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Updates by Region

Federal, Provincial/Territory Information and Updates:

LAST UPDATED: June 1, 2020
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. Reopening Toolkit Regulation Tracker Financial Support
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 covid@cfa.ca. 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 covid@cfa.ca with
  • Your business legal name
  • Your landlords name
  • Your location
  • A summary of your situation
  • Your contact information
These stories will help the CFA advocate for changes in the program criteria to help make more CFA members eligible for support.
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:
  • 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
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.
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:
  • 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.
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.
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:
  • 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.
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.
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:
  • Your business legal name (according to your financial institution)
  • Your financial institution
  • A summary of your situation
  • Your contact information
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 covid@cfa.ca
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):
  • 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)
Here are the jobless rates last month by province (numbers from the previous month in brackets):
  • 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:
  • 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%).
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:
  • 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.
  • $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.
For more information please see the news release
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:
  • 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.**
** 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
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:
  • 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
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.
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:

  • 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.
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.

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).

PROGRAM DETAILS

  • 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.

    ELIGIBILITY

    • 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.

    TIMELINE

    • 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. Stay tuned.
    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. Executive Summary
      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 soon
      An 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:
      • 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.
      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.
      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. Top Line Report 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:
      • 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%.
      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.
      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.
LAST UPDATED: May 28, 2020

