that might come in about the release of CEWS recipients in the weeks to come.
Canadians working from home could qualify for new tax deduction
The Canada Revenue Agency has simplified the rules to make millions of Canadians working from home eligible for a tax deduction. Under the new rules, those who worked from home more than 50 per cent of the time over a period of at least four consecutive weeks in 2020 as a result of the pandemic will be now be eligible for the deduction.
Eligible employees who opt for the simplified deduction will be able to claim $2 for each day they worked from home during that period, plus any other days they worked from home because of the pandemic, up to a maximum of $400. Their employers will not have to sign a special form.
More than one person living at the same address can claim the deduction as long as each one qualifies for it.
While the temporary simplified deduction applies to the 2020 tax year, many Canadian workers have been told they can expect to work from home for several more months. CRA officials say they expect the number of people who work from home to be higher in the future than it was before the pandemic, but have not yet decided whether the simplified deduction will continue for the 2021 tax year.
Those who claim the simplified work-from-home tax credit will not be able to claim expenses related to using their vehicles for work.
Those with larger claims for home office expenses can still use the existing detailed method to claim a deduction. The CRA is making that easier too.
Under the existing rules, those working from home had to get their employers to fill out a special form, T2200, attesting to the fact that working from home was a condition of their employment. But many employers balked at filling out the complicated form. Now, the CRA has launched two new simplified forms (T2200S and T777S) and a calculator to help those who want to claim home office expenses. The CRA also has expanded the list of expenses eligible for the detailed working-from-home deduction and will now recognize home internet access fees as a deduction.
Federal carbon tax increases coming
On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau released the federal government's strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 — and its centrepiece is a gradual hike in the federal carbon tax on fuels from its current level of $30 a tonne this year to $170 a tonne by that year.
The carbon tax will increase significantly from its current level — the tax is just $30 a tonne this year — as part of a push to meet and surpass Canada's ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.
The tax already was expected to hit $50 a tonne in 2022. With this new initiative, the tax will now increase by $15 a tonne each year for the next eight years in order to wean consumers off fossil fuels in favour of cleaner energy sources.
The tax hike will result in higher costs for consumers when they buy gasoline. The price at the pump will increase by 37.57 cents a litre by 2030 as a result of this new plan, and the cost of light fuel oil for home heating, natural gas and propane will rise as well.
$15B in new spending
Beyond the carbon tax hike, the government is also promising $15 billion in new spending on climate initiatives over the next 10 years — money earmarked for improvements to the country's electric vehicle charging infrastructure, rebates and tax write-offs for zero-emissions vehicles and funding for home retrofits, among dozens of other proposed policies.
Commitment to make it revenue neutral
To compensate for the cost-of-living increase, the government said it will continue to return most of the money collected by this program through rebates. Under the current system, the money is returned to individuals and families annually through the 'Climate Action incentive payment' when they file tax returns.
Starting in 2022, the carbon pollution rebate payments will be distributed on a quarterly basis. The average family of four in Ontario will collect roughly $2,018 a year in climate rebates by 2030. The cheques will be higher in provinces like Alberta and Saskatchewan — $3,242 for a family of four in Alberta and $3,829 for a similar family in Saskatchewan — because the people in those provinces generate more carbon emissions per capita.
Health Canada approves Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine
Health Canada announced the approval Wednesday to the Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine after scientists finished a two-month review of the company's clinical trial data.
Canada is just the third country in the world to authorize the vaccine, after the United Kingdom and Bahrain. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will hear tomorrow from an advisory panel on whether the vaccine is safe for use in the United States and authorization is expected in "a matter of days.
Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada's deputy chief public health officer, said 249,000 doses of the two-dose Pfizer vaccine will be on hand by year's end — shots primarily earmarked for long-term care home residents and the staff working there.
Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander leading vaccination logistics at the national operations centre, said 30,000 doses out of the initial run will be shipped from a Pfizer plant in Belgium on Friday.
Bank of Canada keeps rate steady at 0.25%, maintains pledge of it
staying low until 2023
The Bank of Canada opted to keep its benchmark interest rate steady at 0.25 per cent on Wednesday, noting that Canada's economic recovery from COVID-19 is proceeding in line with expectations.
The bank said that while new infections and lockdowns continue to hold back Canada's economy, stronger demand for energy has pushed up the price of oil, which is giving it a boost. And news of looming vaccines rolling out is also helping.
At the bank's last meeting in October, it signalled that it would keep the rate at its current level until at least 2023 because that's how long it thinks it will take to make a full recovery.
Job recovery slows as pandemic hits employment in Western Canada
Economic Insights from the Conference Board of Canada
Despite the labour market adding 62,100 jobs in the month of November, the increase is smaller than the previous months and is another indicator the economic recovery is slowing.
Rising cases of COVID-19 into early December means employment may decline in the next survey.
While the unemployment rate fell, it coincided with a fall in the labour force. The labour force’s decline is likely due to discouraged workers who are struggling to find jobs in industries that are heavily impacted by the pandemic.
Nevertheless, the national unemployment rate continues to creep downwards, falling by 0.4 points to 8.5 per cent over November, which is of course, welcome news.
Unsurprisingly the jobs recovery is in different stages across the country, depending largely on the progression of the virus in each region.
The Atlantic provinces each enjoyed employment growth in the month of November. Employment was strong in Nova Scotia (+10,000), New Brunswick (+4,200) and Newfoundland and Labrador (+2,300). In Newfoundland and Labrador, employment has now recovered to pre-pandemic levels.
After employment declined in October, Quebec added 15,700 jobs. Progress continues elsewhere with employment numbers ticking up in Ontario (+36,600) and British Columbia (+23,900)
However, there were declines in all three of the Prairie provinces, with strict measures and rising cases leading Manitoba’s employment to fall by 18,100. Losses were also observed in Saskatchewan (–2,800) and Alberta (–10,800).
Apart from the utilities sector, all other goods-producing industries, including construction and manufacturing enjoyed employment growth this month.
Among service-producing industries the picture is more mixed. After another month of job losses, both accommodation and food services and information, culture and recreation industries will continue to struggle until a vaccine is widely available.
However, impressive employment growth in the wholesale and retail trade and transportation and warehousing may reflect an uptick in retail as we approach the end of the year. There is some upside for the retail industry as savings rates have increased substantially since the beginning of the pandemic, and households may decide to spend extra this holiday season.
Employment in finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing services now exceeds pre-pandemic levels as do the number of people working in professional, scientific and technical services.
Michael Sabia named Canada’s next deputy minister of Finance
The prime minister has announced that veteran executive Michael Sabia will be the next deputy minister of Finance. He will take the job effective Dec. 14. Sabia replaces Paul Rochon, who will become senior official at the Privy Council Office.
Sabia is currently director at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy and chair of the board of the Canada Infrastructure Bank. He previously worked at the Department of Finance and the Privy Council Office before joining the private sector and brings a wealth of corporate experience to the job. He is a former chief executive of the Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec and a former chief executive of BCE Inc.
The deputy finance minister is the country’s third-highest ranking policy maker on economic matters, after the Minister of Finance and the Governor of the Bank of Canada.
CEBA $20K Top Up Loans Launch Today
Today (Friday) the federal government announced that Canada’s banks are now able to accept applications for the expanded Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) program. The expansion was originally announced in October.
Existing borrowers who already received the $40,000 loan can apply for the $20,000 top up through their financial institution.
For new CEBA applicants, they can now apply for a loan of $60,000 if they qualify under the program requirements. In addition, the federal government is increasing the maximum forgivable amount from $10,000 up to $20,000 if the total CEBA amount borrowed is repaid by December 31, 2022.
The amount of forgiveness is dependant on a number of variables including loan size, which are detailed in the FAQs on the CEBA website.
Application Deadline also extended
The deadline to apply has been extended to March 31st, 2021.
Canada added 62,000 jobs in November, slowest month of recovery
Canada's economy added 62,000 jobs last month, which is better than economists had been expecting, but it's also the lowest total since the labour market recovery from COVID-19 began in May.
Statistics Canada reported Friday that the jobless rate ticked down four basis points to 8.5 per cent. That's down from a peak of 13.7 per cent in May, but still well above the 5.6 per cent rate seen in February, before the pandemic.
Canada lost more than a million jobs in March and another two million in April, before the job market started to recover in May. According to Statscan, more than 19.1 million Canadians aged 15 or over had some sort of job in February. Last month, that figure stood at just over 18.6 million.
There are currently 1.7 million people in Canada officially categorized as unemployed, which means they would like to work but can't find any. Roughly one quarter of them — 443,000 people — have been out of work for more than half a year.
Manitoba lost 18,000 jobs last month, while Ontario added 36,000 and Quebec 15,000. British Columbia added 23,000 and the Atlantic provinces added a total of 17,000.
Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) Question & Answer Sessions —
Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will host a series of interactive question and answer sessions for eligible organizations on CERS. If you are interested in participating, click here to register. Dates and times areindicated in the registration link. Space is limited.
In addition, the CRA has launched CERS webpages, an online CERS calculator and CERS infographics. Take a look at the new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy, The Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy has got you covered and We’re here to help to assist organizations in preparing their applications.
Feds outline plan to administer first COVID-19 vaccines, launching 'dry
run' next week
The federal government has outlined its initial plans to administer what are being considered Canada’s “Track 1” COVID-19 vaccines—Pfizer and Moderna—in the “coming weeks and months.” This will include a “soft launch” rehearsal of the Pfizer rollout happening next Monday said Maj. Gen. Dany Fortin, who is running Canada’s logistical side of the vaccine effort, on Thursday at a press briefing in Ottawa.
Federal Economic Update
On Monday afternoon, Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland released Supporting Canadians and Fighting COVID-19: Fall Economic Statement 2020.
The Statement offers a first glimpse of the Government’s medium-term fiscal outlook. Here is what you need to know:
Federal deficits will continue for the foreseeable future: The Government projects deficits of $381.6 billion in 2020-21, $121.2 billion in 2021-22, and $50.7 billion in 2022-23. Note that those figures do not include the impact of a fiscal stimulus program for the recovery from COVID-19, totalling 3-4% of GDP over three years, that the Government is proposing.
Debt to GDP ratio to peak at around 50%: The Government released updated debt to GDP figures that reflect increased expenditures to date on responding to COVID-19. The Federal debt to GDP ratio is projected to rise from 31.2% in 2019-20, to 50.7% in 2020-21, 52.6% in 2021-22, and 52.1% in 2022-23. The Government emphasizes that, while the debt to GDP ratio is increasing, debt servicing costs are projected to remain low.
New COVID-19 spending: The Statement announced a number of new measures to help individuals and businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19. Most notably for businesses, the Government announced that the maximum benefit under the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy will be increased to 75% and that a Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program will be launched to support the hardest hit sectors of the economy.
Targeted recovery spending: The Government announced a select few programs aimed at spurring a green, sustainable and equitable long-term recovery from COVID-19, including a new program to provide grants to retrofit residential homes, funds to begin work towards a Canada Wide Early Learning and Child Care System, and additional fiscal transfers to the Provinces for skills and employment training.
Long-term stimulus program: The Government announced plans for a targeted stimulus program in Budget 2021, with some early “down payments” on that plan included in the Fall Economic Statement. The Government plans to spend between 3-4% of GDP over the next three fiscal years through the stimulus program.
A Deeper Dive into the Federal Fall Economic Statement (FES)
The FES is consistent with the Speech from the Throne in September and Minister Freeland’s speech to the Toronto Economic Forum in October, in that it maintains the Government’s commitment to record-shattering Federal spending in response to COVID-19. As with both of those aforementioned speeches, the Government communicated in the FES that it believes that this spending is affordable, especially due to very low interest rates.
To support business in overcoming the economic impacts of COVID-19, the FES commits to:
Creating a Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program to offer 100 percent government-guaranteed loans of up to $1 million for the sectors most impacted by COVID-19 (e.g. tourism and hospitality, hotels, and arts and entertainment).
Increasing the maximum subsidy rate of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to 75 percent, beginning December 20 until March 13, 2021.
Extending until March 13, 2021, the current subsidy rates under the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy and the Lockdown Support Program.
Targeted rent relief and capital and operational support for airlines and airports.
Disbursing an additional $500 million to the Regional Development Agencies and the Community Futures Network of Canada and imposing a rule that 25 percent of those programs’ spending must be for tourism sector initiatives.
Note that the Wage and Rent program changes will require legislative changes and, as such, the support of at least one other party in the minority Parliament.
The FES commits the Government to augmenting its signature Canada Child Benefit program with temporary support of $1,200 in 2021 for each child under the age of 6 in low- and middle-income families. Meanwhile, an allocation of $20 million over 5 years, starting in 2021-22, will support work – including the founding of a Federal Secretariat on Early Learning and Child Care – to begin developing a national daycare policy.
While the FES was overwhelmingly focused on the response to COVID-19, Minister Freeland took pains to underline the Government’s ongoing commitment to creating a greener and more inclusive economy – long the central tenets of the Liberal Party’s fiscal policy. To that end, the FES commits the Government to:
Allocate $2.6 billion over 7 years, starting in 2020-21, to provide up to 700,000 grants of up to $5,000 to homeowners for energy-efficient home improvements; and
Allocate $150 million over 3 years, starting in 2021-22, for investments in infrastructure for zero-emission vehicles, such as charging stations.
Along with the priorly-announced top-up of $1.5 billion for employment skills training programs administered by the Provinces, those announcements were portrayed as the government’s down payment on more significant spending on green, high-tech, and inclusivity initiatives for economic growth in Budget 2021. Many progressives may view that as a muted commitment to those causes, but the FES states that the Government feels such spending must wait until the threat of further outbreaks of COVID-19 subsides.
The Conservative Party released a statement from Erin O’Toole characterizing the Liberal response to the pandemic as “erratic and confused” and demanding that the Government release a plan for vaccine distribution, as a cornerstone of economic recovery.
Both Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-François Blanchet and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh likewise called for more details about the Federal plan to vaccinate Canadians, while Mr. Singh also called for the Government to increase taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations to fund Federal supports for individuals.
The most substantial outcome of the FES for most stakeholders was the announcement of the planned $100 billion fiscal stimulus program. The Government is still determining how that program will be structured and is committed to public consultations on what the stimulus should be spent on. That presents a substantial opportunity for stakeholders to inform Federal spending for the recovery from COVID-19 and thereafter. With Departmental submissions to the Finance Canada budget development process due imminently, stakeholders should seek to engage policymakers as soon as possible.
On December 10, the Prime Minister and the Premiers will hold a First Ministers meeting about long-term funding of the Canada Health Transfer, which will dictate a big portion of long-term Federal spending. The FES appears to set an adversarial basis for the Federal government’s approach to those negotiations, noting that $8 out of every $10 dollars spent on the response to COVID-19 have been Federal funds and that Federal health supports to the provinces already increased 23 percent this year.
Finally, the sole overt reference to the recent U.S. Election in the FES bears monitoring. The Government is exploring the idea of imposing border carbon adjustments and will discuss doing so with international partners. Border carbon adjustments – the imposition of an import levy on goods that are manufactured in countries that do not price carbon pollution in some way – were an element of President-elect Joe Biden’s election policy platform and are also being explored by the European Union.
Statistics Canada says economy grew at a record pace in Q3 of 2020
Statistics Canada says the economy grew at a record annualized pace of 40.5 per cent in the third quarter as businesses came out of COVID-19 lockdowns. The previous record for quarterly growth in real gross domestic product was 13.2 per cent in the first quarter 1965, the agency says.
As historic as the rebound was, it fell short of expectations.
Financial data firm Refinitiv says the average economist estimate was for an annualized growth rate of 47.6 per cent for the quarter. The rebound over July, August and September was a sharp turnaround from the preceding three-month stretch which saw a record drop.
Driving the bounce-back were the further rolling back of public health restrictions that allowed businesses to reopen. Statistics Canada also says there was a substantial increase in the housing market owing to low interest rates and household spending on goods like cars.
Despite the overall increase, the national statistics office says real gross domestic product still remains shy of where it was before the pandemic.
The third quarter ended with the fifth consecutive monthly increase in real GDP after the steepest monthly drops on record in March and April when widespread lockdowns were instituted to slow the spread of COVID-19.
September saw a 0.8 per cent increase in real GDP, Statistics Canada says, a slight slowing from the 0.9 per cent recorded in August.
The agency also provided a preliminary estimate for October's figures, saying early indicators point to a 0.2 per cent increase in the month. The figure will be finalized at the end of this month.
CRA Hosting Session on the New Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS)
The CRA has launched CERS webpages, an online CERS calculator, and CERS infographics (Take a look at the new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy, The Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy has got you covered, and We’re here to help) to assist organizations in preparing their applications.
To complement these resources, the CRA will host a series of interactive question and answer sessions for eligible organizations.
English language sessions
Friday, December 4, 2020 @1:00 pm – 2:00 pm EST
Wednesday, December 9, 2020 @1:00 pm – 2:00 pm EST
French language sessions
Monday, December 7, 2020 @1:00 pm – 2:00 pm EST
Friday, December 11, 2020 @1:00 pm - 2:00 pm EST
If there are no more sessions available, please add your name to the waitlist.
Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) Open!
Yesterday, the CERS portal opened up for applications. Canadian businesses, non-profit organizations or charities that have seen a drop in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic may be eligible for a subsidy to cover part of their commercial rent or property expenses retroactive to September 27, 2020 until June 2021. This subsidy will provide payments directly to qualifying renters and property owners, without requiring the participation of landlords.
Click here for more information
Federal government to deliver economic, fiscal update on Nov. 30
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland says the federal government will deliver a long-awaited update on the health of federal finances on Nov. 30. She made the announcement Monday in the House of Commons. The Liberals had promised an update this fall on the federal deficit — a document that also could include the first steps toward a national child care program.
The government has not tabled a budget for this fiscal year, but in July delivered what it called a "fiscal snapshot" that estimated the deficit was heading for a record of $343.2 billion. That figure doesn't include added spending since July or the many promises the government has made since.
The Liberals also have said the update will provide the government's outlook for the economy and spending guidelines to keep deficits from spiralling out of control.
CRA warns 213,000 Canadians that they might have to pay back CERB overpayments
The Canada Revenue Agency says it's warning about 213,000 Canadians who may have been paid twice through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) program that they could be called upon to repay the money. But repayment isn't required right away, says the agency. The CRA has suspended collection of debts for the duration of the pandemic emergency.
"The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has issued letters to individuals who may have applied for the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) from both Service Canada and the CRA, and who may be required to repay an amount to the CRA". "The letters did not require immediate payment; rather they informed the taxpayer that there may be a requirement to repay amounts received. "We will resume collections activities when it is responsible to do so, including collection of debts related to CERB payments"
Federal Rent Relief and CEWS extension legislation are finally passed
The legislation, which cleared the House of Commons on November 6, has finally passed the Senate after being stuck there for nearly two weeks.
New Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy
This program will provide direct and easy-to-access rent and mortgage interest support to tenants and property owners until June 2021 for qualifying organizations affected by COVID-19. The new rent subsidy will support businesses, charities, and non-profits that have suffered a revenue drop by providing support up to a maximum of 65 per cent of eligible expenses until December 19, 2020. Claims can be made retroactively to September 27, 2020.
When can I apply?
The intake will be run by the CRA using a similar process to the CEWS. Applications will start being accepted on Monday, November 23.
For more information, visit: Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy
New Lockdown Support
This support will provide an additional 25 per cent through the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy for qualifying organizations that are subject to a lockdown and must shut their doors or significantly restrict their activities under a public health order issued under the laws of Canada, a province or territory (including orders made by a municipality or regional health authority under one of those laws). Combined, this will mean that hard-hit businesses subject to a lockdown could receive rent support of up to 90 per cent.
When can I apply?
The intake will be run by the CRA using a similar process to the CEWS. Applications will start being accepted on Monday, November 23.
For more information, visit: Lockdown Support for Businesses Facing Significant Public Health Restrictions
Extension of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy goes until June 2021
The subsidy will continue to protect jobs by helping employers keep employees on payroll and re-hire workers. The wage subsidy will remain at the current rate of up to 65 per cent of eligible wages until December 19, 2020.
For more information, visit: Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Extension
New $20K Top Up under CEBA
In early October, the federal government announced they are expanding the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loans so that eligible borrowers can access an additional interest free loan of up to $20,000. Fifty per cent of the additional financing would be forgivable if repaid by December 31, 2022. The application deadline for CEBA is also being extended to December 31, 2020.
The additional CEBA loan would effectively increase CEBA loans from $40,000 to $60,000 for eligible businesses, of which a total of $20,000 would be forgiven if the loan balance is repaid before December 31, 2022.
When can I apply?
The intake for the top up has not yet started. There are some issues the federal government is working through with the banks. They hope to have a date for the intake very shortly.
New federal net-zero emissions plan to meet climate change targets
Federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson tabled new legislation on November 19, that would force current and future federal governments to set binding climate targets to get Canada to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The bill, if passed, would require the federal government to set five-year interim emissions reduction targets over the next 30 years to ensure progress toward that ambitious goal.
The legislation, C-12, fulfils a Liberal election promise to be more aggressive at cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, and to get Canada to net-zero emissions by 2050.
Reaching "net-zero" by 2050 would mean that emissions produced 30 years from now would be fully absorbed through actions that scrub carbon from the atmosphere — such as planting trees — or
technology, such as carbon-capture and storage systems. The Liberals have promised to plant two billion
The Bill doesn't set out exactly how the federal government should go about reducing emissions — it
does not mandate further increases to the carbon tax, for example. It simply stipulates that Ottawa
must set a goal and work to achieve it through measures that are deemed effective.
The legislation calls for the creation of an outside 15-member advisory board — composed of climate
experts, scientists and Indigenous representatives, among others — which would provide advice to the
minister on setting targets and the best "sectoral strategies" for achieving net-zero. By law, the minister
would be obliged to consult with groups before setting targets.
The legislation also requires that the minister table a plan in Parliament outlining how Ottawa plans to
meet those targets. The legislation does not stipulate what role the provinces and territories will play in
this national emissions reduction plan.
The first emissions reduction target, and the plan to meet it, would be tabled nine months after the bill
is passed through Parliament. That first target would be for the year 2030.
Canada's target under the Paris Accord is to reduce emissions by 30 per cent compared to 2005 levels by
Current policies — including the carbon tax, banning coal power plants and regulating methane
emissions in the oil and gas industry — will only get Canada about two-thirds of the way there.
While the government describes this legislation as "legally binding," there would be no tangible penalty
applied if the country fails to drive down emissions as promised.
The government would simply have to state publicly in Parliament that it failed to meet its goals. There
would be no meaningful legal consequences if Ottawa falls short.
Open Letter to Premiers: Canada needs Coherent and Consistent Approach to COVID-19
Today, several Canadian business organizations issued a join letter to Canada’s premiers urging them to work together to provide coherent and consistent direction and guidelines across all levels of government in the fight against COVID-19.
Canadian Survey on Business Conditions Released
Late last week, Statistics Canada released the results from a third wave of Canadian business surveying. Through the data, we now know that our economy will not recover until at least 2022; the most optimistic scenario assuming widespread vaccine deployment by then.
According to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Canada needs to carefully consider in the coming months those program supports that are put in place as Canada has a finite pool of money. Their comments on are available here.
CRA extends work-from-home reimbursement to cover office equipment, not just computers
According to an article in the Financial Post, the CRA provided some news at the recent Canadian Tax Foundation’s annual conference in late October. The news came as part of responses to several questions posed during their annual roundtable session.
Reimbursement of equipment
In April, the CRA issued a technical interpretation
dealing with employee taxable benefits that employees may have received as a result of having to now work from home due to COVID-19.
At the CTF roundtable session in October, the CRA stated that there are no current plans to increase the $500 reimbursement amount, but that it would “continue to carefully monitor all developments relating to the COVID-19 pandemic and will take further action as necessary.”
The CRA also announced that it was extending its administrative position to employer reimbursements for home office equipment purchased by employees and clarified that the $500 reimbursement amount is the maximum for each employee, rather than for each piece of computer or office equipment that an employee may purchase.
Please contact your accountant or tax professional to clarify how this applies to your specific situation.
Bill to overhaul Canada's privacy laws released
Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains introduced the Digital Charter Implementation Act today — officially called an "Act to enact the Consumer Privacy Protection Act and the Personal Information and Data Protection Tribunal Act and to make consequential and related amendments to other Acts." It represents one of the biggest shakeups in Canada's privacy law in decades.
This legislation takes a number of important steps to ensure that Canadians will be protected by a modern and responsive law and that innovative businesses will benefit from clear rules, even as technology continues to evolve, including:
increasing control and transparency when Canadians’ personal information is handled by companies;
giving Canadians the freedom to move their information from one organization to another in a secure manner;
ensuring that Canadians have the ability to demand that their information be destroyed;
providing the Privacy Commissioner with broad order-making powers, including the ability to force an organization to comply and the ability to order a company to stop collecting data or using personal information; and
ensuring the strongest fines among G7 privacy laws—with fines of up to 5% of revenue or $25 million, whichever is greater, for the most serious offences (the heaviest fines among the G7 nations' privacy laws).
companies would have to obtain consent from customers through plain language — not a long, jargon-filled legal document — before using their personal data.
Canada already has two privacy laws. The Privacy Act covers government agencies and federally regulated industries, while the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act applies to private-sector organizations.
The proposed act is an initial step toward a comprehensive reform of Canada’s privacy framework. The Government of Canada is also proposing to modernize the Privacy Act, which applies to the federal public sector and which the Privacy Commissioner of Canada also oversees.
Many franchised and non-franchised business use apps and collect data about their customers. These changes will have an impact on business operations.
Click here to access the text of the Bill
Senators question Freeland on business aid package
Bill C-9 would extend the federal wage subsidy until next summer. The House of Commons agreed last
week to pass a proposed package of measures quickly, but none can be enacted until the Senate passes
it as well.
The aid bill known as C-9, now under review by the Senate finance committee, would extend the federal
wage subsidy until next summer — cancelling a previously planned decline in its value — and expand a
popular business loan program.
Employee Wellbeing During COVID-19: Invitation to participate in new
research by the Conference Board of Canada
COVID-19 has challenged Canadian employees and their families. We are seeking to better understand
the challenges people like you are facing and invite you to complete our survey.
Information from this study will help employers and policy makers understand how to support Canadian
employees in their struggle to balance work and family during the pandemic. It will also provide insight
into how people cope with the different demands on their time and emotions.
This survey is being done in partnership with Dr. Linda Duxbury, Professor with the Sprott School of
Business at Carleton University.
Conference Board: Canada’s Two-Year Outlook Summary
Canada’s economy bounced back in recent months following the economic plunge sparked by the COVID-19-related shutdown in March and April. At its trough in April, real GDP was at 82 per cent of February’s (pre-COVID) level, 3 million Canadians were out of work (a 15.6 per cent decline in employment), and total hours worked had plummeted a staggering 28 per cent.
As health restrictions began being lifted in May, the rebound set in. Statistics Canada estimates that July’s economic activity was at 94 per cent of February levels, and by August, 1.9 million jobs had been recovered. Still, a gaping chasm remains to be closed before Canada’s economy is back to normal.
While economic activity is fully restored in some sectors, many will not see a return to normal until a vaccine is available to the wider public, both in Canada and globally. And for some industries, difficulties will persist beyond that and the business environment might never fully return to normal.
The arrival of colder weather, coupled with a rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, is expected to continue to disrupt Canada’s recovery. The health measures and testing currently in place should prevent another full shutdown of economic activity, but we do expect localized or regional shutdowns to continue to flatten the path of recovery.
We assume that a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus is found and widely available to Canadians by June 2021, after which most domestic-driven industries will recover. Globally, a vaccine is unlikely until the fall of 2021. This will keep international travel suppressed, further hurting industries like air travel, accommodations, and arts and culture.
A flattened recovery means that businesses and households will continue to rely on extraordinary monetary and fiscal measures put in place since the start of the crisis. The Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy was adjusted in August to support businesses that have lost varying amounts of revenue. Though set to expire by the end of this year, we assume it will be extended through to the second quarter of 2021.
Households have benefited from the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, which is set to be replaced by an updated employment insurance system and the Canada Recovery Benefit. These programs will help boost real household disposable income by a record 9 per cent this year, despite the recession and massive loss in labour income.
Unable or unwilling to spend in the second quarter of this year, households let their balance sheets swell, as the aggregate household savings rate jumped to over 28 per cent. Spending has since rebounded, helping to bring retail sales back to more normal levels over the summer. But consumers remain worried about future job prospects and the resurgence in COVID-19 cases, suggesting that the pace of recovery will slow in coming quarters.
Global real GDP will decline by 4.7 per cent this year, crushed by the downturn in the second quarter. Assuming that a second wave of the virus doesn’t derail the global economy, we expect a rebound next year. The U.S. recovery depends crucially on Congress and the president agreeing to additional stimulus measures to keep the economy on track over the next few months. Canadian exports have rebounded, but continued progress is tied to the U.S. and global recoveries.
Business investment has underperformed in recent years, and the COVID-19 crisis will take a further bite out of investment this year as firms delay any major investment decisions. One notable exception is the LNG Canada project, a multi-year, multi-billion-dollar project that will propel investment in British Columbia over the next few years.
Amid the carnage in Canada’s consumption, investment, and trade sectors, the housing sector has provided a ray of hope for the economy. Canada’s existing housing markets have largely recovered from spring lockdowns. The bounceback has been aided by ultra-low interest rates and strong job growth, combined with generous helpings of support from government and financial institutions. However, slowing economic momentum and weaker government support will soften housing markets early next year.
Federal and provincial governments face extraordinary deficits in fiscal 2020–21 and will add substantially to debt over the next two years. Luckily, interest rates in both Canada and the United States are expected to remain near zero, helping federal and provincial governments manage their debt-financing costs.
Overall, real GDP is forecast to shrink by 6.6 per cent in 2020. Still, that’s an improvement over our summer outlook, which called for an 8.2 per cent decline this year. Solid gains in 2021 and 2022 will not suffice to bring Canada’s economy back to full potential.
CASSELS: Updates to the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy Program
On November 2, 2020, the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy program was introduced as part of Bill C-9, An Act to Amend the Income Tax Act (Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy and Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy) for first reading before the House of Commons. The purpose of Bill C-9 would be to implement new, targeted support to help businesses that have experienced reduced revenues and increased costs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) details released
On October 9, the government announced the new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy which will provide direct rent relief to businesses affected COVID-19. The new rent subsidy would be available retroactive to September 27, 2020, until June 2021.
The government published the proposed details for the first 12 weeks of the program, until December 19, 2020. According the media release the CERS program would mirror the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, providing a simple, easy-to-understand program for affected qualifying organizations.
The new rent subsidy would provide benefits directly to qualifying renters and property owners, without requiring the participation of landlords.
Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy
New Lockdown Support details released
The new Lockdown Support, which would provide an additional 25 per cent through the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy for qualifying organizations that are subject to a lockdown and must shut their doors or significantly limit their activities under a public health order issued under the laws of Canada, a province or territory (including orders made by a municipality or regional health authority under one of those laws). Combined, this would mean that hard-hit businesses subject to a lockdown could receive rent support of up to 90 per cent.
Lockdown Support for Businesses Facing Significant Public Health Restrictions
Details on the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Extension released
On November 5, the federal government release more details in the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy details for periods 8, 9 and 10 (until December 19, 2020). The wage subsidy would remain at the current rate of up to 65 per cent of eligible wages until December 19, 2020.
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Extension
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy and Lockdown Support
Public Health Agency of Canada quietly updates COVID-19 guidelines on
risk of airborne spread
Public Health Agency of Canada has revised its guidelines on how COVID-19 spreads to include the risk
of aerosol transmission, weeks after other countries and international health organizations
acknowledged the airborne threat of the coronavirus.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) updated its guidance without notice this week,
making mention of the risk of transmission from aerosols — or microscopic airborne particles — for the
"SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, spreads from an infected person to others through
respiratory droplets and aerosols created when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings, shouts, or
talks," the updated guidance said.
"The droplets vary in size from large droplets that fall to the ground rapidly (within seconds or minutes)
near the infected person, to smaller droplets, sometimes called aerosols, which linger in the air under
The federal agency's guidelines previously said the virus spreads only through breathing in respiratory
droplets, touching contaminated surfaces and common greetings like handshakes and hugs.
The update to PHAC's guidelines came after Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa
Tam recommended the use of three-layer non-medical masks Tuesday to prevent the spread of COVID19 ahead of winter weather that could bring more people together indoors.
Commercial Rent: Federal government tables legislation for new rent subsidy
The federal government tabled legislation on Monday establishing a series of new financial supports to help businesses survive the pandemic — including a redrafted commercial rent subsidy program to replace the federal government's much-criticized rent assistance benefit.
Monday's measures include the introduction of the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy, CERS, which replaces the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program. It also includes a new "lockdown support" to aid businesses ordered to close by a public health order. The legislation also extends the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy until June 2021.
The new CERS allows businesses to apply directly for the benefit without having to go through landlords.
Franchise Awareness Week is underway
Franchise Awareness Week is well underway. Over the course of this week the CFA and our members will be meeting with over 30 Ontario MPPs (including several Cabinet Ministers) to continue to raise awareness about franchising and franchised business issues.
We are talking to Ontario MPPs about
• Franchising’s contribution to the economy
• The Franchisor/Franchisee Relationship and how to clarify it in legislation
• Asking Ontario to extend the commercial eviction ban
• Urging Ontario to reform the property tax system to protect businesses from unsustainable property tax hikes
• Improving access to capital by creating an Ontario working capital program
• Maintaining a reasonable, predictable & fair minimum wage
• Increase the small business tax threshold
• Ensuring a fair playing field under environmental legislation
Federal Tories call for pause on CRA audits for businesses struggling due to COVID-19
Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole is calling for the Liberals to put a pause on federal audits of small businesses hit hard by COVID-19.
He says too many small and medium-sized businesses are struggling to survive during the pandemic, and still have been hit by what he calls unfair audit requests from the Canada Revenue Agency.
O'Toole says his party will use its time on the House of Commons agenda today to also propose changes to the federal wage subsidy and commercial rent-relief programs.
Bank of Canada plans to keep interest rate near zero until 2023
The Bank of Canada says it has no plans to change its benchmark interest rate until inflation gets back to
two per cent and stays there, something it says isn't likely to happen until 2023.
The central bank said Wednesday it has decided to keep its benchmark interest rate steady at 0.25 per
cent. The news was expected by economists, as although the economy is showing signs of recovering
from the impact of COVID-19, things are still a long way from normal, so cheap lending will be needed
for a long while yet.
The bank outlined a fairly bleak assessment of the worst case scenario when it laid out its last Monetary
Report in July. But the roughly eight months since COVID-19 began in Canada have given the bank a
clearer picture of how things are shaking out, even if the picture isn't always rosy.
The central bank says it expects Canada's economy will shrink by 5.7 per cent this year, but grow by 4.2
per cent next year, and 3.7 per cent in 2022. Inflation, meanwhile, is expected to be 0.6 per cent this
year, 1.0 per cent next year, and 1.7 per cent in 2022.
Those growth and inflation projections, however, are based on two leaps of faith: that there won't be a
second — or third — widespread lockdown in Canada, and that a vaccine or some sort of effective
treatment will be widely available by the middle of 2022 at the latest.
"The breadth and intensity of re-imposed containment measures, including impacts on schools and the
availability of child care, could lead to setbacks," the bank said in the quarterly Monetary Policy Report
that accompanied the rate decision.
Finance Minister Freeland says federal government will turn off financial
taps, but not before pandemic ends
Freeland told the Toronto Global Forum that the Liberals guiding principle on the economy is that
beating COVID is key to a successful financial rebound.
“We want to give our businesses and our households a bridge, so that as many of them as possible make
it through viable and intact,” she said.
She said the Liberals guiding principle on the economy is that beating COVID is key to a successful
“Our economy will only be able to recover fully once we have defeated the virus.”
Earlier this month, Freeland announced extensions and changes to both the commercial rent subsidy
program, as well as the wage subsidy into 2021. She said the pandemic will mean restaurants will have
to operate at reduced capacity or even close at times and that businesses can’t get back to normal until
there is a vaccine.
“It’s just not practically possible, never mind fair, to ask workers to stay home or businesses to shut their
doors without providing them with the financial support they need.”
The government’s last update in the summer projected Canada would run a $343 billion deficit in 2020,
pushing the country into more than a trillion dollars in debt for the first time in its history. Those
numbers didn’t include some of the expansions to programs the government offered up last month.
Freeland said new projections on the country’s finances would be coming soon.
The government has also promised a fiscal update this fall, but no date has been set for that.
Home insurance policy may soon carry a COVID-19 exclusion
Homeowners may see something new when they renew their home insurance policies over the next few
months: a communicable disease exclusion. This will protect insurance companies from any claims
related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Amanda Dean, vice-president Atlantic for the Insurance Bureau of
Canada, said Wednesday.
"Generally, pandemic risk is not an insurable thing, as the insurance industry is unable to provide
protection for losses of this nature because there's no way to diversify the risk due to it affecting the
entire world at the same time," Dean said. The exclusion reflects the changes being made by
international reinsurance companies, which primary insurers buy insurance from.
Dean said the exclusion endorsement prevents anyone who contracts COVID-19 at someone's house
from making a claim against a home insurance policy. While typically no claim related to a pandemic can
be made anyway, insurance companies have decided to add the exclusion wording that reinsurance
companies have added it their agreements.
Canada Emergency Business Account now open to businesses using personal banking accounts
On Monday, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland announced that the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) will be available to businesses that have been operating out of a non-business banking account.
CEBA provides zero-interest loans up to $40,000 to small business and non-profit organizations that have experienced diminished revenues due to COVID-19 but face ongoing non-deferrable costs, such as rent, utilities, insurance, taxes and wages. Repaying the balance of the loan on or before December 31, 2022 will result in loan forgiveness of 25 percent (up to $10,000).
To be eligible, businesses must have been operating as a business as of March 1, 2020, must successfully open a business account at a Canadian financial institution that is participating in CEBA, and meet the other existing CEBA eligibility criteria. The deadline to apply for CEBA is December 31, 2020.
Visit and complete the Pre-screen Tool on https://verify-verifier.ceba-cuec.ca/
Open a business chequing/operating account with your primary financial institution
Apply for CEBA at your primary financial institution
Follow instructions from your financial institution to complete all relevant parts of the CEBA application.
Federal Liberals hold onto Toronto Centre, York Centre in byelections
The federal Liberals have held onto the Ontario ridings of Toronto Centre and York Centre in Monday's byelections, according to preliminary results from Elections Canada.
In Toronto Centre, Liberal Party candidate Marci Ien, a journalist, won with 42 per cent of the vote, against 32.7 per cent for Annamie Paul, Green Party candidate and leader. The NDP candidate, Brian Chang, placed third with 17 per cent, with 144 out of 144 polls reporting.
In York Centre, Liberal Party candidate Ya'ara Saks won with 45.7 cent of the vote, against 41.8 per cent for Conservative Party candidate Julius Tiangson after a very tight race. The NDP's Andrea Vásquez Jiménez placed third with 5.8 per cent. Maxime Bernier and his People's Party garnered 3.6 per cent of the votes.
WestJet to provide refunds (not just credits) for flights cancelled due to pandemic
WestJet says it will begin providing refunds to passengers whose flights were cancelled due to the
pandemic. The Calgary-based airline said it will begin contacting all eligible flyers with WestJet and
Swoop on Nov. 2. It will begin with those whose flights were cancelled in March 2020 at the onset of the
pandemic, to offer refunds in the original form of payment. The process is expected to take six to nine
months, the company said. It asked customers to wait to be contacted, in order to avoid overloading its
Single Use Plastics: Are you affected?
The end is coming for plastic grocery bags, straws and cutlery after the federal government announced today which single-use plastics will be covered by a national ban coming into effect next year. Federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson recently unveiled the list of soon-to-be-banned items such as
Grocery checkout bags
Food takeout containers made from hard-to-recycle plastics (like black plastic packaging)
The regulations to introduce the ban will be finalized by the end of 2021, said Wilkinson.
Are you concerned? Email email@example.com to let us know how you feel about the upcoming plastics ban.
After complaints, CRA encourages some failed CRB applicants to reapply
After dozens of Canadians complained to CBC News about problems getting the new Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), the Canada Revenue Agency is now recommending that some applicants reapply for the benefit on Monday.
Media reported that a number of Canadians who appeared to be eligible for the CRB but had their applications rejected. The benefit is supposed to replace the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) for those who are not eligible for employment insurance.
Anyone who applied for the CRB before Oct. 16 and received [error] code 026 should try reapplying.
Sobeys and Franchisees found to be a Common Employer
Common-employer or joint-employer… these words should send a shiver down the back of every franchisor and franchisee across Canada. Common-employer allows a court to treat separate legal entities (like franchisors and franchisees) as a single employer for the purposes of attaching liability for such things as wages, overtime, vacation pay, benefits, termination notice, severance pay, wrongful and constructive dismissal, etc.
The BC Labour Relations Board decision in Sobeys v UFCWI may signal an expansion of the reach of a common employer determination to cover situations where the putative third-party employer has enough control (either real control or the right to control) over the essential employment terms of employees to enable the objectives of the labour relation legislation (e.g., collective bargaining) to be fulfilled.
For all franchisors, there is a delicate balance to strike when placing controls on franchisees to protect their business interests. Franchisors would be well advised to consider the lessons emerging from this decision when evaluating their legal and business decisions moving forward.
To read the full article: Taking Control: Sobeys and Franchisees found to be a Common Employer
Are you concerned? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about what the CFA is doing on the issue.
U.S. Justice Department files antitrust lawsuit against Google
The United States Justice Department on Tuesday sued Google for antitrust violations, alleging that it abused its dominance in online search and advertising to stifle competition and harm consumers.
The lawsuit marks the government's most significant act to protect competition since its groundbreaking case against Microsoft more than 20 years ago. It could be an opening salvo ahead of other major government antitrust actions, given ongoing investigations of major tech companies including Apple, Amazon and Facebook at both the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission.
"Google is the gateway to the internet and a search advertising behemoth," U.S. Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen told reporters. "But as the antitrust complaint filed today explains, it has maintained its monopoly power through exclusionary practices that are harmful to competition."
Lawmakers and consumer advocates have long accused Google, whose corporate parent Alphabet Inc. has a market value just over $1 trillion, of abusing its dominance in online search and advertising to stifle competition and boost its profits. Critics contend that multibillion-dollar fines and mandated changes in Google's practices imposed by European regulators in recent years weren't severe enough and that structural changes are needed for Google to change its conduct.
Google responded immediately via tweet: "Today's lawsuit by the Department of Justice is deeply flawed. People use Google because they choose to — not because they're forced to or because they can't find alternatives."
The case was filed in federal court in Washington, D.C. It alleges that Google uses billions of dollars collected from advertisers to pay phone manufacturers to ensure Google is the default search engine on browsers. Eleven states will join the federal government in the lawsuit.
5 hand sanitizers added to Health Canada's evolving recall list
Five more hand sanitizers were added to Health Canada's evolving recall list on Tuesday, which now
includes more than 100 products that may pose health risks. The newest recalled hand sanitizers are:
• Last Best Brewing and Distilling Hand Sanitizer from Last Best Brewery (Calgary)
• Nomad Hand Sanitizer (Lemongrass) from Rocky Mountain Soap Company (Canmore, Alta.)
• Purify Hand Sanitizer and Antibacterial Spray from Prairie Potions (Winnipeg)
• Gel d'alcool pour les mains avec émollients, 70% alcool éthylique en format de 250 mL from
Sanix (Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que.)
• Gel d'alcool pour les mains avec émollients, 70% alcool éthylique en format de 4 L from
Sanix (Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que.)
The products were recalled either for containing technical-grade ethanol without authorization,
containing methanol or missing risk statements.
Health Canada said if you own any of the recalled products on the list, you should immediately stop
using them and consult a health care professional if you have used them and have any concerns.
Any adverse events or complaints can be reported to Health Canada.
WestJet shuts down most of its operations in Atlantic Canada
WestJet will soon no longer fly to Moncton, Fredericton, Sydney, Charlottetown and Quebec City and
drastically cut back its service to St. John's and Halifax.
The Calgary-based airline said Wednesday it is eliminating 100 flights, which represent about 80 per cent
of the airline's service in and out of Atlantic Canada. The airline also says it is also suspending operations
to Quebec City, by removing its flight between there and Toronto.
The route cancellations mean that the airline will also shutter its operations in the airports of
Charlottetown, Moncton, Fredericton and Sydney. The routes will be cancelled as of Nov. 2.
Ottawa business coalition demanding province justify local closures
A group representing thousands of businesses in Ottawa is asking the premier and his ministers for an
immediate meeting about the province's decision to close down certain sectors in COVID-19 hot spots.
Dine-in restaurants and bars, gyms, movie theatres, casinos and more were forced to close again on the
weekend after the province ordered Ottawa, Toronto and Peel region to return to modified Stage 2
pandemic restrictions, citing the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in those areas. The restrictions are in
effect for at least 28 days.
The Ottawa Coalition of Business Improvement Areas (OCOBIA) penned an open letter Monday to
Premier Doug Ford, Health Minister Christine Elliott and Economic Development Minister Vic Fideli.
The coalition, which represents more than 6,200 bricks-and-mortar businesses in the city, says those
restrictions have impacted its members' ability to survive the pandemic. OCOBIA says the measures will
"only cause more economic hardship" on one of the hardest-hit industries.
The letter asks the province to review its decision and tailor Ottawa's restrictions based on Ottawa
Public Health's (OPH) recommendations for the city, which are based on local data. In early October,
Ottawa's medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches said she was looking at closures only as a last resort.
An Insider's Guide to the 2020 US Election
Monday, October 19th, 3:15-4:15pm ET
Join Inside Elections’ Nathan Gonzalez for an overview of what to expect in the presidential election and
other important races across the country. Learn what the polls are REALLY saying, and what we will find
out on November 3 and beyond. Nathan’s well-respected, non-partisan analysis is cited regularly in
major media outlets and corporate boardrooms across America. Attendees can elect to receive 50 CFE
Credits. You can register here.
In case you missed it: New Commercial Rent Relief Program announced
Today, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, announced new supports to help businesses including a new commercial rent program which CFA has been asking for. According to the news release, the supports, if passed by Parliament, will include:
New Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy
The new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy will provide rent support directly to tenants from now until June 2021. According to Finance Canada, the new program will “provide simple and easy-to-access rent and mortgage support until June 2021 for qualifying organizations affected by COVID-19”. We are told that the new rent subsidy program will be administered through the CRA not CMHC.
The new rent program will help business who have suffered a revenue drop, by subsidizing a percentage of their expenses, on a sliding scale, up to a maximum of 65 per cent of eligible expenses until December 19, 2020. Program parameters for 2021 will be released in the future. Organizations will also be able to retroactively make claims for the period that began on September 27, 2020 and ends October 24, 2020.
Rent Subsidy Top Up
The program also includes a 25 per cent top up for organizations temporarily shut down by a mandatory public health order. This top up is in addition to the 65 per cent subsidy. This commitment was made in the recent Throne Speech which committed Ottawa to providing direct financial support to businesses temporarily shut down as a result of a local public health decision.
CEWS Extension until June 2021
The extension of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy until June 2021, would continue to protect jobs by helping businesses keep employees on the payroll and encouraging employers to re-hire their workers. The subsidy would remain at the current subsidy rate of up to a maximum of 65 per cent of eligible wages until December 19, 2020. This measure, according to the Finance Minister, is part of the government’s commitment to create over one million jobs and restore employment to the level it was before the pandemic.
Expanding the CEBA Loan Program – new $20K Top Up
They also announced they are expanding the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loans so that eligible borrowers can access an additional interest free loan of up to $20,000. 50 per cent of the additional financing would be forgivable if repaid by December 31, 2022. The application deadline for CEBA is also being extended to December 31, 2020.
The additional CEBA loan would effectively increase CEBA loans from $40,000 to $60,000 for eligible businesses, of which a total of $20,000 would be forgiven if the balance of the loan is repaid before December 31, 2022. To date, over 765,000 CEBA loans have been approved, representing more than $30 billion.
Giving tenants direct access to rent support is great news for all CFA members. We are happy that government is doing away with the complicated CMHC landlord tenant application process. We have asked the federal government to look at providing a top up rent subsidy for businesses that are forced to reduce capacity by public health (not just close). We are looking for clarity about whether or not new businesses that started after March 2020 will qualify for the new rent program.
The CEBA top up is good news but there are many unanswered questions on issues that we, and others, have been raising since March.
Business bank accounts vs personal bank accounts: Under the current program criteria, a business that operates using a personal bank account was excluded from applying for the CEBA loan. The federal government is working with the banks on the issue but today’s announcement did not include the outcome of those discussions.
Qualifying Thresholds: Under the current criteria, the Borrower’s total employment income paid in the 2019 calendar year was between$20,000 and $1,500,000. The CFA has been advocating for the top and bottom thresholds to be expanded to help more franchised businesses.
Multiple Loans based on Location: Each qualifying business is limited to one CEBA loan for every CRA business account. The CFA believes that loans should be allowed for multiple locations based on business licenses, HST/GST accounts, WSIB accounts, etc. instead of simple corporate entities using the CRA account. We will continue to advocate for this change.
Office vacancy rate drops slightly in downtown Edmonton as market remains flat
A recent report shows a slight drop in vacant office space in downtown Edmonton as office vacancy rates remain flat despite the pandemic. The report by commercial real estate company CBRE Canada found increases in vacancies and sublet space throughout Canada in the third quarter of 2020. The about turn comes after a historic run that, according to CBRE, has left Canadian office markets in a more resilient position.
Alberta's two main cities topped the list for office vacancies among Canadian cities, with Edmonton just below 20 per cent and Calgary just over 25. But while Edmonton's overall office space vacancy remained about the same since last quarter, its downtown bucked the increasing national trend with a decrease from 19.7 to 19 per cent.
Canada banning plastic bags, straws, cutlery and other single-use items
by the end of 2021
Under the newly-unveiled list of single-use plastics being banned in Canada, plastic grocery bags, straws,
stir sticks, six-pack rings, cutlery and food containers made from hard-to-recycle plastics will be out of
use nationwide by the end of 2021.
Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson announced the federal government’s
next steps towards its plan to achieve zero plastic waste by 2030.
As first pledged last year, and re-committed in the Liberal’s September throne speech, the government
is moving ahead with banning certain “harmful” single-use plastics that are consistently found in the
environment and for which there are readily available alternatives, while finding ways to make sure
more plastic is recycled.
Citing the need to consult, the government will be soliciting feedback on a “discussion paper” until
December 9. The finalized new regulations wouldn’t come into effect until the end of 2021.
The federal government has a target of at least 50 per cent recycled content in plastic products by 2030.
Under the new regulations the government will require:
• A minimum percentage of recycled content;
• rules for measuring and evaluating the amount of recycled content; and
• guidelines and related tools to help companies meet their requirements.
Wilkinson also pledged $2 million for a zero plastic waste initiative, to go to 14 Canadian-led projects.
Later this week, the federal government will be publishing a proposed order to add “plastic
manufactured items” to the list of regulated products under Canadian Environmental Protection Act,
1999 (CEPA). Greenhouse gasses is among the items already on that list.
Commercial rent relief – CFA letter to federal and provincial
governments demanding action
The CFA sent a letter to Finance Minister Chystia Freeland, Small Business Minister Mary Ng and all the
provincial Premiers asking for action on commercial rent. in the letter, which is linked below we ask
• Provincial governments to use their powers and resources
• Extend the commercial rent program into the second quarter of 2021
• The new program must have a lower threshold than CECRA
• Inclusion of “Dark Sites” in the program
• Tenants must have support without having to work through their landlord
• Expanding CEBA – in addition to a new commercial rent program
• Provinces must institute a temporary moratorium on commercial rent default evictions for a sixmonth period
Read the Letter
CFA files for Intervenor Status in the BC LRB case on common-employer
On Friday, the CFA filed an application for reconsideration and request for intervenor status in the BC Labour Relations Board (LRB) case where the Board declared Sobey’s and 7 of its franchisees to be common employer under the BC Labour Code.
In the decision the Labour Board used many of the common practices of franchisors to reach its conclusion such as the franchisor’s Operating Manual, training, sub-leasing arrangements, and merchandising standards.
While the CFA was not party to the original application, the declaration of common employer concerns us greatly, which is why we have asked for standing in this case so we can defend the franchised business model.
Why CFA members should be concerned
Common employer allows a court to treat separate legal entities, in certain circumstances, as a single employer for the purposes of attaching liability for such things as wages, overtime, vacation pay, benefits, termination notice, severance pay, wrongful and constructive dismissal, etc.
Common employer or Joint employer hits at the heart of the franchised business model. It can leave franchisors exposed to claims by franchisee employees for unpaid wages, overtime, vacation pay, benefits, termination notice, pay in lieu of notice, severance pay, wrongful and constructive dismissal, human rights violations, and payroll taxes.
Help us protect franchising in Canada.
Commercial rent relief – we are working on it
I know many CFA members are very concerned that the federal government did not extend the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program into October. While the CECRA program was a very flawed program it was better than no program at all.
Over the weekend I spoke with staff within Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s Office about how the program could be modified or replaced to help many more franchised businesses across Canada.
A new commercial rent program and expanded business supports should be announced shortly.
In the meantime, CFA will be sending another letter to Minister Freeland, Small Business Minister, Mary Ng and all provincial Premiers shortly demanding a new commercial rent relief program.
Health Canada approves first rapid antigen COVID-19 test
Health Canada regulators today approved another rapid COVID-19 test — the first antigen device to receive the necessary approvals for use in this country. U.S.-based Abbott Laboratories can now sell and distribute the Panbio COVID-19 Ag Rapid Test Device, which can produce results in less than 20 minutes. The test is advertised as a solution for mass testing in "decentralized settings." Health Canada has authorized it as a point of care test, meaning it can be used by trained professionals in pharmacies, walk-in clinics or doctors' offices. The Panbio is designed to give "preliminary test results," and, according to Abbott, a negative result "doesn't preclude SARS-CoV-2 infection."
Health Canada approved another Abbott rapid test last week, the ID NOW, which is the molecular test that has been used at U.S. President Donald Trump's White House to screen staff since April.
Applications Now Available for the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit
The programs, both part of the package replacing the CERB, may now be applied for. Applications for both programs are available through the Canada Revenue Agency. Applications for the Canada Recovery Benefit will be available starting October 12. CRA’s new CRSB, CRCB and CRB web pages provide extensive information about these benefits including eligibility requirements, how to apply and eligibility period dates.
Apply For CRSB
Apply For CRCB
Annamie Paul elected leader of the federal Green Party
Green Party members have picked Toronto lawyer Annamie Paul as their next leader, bringing to a close the year-long race to replace Elizabeth May. Paul was the perceived frontrunner heading into the final vote because she had raised the most money — $206,000 — and racked up a number of endorsements from former Green Party candidates.
Paul, who is the first Black permanent leader of a major federal political party in Canada, assumes the leadership of a party that has been closely tied to May for the better part of the last 14 years. Before handing the job to Paul, May delivered an impassioned plea to Canadians to do more to address the climate crisis, saying the ongoing fight against COVID-19 can't distract from pressing environmental concerns.
Paul claimed victory with 12,090 votes against her closest competitor, Dimitri Lascaris, another lawyer and a self-described radical and "eco-socialist," who had 10,081 votes after eight rounds of voting. A party official said 23,877 Green voters cast a ballot in this race — a 69 per cent turnout.
Paul, one of the more moderate candidates who contested this leadership election, ran on a robust environmental agenda that she says will help Canada fight climate change, which she has called "an existential threat to human life."
Minimum wage increases take effect in four provinces
As of October 1, four provinces minimum wage increases came into effect. These changes were announced months or even years ago as part of each government’s multiyear strategy.
Newfoundland and Labrador's minimum wage rises 50 cents to $12.15 an hour.
Ontario’s minimum wage increased 25 cents to $14.25 an hour.
Saskatchewan's minimum wage increased 13 cents to $11.45.
Manitoba’s minimum wage increased 25 cents to $11.90
Canadian Chamber Statement: Rent is due Thursday. What’s the plan?
This morning Canadian Chamber of Commerce President and CEO, Hon. Perrin Beatty, issued the following statement, regarding the urgent need for clarity on commercial rent support:
“When the September extension of the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program was announced, it was made clear the program was being wound down. Businesses needing rent support would need a new and improved program to help keep them afloat.
The problems associated with CECRA are well-documented: it was complex, restrictive, took a month-to-month approach, and depended on landlords, to name a few. Governments at all levels understand these issues and that’s why a new program is the preferred path. We agree.
The reality, however, is that businesses operate in real time and must be able to plan in order to be successful. Now, rent is due Thursday. That means businesses urgently need to know the plan.
A business-led recovery from the pandemic is our goal. But for many sectors, including restaurants, travel, and tourism, recovery from the pandemic remains a long-term challenge as restrictions on those businesses continue. As those businesses continue to be limited, the need for corresponding long-term programs to help cover some of the resulting losses is also ongoing.
Together, we need to ensure that businesses are able to survive the winter. Millions of Canadians’ livelihoods depend on it. On commercial rent, it’s time to see the long-term plan.”
Liberals, NDP reach deal on sick leave, avoiding federal election
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says the Liberal government is willing to boost the number of people who can access sick days, clearing the way for New Democrats to support the throne speech and bypass an immediate fall election.
Singh said the agreement involves a change to the wording in Bill C-2 — the proposed legislation that would transition people from the Canada emergency response benefit (CERB) to an employment insurance program with expanded eligibility, or to one of three new recovery benefits — to significantly expand the number of Canadians who would be able to access paid sick leave.
The NDP's support for the throne speech would give the minority Liberals enough votes to pass it in the House of Commons and avoid a snap election.
Liberal House Leader Pablo Rodriquez tweeted this Friday afternoon that a deal has been reached, but didn't offer any more details about the sick leave changes.
CERB comes to an end
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) began to wind down over the weekend after officially paying out more than $79 billion to almost nine million Canadians during the pandemic. Millions will be transferred to a beefed-up Employment Insurance (EI) program. Those who were collecting CERB through Service Canada will be automatically transferred, while those who received the benefit through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will have to apply for EI. Canadians who don't qualify for EI may qualify for three new temporary benefits recently announced by the federal government: the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB), and Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB).
Click here to learn more.
Office vacancies spike in Toronto, Vancouver
Vacancy rates in Canada’s tightest office markets are spiking, as employees continue to work from home and more businesses try to get rid of space amid the economic fallout from the novel coronavirus pandemic. Subleases in downtown Toronto more than doubled over the past three months, sending the office vacancy rate to 4.7 per cent in the third quarter, from 2.7 per cent in the second, according to new data from commercial real estate brokerage CBRE.
In downtown Vancouver, sublease space rose 30 per cent, pushing the office vacancy rate to 4.6 per cent, from 3.3 per cent. (Sublease space is included in the overall vacancy rate.)
Across the country, the vacancy rate reached 12 per cent in the third quarter compared with 11 per cent in the second. Calgary, which was still trying to recover from 2014′s oil crash when it was hit with another oil downturn and the pandemic, is in a dire position. Its downtown vacancy rate is nearly 30 per cent.
Montreal and Ottawa, two cities that had enjoyed a downtown real estate revival, also had more space become available throughout the pandemic. In Montreal, the office vacancy rate in the core rose to 8.7 per cent from 7.3 per cent. In Ottawa, the level climbed to 8.8 per cent from 7.7 per cent.
Before the pandemic slowed the global economy, businesses big and small competed fiercely for offices in downtown Toronto and Vancouver. That sent vacancy rates to record lows of around 2 per cent, pushed up rental rates and triggered a flurry of office skyscraper developments. In the early months of the health crisis, a wave of smaller tenants such as Ritual Technologies and CrowdRiff tried to get rid of their office space in downtown Toronto. Over the summer, bigger tenants such as PricewaterhouseCoopers, Cisco Systems Inc. and Oracle Inc. put some of their space up for sublease.
Although the new data showed that rent prices remained flat quarter to quarter, brokers say that rents are effectively lower now with some landlords offering more incentives, including a period of free rent and more cash for tenant improvements.
Deeper dive into the Throne Speech – follow up from yesterday’s COVID Updates
As was outlined in yesterday’s CFA Update the Liberal Government presented a renewed policy agenda to Canadians. Following the Speech, the Prime Minister made a rare national television address to speak directly to Canadians, telling them that the Government will continue to spend to backstop jobs and businesses through the pandemic.
Commitments in the speech
Extending CEWS through to next summer
Expanding the CEBA loan program
CERB ending and EI changes
Banning single use plastics in 2021
Exceeding Paris 2030 climate targets
Accelerating steps toward a national pharma-care program
Canada-wide childcare program
What was missing
A new or revised commercial rent relief program
The Official Opposition Conservatives immediately rejected the Throne Speech, saying that it was divisive, does not support middle class workers in the resource and small business sectors, and creates too much debt. The Bloc Quebecois will also vote against the Speech.
Holding only a minority position in Parliament, the Liberal Government will require the NDP’s support for the Throne Speech to remain in power. The NDP previously made its support conditional on the Throne Speech addressing income supports, housing, paid sick days, child care, and long-term care. All of those topics were spoken to in some way today, making NDP support more likely than not. However, the NDP did not announce its voting intentions after the Speech, setting up some nervous days ahead for the Government. The House of Commons rules allow for up to six days of debate before the required confidence vote on the Speech.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh told reporters after question period today, Singh called the boost to $500 a week from the proposed $400 a "major victory" for Canadians but added he still has concerns about how accessible the paid sick leave will be. He refused to explain in detail what he is asking for, saying that negotiations with the government are ongoing and those talks could affect the entire bill.
The House of Commons and Senate resume their normal sitting schedules as of today. However, an agreement reached by the Parties will allow for reduced quorum in the House, with remote participation and voting by MPs. House Committees are not scheduled to resume work until October 7 at the earliest. The Opposition will use its control of the House Committees to extract compromises in the Government’s policies and to reopen studies of the Government’s ethics.
Stakeholders should expect new Mandate Letters in the coming days, which will be key to understanding which Ministers are responsible for developing the new programs announced today.
For stakeholders whose issues were addressed in the Throne Speech, immediate engagement at the political and departmental levels is crucial to ensure that legislation and policies are developed quickly and with your views in mind. In addition to the many items mentioned in the Throne Speech, a variety of other initiatives like privacy and broadcast reform will remain on the legislative agenda.
Look-Ahead: Fall Fiscal Update
The Speech did not define the Government’s fiscal framework for a rapidly expanding policy agenda, after the previous ‘fiscal anchor’ of declining debt-to-GDP ratio was abandoned during the initial response to COVID-19. However, it is clear that the Liberals view significant Federal spending as an essential part of addressing the pandemic.
The Government is committed to updating the Federal COVID-19 Economic Response Plan this fall. While unlikely to be a full Budget, that update will set the Government’s new fiscal framework and allocate funding to many of the programs announced today. Given the Government’s rhetoric about the drawbacks of austerity, stakeholders should expect a high Federal deficit and spending as a percentage of the national GDP for the foreseeable future.
What This Means
The vision for government laid out by the Liberal Party’s Election 2019 policy platform remains intact, with the addition of fighting COVID-19 as the highest priority. With that crowded agenda in mind, the challenge for stakeholders will be ensuring that your issues are prioritized. It is very unlikely that a Minority Government could accomplish all of the goals set out in today’s speech.
Legislation Introduced to Extend Recovery Benefits
Today the federal government introduced Bill C-2, which includes the previously announced Canada Recovery Benefit, the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit and the Canada Recovery Caregiver Benefit. In concert with other previously announced EI changes, these programs are part of the proposed package designed to replace the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which is winding down.
Specifically, the legislation includes:
Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) of $500 per week for up to 26 weeks, to workers who are self-employed or are not eligible for EI and who still require income support. This Benefit would support Canadians who have not returned to work due to COVID-19 or whose income has dropped by at least 50%. These workers must be available and looking for work, and must accept work where it is reasonable to do so;
Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) of $500 per week for up to two weeks, for workers who are sick or must self-isolate for reasons related to COVID-19. This Benefit supports our commitment to ensure all Canadian workers have access to paid sick leave; and,
Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) of $500 per week for up to 26 weeks per household, for eligible Canadians unable to work because they must care for a child under the age of 12 or family member because schools, day-cares or care facilities are closed due to COVID-19 or because the child or family member is sick and/or required to quarantine.
More detailed eligibility criteria can be found online.
Home prices across Canada could fall almost 7% in 2021, Moody’s predicts
Moody's 2021 home price index forecasts 6.7% decline for single-family homes, 6.5% drop for condos. According to a forecast by Moody's Analytics, Inc., there is a "dangerous" oversupply of new, single-family homes in Calgary and Edmonton, on top of affordability issues in Vancouver and Toronto, the financial intelligence company said in a report this week.
Moody's report did not go into detail on how it created the forecasts, but said that its 2021 home price index also calls for a 6.7 per cent decrease for single-family homes and a 6.5 per cent decline in condo apartments.
The prediction from Moody's comes after the Canadian Real Estate Association reported record-shattering home sales in July and August amid low mortgage rates.
CMHC echoes Moody’s forecast
But Moody's forecast says the real estate sector will lose its momentum in the first half of 2021, and it's not alone. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. economist Bob Dugan also predicted earlier this week that housing prices will fall going forward.
"Moody's Analytics expects that the shortlived burst of growth in the third quarter will produce too few job gains to meaningfully reduce unemployment," the report said. For instance, Moody's said that housing starts — a closely watched statistic that has rebounded sharply this summer — partly reflects investments made before the pandemic.
While home prices would fall in every region under Moody's model, the impact would be uneven and would favour small, affordable markets. While lower immigration may hurt condos in urban markets, Moody's suggested that buyers seeking more space may look to Oshawa, Ont., as prices rise in other Toronto suburbs like Mississauga.
Speech from the Throne – What is said and what it means
Today, the federal government unveiled the broad details of its legislative agenda in the Speech from the Throne presented by Canada’s Governor General Julie Payette. These speeches outline high level proposals but are often very short on details. This was no exception. The details of the proposals will role out in the coming days and months.
Traditionally the speech includes plenty of pomp and ceremony and is attended by senators, members of parliament, Supreme Court justices and various dignitaries. This time numbers will be restricted, according to senate officials, and most parliamentarians are being asked to view the speech off-site.
This update provides information on the details of the Speech itself. PM Trudeau,
What was in the speech
The speech did touch on a few issues that are important for franchised businesses across Canada.
Through the Speech the government is promising to extend emergency support for Canadians hit by the COVID-19 crisis while building a more resilient economy that empowers women, fights climate change and tackles systemic racism. Specific highlight the Government want to showcase included:
accelerating steps toward a national pharmacare program;
extending CEWS through to next summer;
banning single use plastics in 2021
creating 1 million jobs;
exceeding Paris 2030 climate targets;
UNDRIP legislation before end of 2020;
Canada-wide child care program
The Throne Speech does not extend the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, which is set to expire later this month. Instead, it says the recently announced enhancements to Employment Insurance will be the focus of its income support plan and that the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy – which flows through employers to help cover staffing costs will be extended.
CERB ending and EI changes
The Liberals plan to wind down the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, which has paid out almost $78 billion in benefits to nearly 8.8 million people. Anyone covered by employment insurance will move to that program with access eased, they say. Those who don't qualify, such as self-employed and gig workers, will be pushed to a new 26-week "recovery" benefit. The throne speech says that new benefit, which Parliament still has to approve, will be a transitional program before moving every worker in the country onto EI.
What was missing from the speech was detail about the promises at a time when companies and workers are looking for specifics amid widespread uncertainty.
CEWS extended until summer 2021
“One way the Government will create these jobs is by extending the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy right through to next summer. The Government will work with businesses and labour to ensure the program meets the needs of the health and economic situation as it evolves.”
The wage subsidy extension is part of the government's vow to create a million jobs, which would restore employment to pre-pandemic levels. It is also promising to "scale up" its strategy to help young people gain skills and find jobs.
Expanding the CEBA Loan program
In the economic section of the speech the government said “This fall, in addition to extending the wage subsidy, the Government will take further steps to bridge vulnerable businesses to the other side of the pandemic by:
Expanding the Canada Emergency Business Account to help businesses with fixed costs;
Improving the Business Credit Availability Program;
And introducing further support for industries that have been the hardest hit, including travel and tourism, hospitality, and cultural industries like the performing arts.
Ban on single use plastics
“The Government will ban harmful single-use plastics next year and ensure more plastic is recycled. And the Government will also modernize the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.” This is the same timeline that the Trudeau government spoke about prior to the pandemic.
National Child Care
The speech does make a long-standing commitment that Liberal governments have made for years that government will make “a significant, long-term, sustained investment to create a Canada-wide early learning and child-care system.” This is a long-standing goal that has been made in many Throne Speeches over the years. Time will tell if this commitment is implemented.
What wasn’t in the speech
Commercial rent – there was no mention of a commercial rent program which is concerning. The language in the speech and from Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and Small Business Minister Mary Ng over the past few days implies that the government views the extension of the CEWS and the expansion of the CEBA loans to be replacements for the troubled Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program which ends at the end of September.
National Addresses from the PM and Opposition Parties
PM Trudeau will be addressing the nation tonight. CFA will provide more detailed reaction and a deep dive into what the speech means along with more reaction from the Opposition Parties and other stakeholders. The Opposition responses have been complicated by the fact that Conservative leader Erin O’Toole and Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-Francois Blanchet have had tested positive for Covid-19, and are isolating.
CFA will have more detailed analysis of the Opposition and other stakeholder reaction in tomorrow’s COVID-19 Update.
Fiscal Update coming
The speech included signs the government still plans to pursue some pre-existing commitments, including implementing national pharmacare, restricting handguns, improving rural broadband access, and investing in public transit and energy efficient retrofits.
The government committed to presenting a fall economic update, including fiscal projections and more details on promises to tax the extremely wealthy, and implementing fairer revenue sharing including from tech giants, while emphasizing that in the meantime the Liberals will use whatever "fiscal firepower" it takes to get through the immediate crisis.
"The economic impact of COVID-19 on Canadians has already been worse than the 2008 financial crisis. These consequences will not be short-lived," the speech read. "This is not the time for austerity."
NDP Reaction – NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said he hasn't decided yet whether or not he will support the government in the confidence vote that comes as a result of a Throne Speech. "We are making it very clear to the prime minister, if you want New Democrat support, if you want my support, then you have to stop the proposal to cut help to Canadians who cannot get back to work," referring to the Liberal intention to transition CERB recipients on to EI. The NDP is asking for an enhancement and extension of the CERB along with a federal program that gives employees 10 paid sick days per year.
Conservative Reaction – The Conservatives will not be supporting the government. Conservative Deputy Leader Candice Bergen said "We’ve looked at this speech from the throne and Conservatives cannot support it. It is another speech that is full of Liberal buzzwords and grand gestures, with very little, to no follow-up plan."
Confidence Votes to come
The Throne Speech triggers a string of automatic confidence votes. The government must win the votes otherwise it will trigger a fall election. Those votes will happen as early as next week
Recent Polling Data
Liberal support has stabilized into a relatively modest lead over the Conservatives in national polling. The Liberals would very likely win the most seats if an election were held today, but they are straddling the line on whether it would be a majority or minority government. The Conservatives have improved their position since the arrival of new leader Erin O'Toole, but still have some ground to make up to get back to where they were on election night in 2019. The New Democrats have been trending modestly upwards over the summer while the Bloc Québécois and Greens have held steady.
Poll averages based on September 23 poll
LIB: 35.8% (-0.6)
CON: 31.0% (+1.0)
NDP: 17.7% (+0.5)
BQ: 7.0% (-0.2)
GRN: 6.2% (-0.2)
OTH: 2.3% (-0.6)
Numbers in brackets denote changes in party support since Aug. 21, 2020.
Wednesday’s Throne speech: Here is what to expect
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government will, on Wednesday, unveil its plans for the country's pandemic response and recovery. The last time Mr Trudeau's government held a Throne Speech - where a government outlines its policies and programmes as a parliamentary session begins - was less than a year ago.
The speech will be read by Governor General Julie Payette in the Senate chamber. Traditionally the speech includes plenty of pomp and ceremony and is attended by senators, members of parliament, Supreme Court justices and various dignitaries. This time numbers will be restricted, according to senate officials, and most parliamentarians are being asked to view the speech off-site.
The Liberal government is expected to announce plans to tackle both the immediate crisis - a new surge in Covid-19 cases as the country enters the colder months - and a roadmap for a longer term recovery. More specifically, Reuters reports that the immediate to-do list will include investments in childcare, an expanded employment insurance programme, and funds for long-term care homes, which were particularly hard-hit early in the pandemic. The speech likely won’t establish budget targets, which will be left for Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland to detail later this year in a fiscal update.
Business groups, like the CFA, have been asking for wage subsidies to be extended and for long-term rent relief.
There is also election talk and a new opposition leader in Erin O’Toole. The Throne Speech has led to plenty of speculation about Canadians heading to the polls this fall. The speech does trigger a confidence vote in the House of Commons which will be a key test for the minority government.
Canada has already budgeted $380 billion (US$289 billion) in new debt this year as a response to the downturn, spending that will likely drive the federal government’s debt to about 50 per cent of economic output, from 31 per cent last year. That’s triggered a backlash from business groups and economists, who are calling on Trudeau to commit to specific new debt targets to impose discipline on the budgeting process.
The speech will begin at 2:10p. CFA will provide members an update on the content following the speech with reaction from the Opposition and other stakeholders.
Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Resumes Additional Activities This Month
The Government temporarily suspended some programs and services, including many collection and compliance activities. The CRA will be resuming these collection and enforcement activities. As a result, you may receive a call or letter from the CRA, with a specific call to action.
To protect against fraud, remember “the CRA will never use aggressive language, threaten you with jail time, or demand payment by gift cards.”
Learn how to recognize a scam and protect yourself from fraud.
Programs that are returning
For more information please see the CRA website
Liberals pledge $1 billion for cities to buy motels, hotels for rapid-housing program
The federal Liberals plan to spend $1 billion over the next six months so cities and housing providers can buy properties being sold because of the COVID-19 pandemic and use them to keep people from becoming homeless.
The details of the program unveiled Monday fill what was seen as a gap in the Liberals' decade-long national housing strategy.
The Liberals say the program will create 3,000 new affordable housing units across Canada, and want all the funds committed by the end of March 2021, when the federal fiscal year finishes.
Municipalities, provinces, territories, Indigenous governing bodies and agencies as well as non-profit organizations can tap into the money that for now appears to be a one-time program.
Social Development Minister Ahmed Hussen said the program will only take applications for projects to quickly build or buy units that would also serve vulnerable populations like women fleeing domestic violence, or people at immediate risk of becoming homeless.
Federal Cabinet retreat wraps up
Over the past two days, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his ministers gather for a two-day retreat, where they fleshed out plans for a Sept. 23 throne speech. Media reports suggest that the throne speech will , which will include three priorities:
- Health measures needed to avoid another lockdown
- Economic aid needed as the pandemic continues; and
- Long-term measures needed to rebuild the economy.
The PM will be speaking with NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh later this week about the NDPs priorities for the throne speech. No word on whether or not the PM will be speaking with new Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole or BQ Leader Yves-François Blanchet.
Canada Employment Insurance Commission sets 2021 Employment Insurance Premium Rate and Maximum Insurable Earnings
The Canada Employment Insurance Commission (CEIC) today set the 2021 Employment Insurance (EI) premium rate at $1.58 per $100 of insurable earnings for employees and $2.21 for employers who pay 1.4 times the employee rate, which is unchanged from the 2020 premium rate.
Each year on or before September 14, the CEIC is responsible for setting the annual premium rate based on the seven-year break-even rate forecasted by the EI Senior Actuary. The Senior Actuary forecasted the seven-year break-even premium rate to be $1.93 per $100 of insurable earnings, an increase of 35 cents. The forecasted increase is mainly attributable to a rise in unemployment resulting from the pandemic, that is the Government of Canada’s response through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (29 cents) and temporary measures to support transition back to the EI program (6 cents).
The CEIC also announced that the Maximum Insurable Earnings (MIE) for 2021 will increase to $56,300 from $54,200 in 2020. The MIE is indexed on an annual basis and represents the ceiling up to which EI premiums are collected and the maximum amount considered in applications for EI benefits. The maximum annual EI contribution for a worker will increase by $33.18 to $889.54 (up $46.46 for employers to $1,245.36 per employee).
Self-employed Canadians who have opted-in to the EI program, the annual earnings required in 2020 will increase to $7,555 for claims filed in 2021. The level of earnings required for self-employed Canadians to be eligible for EI special benefits is indexed annually to the MIE.
The premium rate in 2021 for residents of Quebec covered under the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP) will be $1.18 per $100 of insurable earnings, while their employers will pay $1.65 per $100 of insurable earnings. The maximum annual contribution for a worker in Quebec will increase by $13.94 to $664.34 (up $19.52 for employers to $930.08 per employee). EI premium rates are different for residents of Quebec, because the province of Quebec administers its own parental insurance plan, which is financed by Quebec workers and their employers.
Summary of the Actuarial Report on the Employment Insurance Premium Rate
Poll: 90 per cent of respondents supported keeping the border closed to Americans
by pollster Research Co. found that out of 1,000 Canadians surveyed online at the end of August, a whopping 90 per cent agreed with the current Canada-U.S. border closure to non-essential traffic.
The Canada-U.S. border closure to non-essential traffic expires on Sept. 21. While American travellers — with the exception of some immediate family members
— are barred from entering Canada, the U.S. still allows Canadians to fly to the country.
Both Ontario mayors predict the Canadian government will announce this week that it will extend the border closure for at least another 30 days.
U.S. decision to drop aluminum duties
A statement from the U.S. Trade Representative's (USTR) said that after consultations with the Canadian government, the U.S. has determined that trade is expected to "normalize" in the last four months of the year, declining after "surges" experienced earlier in the year. "Accordingly, the United States will modify the terms of the 10 per cent tariff imposed in August on imports of Canadian non-alloyed unwrought aluminum," the statement reads.
The USTR's statement lays out shipment volumes for each of those four months, which will be monitored to ensure they aren't exceeded. If they do, the U.S. expects that imports would decline by a corresponding amount the following month.
The tariffs could be re-imposed if shipment volumes exceed 105 per cent of the stated volumes, the USTR said. "The United States will consult with the Canadian government at the end of the year to review the state of the aluminum trade in light of trade patterns during the four-month period and expected market conditions in 2021," the statement reads.
The Canadian government has welcomed the move. The government had said during the summer that unless the U.S. dropped its latest round of aluminum tariffs, Canada would impose $3.6 billion in counter-measures.
US – Return of Joint Employer in New York
Last week, the Southern District of New York invalidated the US Department of Labor’s (DOL) new joint employer rule. As you may recall, this rule was a significant milestone in IFA’s work to advance a thoughtful, narrow, and clear joint employer standard that supports franchise business owners, brands, and workers.
Franchisors and franchisees alike may have questions on how this decision can affect their operations. Pending an appeal of the decision, franchises could potentially again be bound by the harmful expanded joint employer standard that existed prior to the DOL’s new rule and four-factor test. IFA recommends that businesses consider contacting their legal counsel for any specific questions.
The CFA will keep members posted on the IFA’s next steps.
CFA Win: CECRA Extended for September!
Today the federal government announced that Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses will be extended by one month to help eligible small businesses pay rent for September. All provinces and territories continue to participate in this initiative and collaborate with the federal government to provide rent supports to those small businesses most in need. Current CECRA application deadlines will also be extended to accommodate this extension.
Media Release on the CECRA Extension to September
The CECRA program has provided rent relief to 106,000 small business tenants for a total of over $1.32 billion in rent support. The programs budget which was announced in the federal ‘Fiscal Snapshot’ is $2.97 billion.
July and August Extensions
Anyone who is eligible for CECRA for small businesses is also eligible for the July and August extensions. No additional documentation is required. You must opt in by September 14, 2020. If you or your tenant has already been approved for rental assistance
1. Login to the CECRA Portal using your existing username and password.
2. Select “Apply for Extension.”
3. Select the tenants you wish to include in the request from the prepopulated list of tenants in your initial application. (You can’t add tenants to the list and can only apply for the July extension once.)
4. Submit your request.
5. Notify your tenants that you have requested the July Extensions.
Details on the September extension will be available on the CMHC website on Wednesday September 9.
CFA still pushing for more changes to the CECRA program
CFA still pushing for changes to the program to help small businesses across the country
Include of Pre-Opening/Dark Sites in the program
CFA Letter to Minister Freeland
- Reduce the 70% threshold so more businesses will qualify
- Improve the transparency in the application and approval process
– submitted August 26
CFA Op-Ed: Why the feds need to extend the commercial rent program
(Published in multiple markets today, all the Sun papers nationally on September 3, 2020)
CFA announces the passing of Stephane Teasdale, a leader in Canadian franchise law
With great sadness the CFA wants to pass on to the community that Stéphane Teasdale, a Partner in the Toronto office of Cassels, and a long time active CFA member, passed away this past weekend at the age of 57, after a 2 year battle with colon cancer.
He was born and raised in Montreal and practiced Quebec franchise law for over 30 years to became one of the leaders in franchise law in Canada. Family circumstances brought him to Cassels Toronto office about 4 years ago until illness required that he go on a leave. He always talked about returning to the practice of law and the clients he loved, but it was not meant to be.
He leaves his wife Nicole Gervais, and their daughter Elizabeth. He will be missed by his colleagues at Cassels, and many in the franchise community here in Canada and around the world.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole announces his Shadow Cabinet
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole has released the names of his Shadow Cabinet. Opposition Critics usually take the lead on their files, lead questions in the House or at committee. They also are the first to provide their party’s response to the media on topics related to their assignment.
It’s notable that Pierre Poilievre remains as the critic for Finance and O’Toole has named himself the critic for Middle Class Prosperity. Andrew Scheer remains active as critic for Infrastructure and veteran Michael Chong takes on Foreign Affairs.
Full List of the Conservative Shadow Cabinet
- The critics most relevant to the CFA are
James Cumming (Edmonton Centre), Critic for Innovation, Science and Industry
- Chris D’Entremont (West Nova), Critic for Intergovernmental Affairs & Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
- Marilyn Gladu (Sarnia-Lambton), Critic for the President of the Queen's Privy Council & Shadow Minister for Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario
- Pat Kelly (Calgary Rocky Ridge), Critic for Small Business & Western Economic Development
- Mark Strahl (Chilliwack — Hope), Critic for Labour
CFA asks federal government to extend and amend CECRA to help small businesses survive
The CFA has written to the new Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland to ask that the commercial rent relief program be extended and changed. In our letter we ask the federal government to
- Extend the program past August
- Reduce the 70% threshold so more businesses will qualify
- Improve the transparency in the application and approval process
- Include of Pre-Opening/Dark Sites in the program
The complete letter is available here
New government-commissioned report recommends cultural shift at WCB to better support workers
Labour Minister Harry Bains released a report Wednesday by retired labour lawyer Janet Patterson, who was commissioned by the government to review the workers' compensation system and make recommendations for improvements.
Patterson's 517-page review calls for an organizational shift to a worker-centric delivery system that treats all injured workers with dignity.
Her report, New Directions: Report of the Workers' Compensation Board Review, 2019, calls on the government to amend the Workers Compensation Act to make a cultural shift back to supporting all injured workers as an organizational goal.
Patterson heard from more than 2,000 people and organizations.
The CFA did work with other stakeholders to provide a comprehensive response to the consultation. We also joined over 50 other business groups when we pulled out of the consultation because the process became overly biased. The CFA will work with our partners in BC to determine next steps.
Most Canadians pleased with gov't handling of pandemic: poll
Unlike most Americans, the majority of Canadians believe their government has done a good job in responding to the coronavirus pandemic and they’re more united now than they were before the outbreak. That’s according to a new Pew Research Center
public opinion survey, which asked 14,276 adults in 14 countries to rate their nation’s response to the health emergency and the unity of its citizens.
Among the 1,037 Canadians surveyed from June 10 to Aug. 3, 88 per cent said their country had done a “good” job of handling the pandemic while only 11 per cent viewed the government as having done a “bad” job. That’s in line with the majority of individuals in other nations who also approved of their country’s ability to handle the outbreak. Overall, a median of 73 per cent of respondents agreed that their respective governments had been successful in managing the crisis while only 27 per cent disagreed.
The other countries included in the survey were the United States, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, and South Korea.
The United States and the United Kingdom were the only two countries on the list where the majority of citizens said their governments had done badly in their response, with 52 per cent expressing dissatisfaction in the U.S. and 54 per cent in the U.K.
Denmark scored highest in the ranking with 95 per cent of its citizens pleased with their government’s response, followed by Australia (94 per cent), and Canada (88 per cent).
Erin O'Toole wins Conservative leadership race
By Scott Munnoch, Temple Scott Associates
After hours of delays due to a voting count malfunction, early this morning the Official Opposition Conservatives elected Ontario MP and former Cabinet Minister Erin O’Toole as their new Leader. O’Toole won the leadership on the third ballot, beating his former Cabinet colleague Peter MacKay on the last ballot. Toronto lawyer Leslyn Lewis finished in third place, followed by Ontario MP Derek Sloan who was a distant fourth.
O’Toole’s election produces two firsts for the Conservative Party: its first Leader from outside Western Canada and its first Leader from the Progressive Conservative wing of the Party. That said, O’Toole’s campaign made a direct appeal to the Reform/Canadian Alliance wing of the Party.
O’Toole must now unite the Party under his leadership following a quite bruising campaign between himself and MacKay. That uniting will have to come quickly as the Conservatives need to get ready for an election widely expected within the next year. That will require staffing his Leader’s Office, building a campaign team, recruiting candidates and developing a platform.
A New Look Conservative Party?
It is no secret that in the last two elections the Conservatives have struggled to win seats in urban Ontario, much of Quebec, Atlantic Canada and the Vancouver area. To win an election – and most certainly for a majority – the Conservatives have to make inroads in these regions, and O’Toole frequently highlighted the fact he is an MP from the Greater Toronto Area during the campaign, a region that has not been kind to the Conservatives in the last two elections.
O’Toole positioned himself as a “true blue conservative” during the leadership race, appealing to the core base of Conservative Party support. However, to win a general election, O’Toole will need to expand his appeal to people who voted for other parties in the past two elections.
To that end, the O’Toole platform, which was a comprehensive document, is very much a mainstream conservative pitch: reducing and simplifying taxes, cutting red tape, balancing the budget, negotiating trade agreements, eliminating interprovincial trade barriers, and so on. That platform also had detailed sections on the environment, climate change, law and order, innovation, agriculture, foreign policy, and defence, to name just a few. The “true blue” pledge that seemed to get the most attention was to cut funding to the CBC and end the Government’s $600 million media support fund.
O’Toole is fortunate to have crafted such a detailed platform as defining himself on policy matters will be critical given the Liberal Government’s plan for a Throne Speech on September 23 outlining a vision for a post-pandemic Canada.
O’Toole’s immediate priority is to reunite the Party and the caucus following a divisive race, particularly with runner-up Peter MacKay and his supporters. For example, MacKay had the highest number of supporters from the Conservative caucus, and Lewis also had a number of MPs backing her. The need to unite caucus will influence decisions on Critics and other Caucus roles, and O’Toole will want to have these sorted out before the House returns on September 23.
Given the minority government situation and the likelihood of an election in the next twelve months, O’Toole will have to immediately undertake election readiness preparations, including the selection of a campaign manager, candidate recruitment and platform development.
New Staff in the Office of the Leader of the Opposition
- Tausha Michaud - Chief of Staff to the Leader of the Official Opposition. Michaud is a political veteran with over 10 years of experience working in municipal, provincial, and federal government. She formerly served as Senior Advisor to Mr. O'Toole when he was Canada's Minister of Veteran Affairs.
- Fred DeLorey - National Campaign Manager. DeLorey most recently served as National Campaign Manager for the Erin O'Toole Leadership Campaign.
- Alupa Clarke - Senior Advisor to the Leader. Clarke is a former Conservative MP for Beauport-Limoilou (2015-2019) and was Erin O’Toole’s leadership Campaign Chair in Québec.
- Janet Fryday Dorey - Executive Director, Conservative Party of Canada. Fryday Dorey is the former president of the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative Party and is the current Atlantic Organizer for the Conservative Party of Canada.
Who is Erin O’Toole?
O’Toole has an impressive resume, having enrolled in the Royal Canadian Air Force when he was 18 and eventually serving out of Halifax, participating in search and rescue missions as a tactical navigator. O’Toole served in the Canadian Forces for 12 years.
Upon retiring from the military, O’Toole spent the next decade working in the private sector as a corporate lawyer. He is also a founding member of the Board of Directors for the True Patriot Love Foundation, a charity that serves veterans and military families.
O’Toole comes from a political family as his father John was an MPP in the Ontario Legislature from 1995 until 2014. Erin entered the political world in 2012, winning a by-election in the Toronto-area riding of Durham. Shortly thereafter, he was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade and in January 2015 became Minister of Veterans Affairs.
Though the Conservatives lost the 2015 and 2019 elections, O’Toole was re-elected easily both times. He ran for the leadership of the Conservative Party in 2015 following the resignation of Stephen Harper, finishing in third place. Prior to announcing his most recently leadership run, O’Toole was serving as Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs.
O’Toole is married and has two children.
Changes coming to CEBA program?
On August 17, EEDC posted the following tweet which many are interpreting as a precurser to changes in the CEBA loan program.
“In response to important applicant feedback, a new #CEBA call centre is in the works. Applicants will be able to get status updates and support with document requirements. Stay tuned for more details in the coming days.”
Former Foodora workers reach $3.46M settlement with app's parent company
Foodora Inc.'s parent company has reached a $3.46-million settlement with its former Canadian couriers after shutting down its delivery service in the country. Under the settlement, Berlin-based Delivery Hero SE and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers will end recent disputes stemming from couriers winning the right to unionize in February and Foodora filing for bankruptcy in April and exiting the market in May.
The union alleged in an unfair labour practices complaint filed in April that Foodora pulled out of Canada because couriers and drivers in Toronto and Mississauga, Ont., were granted the right to unionize and be seen as dependent contractors by the Ontario Labour Relations Board.
Metropolitan Housing Starts: Long-term expectations remain negative
The monthly Metropolitan housing starts publication provides the recent trends in housing starts for 29 metropolitan areas and expectations for starts over both the short and long term. In the August 2020 report it found the following:
Metropolitan Housing Starts, August 2020
- There are six census metropolitan areas (CMAs) with positive short- and long-term expectations. That's two more than last month (Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Oshawa, Toronto, Regina, Edmonton)
- Negative expectations still prevail for the long term.
- The CMAs with the biggest year-over-year percentage decreases in housing starts in July were Abbotsford–Mission, Windsor, Kitchener–Waterloo, Edmonton, and Greater Sudbury.
- Saskatoon had the biggest year-over-year percentage increase in housing starts last month.
Conference Board: Working Through COVID-19 – Workforce Impacts
The Conference Board of Canada asked organizations across the country about how COVID-19 is affecting their turnover, attraction, and retention rates—and the strategies they’ve put in place to manage.
Read the findings
Peaches recalled in Canada after salmonella outbreak in U.S.
Canadians are being warned to avoid some fresh peaches from a California company after a salmonella outbreak in the United States. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued the Class 1 recall on Saturday.
Prima Wawona, located in Fresno, Calif., has recalled fresh peaches with various brand names due to possible salmonella contamination. The recall report lists 11 different products
with various labels, including Prima Sweet Value Wawona, Sweet 2 Eat, Sweet O, Wegmans and Extrafresh. The recall affects these specific products, mostly sold from June 1-Aug. 22.
As of Sunday, there were 68 reported cases in nine states, with 14 hospitalizations and zero deaths.
Federal government to make EI changes, extend CERB and introduce three new benefit programs
Today the federal government announced its intention to make changes to simplify EI applications, extend the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) an additional four weeks, and introduce three new benefit programs to take the place of the CERB once it expires: the Canada Recovery Benefit, the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit. The new benefit programs require legislative approval.
CERB Extension: will be extended another four weeks to a maximum of 28 weeks. CERB, which pays people $2,000 a month, will now be in place until September 27. The CERB extension is expected to cost a further $8 billion, and $7 billion more to the EI system, and can be done through powers that Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough already has to create temporary EI measures.
EI Changes: Anyone eligible for EI will get the same minimum for at least 26 weeks and will need to have worked 120 hours to qualify, well below current EI requirements, since many Canadians have been unable to work to the pandemic.
New Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB): will provide $400 per week for up to 26 weeks, to workers who are self-employed or are not eligible for EI and who still require income support and who are available and looking for work.
New Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB): will provide $500 per week for up to two weeks, for workers who are sick or must self-isolate for reasons related to COVID-19.
New Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB): will provide $500 per week for up to 26 weeks per household, for eligible Canadians unable to work because they must care for:
- a child under age 12 due to the closures of schools or daycares because of COVID-19.
- a family member with a disability or a dependent because their day program or care facility is closed due to COVID-19.
- a child, a family member with a disability, or a dependent who is not attending school, daycare, or other care facilities under the advice of a medical professional due to being at high-risk if they contract COVID-19.
The three new benefits are expected to cost $22 billion and will be brought in through legislation once the House of Commons returns after being prorogued this week. Government officials estimate about one million people will need the new workers' benefit that replaces the CERB, and three million will go onto the simplified EI program.
CRA online services working again after attacks shut them down for days
The Canada Revenue Agency says its online services are now back up and running after being offline for days due to a series of cyberattacks. Over the weekend the Canada Revenue Agency temporarily shut down its online services and applications after hackers used thousands of stolen usernames and passwords to fraudulently access government services in three separate but serious breaches, compromising the personal information of thousands.
The Canada Revenue Agency says its online services are now back up and running after being offline for days due to a series of cyberattacks.
Canada has a new Finance Minister: Chrystia Freeland replaces Bill Morneau
Chrystia Freeland was sworn in as Canada's new finance minister today, becoming the first woman to take on the powerful role. Up until today, Freeland, the former foreign affairs minister, was serving as deputy prime minister and intergovernmental affairs minister. She will retain her role as deputy prime minister but hands over her responsibilities for relations with the provinces to Dominic LeBlanc.
Minister Dominic LeBlanc – a close friend and ally of Trudeau – was appointed as Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, re-assuming that role from Minister Freeland now that he is back to full health after cancer treatment.
PM Trudeau prorogues Parliament until Sept. 23
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has prorogued Parliament until Sept. 23, putting a more than month-long pause on parliamentary business as his government focuses on plotting its roadmap out of the ongoing pandemic. Trudeau said the late-September throne speech will mark the beginning of a new legislative session that will have a renewed focus on the next phase of Canada’s response to COVID-19.
This is the first time Trudeau has taken that massive procedural step of prorogation, after vowing when first elected to not use “prorogation to avoid difficult political circumstances,” as the Liberals accused former prime minister Stephen Harper of doing. News of Trudeau’s prorogation comes almost seven years to the day of Harper’s 2013 prorogation amid the Senate expense scandal.
A prorogation effectively ends the current Parliamentary session, killing all legislative business that has not passed. In this case means halting all ongoing WE Charity committee probes and wiping away the remaining pre-pandemic pieces of legislation.
Prorogation and a throne speech provides the opposition with a straightforward opportunity for a confidence vote which could force an election if the minority Liberals do not get the support of at least one of the opposition parties.
Throne Speech in September
The September Throne Speech will set a new policy agenda for the Government that accounts for both the immediate consequences of the pandemic and the potential for a changed economy thereafter. The Prime Minister said that agenda will focus on: Building healthy and inclusive communities, combating climate change, and supporting immigration.
Minister Freeland will be the driving force behind executing that policy vision. Ministers McKenna (Infrastructure and Communities), Wilkinson (Environment and Climate Change), and Guilbeault (Heritage) were already developing policies for a “green recovery”, which both the Prime Minister and Minister Freeland emphasized will be a high priority for the new Parliamentary session.
A fall election?
While the Prime Minister claimed today that he does not want a Fall election, but the Throne Speech will be crafted as a de facto election platform – a set of policies that the Liberals are comfortable offering to voters if all of the opposition parties refuse to support the Speech. In any case, we expect all major government communications in the coming months to take on a pre-election tone.
We expect the Government will issue new Ministerial mandate letters after the Throne Speech – as signaled by the Prime Minister’s statement today that governing priorities must change to respond to the current circumstances.
The Government has committed to giving an update on Federal finances this Fall, although it is unclear if that will take the form of a full budget or an economic statement. The Prime Minister pledged today that taxes will not be increased during the economic recovery.
The Official Opposition Conservatives will receive a boost in public profile when the new party leader is announced on Sunday night. The winner – with the odds favouring Peter MacKay or Erin O’Toole – will move quickly to restructure the party’s political leadership, hire political staff, begin election preparedness work, and consider a critic shuffle.
The House of Commons Finance Committee will begin pre-budget hearings for Budget 2021 shortly after Parliament resumes sitting. Especially in light of the new Throne Speech, that budget cycle is the best opportunity for stakeholders to get new spending initiatives off the ground – particularly if they align with the Government’s vision for economic recovery.
Canada Revenue Agency Opens Applications for Enhanced Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy
Yesterday, the CRA announced that applications for period five of the CEWS were now available. Period five is the first of the periods that are a part of the new enhanced CEWS. Eligible employers can apply through their My Business Account or the CRA’s web form application.
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Question and Answer Teleconference, With the CRA
The Government of Canada recently implemented changes to adapt the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to protect jobs and promote growth. The CRA will shortly publish a number of online resources, including updated frequently asked questions, to help eligible employers understand how to apply and take advantage of this fiscal measure. To complement these resources, the CRA will host a series of interactive question and answer teleconference sessions for eligible employers and stakeholder organizations. You are invited to attend one.
Register for Aug. 21 at 1:00 p.m. ET
Register for Aug. 27 at 2:00 p.m. ET
CRA shuts down online services after thousands of accounts breached in cyberattacks
The Canada Revenue Agency has temporarily shut down its online services after the agency confirmed it was recently hit by two cyberattacks that compromised thousands of accounts linked to its services. While the breaches have been contained, services connected to My Account, My Business Account and Represent a Client on the CRA website have been disabled as an additional safety measure.
The shutdown means that anyone attempting to apply for emergency COVID-19 benefits, such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit or the Canada Emergency Student Benefit, will be unable to do so until further notice.
While it was initially reported that 5,500 CRA account users had their personal information accessed, officials confirmed on Monday that a total of 11,200 accounts for Government of Canada services were compromised in the attacks. Officials said that one-third of accounts were used to actually log into government services, while the others are being monitored for suspicious behaviour.
Government officials said they first became aware of security issues on Aug. 7, contacted the RCMP on Aug. 11, and yet Canadians were not informed until this weekend, after further attacks were executed.
Impacted individuals have had their accounts suspended, and the government is working on notifying all affected users and tallying the damage done by these cyberattacks. Government officials are encouraging all who suspect they have had their accounts compromised to report it, and check the status of other login accounts, such as online banking and to in the future always use unique logins and passwords, especially with services that hold personal information
Average Canadian house price rose 14% in year up to July, CREA says
The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), said Monday that 62,355 Canadian resale homes were sold via the Multiple Listings Service, shattering the previous record for most sales in a month. The July figure was 26 per cent higher than June's figure.
The sales boom is being led by Canada's biggest cities, as home sales rose by 49.5 per cent in the Greater Toronto Area, 43.9 per cent in Greater Vancouver and by 39.1 per cent in Montreal.
CREA says the average price can be misleading because it is easily influenced by sales of expensive properties in big markets like Toronto and Vancouver. The Home Price Index, which it says is a better gauge of the market because it strips out that volatility and adjusts for both the volume and type of housing being sold in every market. The HPI increased at a 7.4 per cent annual rate in July. That's the fastest pace of gain since 2017. All 20 of the biggest housing markets in Canada had a higher HPI number in July than they did in June.
The Toronto area, Guelph, Ottawa and Montreal saw the biggest price spikes, with prices climbing faster in most markets east of Saskatchewan. Prices rose more modestly in British Columbia and Alberta.
Canada-U.S. border will remain closed until Sept. 21
The federal government will extend the Canada-U.S. land border closure for another 30 days until Sept. 21, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said Friday. The closure to non-essential travel has been in place for months, but with caseloads still high in many U.S. states, the two governments have mutually agreed to continue restricting movement across the world's longest international border.
The federal government has also moved to curb the movement of Americans through Canada who are ostensibly on their way to Alaska. U.S. travellers destined for the northern state have been limited to five crossings in Western Canada and they must commit to taking a direct route.
Canada's Competition Bureau investigates Amazon.ca
Canada's Competition Bureau has launched an investigation into online selling powerhouse Amazon.ca to examine whether the website's U.S. owners are "impacting competition to the detriment of consumers and companies that do business in Canada." The competition watchdog said in a release Friday that while its probe is ongoing and stressed that "there is no conclusion of wrongdoing at this time," the bureau is looking into whether or not the site may be engaging in anti-competitive practices, including:
- Any past or existing Amazon policies that may impact third-party sellers' willingness to offer their products for sale at a lower price on other retail channels, such as their own websites or other online marketplaces;
- The ability of third-party sellers to succeed on Amazon's marketplace without using its "Fulfilment By Amazon" service or advertising on Amazon.ca.
- Any efforts or strategies by Amazon that may influence consumers to purchase products it offers for sale over those offered by competing sellers.
In a statement to CBC News, a spokesperson for Amazon said "we are co-operating with the Competition Bureau's review and continue to work hard to support small and medium sized businesses who sell in our Canadian store — and help them grow."
The bureau is asking any person or business that has conducted sales via Amazon.ca to contact them if they have any insights into the issues it is investigating. While personal information must be disclosed, the bureau is promising confidentiality.
Updated CEWS Calculator released by the CRA
Click here to access the CEWS Calculator
Government of Canada Sets National Temporary Minimum Unemployment Rate For EI Benefits Calculations
As the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is set to wind down at the end of August, the federal government has temporarily adjusted the Employment Insurance (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 of benefits and set the number of best weeks of earnings used in the calculation of the weekly benefit rate at 14.
For more Information
Transport Canada says if you can't wear a mask for medical reasons, prove it
Non-medical masks have been required for air travellers in Canada since mid-April to prevent the spread of COVID-19. A ministerial order issued Friday
closes a loophole that may have made it easier for some flyers to avoid face coverings.
There are medical reasons that could make wearing a mask difficult, from certain lung conditions to anxiety disorders. Passengers who are unable to wear a face mask due to a medical condition must now present an official doctor's note stating that they are exempt from the rule, or they will be denied boarding.
Travellers who want to fly without a mask, they must provide a medical note that:
- has been issued by a medical professional.
- is on official letterhead.
- is dated.
- clearly states the passenger's name and that they have a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask.
Since April 20, it's been mandatory for air travellers to cover their mouth and nose during airport screenings while boarding and at all times during a flight, unless while eating, drinking or taking oral medication. Infants are not required to wear masks.
Former Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney advising PM on COVID-19 economic response
Mark Carney — the former governor of the Bank of Canada and the Bank of England — has been acting as an informal adviser to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the federal government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. News of the informal role was first reported by Bloomberg on Monday.
Carney has long been rumoured to have political aspirations since returning to Canada after his term with the Bank of England expired earlier this year. Many in Liberal circles see Carney as a top candidate for finance minister should he seek office or as a possible leadership candidate to eventually succeed Trudeau. With a sudden vacancy
in the Toronto-area riding of York Centre there have been rumours that Carney could be a candidate in an upcoming byelection, though senior Liberal sources have repeatedly thrown cold water on that idea.
Carney is well-suited to advise the prime minister during difficult economic times. He led the Bank of Canada during the global financial crisis more than a decade ago and held the top job at the Bank of England during the Brexit uncertainty.
Carney, a former investment banker currently serving as the United Nations' special envoy on climate action and climate finance, has likened the climate crisis to a financial crisis — and has urged financial sector to help tackle the issue.
Higgs proposes deal to avoid general election until 2022 or end of COVID-19 pandemic
Premier Blaine Higgs has made a dramatic offer to the three opposition parties, committing to putting off a snap election and listening to their policy ideas if they agree to keep his minority government in power for another two years. Higgs released a letter Monday to the other party leaders, asking that all four of them agree to avoid forcing an early election until the scheduled date in October 2022 or until the COVID-19 pandemic is over. Higgs has been hinting for weeks that he would trigger a campaign, justifying the threat by saying the province needs stability to manage the pandemic and continue restarting the economy.
Liberal Leader Kevin Vickers welcomed the premier's offer.
Under the proposed deal, three byelections expected this fall would go ahead as planned.
Canada added 419,000 jobs in July – still down 1.3M from pre-COVID-19 level
Canada's economy added 419,000 jobs in July and the jobless rate dropped to 10.9 per cent. Statistics Canada reported Friday that July's job gain, when added to the 953,000 in June and the 290,000 from May, still leaves Canada's economy with 1.3 million fewer jobs than it had in February, before widespread lockdowns to limit the spread of COVID-19 began. The data agency said 345,000 of the new jobs added in July were part-time. Only 73,000 were new full-time positions. Economists polled by Bloomberg had been expecting a gain of about 421,000 jobs.
Ontario: Employment rose by 151,000 (+2.2%) in July, building on an increase of 378,000 in June and bringing employment to 91.7% of its pre-pandemic February level. The proportion of people who were employed but worked less than half of their usual hours for reasons likely related to COVID-19 was 10.9% in July, down from 14.1% in June. The unemployment rate in Ontario fell by 0.9 percentage points to 11.3% in July.
Quebec: Employment increased by 98,000 (+2.4%) in July, adding to gains in the previous two months and bringing employment to 94.4% of its pre-COVID level. The increase in employment in July was all in part-time work. The unemployment rate decreased 1.2 percentage to 9.5%, the third consecutive monthly decrease.
British Columbia: The number of employed British Columbians increased by 70,000 (+3.0%) in July, reaching 93.5% of the February employment level. The proportion of people who were employed but worked less than half of their usual hours was 12.0% in July, down from 14.6% in June. The unemployment rate fell by 1.9 percentage points to 11.1%.
Alberta: Employment increased by 67,000 (+3.2%) in July, including gains in both full-time and part-time work. The unemployment rate for the province fell by 2.7 percentage points in July to 12.8%, the first decline since the COVID-19 economic shutdown.
Saskatchewan: Employment rose by 13,000 (+2.5%) while the unemployment rate fell 2.8 percentage points to 8.8%.
Manitoba: Employment increased (+12,000) for the third consecutive month and the unemployment rate declined by 1.9 percentage points to 8.2%.
Newfoundland and Labrador: Employment increased by 4,300 (+2.1%) in July and the unemployment rate dropped 0.9 percentage points to 15.6%.
Nova Scotia: Employment rose by 3,400 (+0.8%) in July, reaching 92.7% of its February level. The unemployment rate in the province declined by 2.2 percentage points to 10.8%.
Prince Edward Island: Employment rose by 1,100 in July (+1.5%), adding to the gains in the previous two months. The unemployment rate declined by 3.5 percentage points to 11.7%.
New Brunswick: Employment was little changed in July after recording employment gains of 39,000 from April to June. Employment in the province—which was among the first to begin easing COVID-19 restrictions—was at 96.6% of its pre-COVID February level, the most complete employment recovery of all provinces to date.
Click here to access the complete Labour Force Survey, July 2020
CECRA Extension information released by CMHC
CMHC and the federal government have extended the CECRA for small businesses until the end of August.
What you need to know:
- Only those tenants approved in the April, May, June and July application are eligible for the August extension.
- If a business had an average revenue decline of 70% or more in April, May, and June, it is deemed eligible for the additional month of rent relief. However, not all tenants in the original application need to be included for the August extension.
Get the latest details on the program
- If you have been approved for rental assistance and are applying for the July and/or August extension, the deadline to submit your application is September 14, 2020.
- If you have not yet submitted your application or are still creating it, the deadline to submit new applications that include the July and/or August extension is August 31, 2020.
- CMHC will open the applications for the extension shortly.
Health Canada recalls more than 50 hand sanitizers in evolving list
Health Canada is recalling more than 50 hand sanitizers that contain ingredients "not acceptable for use" that may pose health risks. The organization says hand sanitizers with "unacceptable types" of ethanol or denaturants have not been approved for use in sanitizers in Canada, and their safety and efficacy have not been established. Denaturants are ingredients added to ethanol to make it unfit for human consumption to avoid unintentional ingestion of hand sanitizers particularly by children.
Health Canada said
possible reactions to the ingredients include skin irritation, eye irritation, upper respiratory system irritation and headaches. Health Canada has an evolving list
on its website of 51 hand sanitizers that are currently being recalled and says Canadians should consult the list regularly. The organization says to stop using products listed, and to consult a health-care professional "if you have used these products and have health concerns."
Record number of companies have sought creditor protection
22 major Canadian companies sought creditor protection in May and June, almost 4 times the typical pace. A record 10 companies began CCAA proceedings in May — followed by a new record of 12 companies in June. Both figures best the previous high of nine seen in December 2011 and the eight hit in in the depths of the financial crisis in October 2009. The number fell back to 4 in July but that's still above the 10 year average of about three per month, according to a database maintained by the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada.
Many of the recent restructurings are numbered companies, but a some high-profile insolvencies and bankruptcies in Canada have made headlines, including clothiers Reitmans
, and Frank & Oak
, shoe seller Aldo
, hot drink seller DavidsTea
, entertainment company Cirque Du Soleil
, travel agency FlightHub
, various oil companies
and even a Christian charity
. That list that doesn't even include major U.S. names like Chesapeake Energy
, J Crew
, Neiman Marcus
, Brooks Brothers
, Pier 1
Porter Airlines pushes back restart date amid COVID-19 pandemic
Porter Airlines says it is pushing back its restart date amid ongoing travel restrictions. The airline had hoped to resume flights this summer but said Tuesday that won’t be possible, and it will instead aim to restart service on Oct. 7. The company is waiving change and cancellation fees on all flights and vacation packages booked between now and Oct. 7.
Commercial rent relief program extended into August
The federal government has extended Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA), its rent subsidy program to support small businesses, by another month.
Under the original rent program known as CECRA, small businesses that have lost 70 per cent or more of their revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic only have to pay 25 per cent of their rent. The provinces, territories and federal government combine to cover 50 per cent, while landlords cover 25 per cent.
Salmonella outbreak in Canada linked to American red onions
Health officials have tracked a salmonella outbreak in Canada reported earlier this week to red onions imported from the United States. According to a release from the Public Health Agency of Canada, there have been 55 additional illnesses in Canada since the outbreak was first announced for a total of 114 cases of salmonella across five provinces.
People in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario are being asked to not eat any red onions imported to Canada from the U.S., including food products containing red onions, until more is known about the outbreak.
Health officials are urging retailers and restaurants in these provinces to not use, sell or serve red onions imported from the U.S.
EI-like benefit for gig, contract workers will be available after CERB ends,
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the government plans to move out-of-work Canadians into the employment insurance system and provide parallel support for millions of people who are set to exhaust their emergency pandemic aid, and who don't have EI to fall back on.
The $80-billion Canada Emergency Response Benefit is set to wind down over the coming weeks, and those who are EI-eligible are to start drawing assistance that way.
At a media event on Friday morning, Trudeau said many people who don't qualify for CERB, such as gig or contract workers, will gain access to a transitional, parallel benefit that is similar to EI. It will also include access to training and the ability to work more hours without a steep clawback in benefit payments, Trudeau said. More details of the program will be unveiled at a later date.
The most recent figures on the CERB show that as of July 26, the government had paid out $62.75 billion in benefits to 8.46 million unique applicants since its launch.
Canadian economy grew 4.5 per cent in May: Statistics Canada
Statistics Canada says the economy grew by 4.5 per cent in May as businesses began to reopen after severe lockdowns of March and April. The average economist estimate was for a 3.5 per cent increase in gross domestic product for May, according to financial data firm Refinitiv.
Rebounds were seen across multiple industries with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, including retail trade that registered a 16.4 per cent bump to mark its largest monthly increase since comparable readings began in 1961. Motor vehicle and car sales contributed the most to the retail growth. Statistics Canada says the sector would have grown by 11.4 per cent had they been excluded from calculations.
In a preliminary estimate for June, the agency says the economy continued to pick up steam, with a five-per-cent increase for the month.
Despite the two months of growth after two months of negative readings, Statistics Canada's preliminary estimate is that economic output contracted by 12 per cent in the second quarter compared to the first three months of 2020. The June and second-quarter figures will be finalized late next month.
CIBC economists noted that a 12-per-cent drop in the second quarter would be the largest decline ever by a long shot, even if such a decline was expected.
The Bank of Canada's most recent economic outlook expected the second quarter of 2020 to be worse than the first, estimating a three-month drop in GDP of 14.6 per cent. The central bank expected an economic contraction of 7.8 per cent this year, warning that after an immediate turnaround as restrictions eased, a recovery would be long and bumpy with some businesses and jobs not surviving the downturn.
Statistics Canada says economic activity still remained 15 per cent below pre-pandemic level despite the gains over May as business activity was slowly allowed to resume.
U.S. economy shrank at fastest pace on record last quarter
The U.S. economy contracted at its steepest pace since the Great Depression in the second quarter, as the COVID-19 pandemic shattered consumer and business spending, and a nascent recovery is under threat from a resurgence in new cases of coronavirus.
Gross domestic product collapsed at a 32.9 per cent annualized rate last quarter, the deepest decline in output since the government started keeping records in 1947, the Commerce Department said on Thursday. The drop in GDP was more than triple the previous all-time decline of 10 per cent in the second quarter of 1958. The economy contracted at a five per cent pace in the first quarter.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast GDP plunging at a 34.1 per cent rate in the April-June quarter. The bulk of the historic tumble in GDP occurred in April, when activity ground to an abrupt halt after restaurants, bars and factories, among others, were shuttered in mid-March to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Economists say without the historic fiscal package of nearly $3 trillion US, the economic contraction would have been deeper. The package offered companies help in paying wages and gave millions of unemployed Americans a weekly $600 supplement, which expires on Saturday. Many companies have exhausted their loans.
This, together with the sky-rocketing coronavirus infections, is keeping layoffs elevated. In a separate report on Thursday, the Labour Department said initial claims for unemployment benefits totalled 1.434 million in the week ending July 25.
Eurozone GDP drops 12.1% in record pandemic plunge
The coronavirus pandemic caused the largest GDP drop ever recorded for the 19 EU countries using the euro as currency, according to estimates. The eurozone economy has shrunk by over 12%, with Spain bearing the brunt.
TD, Scotiabank and RBC extend work from home policy until 2021
Royal Bank of Canada and TD Bank Group say most of their staff will work from home until at least 2021. The move comes after the Bank of Nova Scotia informed head office employees in the General Toronto Area currently working remotely that they can continue to do so until 2021 and after all of the major banks in the city agreed to a May request from mayor John Tory, who asked companies in the area to keep their workers home for the summer.
Air Transat to cancel all flights from Western Canada to U.S., sun destinations this winter
Air Transat plans to cancel all flights from Western Canada to sun destinations and the United States this winter, with refunds en route to customers — a policy about-face in the COVID-19 era. The airline is cancelling all southbound routes that were slated to take off from Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Victoria, Air Transat parent Transat AT told customers this week. The only routes out of western gateways between Nov. 1 and April 30 will be from Vancouver to Toronto and Montreal, and some connecting flights to Europe via Toronto. Passengers will automatically receive a full refund rather than the company credit that has previously been offered for flights cancelled due to the COVID-19 crisis, Transat said.
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Improvements, Receives Royal Assent
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 we advocated and are pleased to see implemented on behalf of our members.
Shopify revenue doubles amid shift to online shopping in COVID-19
Shopify Inc. is reporting $36 million US in profits in the second quarter on a nearly doubling of revenues as it reaped the benefits of COVID-19 lockdowns. The Ottawa-based tech company says it earned 29 cents per diluted share for the three months ended June 30, compared with a loss of 26 cents per share or $28.7 million US in the prior year.
Reporting in U.S. dollars, adjusted earnings reached $129.4 million or $1.05 per share, up from $10.7 million or 10 cents per share in the second quarter of 2019. Revenues surged 97 per cent to $714.3 million from $362 million a year earlier.
Shopify was expected to report a net loss of 59 cents per share or adjusted profit of one cent per share on $513.8 million in revenues, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv. The company says the ongoing effect of the pandemic has been to accelerate the shift of purchase habits to e-commerce with new stores created on the Shopify platform growing 71 per cent in the quarter.
Bank of Canada faces shortage of $50 bills due to pandemic hoarding
The Bank of Canada is facing a shortage of $50 bills due to the COVID-19 pandemic and signs point to Canadians hoarding cash as a primary reason. In a statement, the Bank of Canada said the shortage will not impact the consumer’s ability to withdraw cash, but rather it may require banks to alter their cash orders to incorporate other denominations.
The Bank of Canada could not specify why the demand has increased for the $50 specifically, but it released a staff discussion paper
earlier this month that shows there was a spike in demand for all bank notes -- though $20 and $50 bills were in highest demand -- in April and May, compared to the past five years.
Cash hoarding an international problem
A report from the Centre for Economic Policy Research
in the U.K. shows cash in circulation has increased in United States, Italy, Spain, Germany, France, Australia, Brazil and Russia, to name a few. In the U.S., pandemic hoarding, combined with businesses refusing cash, has led to a shortage of coins. This shortage led to the foundation of the U.S. Coin Task Force
, which is meant to “identify, implement, and promote actions to reduce the consequence and duration of COVID-19 related disruptions to normal coin circulation.”
Government extends 2019 tax payment deadline to September
Today the CRA announced that it was extending the payment deadline and applying relief to interest on existing debt.
Payment deadline extension
The CRA is extending the payment due date for current year individual, corporate, and trust income tax returns, including instalment payments, from September 1, 2020, to September 30, 2020. Penalties and interest will not be charged if payments are made by the extended deadline of September 30, 2020. This includes the late-filing penalty as long as the return is filed by September 30, 2020.
Interest on Existing Tax Debt
The CRA is also waiving interest on existing tax debts related to individual, corporate, and trust income tax returns from April 1, 2020, to September 30, 2020 and from April 1, 2020, to June 30, 2020, for goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) returns. While this measure for existing tax debts does not cancel penalties and interest already assessed on a taxpayer’s account prior to this period, it ensures that a taxpayer’s existing tax debt does not continue to grow through interest charges during this difficult time. This measure provides immediate relief to impacted taxpayers.
The previously extended filing due dates for individual, corporate, and trust income tax returns remain unchanged. However, recognizing the difficult circumstances faced by Canadians, the CRA will not impose late-filing penalties where a current year individual, corporation, or trust return is filed late provided that it is filed by September 30, 2020.
For those receiving credits and benefits such as the Canada Child Benefit
The CRA temporarily suspended interruptions for those who were unable to file their income tax and benefit return by the June 1 deadline. Currently, if a 2019 individual tax return has not been assessed, the CRA is calculating benefits and/or credits for the July to September 2020 payments based on information from 2018 tax returns. However, if 2019 individual tax returns are not received and assessed by early September 2020, estimated benefits and/or credits will stop in October 2020 and individuals may have to repay the amounts that were issued as of July 2020. The CRA has helpful information and a step-by-step guide to help Canadians complete their taxes. The CRA tax processing system is fully operational and returns are being processed quickly to support Canadians in getting their refunds and ensuring continuity of their benefits.
RBC – COVID Consumer Spending Tracker
Spending stabilizes – solidifying early recovery
Online spending holds strong, as Canadians avoid the mall
- Consumers seem to have hit their stride into July, with card volumes holding relatively steady since the end of June. Spending is hovering near year-ago levels, as many parts of the country continue to slowly re-open.
- In most categories, spending stuck close to the levels cited in our last report, strengthening a rebound several weeks in the making.
Read the Report
- Online purchasing remained robust, with some categories seeing a lasting shift toward more frequent virtual purchases.
- Canadians continued to embrace remote buying, particularly in categories where delivery and curbside pick-up have been broadly accepted.
- Even as stores reopened to customers, online and remote spending remained stronger for clothing retailers, restaurants, and grocery stores as consumers avoided crowds.
- In-person entertainment and health spending bounced back to pre-pandemic levels quickly, especially as things with few online alternatives reopened (e.g., golf courses, hair salons).
Statistics Canada says retail sales surged 18.7 per cent in May
Statistics Canada says retail sales
surged 18.7 per cent in May led by motor vehicle and parts sales. The agency says retail sales increased to $41.8 billion in May but that still left them 20 per cent below levels in February, before physical distancing measures were implemented to fight COVID-19.
Economists on average had expected a 20 per cent increase in May, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.
Sales were up in 10 out of 11 subsectors with vehicle and parts dealers, general merchandise stores and clothing stores the main contributors to May's strength. The increase in sales followed a record decline of 24.1 per cent in April. Statistics Canada says online sales were $3.8 billion in May, accounting for eight per cent of the total retail market.
Improved Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Bill Passes the House
On Tuesday afternoon MPs in the House of Commons passed Bill C-20, including the improved CEWS, which was announced on Friday last week. The Senate must now study the bill before it can be implemented. We have called for the bill to be swiftly passed and are grateful MPs on all sides worked to achieve that goal. We are hopeful the Senate will now do the same.
Walmart Canada investing $3.5 billion over five years, notably on technology
Walmart Canada plans to invest $3.5 billion over the next five years to improve service in stores and on the web, renovate 150 stores and build two new distribution centres. Future technology initiatives include the use of payment on mobile devices so that customers can pay for purchases anywhere in the store.
The company also aims to soon offer a complete merchandise pick-up service at about 270 branches, or 70 per cent of its locations in Canada. Renovations to more than one-third of its stores will be completed over three years.
Walmart is also planning to spend $1.1 billion to speed up the flow of products by building two new distribution centres, in Vaughan, Ont. and Surrey, B.C., as well as renovating an existing centre in Cornwall, Ont.
Have you paid your HST?
The HST deferral that was brought in back in March has ended and your HST payments are due.
As part of the government’s response to COVID-19 the CRA allowed businesses, including self-employed individuals, to defer until June 30, 2020 any GST/HST payment that became owing between March 27 and the end of May 2020.
Those deferred tax payments were due effective the end of June.
For more information
Sweeping changes to federal wage subsidy announced
Finance Minister Bill Morneau is proposing sweeping changes to the federal government's wage subsidy program that would extend the program until the end of the year and open the program to more businesses.
The proposed changes will
- Make the subsidy accessible to a broader range of employers by including employers with a revenue decline of less than 30% and providing a gradually decreasing base subsidy to all qualifying employers. This would help many struggling employers with less than a 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 had under the previous rules.
- Address certain technical issues identified by stakeholders.
The draft legislation would extend the program until December 19. The new changes would take effect retroactively as of July 5.
Under the proposed legislation, all qualifying businesses would receive a base subsidy that would vary according to how much revenue they lost. Harder-hit companies would receive larger subsidies.
The changes were drafted following extensive consultations with businesses and employers reporting major flaws in the original program.
Canada-U.S. border closure extended into August
Senior government officials confirm the arrangement limiting border access to essential travel only will be rolled over for another 30 days.
The agreement, which has to be reviewed each month, was set to expire on July 21. It's now being renewed for the fourth time since the border closed to non-essential traffic on March 21.
Airport cuts 1/4 of staff due to reduced travel demand
The Greater Toronto Airports Authority, which operates Pearson International Airport, says it will not fill 200 current open positions and get rid of an additional 300 positions through voluntary departures and layoffs. The cuts represent a slash of 27 per cent of the airport operator's pre-pandemic workforce. In April, Pearson airport processed 97 per cent fewer passengers than it did in the same month a year earlier and right now the GTAA says passenger traffic is back where it was in 1996.
Other major airports have already made similar job cuts, including 25 per cent of staff at Vancouver's main airport and one third of the staff in Calgary.
Federal temporary national sick leave program created
As part of the $19B ‘Safe Restart’ fund the federal government will be creating a temporary national sick leave program — providing 10 days of paid sick leave to those who don't already have it through their employers — at an estimated cost of $1.1 billion.
July extension now available for CECRA for small businesses
The July extension for CECRA for small businesses is now available. The July extension is based on the existing program parameters for the April, May and June period. No new documents are needed to opt-in. Not all tenants in the original application need to be included in the request for the July extension. Property owners can only opt-in once and no new tenants can be added.
Visit the updated program page to learn more about how it works
Canada, U.S. confirm extension of travel ban into late August.
Canada and the United States have agreed to extend their mutual ban on non-essential travel between the two countries until Aug. 20.
Federal government to provide provinces and territories with $19B for 'safe restart' of economy
The federal government will provide $19 billion to the provinces and territories to help fund a "safe restart" of the Canadian economy. The direct transfers are part of a comprehensive agreement to help those governments cover some of their budgetary costs over the next six to eight months as they reopen and prepare for a possible second wave of COVID-19.
The original plan was for a $14 billion fund — but many premiers said that amount was not nearly enough to cover their needs.
The funding will focus on seven priority areas, including $4.2 billion for enhanced COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, $4.5 billion for the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) for front line and essential workers, and $625 million to fund more child care spaces so that parents can get back to work, according to a government background document.
The federal government will put up to $2 billion toward the operating costs of Canadian cities for six to eight months; provinces and territories will be required to match that amount from their own funds. The feds also will match any new funding that provinces and municipalities put toward public transit, up to $1.8 billion.
As part of the agreement, Ottawa will create a temporary national sick leave program — providing 10 days of paid sick leave to those who don't already have it through their employers — at an estimated cost of $1.1 billion.
Additional funds will go toward improving the state of long-term care, and to fund mental health services and tackle homelessness.
Queen Elizabeth knights 100-year-old fundraising captain
On the lighter side of the news, today, The Queen conferred the Honour of Knighthood on Captain Tom Moore at an Investiture at Windsor Castle.
Premier Brian Pallister calls on federal government to redesign CERB
Premier Brian Pallister is again criticizing the Canadian emergency response benefit (CERB), calling on the federal government to make changes to ensure it doesn't penalize Canadians who want to return to work. At a news conference Tuesday, Pallister argued that the current CERB rules disqualify workers who earn more than $1,000 a month. He argues that the federal government should consider a phased reduction of the benefit as workers return to their previous or new jobs. Pallister said he met with representatives from numerous national organizations and think tanks, including the Conference Board of Canada, the Parliamentary Budget Office and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce to discuss the country and Manitoba's economic recovery.
House prices bounced up 6.5% in June compared to last year, CREA says
Canada's housing market showed signs of recuperation from COVID-19 last month, with prices and sales numbers well up from where they were a year earlier. The Canadian Real Estate Association said Wednesday that the average price of a Canadian resale home was $539,000, up 6.5 per cent from the average price a year earlier.
A total of 41,628 homes changed hands during the month, an increase of 63 per cent from May's level, and a jump of more than 15 per cent compared to June 2019. Sales were up in Canada's biggest cities compared to May:
Prices, on average, were double-digits higher in fifteen of the 26 biggest markets in Canada, compared to where they were a year ago. CREA says the average price figure can be misleading because it can be easily skewed by sales in big and expensive markets like Toronto and Vancouver. So the group calculates another number, known as the House Price Index, which strips out those effects and adjusts for the mix of different homes in different markets. The HPI went up at an annual rate of 5.4 per cent in June.
- Toronto, up 83.8 per cent.
- Montreal, up 75.1 per cent.
- Greater Vancouver, up 60.3 per cent.
- B.C.'s Fraser Valley, up 99.7 per cent.
- Calgary, up 54.9 per cent.
- Edmonton, up 59 per cent.
- Winnipeg, up 22.5 per cent.
- Hamilton-Burlington, Ont., up 34.8 per cent.
- Halifax-Dartmouth, up 55 per cent.
- London and St. Thomas, Ont., up 67.9 per cent.
- Ottawa, up 55.6 per cent.
- Quebec City, up 43.6 per cent.
Bank of Canada holds interest rate steady
Canada's central bank opted to keep its benchmark interest rate right where it was on Wednesday, at 0.25 per cent. It's the first rate decision under the stewardship of Tiff Macklem, who took over as governor of the Bank of Canada last month after Stephen Poloz's seven-year tenure ended. The bank says it will keep its rate low to stimulate the economy "until economic slack is absorbed so that the two per cent inflation target is sustainably achieved."
The decision was in line with expectations of economists who monitor the central bank polled by Bloomberg. The bank's next decision is scheduled for Sept. 9 and no change is expected at that meeting either. In addition to the interest rate decision, the bank also released its quarterly Monetary Policy Report, which outlines the bank's outlook for the economy. Macklem and other officials at the bank will have more to say about their outlook at a news conference on Wednesday scheduled for 11 a.m.
Senate committee recommends improvements to COVID-19 emergency programs
The Senate finance committee says significant gaps remain in the federal government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, despite efforts to adjust and improve emergency support programs rolled out over the previous several months.
The committee report found that while programs like the wage subsidy have provided vital support to many businesses, many companies in need remain ineligible. The wage subsidy program's uptake has not been as robust as the government had hoped. "The committee ... does not believe a business should be ineligible from all support simply because its revenue only declined by one per cent below the threshold."
The Senate report recommends expanding eligibility to include companies that don't have commercial business accounts — currently a requirement to qualify — and to cover hard-hit sectors like tourism, hospitality and airlines.
The committee also urged the government to expand eligibility for the Canada emergency business account and the commercial rent assistance program. The former provides interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and non-profits, while the latter provides forgivable loans to cover 50 per cent of monthly rent payments for small businesses that have faced financial hardship.
CFIA’s Toolkit For Food Businesses
If your business is new to federal food regulations, follow these steps from the Canada Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to help understand the requirements of the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR), as well as other food-related requirements.
Access The Toolkit
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy will be extended to December
In his daily media conference the Prime Minister revealed that the government will be extending the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to December 2020.
Trudeau wasn't saying today how the government will reshape the eligibility rules for the program
As of July 6, the wage subsidy had paid out $18.01 billion to 252,370 companies. The government's fiscal and economic "snapshot" last week boosted the budget of the wage subsidy program to $82.3 billion.
Canada adds health officials at U.S. border crossings to screen for COVID-19
The Public Health Agency of Canada is adding on-site employees at 36 points of entry across the country. The "increased presence" of officials is at the points of entry — including air and land — that see 90 per cent of travellers. PHAC officials, including quarantine officers, clinical screening officers and screening officers will now be on-site to screen travellers entering Canada at these ports of entry.
The news follows a surge in new cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., with large daily increases in some of the country's most populous states. That uptick is paired with an increase in traffic across the international border at airports and land crossings, as restrictions are loosened.
Travel across the border has been linked to a new cluster of cases in Prince Edward Island tied to an individual who came from the U.S. with a student visa.
Economy adds 953,000 jobs in June, unemployment rate falls
Statistics Canada says the economy added nearly one million jobs in June as businesses forced closed by the pandemic began to reopen. The agency says 953,000 jobs were added last month, including 488,000 full-time and 465,000 part-time positions. The unemployment rate fell to 12.3 per cent in June after hitting a record-high of 13.7 per cent in May.
The average economist estimate for June had been for an addition of 700,000 jobs and the unemployment rate to fall to 12.0 per cent, according to financial data firm Refinitiv. Statistics Canada says the unemployment rate would have been 16.3 per cent had it included in unemployment counts those who wanted to work, but did not look for a job.
The jobs report this morning says there are still some 3.1 million people affected by the shutdowns of March and April when public health restrictions forced businesses to close and workers to stay at home to slow the spread of COVID-19. About 2.5 million didn't have jobs in June, either due to temporary or permanent layoffs, while the remainder are working less than half their usual hours.
As restrictions eased, the number of people participating in the labour force grew by about 786,000 after May's 491,000 gain, bringing those considered in the labour force to within 443,000 of its pre-pandemic level.
The unemployment rate for women was 12.7 per cent in June compared to 12.1 per cent for men. Similarly, the participation rate for core-aged men was less than one percentage point below the February level, while for women it was 1.4 percentage points short.
The underutilization rate -- which counts those who are unemployed, those who want a job but didn't look for one, and those working less than half their usual hours -- was 28.3 for women and 25.5 per cent for men.
The Bank of Canada and federal government say the worst of the economic pain from the pandemic is behind the country, but Canada will face high unemployment and low growth until 2021.
U.S. members of Congress push Canada to reopen border
In an open letter addressed to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, 29 bipartisan members of Congress called on the Canadian government to plan a phased reopening of the Canada-U.S. border and to consider easing existing measures.
"We are asking that the United States and Canada immediately craft a comprehensive framework for phased reopening of the border based on objective metrics and accounting for the varied circumstances across border regions," read the letter, which was published on Western New York Congressman Brian Higgins' website on July 3.
Despite the United States' plea, a spokesperson for Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a statement that the health and safety of Canadians is "absolutely priority." "Decisions about Canada's border are made by Canadians, for Canadians," said Freeland's spokesperson, Katherine Cuplinskas, in the statement. "Since the beginning of this global pandemic, we have been having friendly ongoing conversations with our American partners about our shared border. Both sides agree that the current measures in place, which are set to expire on July 21st, have worked well in restricting non-essential travel while allowing essential crossings to continue unimpeded."
Freeland's office wasn’t alone in pushing back against the call. Social media posts show the Canadians are opposed to reopening the border for non-essential travel. These posts were much less diplomatic than the official response from Minister Freeland’s Office.
A Deeper Dive into yesterdays federal fiscal ‘snapshot’
By Temple Scott Associates
The Government’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan includes more than $230 billion in measures to support Canadians and businesses. The snapshot is formatted to give the Government flexibility to scale those programs up or down in the coming months, stating that the Government will announce measures to support economic recovery as needed – though no details were offered about what those measures could be.
Most notably for businesses, the snapshot indicates that changes to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy are forthcoming, to “stimulate rehiring, provide support to businesses during reopening and help them adapt to the new normal”. In anticipation of that, the Government set aside additional funding for the program, perhaps indicating that it will be extended beyond August 29th, when it is currently set to end. Notably, no additional funding was set aside for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, which is also due to end that day.
The impact of COVID-19 on employment has been significant, with approximately 30% of the workforce either losing their jobs or having their hours reduced at the start of the pandemic. However, the Government believes that its response to COVID-19 prevented greater economic damage, arguing that federal programs replaced more than $40 billion in lost income, prevented the real GDP contraction from reaching over 10% in 2020, and stopped the unemployment rate from rising a further 2% over the course of the year.
The snapshot accounts for the $14 billion Safe Restart Agreement that is currently being negotiated with the Provinces, but it does not provide greater detail on how that money will be spent, beyond making broad commitments to prioritize healthcare capacity, testing and tracing, personal protective equipment, childcare, and support for municipalities. Minister Morneau promised to announce details of the Agreement as they are decided.
Although no Parliamentary vote is required to pass the “snapshot”, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh stated that his support for the Government could be contingent on its contents, and the other Opposition leaders were also vocal in setting criteria for the fiscal update.
The NDP gave the snapshot a “C+”, primarily criticizing the lack of support for persons living with disabilities and absence of action to increase taxes on the wealthy and eliminate tax havens.
The Conservatives argued that the Government lacks a plan to stimulate growth, attract business investment, and get Canadians back to work and they also sounded alarm over the size of the Federal debt. The Bloc Quebecois also called for more measures to get Canadians back to work.
Marked by both the fiscal snapshot and the virtual Cabinet retreat this week, it is clear that the Government is attempting to transition from crisis management of the pandemic to charting a pathway to a new normal. However, judging by the tone of the snapshot, that transition will be cautious and the Government remains open to further spending in response to COVID-19.
Minister Morneau did not fix a date for Budget 2020 today, or even commit to tabling one before Budget 2021. He did commit to providing further details on Federal finances in the Fall, and indicated that the tabling of a full budget at that time will depend on how successfully the pandemic and its economic fallout are limited.
Meanwhile, the House of Commons Finance Committee is authorized to continue a virtual meeting schedule over the summer, and it could, in theory, choose to study today’s snapshot, which could result in an appearance by the Finance Minister before the Committee.
CEWS to be extended
In a technical briefing an official from the federal Department of Finance said the government will soon announce details of a proposed extension to the wage subsidy beyond its current August 2020 end date.
In the fiscal snapshot speech Finance Minister Bill Morneau said “We know there's some things that need to change so we can get people back to work.” “We'll have more to say in the very near term.”
Fiscal snapshot – by the numbers
For more information on the Fiscal Snapshot
- Deficit for 2020-21 rises to $343.2 billion from $34.4 billion projected before pandemic.
- Net federal debt will hit $1.2 trillion.
- Federal debt-to-GDP ratio is expected to rise to 49% in 2020-21 from 31%
- Direct federal support for Canadians and businesses: $212 billion.
- COVID-19 slowdown has cost the federal treasury an additional $81.3 billion.
- GDP will shrink by projected 6.8% this year — worst since the Great Depression.
- Economy is expected to bounce back by 5.5% next year.
Highlights of the federal fiscal 'snapshot'
Today, federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau delivered an update on federal spending and economic projections linked to the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The update is a "fiscal snapshot" instead of the traditional economic and fiscal statement that comes between budgets. Back in March, Morneau was forced to put off his spring budget in March after the devastating economic effects of the pandemic became clearer.
Here are some of the highlights:
Deficit: The deficit for 2020-21 is expected to rise to $343.2 billion from the $34.4 billion deficit projected before the pandemic. The additional deficit can be attributed to the $212 billion in direct support measures the federal government is providing to individuals and businesses. The snapshot says that, aside from the pandemic program spending, the economic slowdown is estimated to have added another $81.3 billion to the deficit in 2020-21.
Government revenue: The federal government's revenues are expected to decline to $268.8 billion in 2020-21 from a projected $341 billion in 2019-20. Personal income tax revenue is predicted to shrink to $146.3 billion next year from $170.9 billion in 2019-20 — a decline of 14.4 per cent. Corporate income taxes revenue is are expected to decline by 22.3 per cent, to $38.3 billion from $49.2 billion last year. The revenue from the GST is projected to decline 20.4 per cent to $30.9 billion from $38.8 billion in 2019-20.
GDP decline: The Canadian economy is projected to shrink by 6.8 per cent this year before bouncing back by 5.5 per cent next year, making this crisis the worst economic contraction since the Great Depression. The economy is expected to decline in 2020-21 more than twice as much as it did in 2009-10 in response to the global financial crisis. The decline in GDP is expected to take place in the second quarter of this fiscal year, according to private sector projections of a 40.6 per cent decline in GDP.
Debt-to-GDP ratio: The federal debt-to-GDP ratio is expected to rise to 49 per cent in 2020-21 (from 31 per cent in 2019-20). The federal government says it's getting a better deal on that debt through very low interest rates. "As a consequence of these developments, the government will save over $4 billion in public debt charges in 2020-21 compared to the forecast presented in the 2019 Economic and Fiscal Update in December 2019," the snapshot said.
Job losses: Between February and April, 5.5 million Canadians either lost their jobs or saw their work hours significantly reduced. Those losses pushed the unemployment rate to 13.7 per cent in May — the highest rise on record — from a pre-crisis low of 5.5 per cent in January. Finance Minister Bill Morneau said that without government pandemic programs, the GDP would have contracted by more than 10 per cent and unemployment would have risen by another 2 per cent.
Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA): As of July 3, 688,000 applicants have been approved for roughly $27.41 billion in CEBA loans — $7 billion of which is forgivable if the loan is paid back before December 31, 2022. The cost of the program is expected to rise to $13.7 billion by the time it ends.
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS): The total estimated impact of the Canada emergency wage subsidy will be $82.3 billion. That is an increase from the $45 billion estimate provided by the government last month and reflects the proposed extension and broadening of eligibility for the program.
Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB): As of June 28, the CERB has provided over $53 billion in benefit payments to 8.16 million Canadians. That amount is expected to rise to $80 billion based on the eight-week extension and significant take-up of the program.
Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB): To date, it has provided over $1.4 billion to over 600,000 applicants, which is expected to rise to $5.2 billion by the time it winds down.
Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA): As of July 3, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), has approved applications for over 29,000 small businesses and total requested funding of over $221 million. CMHC is working closely with large property owners to complete applications to provide rent support to a further 25,000 small businesses.
Canadians' COVID-19 fears are rising again – U.S. might be to blame
Polls suggest Canadians are worried about the situation in the U.S. A Nanos Research survey for the Globe and Mail found that 81 per cent of Canadians polled want the border with the United States to stay closed for the "foreseeable future." Léger finds that 86 per cent of Canadians reject the idea of reopening the border at the end of July, as is currently planned (although the border closures have been renewed and extended repeatedly in the past). Remarkably, 71 per cent of Canadians "strongly disagreed" with a reopening of the border, suggesting a firmly held opinion. In mid-May, Léger reported that 21 per cent of Canadians wanted the border to open by the end of June or earlier. Now, just 11 per cent agree with opening the border by the end of July. These darkening views on the pandemic can't be tied entirely to COVID-19's spread in the U.S., as it's not the the only country with an uncontrolled outbreak.
Canadians are also reporting more pessimism about the future, despite the apparently improving situation here. According to the Léger poll, 82 per cent of Canadians expect a second wave — that's up six points from early June. The poll suggests Canadians have lost some of their late-spring optimism. “Although the weather has improved, patios are open and people can get a haircut again, more and more Canadians appear to be coming to the realization that this is likely to be just a temporary reprieve — and not the new normal.”
Proposed class-action against Skip the Dishes moving forward after Supreme Court's Uber ruling
A proposed class-action lawsuit against Winnipeg-based food delivery service Skip the Dishes can now move forward through Manitoba courts, after the Supreme Court of Canada reached a decision last month in a similar case involving an Ontario Uber Eats driver.
The lawsuit, filed by former Skip the Dishes courier Charleen Pokornik in Manitoba's Court of Queen's Bench in summer of 2018, argues the company misled its drivers by classifying them as independent contractors rather than employees, allowing it to avoid labour laws covering minimum wages, paid sick leave and other benefits.
Pokornik and her lawyers were seeking class-action certification, but the court process was put on hold last year after the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case brought forward by Uber Eats driver David Heller. Like Pokornik, Heller argues Uber has violated the rights of its drivers by misclassifying them as independent contractors. He is also seeking class-action certification.
The Supreme Court decision, released on June 26, doesn't deal with whether or not Uber drivers are employees or independent contractors.
Instead, it determined that drivers can seek legal recourse through Ontario's court system, rather than going through an arbitration process mandated by Uber and based in the Netherlands.
In July 2018, days before Pokornik filed her statement of claim, Skip the Dishes changed its contract with drivers, requiring them to go through arbitration instead of the courts to resolve disputes. The new contract also stipulated that any action must be brought individually, and not as part of a class.
Now that the Supreme Court has ruled in the Uber case, the Skip the Dishes case is set to move to a case management hearing in mid-September, says a lawyer representing Pokornik's class-action application.
If the court decides that Skip drivers are in fact employees and not private contractors, the company could be required to pay drivers retroactively for lost wages, overtime, vacation pay and more.
OECD Employment Outlook 2020 Released
According to the OECD, there is a real danger that the COVID-19 jobs crisis will increase poverty and widen inequalities, with the impact felt for years to come. Countries now need to do everything they can to stop this jobs crisis from turning into a social crisis. Reconstructing a better and more resilient labour market is an essential investment in the future and in future generations.
Explore the Results
SaskPower taking revenue hit from COVID-19; too soon to rule out rate increases
SaskPower says it's taking a hit from the COVID-19 pandemic, but it's too early to say what impact that will have on customer rates. The Crown utility says sales were down by 10 per cent from April to June, amounting to millions in lost revenue. It also reports that deferred bill payments totalled $47 million as of the end of last month.
Environment Minister Dustin Duncan is responsible for SaskPower and says it's too early to decide whether rates will have to increase to make up for the revenue shortfall this fiscal year.
SaskPower president Mike Marsh said some of the utility's expenses are falling and the $50-million drop in revenues doesn't necessarily mean a hit to net income, which is the main factor for rate increases. The utility has not raised rates for the last two years, Marsh noted, and any thought of doing so would have to balance the needs of the Crown with the financial impact on customers.
SaskPower's 2019-20 annual report shows the global health and economic crisis had little impact on last year's books. The Crown reported net income of $205 million. The utility also collected $83 million from customers who started paying the federal carbon tax in April 2019.
Facebook to Pay $9.5 Million Penalty to Competition Bureau for Misleading Privacy Claims
The Competition Bureau (the “Bureau”) recently concluded that Facebook Inc. made false or misleading claims to the public about the privacy of Canadians’ personal information on Facebook and Messenger. Facebook disagreed with the conclusion of the Bureau, but wished to resolve the matter by entering into a consent agreement and not contesting the conclusions for purposes of the agreement. As a result, Facebook is required to pay a $9 million penalty, plus an additional $500,000 for the costs of the Bureau’s investigation.
Canadian privacy regulators have not historically had significant tools to financially penalize companies for breaching the privacy rights of individuals. The Bureau is stepping into that gap, at least in part.
In light of this recent decision, organizations should take a good look at their privacy policies, statements and notices and consider whether any of the statements contained therein are or may be considered inaccurate or misleading.
Click here to read the article.
Bank of Canada - Quarterly Business Outlook Survey
The bank's quarterly business outlook survey published Monday suggests many service sector and energy companies don't expect a return to pre-pandemic employment levels.
About one-third say they have used a federal wage subsidy to reduce or avoid layoffs, while other firms looking to rehire or hire new staff cited an emergency federal benefit for workers as a hurdle to their plans. The latest figures from the federal government show the $45-billion wage subsidy has paid nearly $17.1 billion to 245,160 companies as of June 29. Meanwhile, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, or CERB, has paid $53.53 billion in benefits to 8.16 million people as of June 28 since it was introduced in late March.
The worry among workers about losing their job rose to the highest level seen in the bank's regular survey of consumer expectations, released alongside the business outlook survey. Workers' expectations of how easily they could find new work dropped to the lowest level since the 2015 oil price shock. Consumers' expectations for wage growth were below what they anticipated for inflation, while the outlook for growth in household income dropped to its lowest level in the survey's history.
The central bank's business survey detailed some of the impact of the lockdowns and stay-at-home requests
The consumer survey said spending expectations have tumbled, which the banks says suggests consumers have become more cautious due to the economic impact and health risks related to the pandemic. The bank said consumers expect to spend mostly on essentials. They expect to spend less on durable goods like cars and furniture, as well as for services that involve face-to-face interactions like eating out, travel or going to the movies.
The business outlook survey and Canadian survey of consumer expectations come ahead of the Bank of Canada's next interest rate announcement and monetary policy report on July 15. The central bank is expected to keep its key interest rate on hold at 0.25 per cent, while the monetary policy report will include an update to its economic forecast.
Business Outlook Survey—Summer 2020
Canadian Survey of Consumer Expectations—Second Quarter of 2020
- Nearly half of all businesses reported an outright decline of their sales in the past 12 months because of COVID-19, low energy prices and the uncertainty both wrought.
- More than half of businesses expect their total sales over the next 12 months to be lower than they were in the last year, with future sales indicators at record lows.
- About half of firms expect their sales will "mostly recover" within the next year as COVID-19's effects recede, but the expectations of a return to pre-pandemic levels often depend on lifting government-mandated restrictions. Some companies said they could get back to normal operations within a month of public health restrictions being lifted.
- Companies' plans to invest in themselves have been cut back. Those companies planning a bump in capital budgets are often trying to digitize their operations, or boost productivity in the context of staff working from home.
2/3 of Canadians support closing businesses again if COVID-19 cases spike: survey
The new poll conducted by Nanos Research for CTV News surveyed 1,049 Canadians within the past week, and found that two-thirds of respondents support, or somewhat support, another round of business closures in the event of a significant rise in cases and hospitalizations.
Forty-two per cent of respondents said they support the closures, while another 28 per cent said they somewhat support them. About one in four Canadians oppose (16 per cent) or somewhat oppose (11 per cent) the idea.
Support for shutting down businesses during a second wave was strongest in Ontario (53 per cent) and weakest in Quebec (24 per cent). Those older than 55 -- who are more susceptible to the virus -- were more supportive of the closures, at 77 per cent, than younger Canadians aged 18 to 34, at 64 per cent support.
4 in 5 Support Mandatory Masks
The poll also found that most Canadians support the mandatory wearing of masks in all public spaces, with 54 per cent in support and 25 per cent somewhat supportive. Nearly one in five respondents said they opposed (11 per cent) or somewhat opposed (nine per cent) mandatory face masks. Support for mandatory face masks was highest in Ontario, at 65 per cent. While Ontario Premier Doug Ford has repeatedly rejected this idea, Toronto -- which accounts for 12 per cent of Canada’s total caseload -- recently made it mandatory to wear a face mask in all enclosed public spaces, such as grocery stores and public transit. Support for mandatory masks in public was lowest in the Prairies, which still saw a majority of support at 68 per cent.
Seniors who qualify receiving one-time COVID-19 payments of up to $500 this week
Eligible seniors in Canada will finally be receiving their one-time COVID-19 payments this week, a measure first promised by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in mid-May, to aid in the rising costs associated with the pandemic. The federal government estimates there are currently 6.7 million seniors who are eligible for the OAS pension and 2.2 million who are eligible for the GIS. These payments are set to total $2.5 billion.
Any senior who is eligible for the Old Age Security (OAS) pension will receive a $300 payment, and an additional $200 is being sent to seniors eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). The payments are being made directly to anyone who is eligible, with no application needed.
Sask: Restaurants and bars can expand services, indoor rinks and pools can reopen starting Monday
More restrictions on businesses have begun to ease as the provincial government continues to reopen the Saskatchewan economy. Starting Monday, seating at bars and restaurants across the province will be expanded to "a level that allows staff and customers to maintain two metres of physical distance," a news release from the province said. Previously, restaurants and bars were only allowed to operate at 50 per cent capacity.
As well, pool tables, video lottery terminals and dart boards will be allowed to be used, as long as physical distancing can be maintained. Casinos and bingo halls will be able to reopen on Thursday.
Live entertainment in bars is set to return on July 16, along with race tracks and rodeos.
Atlantic bubble opens, allowing travellers from within the four provinces to cross borders.
The Atlantic bubble starts Friday, allowing travellers from within the four provinces to cross borders without having to self-isolate for 14 days, but each province has its own set of rules for visitors.
Here is what you need to know before you go.
New Brunswick: Peace officers will still stop every non-commercial vehicle at the border and ask travellers to identify themselves and provide proof of residence, said Coreen Enos, a spokesperson for the Department of Public Safety. Government-issued photo identification, such as a driver's licence, can satisfy both requirements, she said.
Nova Scotia: Visitors from the other Atlantic provinces will have to show proof of residency to provincial officials when entering at highway borders, airports or ferries. Every adult will need to show either a driver's licence, government identification card, health card, or a utility bill or bank statement with a valid Atlantic Canadian address. No self-declaration form will be required.
Prince Edward Island: Has an online self-declaration form visitors from the other three Atlantic provinces must fill out in advance in order to enter from the Northumberland Strait either via the Confederation Bridge or the Caribou-Wood Islands ferry. Only one form is required per vehicle and people are asked to submit the form at least a day ahead of their scheduled arrival date. A submission identification number will be generated when the form is submitted.
Newfoundland and Labrador: Two pieces of identification will be required to verify that the traveller is a resident of one of the Atlantic provinces. One piece of identification must include an address. In addition, visitors must also complete the contact information section on the province's self-declaration forms.
For those outside Atlantic Canada: With some exceptions, people from outside the Atlantic provinces cannot come in, and most of those who do get in must self-isolate for 14 days. If they have self-isolated in one Atlantic province, they may enter another one without self-isolating again.
Federal government, WE Charity agree to part ways on summer student grant program
The federal Liberal government and the WE Charity are ending a partnership that would have seen the charity distribute around $900 million in federal student grants this summer. The decision to outsource this work to a third party with ties to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's family was criticized by some in the charitable sector and by the opposition Conservatives.
Pierre Poilievre, the Tory finance critic, has asked both the auditor general and the federal procurement watchdog to review the sole-sourced contract that would have given WE the authority to administer the Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG).
Volunteer Canada, a group that promotes volunteerism, refused to work with WE because it objected to how the program was being administered — and they opposed paying students for volunteer work.
Trudeau and his mother, Margaret, have appeared at a number of WE Day events, while his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, hosts a podcast for the group called "WE Well-being." WE has said no member of the Trudeau family receives an honorarium for their appearances with the charity, though Grégoire Trudeau has had her travel expenses covered. A spokesperson from the Prime Minister's Office said Grégoire Trudeau's involvement with WE was cleared by the federal ethics commissioner.
WE also has gone through an organizational upheaval in recent months, with a series of resignations and layoffs.
Trudeau had defended the partnership, saying WE was the only group with a nationwide network capable of operating a program of this sort for young people. Other charitable organizations have questioned that assertion.
Trudeau said Friday the move to cut ties was "WE's decision, which we support."
The federal government will simply distribute the grants itself.
Business Resilience Service (BRS) Hotline Closes Today
As businesses increasingly move into the reopening and recovery phases, the BRS is being wound down. We thank our partners in the accounting profession across Canada who facilitated this project (particularly EY, CPA Canada and Imagine Canada) along with the Government of Canada for their support. The BRS helped thousands of businesses navigate the pandemic. We’re proud of the impact this service was able to provide to help the Canadian business community.
More details about the CECRA Extension released
The Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program was extended CECRA for small business through the end of July 2020.
According to CMHC, Property owners and small business tenants will soon be able to access funding for the month of July.
What you need to know:
To streamline the process and make it easier, CMHC is removing the requirement to claw-back insurance proceeds and provincial rent supports from the CECRA for small businesses forgivable loan amount for both existing and new applicants. Existing applicants who are affected will be notified and will have any previously clawed-back amounts restored to their forgivable loan.
- Only those tenants approved in the April, May and June application are eligible for the July extension.
- If a business had an average revenue decline of 70% or more in April, May and June, they are deemed eligible for the additional month of rent relief. However, not all tenants in the original application need to be included for the July extension.
CRA Deadline Changes – T2 and T3 Returns
The CRA has advised that T2 Corporation 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.
Government Ends GST/HST And Customs Duty Payment Deferrals
The federal government has confirmed it ended the payment deferrals as planned on June 30, today. Businesses that continue to experience difficulty in remitting GST/HST and customs duty amounts owing can contact the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to make a request for the cancellation of penalties and interest, and/or for a flexible payment arrangement with the CRA.
Update on mandatory masks in Canada
Toronto city council votes to make masks mandatory indoors
Toronto city council approved a bylaw Tuesday that makes face coverings mandatory in indoor public spaces. The bylaw will take effect July 7. It will remain in effect until the first city council meeting of the fall, which is currently scheduled for Sept. 30-Oct.1. Children under the age of two will be exempt, as will anyone with a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask.
Quebec makes wearing of masks mandatory on public transit starting July 13
Wearing a mask while taking public transit will be mandatory as of July 13 in Quebec, Premier Francois Legault announced on Tuesday. Wearing of masks has been strongly recommended by public transport authorities in Quebec, but not mandatory. The new rule applies to everyone across the province aged 12 and up. Children between two and 12 years old are not required to wear masks, but are still strongly recommended to do so. Children under two years of age don't have to wear them,
Hamilton considering making indoor mask wearing mandatory
Hamilton public health officials are looking at making mask wearing mandatory indoors. Mayor Fred Eisenberger says there'll be a potential bylaw coming to a city council meeting in the near future.
B.C. health officer 'expects' British Columbians to wear masks
Dr. Bonnie Henry says the province has stopped short of mandating the use of masks out of concern for those who would have difficulty wearing one. Henry said while the number of COVID-19 cases in B.C. doesn't warrant a similar law, it may be needed in the future.
Isolation order for anyone entering Canada extended until Aug. 31
The federal government has extended the mandatory quarantine order for most people entering Canada until the end of August to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. Any travellers entering the country -- by land, air or sea -- will have to isolate for 14 days, whether or not they are showing any symptoms of COVID-19.
The order made under the Quarantine Act, which first came into effect in late March, was set to expire at midnight Tuesday, but will now remain in effect until Aug. 31. It carries penalties that include six months in prison or a fine of up to $750,000, which could go up to $1 million if the person caused death or bodily harm by wilfully and recklessly breaking the rules.
Online Multi-jurisdictional Registry Access Service (MRAS) launched in Western Canada
Until now, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba had separate processes and systems for corporations and limited partnerships to complete their extra-provincial business registrations and maintenance filings. On June 27, 2020, the four provinces were the first to implement the online Multi-jurisdictional Registry Access Service (MRAS), a hub that allows corporate information sharing between the provinces, making extra-provincial registration faster and easier.
The four western provinces committed to reconciling business registration and reporting requirements between the jurisdictions, thus simplifying extra-provincial business registration processes. Through MRAS, other jurisdictions will eventually be able to share corporate information, thus extending the New West Partnership’s efficiencies across Canada.
Canada's economy shrank by almost 20% in March and April, but turnaround seen in May data
Canada's economy shrank by 11.6 per cent in April, the biggest plunge on record, following March's contraction of 7.5 per cent as COVID-19 lockdowns began. Statistics Canada reported Tuesday that all 20 categories the data agency tracks were lower, and they added up to the biggest monthly plunge since record-keeping began in 1961. April's plunge means the economy at the end of April had lost almost one-fifth of the output it produced at the end of February.
Manufacturing was down by 22.5 per cent from March's already low level, while construction plunged 22.9 per cent. Within the retail segment, hotels and restaurants were down by 42 per cent, while arts and entertainment fell by 26 per cent. Oil and gas extraction fell by just 1.8 per cent, while air transportation plummeted by 93.7 per cent. The technology sector, meanwhile, eked out a tiny 0.4 per cent increase, Bank of Montreal economist Doug Porter noted. Toronto-Dominion Bank economist Omar Abdelrahman said that sectors where work-from-home options are more feasible fared better. That included industries such as finance and insurance (down one per cent), professional, scientific and technical services (down 1.3 per cent), and real estate rental and leasing (down 3.5 per cent).
Though record-setting, April's plunge was actually not as deep as the 13 per cent contraction that economists were bracing for. Statistics Canada did hint that preliminary GDP numbers for May projecting a slight uptick after bottoming out in March and April. StatsCan's first estimate for May is a moderate three per cent rebound in GDP from the depths.
TSX has best quarter in more than a decade
The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 125.50 points at 15,515.22 to finish 2.1 per cent higher in June and ahead nearly 16 per cent over the last three months. This was the indexes best quarter in more than a decade as the price of gold reached its highest level since 2011.
In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 217.08 points at 25,812.88 as it ended its best quarter since 1987. The S&P 500 index was up 47.05 points at 3,100.29, while the Nasdaq composite was up 184.61 points at 10,083.64, a record close.
The stock market gains came amid strong consumer confidence numbers and Congressional testimony by Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell. Powell said the economic outlook remains uncertain with output and employment still far below their pre-pandemic levels. He expects stock markets will move in fits and starts depending on virus headlines, but tread higher in the third quarter and surge into the final months of 2020.
The materials sector gained more than two per cent on higher gold prices to lead the TSX. Iamgold Corp. and Hudbay Minerals Inc. rose 7.8 and 7.3 per cent respectively.
The August gold contract was up US$19.30 at US$1,800.50 an ounce and the September copper contract was up 3.6 cents at nearly US$2.73 a pound.
Industrials increased nearly one percentage point even though shares of Air Canada lost another three per cent.
The heavyweight financials sector was up 0.8 per cent.
Energy was one of four major sectors to fall as Tourmaline Oil Corp. dropped 3.5 per cent and Seven Generations Energy Ltd. was down 2.6 per cent on lower crude oil prices. The August crude contract slid back 43 cents at US$39.27 per barrel and the August natural gas contract was up 4.2 cents at US$1.75 per mmBTU.
The Canadian dollar traded for 73.38 cents US compared with 73.09 cents US on Monday.
Canada extends ban on most foreign travellers to at least July 31
Ottawa has extended the travel ban that bars entry to all travellers who are not Canadian citizens, permanent residents or people entering from the U.S. for "essential" reasons. The order, which was set to expire June 30, "has been extended until July 31 for public health reasons".
The order bans most foreign nationals from entering Canada if they arrive from a foreign country other than the U.S. (There are limited exceptions for air crew, diplomats and immediate family members of citizens. Some seasonal workers, caregivers and international students are also exempt.)
Officials confirm the government will maintain the order barring foreign nationals from entering Canada at this time, instead of modifying the order to reopen the border to certain countries — those with low infection rates or those allowing Canadian tourists to visit, for example.
A separate order prohibits non-essential travel between Canada and the U.S. and remains in effect until July 21; it was extended earlier this month. Under this order, essential workers, such as truckers and health workers, are allowed to cross the border.
Canadians to be allowed into EU countries
The European Union announced Tuesday that it will reopen its borders to travellers from 14 countries. Citizens from the following countries will be allowed into the so-called EU+ area and four other nations in Europe's visa-free Schengen travel zone: Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.
Travellers from other big countries with high infection rates, like the US, Russia, Brazil and India, will miss out due to soaring coronavirus infections.
The EU said China is "subject to confirmation of reciprocity," meaning it must lift all restrictions on European citizens entering China before Chinese citizens will be allowed back into the EU.
CECRA Extended to July
At his morning press conference, Prime Minister Trudeau announced that the federal government was extended the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program by one month. The program was initially intended to support small businesses during the months of April, May, and June.
No additional details were provided. The announcement did catch representatives from CMHC and MCAP (who’s administering the program for CMHC) off guard.
The CFA expects more details about the program extension in the next few days.
Canadian Business Resilience Network Small Business Relief Fund: Recipients Revealed
Today the CBRN announced the 62 recipients who were each awarded a $10,000 lifeline to help their small business recover and prosper beyond this pandemic through the Canadian Business Resilience Network Small Business Relief Fund. The fund was managed by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and made possible through the generosity of Salesforce.
See the Recipient List
Travel in Canada: What’s allowed
From the "Atlantic bubble" to Ontario's discouraged trips, the rules for travel vary around the country. Here's a handy list from CTV News to see what's permitted and not.
Expanded CEBA Now Partially Available
After a week’s delay, the expanded Canada Emergency Business Account loan program is now available; however, only if you bank with one of Canada’s six largest banks. The CEBA expansion will be available from more lenders over the coming weeks. To apply for a CEBA contact your primary financial institution.
As announced by the government in May, CEBA has been expanded to enable a greater number of qualifying sole proprietors, or businesses with payroll lower than $20,000, with eligible non-deferrable expenses between $40,000 and $1.5 million to apply for interest-free, partially forgivable loans of up to $40,000. CEBA is administered by Export Development Canada (EDC), which is working closely with banks in Canada to deliver the loans. Full eligibility criteria can be found here: ceba-cuec.ca
The federal government has set out new terms under which phase three of the program will be available. For the first two phases of CEBA, banks would enroll businesses, once they had attested to their eligibility, and provide funding upfront, while EDC would screen for eligibility after the loans had been extended. In phase three, EDC will approve eligibility in CEBA before funding is released. While businesses will still be required to provide an attestation to their primary business financial institution, they will need to provide additional documentation to EDC, before a loan can be approved by EDC.
As of June 15, more than 669,000 CEBA loans have been approved by financial institutions including banks, representing over $26 billion in interest-free credit for eligible businesses.
Supreme Court sides with Uber drivers, opening door to $400M class-action lawsuit
The Supreme Court of Canada has cleared the way for Uber drivers to take the next step in their fight to be recognized as employees. In a ruling Friday, the high court upheld an Ontario Court of Appeal decision that opened the door to a possible class-action suit aimed at securing a minimum wage, vacation pay and other benefits for drivers.
The man behind the planned class action, David Heller, is a Toronto driver for UberEats, a service that delivers food from restaurants to customers at home. He argued that Uber drivers are employees, which entitles them to protections under Ontario's Employment Standards Act.
Ontario's highest court said a clause in the agreement that requires all disputes to go through arbitration in the Netherlands was an unfair bargain and amounted to contracting out of an employment standard. In its decision, the Supreme Court said the arbitration agreement is invalid, noting someone in Heller's position could not be expected to appreciate the financial and legal implications of the arbitration clause.
Supreme Court of Canada Ruling
The CFA is reviewing the decision and will be determining our next steps in the coming days and weeks.
Canada's charitable sector seeks government grants to stay afloat
Charitable providers of social services — daycare, community venues, support groups and more — have seen a catastrophic drop in revenue, with some forced to cancel fundraising events because of physical distancing requirements while others are simply unable to operate. That means a complete loss of user fees and other regular sources of income. Although many charities qualify for the federal wage subsidy, that covers only part of the cost of staff. Among the casualties so far:
The federal government has already provided some support to the sector, in the form of the $350 million Emergency Community Support Fund. The Red Cross, the United Way and the Community Foundations of Canada will disburse the funds to non-profits and charities that help "vulnerable populations who are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19."
- The YMCA in Yarmouth, N.S. — a fixture on the city's Main Street for 162 years, has closed for good; other Y locations are at risk.
- As many as 124 Royal Canadian Legion branches across the country either don't have the resources to reopen, or say they won't last longer than three months if they do.
- The Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada location in Edson, Alta., has notified the community it won't be able to reopen.
- IMPACT Parkinson's Centre, a small non-profit in New Westminster, B.C., closed its doors June 1, unable to "make it through to the other side," according to a notice on its website.
- The Old East Village Grocery in London, Ont., a social enterprise that supported disabled people dealing with food insecurity, had to shut down due to the cost of new sanitation protocols and a lack of staff.
Canada almost self-sufficient in PPE
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canadian companies are now producing so much personal protective equipment needed in the fight against COVID-19 that Canada is almost at the point of being self-sufficient.
Supply of PPE key preparation for second wave
Having a secure domestic supply will be particularly important if there is a second wave of the deadly virus that causes COVID-19 in the fall, triggering another wild, global scramble for PPE.
China is the dominant supplier of PPE. With the outbreak starting in that country, there was a severe shortage of equipment as the disease first started spreading around the world in March. Countries were out-bidding one another for supplies that were often never delivered.
According to the Public Services and Procurement Canada website, Canada has vast amounts of protective equipment and supplies on order. Some of the contracts are for delivery much later.
As of June 16, 55.7 million face shields had been ordered but only 17.6 million were received; more than one billion pairs of gloves were ordered but only 42.3 million have been received; 126.6 million gowns were ordered but only 4.6 million were received; and 20.4 million litres of hand sanitizer were ordered but just 7.1 million litres have been received.
Federal student service grant unveiled today
Eligible students can receive grants of between $1,000 to $5,000, depending on hours completed. The program was originally announced more than two months ago.
Post-secondary students will be eligible to earn up to $5,000 this summer through a new volunteer service grant. The grant is available for a range of volunteer work, including mask making, tutoring, researching animal behaviour and designing exercise programs for seniors.
The grant will be worth between $1,000 and $5,000, depending on the number of hours completed. For every 100 hours worked, a student is eligible for $1,000, which means someone must volunteer 500 hours to receive the full grant.
The program opens today and runs until Oct. 31, 2020. Only students and recent graduates 30 years old and younger can enrol.
To qualify, an individual must be enrolled part-time or full-time in a recognized post-secondary education program in the spring, summer or fall of 2020, or must have completed post-secondary studies in December 2019 or later.
Back in April, Trudeau announced the creation of the Canada student service grant — a way of giving students who can't find summer jobs a chance to earn some money while volunteering in "national service" activities related to fighting the pandemic.
CRA tip line flooded with 3,300 leads on suspected emergency aid cheats
Canada's tax agency has received more than 3,300 tips on suspected abuse of emergency aid programs designed to help the people and businesses taking a financial hit during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The number of tips about possible fraud involving the Canada emergency response benefit (CERB), the wage subsidy program and student COVID-19 aid is growing fast. As of May 31, the Canada Revenue Agency had received 600 tips; just over a week later, that number had swelled to 1,300.
Canadians already have made 361,000 repayments for CERB aid they weren't eligible for. That's up from 190,000 as of June 3. CRA said repayments were made in cases where applicants received a double payment for the same period, were not actually eligible for the benefit or returned to work earlier than expected.
CRA would not say how many claims have been found to be fraudulent.
Fitch Downgrades Canada's Ratings to 'AA+'; Outlook Stable
Fitch Ratings has downgraded Canada's credit rating to AA+ from AAA, citing the federal government's move to borrow about a quarter of a trillion dollars to prop the economy up during the pandemic lockdown. Fitch Ratings, Moody's and S&P Global Ratings are considered to be the three big credit rating agencies in the U.S.
Fitch last confirmed Canada's rating in July of last year. S&P Global Ratings and Moody's both still have Canada listed as top tier borrowers. S&P Global Ratings last confirmed Canada's rating in November of last year, while Moody's last confirmation came in May of this year.
Fitch said that while it is downgrading Canada's rating, it expects Canada's debt-to-GDP ratio to stabilize over the medium term before the economy gradually starts recovering with the help of monetary and fiscal stimulus. Fitch predicts Canada's pandemic response will increase its consolidated gross general government debt to 115.1 per cent of GDP in 2020, up from 88.3 per cent of GDP in 2019.
A Fitch spokesperson said that to come up with that figure, the company added together Canada's "federal, provincial and territorial, local and other governmental debt liabilities" and subtracted from that amount the value of the Canada Pension Plan and Quebec's Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, which manages several public pension plans. The number does not include unfunded pension liabilities.
Fitch said it expects Canada's debt-to-GDP ratio to stabilize at about 120 to 121 per cent sometime between 2022 and 2024. The report said Fitch has confidence in Canada's economic recovery in 2021 because of the advanced, well-diversified and high-income nature of its national economy. It also cites Canada's political stability, strong governance and policies that have "delivered steady growth and low inflation."
Full Report Available Here
Federal Government Extends Time Periods Given To Employers To Recall Employees Laid Off Due To COVID-19
Prior to these changes, employers could temporarily layoff their employees for up to three months if no notice with a recall date was provided or for a period of up to six months if they provided a notice with an expected recall date before the layoff became a termination. 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, 2020 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 the layoff.
These changes, which came into effect on June 22, 2020, do not apply to employees who are covered by a collective agreement that contains recall rights.
Communications Guide And Template Signage For Businesses Reopening
This communications guide was originally published as part of our in-depth CBRN Reopening Toolkit for Business. By popular request, the communications guide and template signage (including ready-to-print signs) are now available in a stand-alone format. Please feel free to share this resource with your networks.
Access The Guide
Health Canada posts recalls for three more hand sanitizer products
Health Canada has added more hand sanitizer products to their growing recall list. The agency first announced recalls of some hand sanitizer products on June 6 due to the presence of industrial-grade ethanol, and has continued to update the list throughout the month.
The following hand sanitizers were added to the recall list on Monday:
• Gel Antiseptique Pour Les Mains, made by Megalab Inc.
• Germzero, made by Flash Beaute Inc.
• Tekare Instant Hand Cleanser Gel, made by TEKPolymer Inc.
The contaminant listed for these products is ethyl acetate. According to Health Canada, industrial-grade ethanol is harsher than the type of ethanol that has been approved for use in hand sanitizers in Canada. Industrial-grade ethanol also could contain extra chemicals not suited for use in hand sanitizers.
A list of hand sanitizers approved for sale in Canada, as well as a list of similar products that have been accepted under COVID-19 interim measures can be found on Health Canada’s website.
Eight more weeks of CERB to cost $17.9 billion, budget officer says
The parliamentary budget officer estimates in a new report that it will cost the federal government $17.9 billion to provide eight extra weeks of payments through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. The report this morning from budget officer Yves Giroux says that would bring the total cost of the benefit program for people who've lost all or nearly all their work to the COVID-19 pandemic to $71.3 billion.
The CERB, now budgeted at $60 billion, has paid out $43.51 billion to 8.41 million people as of June 4 as demand surged past federal expectations.
With the first cohort of CERB applicants set to hit the 16-week limit on the payments early next month, the Liberals have promised to increase the limit to 24 weeks to provide help through the summer for those who need it.
Giroux's report says the additional cost to the program depends heavily on the outlook for the economy and jobs, as well as the course of the pandemic.
Update on Federal PPE procurement
Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand and Innovation, Science and Industry Minister Navdeep Bains spoke at today’s briefing to provide an update on the government’s supply procurement efforts. Last week, Canada received nine cargo planes with supplies of gowns, gloves and masks. This brings the total to 78 plane loads of supplies received to date since the start of the pandemic. A 13th shipment of hand sanitizer has arrived in Vancouver and the government continues to receive 500,000 N95 masks from 3M on a monthly basis. This amount is in addition to a larger order that 3M is providing to provincial and territorial health systems. In other good news on this front, CAE is set to begin shipping made-in-Canada ventilators every week to the government following recent receipt of its accreditation. Minister Anand remarked that as COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease, the government will be returning to competitive procurement processes where needed.
Forecast says economy will grow in 2021 if there isn't another national shutdown
The Conference Board of Canada says the economy may have already begun to recover from the deepest recession on record if the country can avoid another national COVID-related shutdown. The quarterly forecast estimates Canada's economy will shrink by 8.2 per cent this year, after about three million jobs were lost in March and April due to COVID shut-downs.
It also projects Canada's national unemployment rate will peak at 13.7 per cent in the second quarter ending June 30, the highest since the measure was first recorded in 1976.
But the report says the addition of nearly 300,000 jobs in May and continued easing of restrictions in June probably indicate the pandemic's worst impact on the labour market has passed.
It's projecting the addition of another 1.3 million jobs in the July to September quarter, dropping the national unemployment rate to 10.5 per cent.
The Conference Board says that if the country can avoid a second national shutdown, Canada's economy could grow by 6.7 per cent in 2021 and by 4.8 per cent in 2022.
Business Resilience Service: Still Available
Need help navigating the services available to help your SME get through COVID-19? The Business Resilience Service, delivered to your organization free of charge, provides:
• Guidance on COVID-19 financial support program options and eligibility
• Direction on accessing the most appropriate support organizations
• Help to make decisions to support recovery plans
• Real time insights and feedback to policymakers
To access the BRS, call 1-866-989-1080 to connect with a business advisor from the accounting profession. The service is available seven days/week:
• Monday-Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET
• Saturdays: 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET
• Sundays: 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET
Planned CEBA Expansion Delayed
A promised expansion of a COVID-19 aid program that allows small businesses to access $40,000 loans guaranteed by the federal government will not launch today as planned.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau took to twitter late last night to announce the Canada Emergency Business Account expansion delay, saying: "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. Updates to come."
There's no immediate word on why the program expansion is being delayed.
Several weeks ago the Feds announced the small business loan program would be expanded to allow more to access it, including owner-operated small businesses with payrolls under $20,000, sole proprietors receiving business income directly and family-owned corporations compensating in the form of dividends.
Retail sales plunged 26.4 per cent in April: StatCan
Retail sales fell by more than a quarter in April due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Statistics Canada said Friday that they regained some of the lost ground in May. The agency said retail sales plunged by a record 26.4 per cent to $34.7 billion in April leaving them down 33.6 per cent since physical distancing measures were implemented in mid-March. However, Statistics Canada said early estimates suggest retail sales rose 19.1 per cent in May.
Economists on average had expected a drop in April of 15.1 per cent, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.
However, many retailers started or expanded their online presence and curbside pick-up services in response to the closures. Statistics Canada says online sales surged to a record high, representing 9.5 per cent of the total retail market.
Sales were down in all 11 subsectors in April, while motor vehicle and parts dealers took the largest hit in dollar terms as the sector fell 44.3 per cent for the month.
Sales at food and beverage stores fell 12.7 per cent as supermarkets and other grocery stores saw a drop of 12.0 per cent compared with March when Canadians stocked up.
Retail sales in volume terms fell a record 25.2 per cent in April, following an 8.2 per cent drop in March, leaving them down 31.3 per cent since the onset of the pandemic
Canada tops 100,000 reported coronavirus cases
Ontario reported 173 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, pushing Canada's total number of confirmed and presumptive cases above 100,000.
As of 12:42 p.m. ET on Thursday, Canada had 100,146 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 62,442 of those cases as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial data, regional health information and CBC's reporting stood at 8,348 after being revised down by one when health officials in Ontario's Peel Region updated their figures.
Federal deficit could hit $256 billion, PBO
The parliamentary budget officer says in a new report that this year's federal deficit could hit $256 billion due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The result is the combination of an estimated total of $169 billion in federal spending on emergency aid and a historic drop in economic output.
The budget office estimates the economy could shrink by 6.8 per cent in 2020, the weakest showing since 1981 and double the record of 3.2 per cent shrinkage in 1982.
The overall deficit figure is only $3.8 billion higher than budget officer Yves Giroux's previous predictions, which his report says is due to a better economic outlook in the second half of the year that offsets some new spending.
Previously, Giroux estimated the economy could shrink by 12 per cent in 2020.
Giroux stresses that the figures are the outcome of one of many possible scenarios and not a certain forecast.
The report comes one day after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to deliver a "snapshot" of federal finances on July 8 that will provide short-term spending estimates.
CERB and CEWS costs
The budget office now estimates the $2,000-a-month CERB will cost the government $61.1 billion, but pull in $7.7 billion when recipients are taxed on the income next year. The Liberals have promised to extend the benefits so recipients can receive 24 weeks instead of the current 16, and previously revised the budget for the program to $60 billion.
When the Finance Department increased the cost of the CERB, it also lowered the cost for the CEWS program from to $45 billion from $73 billion based on the take-up rate among businesses. Giroux's office estimates the wage subsidy to cost the treasury $55.6 billion.
Voluntary nationwide contact tracing app coming soon
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today he hopes Canadians will download a new app on their cellphones that will alert them if they've come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
The federally-backed project has been spearheaded by the Canadian Digital Service, a federal initiative, and the Ontario Digital Service, with help from volunteers from the tech firm Shopify. It incorporates Bluetooth technology provided by Apple and Google. The app will undergo a security review by BlackBerry. The technology works by having people who test positive upload their results anonymously to the app, called COVID Alert, using a temporary code given to them by a health care provider, said a federal media release.
Other users who have the app and who have been near someone who has tested positive will then be alerted that they've been exposed and a notification will encourage them to reach out to their local public health authorities.
Ontario will roll out the app first. Officials in that province said they hope to have the app available for download on July 2 for iPhones running iOS 5.0 or later versions, and for Android phones running Android 6.0 or later versions.
App use is voluntary, says PM.
The privacy commissioner was helping with the development of the app. Therefore, no personal information will be shared. The app is super secure. The app will be available on July 1st.
Alberta has been using its own app called ABTraceTogether for weeks now. That has some people worrying about a patchwork of apps across the country that could lead to confusing messaging, low uptake numbers and inconsistent data.
Thousands of tourists, shoppers still trying to enter Canada despite COVID-19 travel ban
Canadian border agents have turned away more than 7,500 foreigners – mostly Americans – trying to visit Canada for non-essential purposes, including sightseeing, shopping and recreation, since pandemic restrictions on travel were imposed.
The latest data available from the Canada Border Services Agency reveals that 7,639 foreign nationals were denied entry to Canada under the discretionary travel ban between March 22 and June 16.
Americans accounted for 87 per cent of those denied entry, with 6,615 U.S. citizens being sent home by Canadian border agents. The remaining 1,024 people denied entry were citizens of other countries not specified by the CBSA.
Federal finance minister will present a fiscal 'snapshot' on July 8
The Trudeau government will provide an update on the state of government finances on July 8. Trudeau said that because of the economic uncertainty created by the global pandemic, the update will not be the same as the ones in previous years.
Trudeau has previously dismissed calls for a fiscal update/budget, arguing there are simply too many variables to make an accurate projection of how the economy will respond. The PM would not offer a timeframe for presenting a full economic update or a budget, saying only it will happen once the economy has stabilized.
The government shelved its plan to present a budget in March, as the novel coronavirus spread around the world and the country went on lockdown. It has been under pressure to give a detailed economic update ever since.
Mandatory mask laws are spreading in Canada
Some communities across Canada have started making non-medical face masks mandatory on public transit — or even in businesses or indoor spaces — to curb the spread of COVID-19. Some doctors and epidemiologists are calling for such laws to be more widespread. But others warn about the potential negative impacts and say the scientific evidence isn't strong enough to warrant such heavy-handed measures. Here's a closer look at the issue.
The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends wearing a non-medical mask or face covering in public places, especially crowded ones, when physical distancing — keeping a distance of two metres from other people — isn't possible to do consistently. Such places include stores, shopping areas and public transportation.
Where in Canada are masks mandatory so far?
Most mandatory mask regulations in Canada so far concern transportation situations where people may have trouble physically distancing.
Most regulations include exceptions for children under two years old and people who can't wear a mask because of breathing difficulties or another medical condition or disability.
- Transport Canada made masks mandatory for air passengers starting in April.
- Some transit agencies in Ontario have announced that masks will be mandatory on buses, streetcars and trains, including Ottawa, Toronto, Hamilton and Guelph.
- In addition, at least two municipalities are implementing mandatory mask laws:
- Côte Saint-Luc, Que., a Montreal suburb that had hundreds of confirmed COVID-19 cases and dozens of deaths by the beginning of June, is making face masks mandatory in indoor public spaces starting July 1.
- The municipality of Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph in Ontario made masks or face coverings mandatory at most businesses earlier in June.
CAMH survey shows pandemic affecting mental health, but anxiety levels may be easing
Findings from a new survey by Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) indicate the pandemic has had a significant impact on the mental health of Canadians. "What's unique about this pandemic is it affects everyone," said Samantha Wells, senior director of the Institute for Mental Health Policy Research at CAMH. "It's pervasive and everyone is being affected in some way, shape or form."
The study found that 20 per cent of Canadians surveyed say they have been experiencing loneliness during the pandemic. One in five also reported feeling moderate to severe levels of anxiety because of factors such as job loss and fear of contracting the virus. CAMH staff were particularly surprised, however, by one result in the survey. When the second group was surveyed two weeks after the first sampling, the percentage of people saying they were anxious dropped by four percentage points — from 25.5 per cent in early May to 21.5 per cent towards the end of that month. It was a small change, but one that researchers classify as significant. "The explanation we're coming up with now is it's possible that people are really adjusting to the pandemic," Wells said.
She said that CAMH jumped at the opportunity to gather this data with Delvinia, a global research technology company, in order to ascertain how this unprecedented event is affecting the mental health of Canadians. The goal is to use the knowledge for future programming at the hospital, as well as to brace health-care providers for what may come should a second wave of the virus hit this country. "We may be facing a mental health crisis," Wells said. "We don't know what will come next. But certainly, if there is another wave of this pandemic, there's a lot to be concerned about in terms of the mental health of Canadians." That's why Wells argued it's essential to gather as much information as possible about the ways Canadians are feeling.
Canada- U.S. border to remain closed to non-essential travel until July 21
The Canada-U.S. border will remain closed to non-essential travel for at least another 30 days to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus as confirmed cases in the United States continue to climb past the two million mark.
The deal was set to expire on Sunday but will now extend until July 21, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced during his daily news conference today. Both countries reached an agreement in March to temporarily close the border to non-essential travel — meaning no recreational visits — while keeping it open to commercial traffic and essential workers who cross the border for work, and has already extended the deal twice so far.
Last week the federal government announced it will now allow some immediate family members separated by the temporary COVID-19 travel restrictions to cross the border into the country.
CERB payments to be extended for 2 more months
Today, PM Trudeau confirmed that the government will be extending eligibility for the CERB by eight more weeks. Those who have been receiving the CERB, but cannot find a job, will continue to receive $2,000 a month. Over the next few weeks, the government will look at international best practices and monitor the economy and progression of the virus to determine what changes – if any – are required to continue supporting Canadians.
A draft bill placed conditions on CERB payments requiring recipients to actively look for work and to not turn down reasonable work opportunities. That legislation did not pass, but Trudeau said today the government will find ways to encourage people to work when they are able.
Employees who make more than $1,000 a month are no longer eligible for CERB. The Conservatives have called for a scaled approach that would allow people to collect a percentage of CERB while working more hours.
Extension of CERB and changes to CEBA are coming
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today that the federal government will extend the Canada emergency response benefit (CERB), with details to follow in the days ahead. The CERB is due to run out soon for people who have been on the benefit since it was first launched in April, at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. People can only claim the benefit for 16 weeks — four eligibility periods — and the end of the program's fourth eligibility period is early July. Trudeau announced that "We're working on a solution to extend the benefit for people who can't return to work yet. We'll have more details this week…”
Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos said today the "situation has changed" since the CERB was first introduced — the economy has re-opened in many parts of the country — so there will be "new parameters" to the program when the extension is formally announced.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has made extending CERB eligibility a condition of his party's support for a key piece of fiscal legislation that is set to be tabled in the House of Commons this week. The government will present the supplementary estimates on Wednesday and Parliament must pass that bill, which gives the government the authority to spend on programs and services. The legislation is considered a confidence vote — meaning the government could fall if it doesn't obtain the support of at least one of the opposition parties for these estimates.
CEWS take up lower than expected
While more than eight million Canadians have applied for the relief benefit during this economic slowdown, the take-up for the wage subsidy program — which floats government funds to employers to keep employees on the payroll — has been considerably lower. The government cut its projected budget for the wage subsidy for the 12-week period between April and June from $73 billion to $45 billion. As of June 8, the program has paid out only $10.5 billion in wage subsidies.
CEBA changes Friday for those paying dividends
Trudeau also announced that the government will start accepting new applications for the Canada emergency business account (CEBA) starting Friday. Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos announced that approximately 670,000 businesses have received a small business loan so far. On Friday, eligibility for the program will expand to those paying dividends, those working with contractors and those that had previously been ineligible for assistance.
Average house price in May was down, even as sales bounced back from record low in April
Home sales bounced back by 57 per cent from their worst April in more than 30 years last month, but the average price of a home sold in May still inched lower compared to last year. The Canadian Real Estate Association says home sales were 56.9 per cent higher in May than they were in April.
April and May are typically a very busy month for home sales, as warmer weather prompts buyers to start shopping after their winter hibernation. But COVID-19 has thrown the usual seasonal patterns of real estate out the window, as widespread lockdowns and physical distancing requirements slowed most showings to a crawl.
This April was the worst such month in almost 40 years for home sales, CREA reported last month. Activity picked up a little in May, but the sales level is still just two-thirds what it was before the pandemic struck.
Bill C-17 To Allow Deadline Extensions For Federal Corporations
On June 10, 2020, 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:
The bill grants authority to extend the period for holding annual meetings and, for boards of trade, the deadline for filing annual summaries. We will provide more information as soon as it is available.
- Canada Business Corporations Act
- Canada Not for profit Corporations Act
- Canada Cooperatives Act
- Boards of Trade Act
Grocery chains phasing out $2 hourly pay bump for workers implemented at start of COVID-19
Grocery chains Loblaws and Metro, as well as Walmart, have decided to stop giving their workers the $2-an-hour pay bump they put in place in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Loblaws, whose brands include Shoppers Drug Mart and No Frills, announced the decision in a letter to members of its loyalty program PC Optimum on Thursday.
Metro, which owns Metro, Food Basics, Jean Coutu and other brands, confirmed that it, too, plans to phase out its $2 hourly pay bump. Walmart Canada gave its workers a similar pay bump for April and May, and confirmed to CBC News in an email that those payments will now be stopped. But the company said it is adding enhanced support for its workers through things like tele-health services, mental health support and counselling, as well as increased discounts on purchases on top of the discounts they regularly receive. Other major Canadian grocery chains, such as Longo's and Sobeys, did not immediately respond to a request for comment as to whether or not they will scrap their pay increases.
While ending the hourly pay bump, Loblaws and Metro plan to disburse one final bonus to workers next month. Metro will pay full-time staff an extra $200 on their July 2 paycheque, while part-timers will get $100. Loblaws workers can expect a $160 bonus next month pro-rated to a 40-hour work week. The two chains and others implemented the pay bump to workers in March as panic buying in the early stages of lockdowns had many stores struggling to keep items on the shelves.
CBRN Small Business Relief Fund: Applications Close June 12
The CBRN Small Business Relief Fund will help 62 small Canadian businesses recover and support their resilience, for a total of $620,000 in funds. Businesses can use the $10,000 grants to support their recovery efforts, including paying salaries, retrofitting their workplaces and acquiring technology to adapt their business models. Applications close at 8:00 p.m. ET on Friday, June 12.
$57 Million Investment in Digital Main Street Will Help Businesses Reopen, Recover and Grow
The Ontario government, in partnership with the federal government, launched a $57-million program through the Digital Main Street platform to help up to 22,900 Ontario businesses create and enhance their online presence and generate jobs for more than 1,400 students.
Businesses will be able to take advantage of three new programs to support their digital transformation:
In addition, the Recovery Activation Program, operated through the Toronto Region Board of Trade, will help businesses grow and digitize their operations with custom consulting sessions, online resource sharing, learning webcasts and business planning. As a result of the investment announced today, the program will be offered province-wide and at no cost to businesses.
- shopHERE powered by Google will leverage Ontario's strengths by hiring highly skilled and trained students to build and support the launch of online stores for businesses that previously did not have the capacity to do so themselves. The core goal will be to help small businesses compete and grow, in a world that is increasingly online, and help them recover as quickly as possible following COVID-19.
- Digital Main Street Grant will help main street small businesses be digitally more effective. Through a $2,500 grant administered by the Ontario BIA Association, small businesses will be able to adopt new technologies and embrace digital marketing. Municipalities, Chambers of Commerce, and Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) can apply for a Digital Service Squad grant, which will allow them to establish teams to provide personalized, one-on-one support.
- Future-Proofing Main Street will provide specialized and in-depth digital transformation services and support that helps existing main-street firms adapt to changes in their sector and thrive in the new economy. By leveraging teams of digital marketing professionals and talented students, these firms will be able to create new online business models, develop and implement digital and e-commerce marketing strategies, and maximize digital tools, platforms and content.
Ottawa commits $133M in further aid for Indigenous businesses
PM Trudeau announced an additional $133 million in funding today to help Indigenous businesses suffering the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. About $117 million of this investment will help small and community owned businesses get through the pandemic, while $16 million is being allocated specifically for Indigenous businesses in the tourism industry.
Federal opposition parties reject CERB/disability support bill
Opposition parties have refused to give unanimous consent to speedily pass the federal government's latest emergency legislation. They have also rejected the government's bid to split the bill to allow benefits for Canadians with disabilities to go ahead while continuing debate on the changes to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
The bill includes a proposed expansion of the wage subsidy program to include seasonal workers and some additional businesses, as well as proposed penalties for fraudulently claiming the CERB. It also proposes changes to the CERB in response to concerns that the benefit is discouraging people from returning to low-paying jobs.
The NDP is balking at the prospect of Canadians who fraudulently claim the $2,000-a-month CERB being fined or sent to jail — despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's assurances that the punishment is aimed at those who deliberately defraud the government, not those who make honest mistakes.
The Conservatives are holding out for a full resumption of House of Commons business.
The Bloc Québécois is demanding three conditions be met before it will support the bill: a fiscal update this month, a first ministers' meeting before September on health-care transfers to the provinces and a ban on political parties accessing the wage subsidy to avoid laying off staff.
Canada-U.S. border closure to be extended into July
The Canada-U.S. border closure to all non-essential traffic will be extended beyond the June 21 date set last month. Media reports suggest that Canada and the United States are holding talks about extending the border restrictions, but the agreement has yet to be signed.
Both countries reached an agreement in March to temporarily close the border to non-essential travel — meaning no recreational visits — while keeping it open to commercial traffic and essential workers who cross the border for work.
The deal extension was first reported by Reuters on Tuesday.
It is unclear how long the border restrictions will be extended. The initial agreement was extended in April by 30 days until May 21, before being extended for another 30 days last month.
Make the Most of the CBRN Reopening Toolkit for Business
As many provinces and territories continue to make progress on resuming some economic activities, please remember to make use of the comprehensive CBRN reopening toolkit. The toolkit provides information on regulations and reopening, childcare access, communications materials, sourcing PPE, access to guides and materials from other organizations and more.
Access the Toolkit
Government Launches PPE Supply Hub Website
The Supply Hub connects Canadian organizations with federal, provincial, territorial and other resources and information about PPE, including consumer guidance. Buyers will find PPE supplier lists, in addition to guidance to help plan their PPE purchases.
Access The Hub
Federal bill proposes tighter rules for CERB
The Liberal government is proposing legislation that would impose tighter rules for claiming the Canada emergency response benefit (CERB) and is threatening to impose fines and jail time on those who deliberately lie on applications.
The bill comes as the government faces pressure from the Conservatives on the one hand to weed out fraudulent claims and urge people to get back to work — and pressure from the NDP on the other hand to extend emergency aid and avoid going after Canadians who file ineligible claims.
In a bill to be tabled in the House of Commons Wednesday, the government says Canadians won't be eligible to claim the benefit if:
The bill also lays out penalties for claimants whose applications include information that is "false or misleading," and for those who "knowingly failed" to disclose sources of income or other relevant facts when they applied for the federal aid.
- They fail to go back to work when it is reasonable to do so, and their employer asks them to return.
- They fail to resume self-employment when it's reasonable to do so.
- They decline a reasonable job offer when they are able to work.
Cyber Threats to Canadian Organizations
The Canadian Centre for Cyber Security has issued an alert regarding cybercrime during the pandemic. The centre has assessed that the COVID-19 pandemic presents an elevated level of risk to the cybersecurity of Canadian health organizations involved in the national response to the pandemic, including but not limited to medical research, manufacturing, distribution and policy-making organizations.
Read The Alert
WHO backtracks on claim that asymptomatic spread of COVID-19 is 'very rare'
A top official with the World Health Organization has walked back statements that the spread of COVID-19 from people who do not show symptoms is "very rare," amid backlash from experts who have questioned the claim because of a lack of data. Maria van Kerkhove, an infectious disease epidemiologist and the COVID-19 technical lead for the WHO, said Monday that the available data from published research and member countries had shown asymptomatic cases were not a significant driver for the spread of the virus. Van Kerkhove said she didn't intend to imply that asymptomatic transmission of the virus globally was "very rare," but rather that the available data based on modelling studies and member countries had not been able to provide a clear enough picture on the amount of asymptomatic transmission.
Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease physician at Toronto General Hospital, said there has been confusion over the evolving science on the amount of asymptomatic transmission since the start of the pandemic. "At a fundamental level it's extremely important to explain the science well and explain what our current knowledge is and also explain what the unknown questions are," he said. "I don't think the WHO did a very good job of that yesterday and they did a questionable job of that today when they were trying to clarify their comments." Bogoch said there is a key discrepancy between people who do not have symptoms, those who have not yet shown symptoms and those who only have mild symptoms, which can make studying the true number of asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 extremely challenging.
Hand Sanitizer Recall
Check your hand sanitizer label. On Saturday, Health Canada issued a recall of six hand sanitizers that are made with industrial-grade ethanol. The chemical can lead to dry skin, irritation and cracking. The brands include Eltraderm, Contract Packaging Distributions, Nature's Own, Sanilabs and Walker Emulsions.
Canada added 290,000 jobs in May
After losing more than three million jobs in March and April, Canada's economy added 290,000 jobs in May, Statistics Canada reported Friday.
The data agency reported that 290,000 more people had paid employment in May than in April. The surge means May was the best one-month gain for jobs in Canada in 45 years, although it happened from an admittedly low bar. It also means the economy has now replaced about 10 per cent of the jobs it lost to COVID-19.
Despite the job gains, Canada's official unemployment rate rose to 13.7 per cent, as 491,000 more people were looking for work in the job market, notably students, whose search for summer work isn't normally recorded in the months before May.
In February, Canada's jobless rate was 5.6 per cent. It increased to 7.8 per cent in March and 13 per cent in April. The number of unemployed Canadians has more than doubled since February.
The vast majority of the new jobs came in Quebec, which added 230,900. Every other province added jobs except Ontario, which lost 64,500 positions.
What do we mean by 'job,' anyway?
Scotiabank economist Derek Holt said that while overall the job numbers were certainly positive, he's taking them with several grains of salt because it all depends on what is meant by "employment" in these unprecedented times.
StatsCan's job numbers are based on a survey of Canadians, which means they are based on answers by human beings and subject to interpretation. Nearly three million Canadians reported they worked no hours in May, but still told the data collectors at StatsCan that they consider themselves to be employed.
"Whether or not you believe that Canada created about 290,000 jobs last month depends, critically, upon what fraction of those who worked no hours in May but said they were employed will ultimately return to their jobs," Holt said.
Right now, the millions of people on Canada's federal government wage subsidy program are not considered to be unemployed, despite not actively working, "and hence not as a lost job," Holt noted. "Some will indeed return to full or part hours, and we all hope this to be the case for all, [but] some won't regain the full hours they had before ... and some will not return at all."
If those people don't return to active work, May's job surge could vanish as swiftly as it appeared.
Federal government to provide $14B to provinces, territories to 'safely' restart economies
The federal government is providing $14 billion to the provinces and territories to help them "safely and carefully" reopen their economies — but the premier of Canada's most populous province says it's not nearly enough.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement at his daily news conference outside his residence at Rideau Cottage this morning, saying the money will help pay for more personal protective equipment (PPE) for front-line health care workers and businesses, and for child care so that parents can go back to work.
Some of the money going to provinces and territories is meant to help them improve the state of long-term care, and to help municipalities continue providing core public services such as transit. The government is saying little at this point about how the money will be carved up and when it will flow.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford said it's a "start" but $14 billion falls far short of what's required to address the "massive need" in his province. "The reality is, we have a $23 billion problem in Ontario, and $14 billion for all of Canada ... just won't cut it," he said.
Federal Government Announces One-Time Payment To Individuals Who Are Certificate Holders Of The Disability Tax Credit
The Prime Minister announced that the government is introducing a one-time, non-taxable payment of up to $600 for Canadians with disabilities. The government will also establish a national workplace accessibility stream to help people with disabilities find and keep a good paying job. In addition, five new projects are being funded across the country to support Canadians in obtaining supportive devices that will help them overcome barriers in the workplace.
CMHC removes requirement for Tenant to disclose Gross Annual Revenue from CECRA application
Overnight the CMHC made a change to the CECRA program which removed the requirement for Tenant’s to disclose to their landlords their Gross Annual Revenue. Tenant’s will still have to attest that they meet the requirements of the program.
CECRA Website for more information
Canadian Chamber releases Roadmap to Recovery
Today the Canadian Chamber of Commerce launched Roadmap to Recovery, which takes a comprehensive look at the challenges facing Canada’s economy and identifies 51 specific recommendations governments should adopt to overcome the challenges identified. Canada was prepared to do whatever it took to ensure we made it through this pandemic, and we need to apply the same mindset to repairing our economy.
Read the News Release
Access The Roadmap To Recovery
Personal bankruptcies fell to record low in April
The number of people filing for bankruptcy fell to a record low in April, as government support programs and mortgage deferrals during the coronavirus pandemic are keeping people's heads above water for now.
According to official data released by the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada, a total of 6,700 people across Canada filed for bankruptcy or made a formal proposal to their creditors that month, a figure that is down by 43 per cent compared to the same month a year earlier.
That's the biggest plunge on record dating back to 1988, and the smallest number of people filing for bankruptcy since at least 2007.
But the decline in personal bankruptcies doesn't suggest fewer people are feeling the financial pinch. Rather, it suggests that people are doing whatever it takes to pay the bills for now.
Official numbers from Statistics Canada show that more than one million Canadians lost their job in March, and another two million lost their job in April. Numbers for May are due out on Friday, and they are expected to show at least another half-million jobs lost.
Counterintuitively, that record-setting pace of job losses may be keeping insolvencies at bay for now. Bankrupcy consultants conceded that "If not working, a debtor is largely creditor proof," and the courts are closed.
As of the middle of May, more than seven million Canadians had applied for the Canada emergency response benefit, Ottawa's $35 billion program for laid-off Canadians. The program seems to be having an impact in keeping creditors at bay, as "CERB payments cannot be garnished."
COVID-19 support for seniors will flow starting July 6
Today, the Prime Minister revealed the release date for supplemented seniors payments, announced back in May, will flow during the week of July 6, 2020. The government is investing $2.5 billion to provide a one-time, tax-free payment of $300 to seniors eligible for the Old Age Security pension. To support Canada’s most vulnerable seniors, an additional $200 is also being provided to seniors who are eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement.
To date only 1.3% of landlords have agreed to take part in the commercial rent relief program
A recent report by the Globe and Mail indicates that since the program opened last week, only 16,000 landlords of the country's 1.2 million small businesses have agreed to take part in the program. Applications for CECRA opened May 25.
The CFA has sent a letter to the federal and provincial governments asking for the following changes to the current program and some provincial actions to help incentivize landlords into participating.
1. Reduce the 70% threshold to 30%
2. Inclusion of “Dark Sites” in the program
3. Allow tenants to apply for the CECRA without their landlord
4. Extend the program beyond the current April, May, June window
Provincial governments must use their policy and legislative tools
5. Institute a temporary moratorium on commercial rent default evictions for a six-month period
6. Temporarily suspend property tax rebate for vacant properties
7. Expand access to CEBA so that landlords can use the loan on a site by site basis
Bank of Canada holds rate steady but scales back some COVID-19 stimulus
The Bank of Canada held its benchmark interest rate steady at 0.25 per cent on Wednesday and said it thinks the economic impact of COVID-19 on the world's economy "appears to have peaked." Canada's central bank has dropped its rate dramatically since the pandemic began, cutting its rate from 1.75 per cent in late February to 0.25 per cent barely a month later.
The bank also announced it will tinker with a number of bond and debt-buying programs in order to make sure there is enough cash in the system.
The Bank's programs to improve market function are having their intended effect. As a result, the Bank is reducing the frequency of its term repo operations to once per week, and its program to purchase bankers' acceptances to bi-weekly operations.
Bank of Montreal economist Benjamin Reitzes noted that "both of these operations have seen much less take-up (or none at all) of late." In barely two months, the feverish pace of bond buying to buttress the economy has ballooned the bank's balance sheet by $125 billion according to Toronto-Dominion Bank economist James Orlando.
GDP decline less than expected
When announcing the decision today, the bank noted that it now expects GDP to decline between 10% and 20% compared to last year—a less severe expectation than was forecast in April. The central bank is now projecting that the Canadian economy will recover in the third quarter of 2020.
Trudeau: Restarting the economy and access to PPE
Noting that every province and territory will have its own plans to restart their economies, the prime minister highlighted the need for a collaborative approach among governments. The prime minister went on to emphasize that as provinces re-open demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) will increase. He then turned to ongoing procurement efforts.
Prime Minister Trudeau noted that the government has procured over 100 million surgical masks and nearly 40 million surgical gloves. The prime minister went on to note that over half of the face shields in the country have been produced domestically. Prime Minister Trudeau went on to announce that the government has delivered funding to four Canadian companies working on rapid testing, including Deep Biologics in Guelph.
The prime minister went on to highlight the work of the Industry Strategy Council and the work it is doing to analyze the impact that the pandemic is having on various sectors in the country.
Conference Board releases Provincial Outlook Summary
This quarterly economic forecast provides highlights of the Provincial Outlook report, which presents the short-term outlook for Canada’s provinces.
- Canada is in the midst of its worst economic downturn in decades, with real GDP expected to decline by 4.3 per cent this year.
- The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the economic outlook for all provinces, with significant declines in economic activity right across the country.
- Alberta will be hardest hit this year as it contends with the combination of restrictions on activity to slow the spread of the virus and an unprecedented drop in the price and demand for oil.
- The economic outlook for next year is much better, with all provinces expected to rebound strongly.
CRA snitch line now open to report fraudulent CERB, CEWS claims
The CRAs Leads Program updated its website this week to include the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) funds to its list of reportable cheating activities.
As of June 1, the government had processed more than 15 million applications for CERB, including more than eight million unique applicants, and paid out more than $42 billion in benefits.
Nine business leaders appointed to the Industry Strategy Council
These leaders come from a diverse array of sectors, including agri-food, digital industries, manufacturing, transportation and clean tech. This panel will provide a forum for business leaders to share their direct perspectives on the scope of challenges that Canadian industries face. The Council will hold virtual meetings every two weeks over the next three months.
- Murad Al-Katib, President and Chief Executive Officer, AGT Food and Ingredients – Agri-food sector
- John Baker, M.S.C., President and Chief Executive Officer, D2L Corporation – Digital Industries sector
- Rhonda Barnet, President and Chief Operating Officer, AVIT Manufacturing – Advanced Manufacturing sector
- Paviter Binning, President, Wittington Investments, Limited – Retail sector
- Ben Cowan-Dewar, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Cabot Links – Tourism & Hospitality sector
- Karimah Es Sabar, Chief Executive Officer and Partner, Quark Venture – Health & Biosciences sector
- Karen Hamberg, Vice President of External Affairs and Sustainability, Westport Fuel Systems Inc. – Clean Technology sector
- Mark Little, President and Chief Executive Officer, Suncor Energy Inc. – Resources of the Future sector
- Sylvie Vachon, President and Chief Executive Officer, Montreal Port Authority – Transportation sector
Facebook Extends Small Business Grants Application Deadline
We know your business may be experiencing disruptions resulting from the global outbreak of COVID-19. We’ve heard that a little financial support can go a long way, so Facebook is offering cash grants and ad credits to help during this challenging time. The application deadline for the Facebook grants program has been extended to June 7 at 11:59 p.m. ET.
The Facebook grants program is a separate initiative from the CBRN Small Business Relief Fund, which is accepting applications until Friday, June 12 at 8:00 p.m. ET. Businesses may apply for both programs; however, if your business receives in excess of $1,000 from the Facebook program, you will not be eligible to receive a CBRN grant.
Apply For A Facebook Grant
Apply For A CBRN Grant
Upcoming Tax Filing Deadlines
- Filing date for 2019 tax year: June 1, 2020
- Payment date for 2019 tax year: September 1, 2020
Self-employed and their spouse or common law partner
- Filing date for current tax year: June 15, 2020
- Payment date for current tax year: September 1, 2020
- Filing date for 2019 tax year:
- June 1, 2020 for corporations that would otherwise have a filing due date after March 18 and before June 1, 2020.)
September 1, 2020 for corporations that would otherwise have a filing deadline in June, July, or August 2020.
- Payment date for 2019 tax year
- September 1, 2020 for balances and instalments under Part I of the Income Tax Act due on or after March 18 and before September 1, 2020.
Canada's economy shrank at an 8% in the first 3 months of 2020
Canada's economy shrank at an 8 per cent annual pace in the first three months of 2020, worst since 2009. Statistics Canada reported Friday that the slowdown was the sharpest quarterly drop since the financial crisis of 2009, as measures to contain the pandemic such as school and business closures, border shutdowns and travel restrictions brought economic activity grinding to a halt.
The eight per cent decline was better than the ten per cent contraction that economists had been expecting for the period.
While the vast majority of the contraction came in March when the pandemic hit, January and February's numbers weren't overly strong to begin with due to pre-existing drags such as rail blockades across the country, and a teacher strike in Ontario in February.
Canada's gross domestic product was 2.1 per cent smaller over the three months than it was at the end of 2019. But much of that came in March alone, as GDP declined by 7.2 per cent during the month. That makes March 2020 the worst month for Canada's economy since record-keeping began in 1961.
By sector, the slowdown in March was striking, including:
- Accommodation and food services, down 39.5 per cent.
- Transportation and warehousing, down 12.2 per cent.
- Air transportation, down 40.9 per cent.
- Manufacturing, down 6.5 per cent.
- Retail trade, down 9.6 per cent.
- Educational services, down 13.5 per cent.
- Arts, entertainment and recreation, down 41.3 per cent.
- Construction, down 4.4 per cent.
- Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction, down five per cent.
Canadian Economy Shrank More Than U.S. but Less than Other G7 Countries: StatCan
Today’s StatCan report noted that while Canada’s performance may be worse than that of the U.S., it’s in the “middle of the pack” compared to other developed countries, Bank of Montreal chief economist Doug Porter wrote in a client note. He outlined the change in GDP “from least bad to worst”:
- Japan (-3.4 per cent)
- U.S. (-5.0 per cent)
- U.K. (-7.7 per cent)
- Canada (-8.2 per cent)
- Germany (-8.6 per cent)
- Italy (-17.7 per cent)
- France (-21.4 per cent)
Ottawa extends large cruise ship ban until October
Transport Minister Marc Garneau said Thursday passenger ships with overnight accommodations for more than 100 people — including both passengers and crew — can't operate in Canadian waters until at least Oct. 31. The move extends and expands an order issued in mid-March that barred ships with more than 500 passengers from Canadian waters until July.
Ships with more than 12 passengers can't go to the Arctic until at least Oct. 31, for fear that one might carry COVID-19 to a remote northern community.
4 in 10 Canadians can feasibly perform their job from home – StatCan
New data released by Statistics Canada reveals that only four in 10 Canadians hold jobs that can be reasonably performed remotely. StatCan data released on Thursday broke down how many Canadians are physically able to work from home, based on their employment, and found that only 39 per cent of Canadians are able to work remotely. The data looked at the “telework capacity” of different industries to measure how likely they were to be able to work from home.
Finance, insurance and educational service workers had the highest ability to work from home, at 85 per cent. Other jobs that had a high capacity for being performed remotely were professional, scientific and technical services, at 84 per cent. At the other end of the scale, food services, agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting have “almost no telework capacity,
The 39 per cent statistic is striking when compared to the percentage of Canadians who worked from home before the pandemic. In 2018, around 13 per cent of Canadians were doing some scheduled work from home hours -- only a tiny raise from the 10 per cent of Canadians who worked from home in 2000, according to the StatCan report.
CBRN Small Business Relief Fund Now Accepting Applications
Applications are now open for the Canadian Business Resilience Network Small Business Relief Fund! We are offering grants to Canadian small businesses that have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to help them recover and support their resilience. 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 are being accepted until Friday, June 12, 2020 at 8:00 p.m. ET.
Learn More And Apply Here
Federal government to provide rent relief to eligible business tenants at all National Parks, National Historic Sites And National Marine Conservation Areas
The Government of Canada is taking further action to support businesses operating in Canada’s national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas dealing with the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The government will waive up to 75% of eligible commercial rents for the months of April, May and June 2020 or equivalent amounts of annual rents. This relief is additional to measures announced March 27 allowing commercial operators to defer payments normally due on or after April 2, 2020 to as late as September 1, 2020.
Parks Canada will be contacting all holders of commercial leases and licences of occupation in national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas to provide details on this additional relief. Information will also be made available soon on the Parks Canada website.
CBRN Business Reopening Toolkit and Provincial/Territorial Regulation Tracker
In order to operate, businesses must abide by all national, provincial/territorial and local codes issued by our governments. This includes when and which businesses can open, an array of health and safety measures, social distancing standards, occupancy limits and more. Through the CBRN Business Reopening Toolkit, you can access the rules and regulations that are in place according to federal and provincial/territorial jurisdictions.
CBRN Small Business Relief Fund launched
CBRN Small Business Relief Fund launched to give grants of 10,000 to help support business recovery efforts. The Fund will help 62 small Canadian businesses recover and support their resilience, for a total of $620,000 in funds.
Businesses can use the $10,000 grants to support their recovery efforts, including paying salaries, acquiring safety and personal protective equipment for staff, replenishing materials or paying for the measures required to adapt business models to the economic impacts of COVID-19.
During the COVID-19 crisis, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s mission is to help as many businesses as possible stay afloat and remain open. Small business owners put everything they have into their businesses, and these grants will help give a little bit back. Good people coming together is how Canadians have managed this crisis, and the Canadian Chamber and Salesforce are following their lead, one business at a time.
Contribute to the CFA’s submission on the future of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)
The Government of Canada is reviewing the CEWS program, and input from businesses is required to inform potential changes to the program to best meet the needs of businesses and their staff. You can participate via a short online survey or by email. Deadline to participate is June 5, 2020.
Feel free to share your views on the future of the CEWS by emailing email@example.com. Your comments will help CFA staff craft our response to the public consultation.
Facebook Canada Launches Grant Program And New Supports, Totalling Nearly $3.5 Million For Small Businesses
Small businesses are the pillars of our communities and, right now, they need everyone’s support. Today, Facebook Canada launched a program with nearly $3.5 million in support for small- and medium-sized businesses in the Ottawa-Gatineau, Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal regions. From grants and virtual training to enhanced resources and new product features, this is Facebook Canada's way of giving a hand to those who give our communities so much. The deadline to apply for the grants is Tuesday, June 2.
For more information.
CRA Extends Filing Deadlines For Corporations And Trusts
The CRA has extended deadlines for T2 Corporate Income Tax Returns and T3 Trust Income Tax Returns that had been due in June, July or August. Those returns are now due September 1, 2020. As previously announced by CRA, any income tax balance due on or after March 18 and before September 1 is also now due by September 1, 2020.
INFO ON T2s & T3s
INFO ON TAX FILING AND PAYMENT
Did you and your landlord apply for commercial rent relief today?
Federal-Provincial Commercial Rent Assistance Program officially opened this morning. Application documents and updated criteria are now available here.
Is you landlord working with you to apply? If not, the CFA wants to know. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with
These stories will help the CFA advocate for changes in the program criteria to help make more CFA members eligible for support.
- Your business legal name
- Your landlords name
- Your location
- A summary of your situation
- Your contact information
Business Resilience Service launched to help businesses navigate government programs
Canadian Chamber and the Government of Canada team up with accounting profession to provide free advice to small to medium-sized business, not-for-profits and charities.
The program, called the Business Resilience Service (BRS), is run through the Canadian Chamber’s Canadian Business Resilience Network in collaboration with EY and with support from Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada) and Imagine Canada. The BRS will provide options for any vulnerable small to medium-sized business, not-for-profit or charity to immediately connect with experienced accounting and tax professionals across the country from professional services firms. The program, delivered to organizations free of charge, will:
The BRS program, coordinated by EY, will be provided for four weeks from Monday, May 25, and will involve support from approximately 125 business advisors from across the accounting profession. Organizations can access the BRS seven days a week by calling 1-866-989-1080.
- Provide guidance on program options and eligibility
- Rapidly direct businesses – including enterprises involving Indigenous peoples, women and diverse groups – to the most appropriate support organizations
- Help organizations make decisions to support recovery plans
- Provide real time insights and feedback to policymakers
Federal government to work with province to provide workers with 10 days of paid sick leave per year
Following recent conversations with NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, Prime Minister Trudeau committed to working closely with the provinces to provide workers with 10 days of paid sick leave per year. Trudeau stressed that no one should have to choose between paying bills and taking time off to care for themselves. He also confirmed that the government is considering other mechanisms to support workers “for the longer term”. Specific details about the delivery of paid sick leave is expected to come in the weeks ahead.
Commercial Rent Assistance Portal Opens Monday, May 25, 2020
The CECRA for small businesses application portal opens at 8:00 am on Monday, May 25.
Application documents and updated criteria are now available here.
Government launches benefit-finder tool for emergency aid
The government launched an online tool today to help Canadians navigate the various financial benefits available during the pandemic, as the political parties continue to spar over the resumption of Parliament.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the benefit-finder tool during a daily briefing. The government site is now live to help students, seniors and out-of-work Canadians find out which benefits they can access.
Update on the PM’s call with the Premiers
Last night the Prime Minister spoke with the provincial and territorial Premiers for the tenth time since the start of the pandemic. The call has been happening every week since the crisis began. On the call they spoke at length about the safe re-opening of the economy and mutually outlined a set of principles for moving forward. These principles include:
While each of the Premiers plans will be different, Trudeau confirmed that they are all working towards one common goal: protecting Canadians. He emphasized the next phase of collaborative efforts will focus on testing, contact tracing and data collection and Trudeau has told the Premiers the feds are here to “support, facilitate and fund” this work.
- Canada needs to continue scaling up its testing capacity to quickly identify new cases and isolate them. The federal government is working with the provinces and territories to expand testing by procuring more reagents and swabs. Some provinces have the capacity to meet current needs, but both levels of government are collaborating to ramp up these efforts.
- Canada needs to accelerate its ability to conduct contact tracing. The feds have trained federal employees to make 3,600 contact tracing calls every day of the week. Statistics Canada also has an additional 1,700 interviewers available to make 20,000 calls a day. Ontario is already utilizing these federal services and Trudeau noted these resources are available to assist other provinces and territories with their tracing backlogs.
- Canada needs to ensure that data that is collected across jurisdictions is shared between the provinces and territories to help manage spread.
COVID-19 pushed Canadian retail sales to their biggest ever plunge in March
Widespread lockdowns due to COVID-19 across the country pushed Canadian retail sales down by 10 per cent in March, the biggest plunge on record. Statistics Canada reported Friday that about 40 per cent of Canadian retailers closed their doors in March, as government lockdowns and physical distancing requirements set in. March's plunge was more than twice as bad as the previous record of 4.5 per cent, set in February 1998.
The data agency says April's preliminary numbers suggest that month's data are likely to be even worse, down 15 per cent from March's already low level, but the numbers released Friday show just how bad things got in just the first two weeks of lockdown.
Overall, Canadians spent just $47 billion at retailers in March. That's the worst month since 2016.
Just about every type of retailer saw sales plummet during the month, but those deemed non-essential bore the brunt, including:
There were a few bright spots, namely grocery stores that saw booming business as Canadians stocked up to shelter in place. Food and beverage sales were up 22 per cent, while general merchandise stores had their best month ever, with sales up 6.4 per cent.
Sales at health and personal care stores rose 4.6 per cent, also to their highest level on record. Cannabis sales rose 19 per cent.
Another bright spot was the growth in online retailers, as Canadians spent $2.2 billion online in March. That's 40 per cent higher than it was in the same month last year.
- Clothing stores, down 51 per cent.
- Motor vehicle and parts dealers, down 35 per cent.
- Furniture and home furnishings, down 24 per cent.
- Hobby, book and music stores, down 23 per cent.
- Gas stations, down 19 per cent.
Have you been denied for the $40K CEBA loan? We want to hear from you!
If you have applied for the Canada Emergency Business Account ($40k loan) and been denied--let us know. Tell us if you have not received a reason for the rejection or what the reason was and why you disagree. We may be able to help get you some answers. Make sure your email includes:
These stories will help the CFA advocate for changes in the program criteria to help make more CFA members eligible for support. Send us an email at email@example.com
- Your business legal name (according to your financial institution)
- Your financial institution
- A summary of your situation
- Your contact information
CBRN Launches Reopening Canada’s Economy, A National Guide for Business
The Canadian Business Resilience Network, which the CFA is a member, launched a guide for businesses moving to reopen, “Reopening Canada’s Economy, A National Guide for Business.”
The guide is accessible electronically here
Uptake on government programs
During Saturday’s media briefing Prime Minister Trudeau noted that
• over 500,000 businesses have been able to receive a loan through the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)
• Subsidies through the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) have impacted almost 2,000,000 workers.
• the CEWS will be extended past June 2020
Business Credit Availability Program will be expanded for small and medium-sized businesses
Prime Minister Trudeau revealed that the Business Credit Availability Program will be expanded for small and medium-sized businesses. Support for mid-market businesses will include loans of up to $60 million per company and guarantees of up to $80 million. Through the BCAP, Export Development Canada (EDC) and the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) will work with private sector lenders to support access to capital for Canadian businesses in all sectors and regions.
Federal government announces large employer emergency financing facility (LEEFF)
On May 11, Finance Minister Bill Moreau announced that the federal government is offering bridge financing for big Canadian businesses across all sectors to help them keep employees on the payroll through the pandemic, but there are conditions attached – including the required disclosure of the company's environmental plan.
Large employer emergency financing facility (LEEFF) will provide support to employers with annual revenues of more than $300 million whose credit needs are not being met through conventional financing. The program is open to large commercial businesses in all sectors except those in the financial sector, as well as certain not-for-profit businesses like airports.
To qualify, businesses must be looking for financing of $60 million or more, have significant operations or workforce in Canada and not be involved in ongoing insolvency proceedings. It is not intended to be a low-cost loan program for companies that don't need it or to bail out companies that were already in financial trouble before the pandemic.
Companies must disclose their climate action plans and sustainability goals to qualify and must meet other conditions, including not having "excessive" executive pay. Companies that have been found guilty of tax evasion are disqualified. Details are still being worked out and information on the application process is expected shortly.
For more information please see the Prime Minister’s News Release.
Federal government extending CEWS beyond June
At his press conference on May 8, the Prime Minister said that the federal government’s emergency wage-subsidy program will be extended beyond its early-June endpoint. The program covers 75 per cent of worker pay up to $847 a week to try to help employers keep employees on the job in the face of steep declines in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More details on the extension will come next week.
New Industry Strategy Council announced by the federal government
Today, PM Trudeau announced that Innovation, Science and Industry Minister Navdeep Bains will be leading a new Industry Strategy Council chaired by Monique Leroux. The Council will be tasked with taking a deeper dive into how the pandemic is affecting specific sectors and finding ways for the government to best support them. Previous economic strategy tables set up in the government’s first mandate will also be leveraged throughout this process.
The Tables are chaired by industry leaders in the following key sectors: advanced manufacturing, agri-food, clean technology, digital industries, health and bio-sciences, resources of the future, and tourism and hospitality. In response to some particular pressures related to the pandemic, the Government is adding two new Tables, representing the retail and transportation sectors.
Canada's jobless rate soars to 13 per cent in April
The Canadian economy lost almost two million jobs in April, a record high, as the closure of non-essential services to slow the spread of COVID-19 forced businesses to shutter temporarily. The loss of 1,993,800 comes on top of more than one million jobs lost in March, and millions more having their hours and incomes slashed.
The unemployment rate soared to 13.0 per cent, Statistics Canada reported, as the full force of the pandemic hit compared with 7.8 per cent in March. It was the second highest unemployment rate on record as job losses spread beyond the service sector to include construction and manufacturing.
Economists on average had expected the loss of four million jobs and an unemployment rate of 18 per cent, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv. The unemployment rate would have been 17.8 per cent had the agency's labour force survey counted among the unemployed the 1.1 million who stopped looking for work -- likely because the COVID-19 economic shutdown has limited job opportunities.
In all, more than one-third of the labour force didn't work or had reduced hours in April, an "underutilization rate" that was more than three times higher than in February before the pandemic struck. Here's a quick look at April employment (numbers from the previous month in brackets):
Here are the jobless rates last month by province (numbers from the previous month in brackets):
- Unemployment rate: 13.0 per cent (7.8)
- Employment rate: 52.1 per cent (58.5)
- Participation rate: 59.8 per cent (63.5)
- Number unemployed: 2,418,300 (1,547,000)
- Number working: 16,184,900 (18,178,700)
- Youth (15-24 years) unemployment rate: 27.2 per cent (16.8)
- Men (25 plus) unemployment rate: 10.8 per cent (5.9)
- Women (25 plus) unemployment rate: 11.3 per cent (7.1)
- Newfoundland and Labrador 16.0 per cent (11.7)
- Prince Edward Island 10.8 (8.6)
- Nova Scotia 12.0 (9.0)
- New Brunswick 13.2 (8.8)
- Quebec 17.0 (8.1)
- Ontario 11.3 (7.6)
- Manitoba 11.4 (6.4)
- Saskatchewan 11.3 (7.3)
- Alberta 13.4 (8.7)
- British Columbia 11.5 (7.2)
Agreement reached on $4B deal to boost essential workers' pay
Today, Ottawa announced it has reached a $4 billion agreement with all the provinces and territories to boost the salaries of essential workers who make less than $2,500 a month. The federal government will kick in $3 billion while the provinces will contribute the rest.
Some provinces already have moved ahead.
Saskatchewan recently announced that employees making less than $2,500 a month while working with vulnerable people are eligible for a wage top-up of $400 per month for 16 weeks. That includes people working at long-term care homes, daycares and shelters.
Ontario announced a $4-per-hour increase for front-line workers at long-term care homes, retirement homes, emergency shelters, supportive housing, group homes, correctional institutions and youth justice facilities, as well as for those providing home and community care and some hospital staff.
Quebec announce a $4-per-hour pay hike for workers in private long-term care homes, as well as a $24.28-per-hour salary to attract new workers to fill in as attendants at the facilities.
Federal Update on how many Canadians applied for support
At today, press conference, President of the Treasury Board Jean-Yves Duclos announced how many Canadians and Canadian businesses have accessed the federal support programs since March 15, 2020. The numbers are staggering considering that there were 19 million Canadians in the workforce in February 2020.
- 500, 000 businesses have received an emergency loan
- 10.9 million applications have now been received under the CERB and 7.5 million Canadians have received funding under the program.
- 100 000 businesses have applied for the CEWS
Canadian Chamber – Impact of COVID-19 on Diverse Business Owners
New data from the recent Canadian Survey on Business Conditions was released which shows that COVID-19 had a more severe impact on diversity-owned businesses:
However, if they can weather the crisis, the data indicate that each group expects to rebound in a similar time and fashion as other businesses across the country.
Further, there are several notable data points demonstrating innovation and ingenuity:
- 71.14% of diversity-owned businesses experienced a high drop in demand, compared with the national average (64.8%)
- 34.74% of diversity-owned businesses experienced a 50% or more decrease in revenue, compared with the national average (26.2%)
- 51.06% of diversity-owned businesses said they could remain open for no longer than 60 days without a source of revenue, compared with the national average (42.2%)
- 48.92% of diversity-owned businesses said they could remain open for no longer than 3 months amid social distancing, compared with the national average (39.7%).
- Indigenous-owned and visible minority-owned businesses have tested or used R&D at a higher rate (11.1% and 8.6%) than national average (5.7%)
- 17% of businesses owned by those with disabilities tested or used e-commerce during the crisis compared to the national average (11.6%)
- Women-owned business have increased investment in training and education at a higher rate (16.2%) than the national average (11.3%)
Federal support for farmers, food businesses, and food processors
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau announced an investment of more than $252 million to support farmers, food businesses, and food processors.
For more information please see the news release
- $77.5 million Emergency Processing Fund to help food producers access more PP), adapt to health protocols, automate or modernize their facilities, processes, and operations, and respond to emerging pressures.
- $125 million in funding to help producers faced with additional costs incurred by COVID-19. This includes set-asides for cattle and hog management programs to manage livestock backed-up on farms, due to the temporary closure of food processing plants.
- Increase the Canadian Dairy Commission’s borrowing limit by $200 million to support costs associated with the temporary storage of cheese and butter to avoid food waste.
- Creation of a Surplus Food Purchase Program (initial $50 million) designed to help redistribute existing and unsold inventories such as potatoes and poultry, to local food organizations who are serving vulnerable Canadians.
Most Canadians comfortable with pace of easing restrictions: poll
77% of Canadians happy with COVID-19 measures, but only 43% of Americans feel same about their government. The poll, conducted by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies between May 1 and 3, surveyed 1,526 adult Canadians and 1,002 adult Americans randomly recruited from its online panel. The internet-based survey cannot be assigned a margin of error because online polls are not considered random samples.
People in most provinces taking steps to reopen were between 60 and 70 per cent supportive of those moves, while 16 to 30 per cent would like to see their government slow down a little. Some provinces have already begun loosening physical distancing measures put in place as the growth in the number of COVID-19 cases started picking up steam in March.
In Quebec, which has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Canada, the province is allowing some retail stores to reopen outside of Montreal with an eye to reopen the manufacturing and construction sectors next week. On Monday it pushed back the reopening of non-essential stores in the Montreal area at least another week.
Ontario, with the second-highest number of confirmed cases in the country, is allowing the partial reopening of some seasonal businesses.
Manitoba has gone even further, allowing slightly restricted access to libraries, museums, and restaurant patios.
But in Alberta, which plans to allow certain retail stores, restaurants and daycare centres to reopen as early as May 14, people seem less comfortable with how quickly things are moving. There, 50 per cent of respondents would like the province to slow down.
Visits to Canadian Retailers are down 76% during COVID-19 Pandemic
In Canada, PiinPoint’s Mobile Location Data shows that visits to retailers are down 76% from this time last year. Not surprisingly, the data shows that restaurants have been hit the hardest, experiencing a 95% drop in visits when compared to the same period last year, given the strict business closures that have been enforced by provincial and federal governments. Those eateries with an option for drive-thru service, such as fast-food restaurants, are seeing a 70% decrease in visits.
Banks, clothing, and home decor stores reflect a similar impact as restaurants, with an 89% drop in visits, while electronic and office supply stores have seen an 82% decrease in visits. With stay-at-home measures in place and few people driving to work, gas stations have seen a 90% decrease in visitors, despite record low gas prices.
Home Improvement stores have taken a hit with a 35% decrease in visits, and that number is expected to increase as many stores have been forced to move to curbside pickup only.
Grocery stores initially saw a massive increase in visits leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic announcement, as people stocked up on supplies. Amidst the battles for toilet paper and panic-buying, there was a surge of visits to Grocery stores, peaking at a 196% increase on March 23 when compared to the previous year. However, following the stock-up period and this large increase, visits are still down 27% year over year.
For the full report
Reminder: CERB recipients must reapply for further benefits
Canadians who are receiving income from the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) must reapply for another four weeks of benefits. The CERB offers $500 per week for Canadians who’ve lost work due to the COVID-19 pandemic up to a maximum of 16 weeks, but recipients must confirm their eligibility for the program every four weeks.
The renewal payments are not automatic, meaning anyone who applied for CERB between April 6 and April 10 will need to reapply for the benefit. For the upcoming wave of payments, CERB recipients born in January, February or March can begin applying on May 11, those born in April, May or June can begin to apply on May 12, those born in July, August or September can begin on May 13 and those born in October, November or December can begin their application on May 14, according to the Canada Revenue Agency website .
To qualify for the benefit, Canadians must be at least 15 years of age and have been forced out of work due to the pandemic. They must also have earned at least $5,000 in the previous calendar year and now expect to make less than $1,000 per month while collecting the CERB payments.
Recipients can reapply for the benefit either online or by calling 1 (800) 959-2019.
Canada has entered a recession due to pandemic: C.D. Howe
Canada has officially entered a recession due to the economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the C.D. Howe Institute's Business Cycle Council declared Friday .
The council said the economy peaked in February before the steps taken to slow the spread of the coronavirus brought the economy to a standstill. The C.D. Howe council defines a recession as a pronounced, persistent, and pervasive decline in aggregate economic activity and it looks at both GDP and employment as its main measures.
The March jobs report showed more than a million jobs were lost in the month, while a preliminary estimate by Statistics Canada suggested the economy contracted by nine per cent in the same month.
Statistics Canada reported Thursday that economic growth had stalled going into the crisis, with real gross domestic product essentially unchanged in February due to teacher strikes in Ontario and rail blockades across many parts of the country.
Tiff Macklem appointed the next Governor of the Bank of Canada
Finance Minister Bill Morneau has appointed Tiff Macklem , the former senior deputy governor of the Bank of Canada, to take over the top job at the central bank. Macklem is currently the dean of the Rotman School of Management in Toronto but had spent decades with the Bank of Canada before starting that appointment. Macklem began his career at the bank in 1984. He was widely expected to win the contest for bank governor in 2013, but was beaten out by Stephen Poloz, who was then CEO of Export Development Canada.
Poloz's term as Governor of the Bank of Canada ends June 2.
Federal deficit could top $252 billion, says Parliamentary budget officer
Parliament's budget watchdog says it's likely the federal deficit for the year will hit $252.1 billion as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic — and could go even higher if emergency measures remain in place longer than planned.
The figure is an estimate based on the almost $146 billion in spending measures the government has announced to help cushion the economic blow from the pandemic, estimated declines in the country's gross domestic product and the price of oil remaining well below previous expectations.
Parliamentary budget officer Yves Giroux's report assumes real GDP will contract by 12 per cent this year and help push the federal debt-to-GDP ratio to 48.4 per cent. The report says the estimates are one possible scenario if current public health measures remain in place or are slowly — but not entirely — lifted over the rest of the calendar year.
Federal government clarifies Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program is based on Gross Rent
Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses provides much needed relief for small businesses experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19. It offers forgivable loans to eligible commercial property owners so that they can reduce the rent owed by their impacted small business tenants by at least 75% for the months of April, May and June, 2020.
Today the federal government confirmed that the rent rebate program will apply to the monthly gross rent. When the program was originally releases on Friday April 24 the focus was on base rent and it was unclear if Common Area Maintenance (CAM) plus Taxes or Taxes, Maintenance, Insurance (TMI).
To qualify, “impacted small business tenants are businesses, including non-profit and charitable organizations who:
** To measure revenue loss, small businesses can compare revenues in April, May and June of 2020 to that of the same month of 2019. They can also use an average of their revenues earned in January and February of 2020.”
The CFA is working with the federal government to get a better understanding of what the “ultimate parent level” means for franchisors and franchisees under the program.
Click here for the CMHC program criteria
- pay no more than $50,000 in monthly gross rent per location (as defined by a valid and enforceable lease agreement),
- generate no more than $20 million in gross annual revenues, calculated on a consolidated basis (at the ultimate parent level), and
- have temporarily ceased operations (i.e. generating no revenues), or has experienced at least a 70% decline in pre-COVID-19 revenues.**
Canadian Chamber/StatsCan Survey – Half of all Businesses See a Decline of 20% or More in Revenue due to Covid-19
The Canadian Survey on Business Conditions (CSBC), a joint effort between Statistics Canada and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, provides the most detailed insight yet into the impact of COVID-19 on Canadian businesses. Many CFA members contributed to the report by providing information to the survey.
Nearly one-third (32.3%) of businesses who responded to the survey reported that their revenues from the first quarter of 2020 were down by 40% or more from the same quarter a year earlier. Another 21.2% of businesses reported their revenues had decreased by 20% to 40% over the same period.
Businesses in the accommodation and food services (72.6%), arts, entertainment and recreation (66.7%) and retail trade (60.3%) sectors were most likely to report a decline in revenue greater than 20%. In contrast, just over two-fifths of businesses in each of the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting (42.0%) and the utilities (40.4%) sectors reported either no change or an increase in revenue.
Across the country, over half of businesses in Alberta (57.7%), Ontario (56.3%), British Columbia (54.8%), Newfoundland and Labrador (53.5%) and Saskatchewan (52.8%) saw declines of 20% or more in revenue. In contrast, close to one-third of businesses in Prince Edward Island (33.1%), the territories (32.4%) and New Brunswick (30.3%) reported either no change or an increase in revenue.
Change in business revenue in Q1 2020 compared to Q1 2019
- 10.5% experienced an increase in revenue
- 14.3% saw no change in revenue
- 17.9% experienced a decrease in revenue of up to 20%
- 53.5% experienced a decrease in revenue of over 20%
Staffing decisions taken as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic
- 38.1% have reduced staff hours or shifts
40.5% have laid off staff
For more information
MPs convene first special virtual sitting
Members of Parliamentmet for the first time virtually April 28 during the all-party special committee on COVID-19. These virtual sittings will take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays, until at least May 25, as parliamentarians find new ways to maintain accountability while physical distancing.
Federal health officials update projections
Trudeau spoke ahead of a Tuesday afternoon briefing from federal health officials, who delivered revised modelling and forecasts for COVID-19 in Canada.
Get the details of the federal COVID-19 modelling update.
The new modelling shows that while the number of new cases was doubling every three days previously, it is now doubling every 16 days. Short-term projections predict between 53,191 and 66,835 cases by May 5, and between 3,277 and 3,883 deaths by that date.
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy – Keep in mind CRA will be enforcing strict compliance criteria
As of April 27, 2020, online applications have opened for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS). The CEWS provides a 75% wage subsidy to eligible employers for up to 12 weeks and is retroactive to March 15, 2020. The subsidy will be available at a rate of 75% of weekly remuneration paid to a maximum of $847 per employee. Your business must have experienced a drop of at least 15% of revenue in March 2020 and 30% for April 2020 and/or May 2020 to qualify for this subsidy.
The Federal Government has implemented severe penalties if a business is found not to have met to the CEWS eligibility requirements after receiving the subsidy. Audits will be conducted by the Canada Revenue Agency to verify the amounts related to the subsidy including revenue and salary calculations. If a business is not compliant with the rules, the consequences can include:
Furthermore, the individuals who have the principal responsibility for the financial activities must attest that the application is complete and accurate. As such, the individual(s) that make the attestation can be held personally responsible for the application that is filed and will also be subject to penalties for incorrect and/or fraudulent claims.
The CRA intends to publish the name of any eligible employer that makes an application for the wage subsidy and share information with government officials for the purposes of administration and enforcement of the Canada Emergency Benefit Act.
- repayment of amounts received
- significant fines of up to 25% of the CEWS received (and up to an additional 200% in the case of fraudulent claims)
- penalties for up to five years in prison for individuals who submitted fraudulent claims
Federal projected spending on direct supports due to COVID-19 hits $145B
The federal government's latest projection of how much it will spend on direct support for Canadians to get through the COVID-19 crisis has now reached more than $145.6 billion. Those direct support programs account for approximately one fifth of the overall tally of the measures the government has announced related to the pandemic.
Ottawa estimates that overall total — including measures to protect Canadians health and safety and to provide business and tax liquidity support as well as the direct support for individuals, businesses and sectors — amounts to more than $817 billion.
But much of that is not spending that will end up on the books. For example, a large portion, $300 billion, is a measure by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OFSI) to free up capital for the banks.
Another big part of that overall total are tax deferrals and credit and loan guarantee programs:
But while there is a cost associated with those programs, deferrals, credit support and monetary measures essentially just put off when the government gets paid.
- Credit and liquidity supports through the Bank of Canada and CMHC are projected at $200 billion.
- Income and sales tax deferrals are estimated at $85 billion.
- Liquidity support for businesses, homeowners and the agricultural sector is estimated at more than $286 billion.
The additional emergency funding and the direct support measures that will have the biggest impact on the deficit and debt in the government's financial books.
- $73 billion: Canada emergency wage subsidy
- $35 billion: Canada emergency relief benefit
- $15.3 billion: Canada emergency business account
- $5.5 billion: GST credits
- $9 billion: Financial aid to students
- $1.7 billion: Orphan well clean up
Commercial Rent Assistance Program Badly Misses the Mark!
Today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today announced the new rent subsidy program, jointly funded by the provinces, that is supposed to help businesses (franchised businesses are included in the program).
- The program will provide forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners to 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 mortgaged property owner agrees to reduce the eligible small business tenants’ rent by at least 75% for the three corresponding months under a rent forgiveness 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.
- Businesses paying less than $50,000 per month in rent and who have temporarily ceased operations
- Businesses who have experienced at least a 70% drop in pre-COVID-19 revenues. This support will also be available to non-profit and charitable organizations.
- Support for larger businesses will be announced in the coming days.
- The CECRA is expected to be operational by mid-May, with commercial property owners lowering the rents of their small business tenant’s payable for the months of April and May, retroactively, and for June.
CFA does not think this will help many
Based on our read of the program details the assistance only affects a tenant’s base rent with no support or rebate of the Taxes, Maintenance, Insurance (TMI) that all commercial tenants pay. As CFA members know the TMI is often 50% of a business’s accommodation costs.
Here is a link to the program details which are contained in the News Release from the PM.
The CFA will be looking at our options but we will continue to push for governments across Canada (federal and provincial) to provide real commercial rent relief.
Other Stakeholder Reaction
Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB): Welcomed the rent relief program but warned that it may be too complicated and too reliant on landlords to administer.
Restaurants Canada: Very encouraged by PM, JustinTrudeau, April 24th announcement on rent support for small businesses. No eviction provision is there as is direct help to operators. Restaurants are included. Good thing.
Ontario Chamber of Commerce: “We applaud both the Canadian and Ontario governments for their leadership to provide rent relief to avoid the mass closure of small and medium-sized enterprises across the province. Speed will be of the essence to get this delivered to those in need quickly. This program will help tenants by lowering the rent burden and protecting against evictions, while supporting landlords who also have bills to pay.”
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Portal Opens April 27
The Canada Revenue Agency will open the application process on April 27. CEWS claims will be subject to verification by the CRA, therefore the CRA will begin to release funds for approved applications on May 5. To get ready, the CRA has released instructions on what you need to do, a wage subsidy calculator and enhanced eligibility information.
The Subsidy is NOT first come, first serve. It is available to all business who apply so business do not need to apply on Monday out of fear of missing out.
The CRA expects the first cheques to be issued during the week of May 4. They have added 2000 people to their call centre to answer questions and process applications.
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Information Page
$1.1B for medical research and vaccine development
Prime Minister Trudeau announced the government will be investing an additional $1.1 billion for a national medical research strategy. The new funding will invest in three primary areas, including research on vaccines, supports for clinical trials, and an expansion of testing and modelling.
More specifically, approximately $115 million of the $1.1 billion is being invested in research to develop vaccines and treatments in universities and hospitals across the country. An estimated $662 million will also be provided to support clinical trials in Canada. While the vaccine is a long-term solution to the virus, $350 million dollars is being invested to expand national testing and modelling in the immediate term.
For more information please see the News Release.
Update on Federal Program Uptake
Finally, Treasury Board President Jean Yves Duclos also provided a brief update on government support programs,
- 8.9 million applications have now been received for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.
- 351 small businesses have received approvals for loans under the Small Business Emergency Relief Fund
Friendly reminder – CERB is a taxable benefit
Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) provides Canadians whose jobs have been affected by the COVID-19 with $2000 per month for up to 4 months.
The CERB is a taxable benefit so anyone receiving that funding will be expected to report it as income when you file your income tax for the 2020 tax year.
Unlike most standard paycheques, CERB payments do not have income tax deducted before they are sent out. The federal government has set the lowest tax rate for 2020 at 15 per cent. That means anyone who earns $48,535 or less in total income for the year will owe tax on their CERB monies. A recipient who earns the maximum benefit of $8,000 will have to repay $1,200 at tax time. Provincial and territorial income tax rates will also apply.
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) portal will open April 27, 2020
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) announced that applications under the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy will open on April 27. The Subsidy is NOT first come, first serve. It is available to all business who apply so business do not need to apply on Monday out of fear of missing out.
The CRA expects the first cheques to be issued during the week of May 4. They have added 2000 people to their call centre to answer questions and process applications.
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Information Page
$9B in funding for students under the new Canada Emergency Student Benefit
On April 22, the Prime Minister announced the Canada Emergency Student Benefit, a $9 billion package of new measures aimed at helping young people. The benefit will give eligible postsecondary students $1,250 a month from May to August. For students taking care of someone else or have a disability, that amount increases to $1,750 monthly.
College and university students currently in school, planning to start in September, or who graduated in December 2019 are eligible.
Working students earning less than $1,000 per month can also apply for the CESB.
The benefit will require additional legislation and talks are now underway about how quickly a bill to implement this new program can be brought forward.
Specifically, the federal government is also:
- Creating an additional 76,000 jobs for young people in sectors that need an extra hand right now, or that are on the frontlines of this pandemic;
- Investing more than $291 million to extend scholarships, fellowships, and grants for three or four months;
- Launching a new Canada Student Service Grant of between $1,000 and $5,000 for students volunteering in the COVID-19 fight;
- Providing more than $75 million to specifically increase support for First Nations, Inuit, and Metis Nation students; and
- Doubling the student grants that the government gives out for the 2020-21 school year.
New Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Calculator released
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Calculator
Details leaking out about Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA)
According to the Prime Minister’s announcement last week Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses. The program will seek to provide loans, including forgivable loans, to commercial property owners who in turn will lower or forgo the rent of small businesses for the months of April (retroactive), May, and June. Implementation of the program will require a partnership between the federal government and provincial and territorial governments, which are responsible for property owner-tenant relationships. We are working with the provinces and territories to increase rent support for businesses that are most impacted by the pandemic and we will have more details to share soon.
In his media conference today, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said Tuesday that the province will participate in a forthcoming federal program to help commercial tenants cover rent during the pandemic. Manitoba will contribute $16 million to the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program, Pallister said, although details are scarce about how the program will work once implemented.
MPs pass motion to hold in-person, virtual sittings
Yesterday MPs have passed a motion to hold both in-person and virtual meetings to question and debate the government's response to the COVID-19 crisis. The motion formally adjourns the House of Commons until May 25. A special committee — with every MP a member — will meet once weekly in person. Virtual meetings will occur online twice a week once technological and procedural issues have been worked out.
MPs defeated a proposed amendment from the Conservatives which called for two in-person sitting days, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said that doing away with 80 per cent of sitting days does not serve the best interests of Canadians and that more in-person sessions would yield better results in terms of accountability, oversight and proposals from opposition parties. Scheer suggested Trudeau is dodging accountability, preferring the "controlled" environment of daily news conferences outside his residence at Rideau Cottage to opposition questions in the House of Commons.
Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet accused the Conservatives of holding Parliament "hostage."
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said regular in-person sessions are important to the work of addressing gaps in programs meant to support Canadians and businesses struggling financially through the health crisis, including students.
$350M support fund for community groups helping vulnerable people
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today announced $350 million in emergency funds for community groups and national charities that help seniors, the homeless and others made more vulnerable by the pandemic. The funds will support community groups through national organizations such as the United Way Canada, the Canadian Red Cross and the Community Foundations of Canada.
The funds will support such activities as:
- Volunteer-based home delivery of groceries and medications.
- Transportation services, such as those driving seniors or persons with disabilities to appointments.
- Scaling up help lines that provide information and support.
- Helping vulnerable Canadians access government benefits.
- Delivering training and supplies to volunteers.
- Replacing in-person, one-on-one contact and social gatherings with virtual contact through telephone, texts, teleconferences or the Internet.
Parliament returned on April 20, 2020
Between 36 and 40 MPs, including the House Speaker, have been in the House of Commons for today's sitting, which included a question period.
Over the weekend the Liberal government reached a tentative deal with the NDP and Bloc Québécois to have one in-person sitting per week. The Conservatives rejected the idea, insisting on more regular meetings each week. Conservatives proposed having two sitting days per week (Tuesdays and Thursdays).
Scheer suggested Trudeau prefers the "controlled" environment of daily news conferences outside his residence at Rideau Cottage to opposition questions in the House of Commons.
Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet accused the Conservatives of holding Parliament "hostage."
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said regular in-person sessions are important to the work of addressing gaps in programs meant to support Canadians and businesses struggling financially through the health crisis, including students.
Canada-U.S. agree to extend border restrictions by 30 days
Canada and the United States have agreed to extend the current closure of the border to all non-essential travel for at least another month. It's been nearly a month since the two countries negotiated their 30-day agreement that exempted the flow of trade and commerce, as well as vital health-care workers such as nurses who live and work on opposite sides of the border. That agreement was due to expire in a few days.
$1.4 billion for regional economic development and cultural/sport organizations
Earlier today the Prime Minister announced $1.4 billion in supports for regional economic development agencies and for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations.
- $675 million to support their work of the six RDAs (the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, Western Economic Diversification Canada, FedNor, FedDev Ontario, Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency) to provide equivalent bridge financing support to businesses unable to access the government’s broader support measures.
- $287 million for the Community Futures Network, funded through the RDAs, to support rural businesses and communities, including through access to capital.
- $500 million in Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations to help them address their financial needs. This funding will be administered by Canadian Heritage via contribution agreements.
All air passengers need to wear non-medical masks starting Monday
Starting on Monday, all air passengers in Canada have to wear non-medical masks or a face covering that goes over their mouth and nose, or risk being denied boarding Transport Canada has announced.
Effective at noon on April 20, it’ll be required that anyone travelling through an airport or on an airplane wear a mask, including when going through screening checkpoints where the screeners are unable to keep two metres distance between themselves and the traveller.
For travellers looking to depart from, or arrive in Canada, it will be mandatory that they have a non-medical mask or adequate face covering during the boarding process or they will not be allowed to travel.
Virtual Canada Day party this year
With gatherings banned due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year's Canada Day celebrations will take place online, the federal government announced Friday. Canadian Heritage Minister Stephen Guilbeault said his department is working with artists to create a virtual show on July 1. The lineup for the Canada Day show is normally released about a month before July 1.
ICBC is temporarily waiving a number of fees
Drivers who choose to suspend their insurance won't have to pay the usual $30 cancellation and $18 re-plating fees. In a statement, ICBC says drivers who cancel must remove their licence plates from their vehicle but can reuse the same plates as long as they reinsure after May 30. Those who do so earlier will be issued new plates for free.
Companies that own fleets of cars are also eligible to suspend their insurance.
With many businesses now switching to delivery models, ICBC says drivers don't need to change their insurance or pay higher premiums. Previously, additional insurance was required.
Big changes to the CEBA program
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced the federal government is also opening up the eligibility criteria the Canada Emergency Business Account. The program, targeted at small- and medium-sized businesses, offers government-guaranteed loans of up to $40,000 to cover the costs of keeping their enterprise afloat during the COVID-19 crisis.
Today the PM lowered the threshold. Now, companies who paid between $20,000 and $1,500,000 in total payroll in 2019 will be eligible to receive a loan (still based on T4 income). Under the first iteration of the program business were required to have a payroll of $50,000 to $1 million based on their 2019 T4 Summary.
This should help many more CFA members qualify for the CEBA loans.
Since the banks began accepting applications, they have approved more than 195,000 loans worth about than $7.5 billion.
To apply for a CEBA loan you must work through your financial institution where you do your day to day business banking.
Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program being developed
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also announced a new assistance program meant to help businesses offset monthly rent. The Canadian Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program will help small businesses offset rent in April, May and June, Trudeau said during his daily COVID-19 address. Ottawa will work with provinces to roll out the program, as it falls under provincial jurisdiction.
The announcement was made in conjunction with plans to loosen eligibility requirements to the Canadian Emergency Business Account (CEBA), in order to aid more small- and medium-sized businesses struggling with the fallout of the pandemic.
CFA is working to try and find out some details. Please stay tuned.
DEADLINE APPROACHING: Canadian Survey of Business Conditions
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce and Statistics Canada have released the Canadian Survey of Business Conditions (CSBC). The CSBC will examine the impact of COVID-19 on businesses, changes that businesses have made to adapt, challenges they continue to face and anticipated challenges as recovery begins. Click here to complete the survey.
If you have not already done so, we encourage you to complete the survey and share with businesses in your network. The survey deadline has been extended to Wednesday, April 22.
Complete the survey
Conference Board of Canada - Provincial Outlook Spring 2020 – Preliminary Forecast
The Conference Board released its preliminary Spring 2020 forecast which estimates that real GDP declined at an annualized pace of nearly 5 per cent in the first quarter. In the second quarter, the decline in GDP is forecast to hit 25 per cent. This will be the steepest quarterly decline in economic output on record, based on modern statistics that date back to 1961.
Real-time economic data shows Canada frozen in time
Real Time Economic Data
Changes to CERB – you can still work and collect
Today Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced it was changing the CERB eligibility rules to:
• Allow people to earn up to $1,000 per month while collecting the CERB.
• Extend the CERB to seasonal workers who have exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to undertake their usual seasonal work as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
• Extend the CERB to workers who recently exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to find a job or return to work because of COVID-19.
The government will be working with provinces to increase pay of essential retail workers who make less than $2,500 a month.
These changes will be retroactive to March 15, 2020. More details will be posted on the portal shortly.
Quebec and British Columbia have already implemented direct wage support for low-income workers in the essential service sectors. The federal government will now be sharing the cost of this wage support through the new transfer to these provinces.
Rent Support – expecting an announcement from the federal government soonAn announcement on rent support will be coming soon. CFA has been trying to learn more about the types of support but officials and political staff have been tight-lipped about the program.
Bank of Canada holds rate steady at 0.25% - no plans to go lower
The Bank of Canada kept its benchmark interest rate steady at 0.25 per cent on Wednesday,
The bank says it thinks economic activity in the period between April and June will be between 15 and 30 per cent lower than it was at the end of 2019 due to widespread lockdowns, layoffs and other drastic measures will have a dramatic impact on Canada's economy in the months ahead.
The central bank said its release that it considers the current level of its rate to be its "effective lower bound." That means the bank doesn't have any plans to cut the rate to zero or into negative territory, despite the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic that has devastated Canada's economy.
While the bank is signalling it doesn't see a scenario where it would put its rate into negative territory, the bank says it is doing a lot of other things beyond interest-rate reductions to help support the economy such as buying up more bonds and other debts to help keep the economy running.
Last month, the Bank of Canada announced it would buy $5 billion worth of federal government debt every week in order to support the economy. On Wednesday, it said it would keep doing that but also buy up to $50 billion worth of provincial debt and up to $10 billion worth of corporate debt in order to ensure there is enough of what central bankers refer to as "liquidity".
Home sales fell 14% in March
Home sales fell by 14 per cent in March as COVID-19 lockdowns slowed the market according to the Canadian Real Estate Association. Sales were down just about everywhere from February's level, including in the following cities:
The average sale price largely unchanged from February. March started strong and then froze in the second half. Preliminary data from the first week of April suggest both sales and new listings were only about half of what would be normal for that time of year.
Year over year the average price in March 2020 was up by 12.5 per cent compared to the average seen in March 2019.
- Greater Toronto Area, down 20.8 per cent.
- Montreal, down 13.3 per cent.
- Greater Vancouver Area, down 2.9 per cent.
- Fraser Valley, down 13.6 per cent.
- Calgary, down 26.3 per cent.
- Edmonton, down 13.2 per cent.
- Winnipeg, down 7.3 per cent.
- Hamilton-Burlington, down 24.9 per cent.
- Ottawa, down 7.9 per cent.
IMF sees worst global recession since 1930s, Canada’s economy to shrink 6.2%
The global economy has entered a recession as a result of the novel coronavirus and that the situation is “way worse than the global financial crisis according to International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Kristalina Georgieva.
The world economy in 2020 will suffer its worst year since the Great Depression of the 1930s, the International Monetary Fund says in its latest forecast. Data from the fund’s forecast show Canada’s economy being hit harder than countries like the U.S. and Japan but surviving the blow better than others like Italy, Spain, Germany, France and the U.K.
The IMF said it expects the global economy to shrink 3 per cent this year — far worse than its 0.1 per cent dip in the Great Recession year of 2009 — before rebounding in 2021 with 5.8 per cent growth. It acknowledges, though, that prospects for a rebound next year are clouded by uncertainty.
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IMF Full Report
Parliament returns to pass wage subsidy
Parliament passed the federal government's wage subsidy legislation Saturday night, on April 11, after an emergency sitting that saw MPs applauding collaboration between parliamentarians of all political stripes.
The legislation cleared both chambers of Parliament after days of protracted negotiations between the government and opposition parties produced an agreement to pass a bill that will flow billions of dollars to companies during the COVID-19 crisis.
While the Conservatives said they still have some issues with the implementation of the $73-billion wage subsidy, they agreed to waive normal parliamentary procedure to get the legislation through the Commons in a single day to allow bureaucrats to start sending money to businesses in need. Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said his party's support for the legislation was conditional on the government agreeing to more accountability measures — namely allowing more parliamentary committees to meet throughout this pandemic. One of those committees will be tasked with studying whether Parliament can meet virtually in the weeks ahead.
Emergency benefits start rolling out
As the government worked on changes to the wage subsidy, applications for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) launched this week with millions of people applying for the benefit.
Trudeau said the government will expand the CERB to cover some of those who don’t yet qualify. He said the government is looking to provide additional support to those who’ve had their hours cut back due to COVID-19 and for those who are currently working but are making less money than they would under the CERB.
He also promised more help to post-secondary students and announced changes to the Canada Summer Jobs program, including increasing the program’s wage subsidy to 100 per cent.
Federal government releases public health modelling data
Earlier today the national COVID-19 modelling projections were officially released by Health Canada. Health Canada used two different modelling scenarios: forecasting – which uses actual data on cases seen in Canada to estimate future cases for the week ahead – and dynamic modelling – which is a longer-term prediction of cases using existing knowledge of how the virus behaves.
The forecasting model predicts there will be between 22,580 and 31,850 cases of COVID-19 in Canada by April 16. Based on the case fatality rate to date, we can anticipate there will be between 500 and 700 total deaths by next week.
The dynamic model assumes that everyone is susceptible and includes various stages of the disease. Health Canada uses as much available scientific information as possible to predict the potential range of people that may be affected. At a high-level, the modelling found that:
At this time, it is still too early to know if we are at the peak of this crisis but maintaining current measures – including strong social distancing – will help continue planking the curve. If you’re interested in reviewing the modelling, you can access Health Canada’s slide deck here.
- With no public health measures: A majority of the population (70-80%) would be infected with over 300,000 deaths anticipated.
- With some public health measures: Between 25-50% of the population infected and over 100,000 likely deaths.
- With strong public health measures: Approximately 1 to 10% of the population infected and between 11,000 and 22,000 deaths if infection remains between 2.5% and 5%.
More businesses now eligible for the 75% wage subsidy Today, Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced a number of changes to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS). That will have a significantly impact on CFA members
To qualify business only must be down 15% in March – The benchmark has been changed for March so businesses who saw a drop in gross revenues of at least 15 per cent in March, and 30 per cent in April and May will qualify for the 75% wage subsidy.
100% refund on EI, CPP, QPP, QPIP contributions for employees who are on leave with pay – The government is also going to give eligible employers a 100-per-cent refund for certain employer contributions to Employment Insurance, the Canada Pension Plan, the Quebec Pension Plan, and the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan paid in respect of employees who are on leave with pay.
Start Ups and New Businesses Are Now Eligible – Not-for-profits, high growth companies and new businesses may now be eligible if they have seen a drop in gross revenues of at least 15 per cent in March, and 30 per cent in April and May compared to an average of their revenue from January and February 2020.
Businesses who have been in business since March 2019 will still have to use those revenues to determine if they are eligible.
For more information please click here
Intake for the Canada Emergency Business Account starts on April 9
The intake for the CEBA loans begins on April 9. CEBA loans will provide interest free loans of up to $40,000 to help pay for operating costs that can’t be deferred as a result of COVID 19. $10,000 (25%) of the $40,000 loan is eligible for complete forgiveness if $30,000 is fully repaid on or before December 31, 2022. If the loan cannot be repaid by December 31, 2022, it can be converted into a 3 year term loan at an interest rate of 5%.
To qualify business will need to demonstrate they paid between $50,000 to $1 million in total payroll in 2019 – based on their 2019 T4SUM Summary of Remuneration Paid. Businesses must agree to use funds from this line of credit to pay for operating costs that cannot be deferred, such as payroll, rent, utilities, insurance, and property tax.
How to apply – Businesses should apply through the financial institution that holds their primary business operating account.
CFA is lobbying for the program to be expanded so businesses can get one loan per active business location not per corporate entity.