Alberta COVID-19 Update

Edmonton launches $5M grant program to help business
Edmonton businesses struggling to survive the COVID-19 pandemic can apply for municipal assistance through a new program approved on Wednesday. The city's new economic recovery program includes a 50-per-cent discount on business licensing fees — upon request — until the end of 2020. It includes $5.3 million in grant money, with $1,000 to $25,000 available to each successful applicant. The city will implement the recovery program in two phases. Forty per cent of the grant money will be allotted in phase one, from June 10 to Dec. 31, 2020, and the rest will be delivered in phase two, from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2021. Licence fees cut in half Of Edmonton’s 36,000 businesses, 300 have already asked for the 50-per-cent discount on their licence fees. Council approved adjustments to the spring operating budget, moving money from one department to another, to free up the money for the grant program.
Alberta cuts training for barbers
Alberta has expanded the hairstylist apprenticeship program to include barber certification, enabling apprentices to choose the path that best meets their needs. The new barber certification path enables apprentices to streamline their training and achieve certification in half the time. Hairstylist apprentices wishing to switch programs or who are currently working as a barber can receive credit for training they have already completed.
Alberta: Businesses can buy PPE from province until June 30
Alberta will allow private businesses to buy personal protective gear, including masks and gloves, from the province at fair market prices until June 30, but after that they'll need to secure their own suppliers.
Calgary business owners excited yet wary as they reopen their doors
Today restaurants, bars and salons in Calgary can join the rest of the province in Phase 1 of reopening, as the city joins the rest of the province in Phase 1 of its relaunch, allowing salons and barbershops to reopen, and cafes, restaurants, pubs and bars to allow table service at 50 per cent capacity. Those businesses were given the green light to reopen on May 14 across the rest of the province but the cities of Calgary and Brooks have reopened at a slower pace due to higher numbers of COVID-19 cases in their regions.
Calgary, Brooks can join rest of Alberta Monday in Phase 1 easing
Calgary and Brooks will join the rest of Alberta by allowing bars, restaurants, hair salons and barbershops to open on Monday, while more COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted across the province on June 1. The rest of Alberta got the go-ahead more than a week ago to move to stage 1 of the provincial relaunch plan on May 14, but the two southern Alberta cities were told to hold off on opening some businesses due to high COVID-19 infection rates — a last-minute announcement that caught many businesses off guard. Starting Monday, hairstyling and barber shops will be permitted to reopen in Calgary and Brooks, and cafes, restaurants, pubs and bars can reopen for table service at 50 per cent capacity. The premier also announced Friday that as of June 1:
  • Day camps would be allowed to open with restrictions.
  • Post-secondary institutions would be able to offer summer classes with caps on participants.
  • Funeral services and places of worship could expand capacity.
Alberta releases COVID-19 guidelines for sectors that may reopen this week
Tanya Fir, minister of economic development, trade and tourism, released the new online tool to help businesses that may be allowed to reopen as early as Thursday. The province's online tool has documents to help prepare businesses for stage one relaunch, including: • Day camps • Daycare and out-of-school care • Hair salons and barbershops • Museums and art galleries • Outdoor recreation • Places of worship • Restaurants • Retail The website also includes guidance documents for sectors currently allowed to operate under public health orders, including: • Disability service providers • Farmers markets • Golf course operators • Health non-essential services • Health sector PPE guidelines • Homeless shelters • Industrial work camps • Private/municipal campgrounds Under the current relaunch plan, May 14 would be the earliest date when some restrictions may be lifted.
Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec lifting some COVID-19 restrictions
Ontario took its first steps Monday with the reopening of some businesses, including lawn care and landscaping, garden centres for curbside pickup, automatic and self-serve car washes, auto dealerships by appointment, and many construction projects. Manitobans can now visit everything from hair salons to museums to restaurant patios (with fewer seats than normal) provided everyone is following public health rules. In most of Saskatchewan, non-urgent medical offices are allowed to reopen and rules around some outdoor activities — including fishing and boating — are being loosened. But one owner of a physiotherapy clinic told CBC Saskatchewan she's got mixed emotions about opening up. Newfoundland and Labrador plans to move to alert Level 4 on May 11, meaning a relaxation of some public health measures to allow more social and business activities. The province followed New Brunswick's lead and allowed families to come together in "bubbles" made up of two households . Alberta took its first strides toward the large-scale resumption of public life under COVID-19 this weekend as provincial parks and golf courses opened under the government's phased economic relaunch. Alberta began to ease some public health restrictions on Friday, with provincial parks and boat launches reopening with limited services. Alberta has three stage plan starting May 14 called Opening Soon: Alberta’s Relaunch Strategy .
Alberta to partially open economy on Monday
The first step in Alberta's plan to reopen its economy will emphasize outdoor activities, with golf courses to open on Monday followed by shops, bars and restaurants by mid-May. Premier Jason Kenney detailed his government's plan for a multi-stage relaunch that will depend on the province's continued ability to control the spread of the coronavirus and curb the number of COVID-19 patients who need hospital care. The gradual relaunch plan will begin Monday with the resumption of some non-urgent surgeries and office reopenings for dentists, physiotherapists, speech and respiratory therapists, social workers and dieticians. Provincial parks will begin opening Monday with some boat launches available though washrooms and garbage pickup in the parks will not be immediately available. The province will open as many campsites as possible by June 1 with Alberta Parks's online reservation system coming online May 14. Private and municipal campgrounds can reopen under their own authority. Vehicle access to parking lots and staging areas in parks and on public lands will begin on Monday. Under Stage 1, some businesses and facilities could be allowed to gradually resume operations as early as May 14, including:
  • Retail businesses, such as clothing, furniture and bookstores. All vendors at farmers markets will also be able to operate.
  • Hairstyling and barbershops.
  • Museums and art galleries.
  • Daycares and out-of-school care with limits on occupancy.
  • Summer camps with limits on occupancy. That could include summer school.
  • Cafés and restaurants with no bar service to reopen for public seating at 50 per cent capacity.
Under Stage 2, additional businesses and services would be allowed to reopen, with two-metre physical distancing requirements and other public health guidelines in place. That might include:
  • Kindergarten to Grade 12 schools, with restrictions.
  • More scheduled surgeries, including backlog elimination.
  • Personal services, such as artificial tanning, esthetics, cosmetic skin and body treatments, manicures, pedicures, waxing, facial treatments, massage and reflexology.
  • Permitting some larger gatherings (number of people to be determined).
  • Movie theatres and theatres open with restrictions.
  • Visitors to patients at health-care facilities will continue to be limited.
Stage 3. That would mean fully reopening all businesses and services, with some limited restrictions still in place, and:
  • Permitting larger gatherings, permitting arts and culture festivals, concerts and major sporting events, with some restrictions.
  • Permitting nightclubs, gyms, pools, recreation centres and arenas to reopen, with restrictions. •
  • Resuming industry conferences, with restrictions.
  • Lifting restrictions on non-essential travel.
Alberta’s staged COVID-19 relaunch
Alberta releases updated modelling projections
The Alberta government released new modelling projections on Tuesday that estimate far fewer Albertans will require hospitalization and critical care when the coronavirus reaches its expected peak in the province in late May. That new projection now thought to be the most likely scenario estimates that 298 people will be in hospital with 95 in ICU beds at the peak, if current trends continue. As of Tuesday, 82 people were in hospital with the illness, 21 of them in ICU beds. The total number of deaths in Alberta has now reached 80, and the total number of cases is 4,850. The updated "probable scenario" estimates 596 people will require hospitalization when the virus reaches its peak. That's down from the previous projection of 818 people. The regional breakdown of the cases was:
  • Calgary zone: 3,366
  • South zone: 685
  • Edmonton zone: 486
  • North zone: 202
  • Central zone: 84
  • Unknown: 27
Calgary extends ban on events on city-owned land to end of August
The City of Calgary has extended the ban on events on city-owned land until Aug. 31. Previously, the ban extended only until the end of June. That means the cancellation of 166 permitted events, including the annual Canada Day celebrations. Non-permitted events are not included in that tally. The announcement comes one day after both the Calgary Folk Fest and the Calgary Stampede announced their annual festivities would not go forward.
AB, SK, NL and QC release provincial COVID-19 modeling
Saskatchewan released its modelling on April 8, which shows the provincial government is planning for 3,000 to 8,300 deaths and approximately 20 to 200 daily intensive care admissions from COVID-19 at its peak. The data does not say when that peak is expected nor when distancing measures might be eased. Newfoundland and Labrador outlined its projections on April 8. Their prediction focused on intensive care capacity instead of expected deaths. They expect to exceed its 57 intensive-care capacity by the end of June if the spread of the virus continues its current rate of growth. The first assumes current restrictions remain in place and projects 32 per cent of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians infected over a two-year period. Under that scenario, the peak of the virus would occur in early November, and the province would have enough hospital beds and ventilators to weather the pandemic. The second model projects a scenario in which current restrictions are eased and assumes 52 per cent of people in the province infected over the same two-year period. In that scenario, the peak comes sooner — mid-September — and overwhelms hospital beds, intensive-care units and ventilators. Alberta’s Premier Jason Kenney outlined what he described as a "probable" scenario for Alberta on Tuesday that suggested the province won't see a peak in the virus until mid-May. That model suggested Alberta could see as many as 800,000 COVID-19 cases by the end of the summer with death figures ranging from 400 to 3,100. Another more "elevated" scenario pointed toward the possibility of both higher case numbers and between 500 and 6,600 deaths. On Tuesday, Quebec’s model predicts at least 1,200 COVID-19 deaths by the end of April, and if preventative measures aren’t continued, the death toll could be as high as 9,000. Public health officials noted that the current thinking is that the number of deaths will be closer to the lower estimate. Prime Minister Trudeau said Wednesday that people would learn more about a national model in the coming days, but did not provide a specific date. The prime minister said it's not yet clear exactly when Canada will reach a peak but said that strict adherence to critical public health measures — including physical distancing and staying home as much as possible — will help reduce the impact of the outbreak. It’s important to note that the federal modeling requires data from provincial health authorities. Some provinces have better data than others which hinders the development of a national level forecast.
Alberta may be on track for 25 per cent unemployment rate
Jason Kenney made the prediction on Tuesday, as businesses continue to shed jobs and oil prices hit historically low prices. He said it will be the province's most challenging economic period since the Great Depression. Alberta is on track to hit a staggering 25 per cent unemployment rate as businesses continue to shed jobs amid the COVID-19 pandemic coupled with historically low oil prices, Premier Jason Kenney said Tuesday. On a seasonally adjusted basis, the highest rate recorded by Statistics Canada since 1976 was in Newfoundland and Labrador, which hit 22.7 per cent unemployment in September 1984. Alberta's highest unemployment rate to date was 12.4 per cent, also in September 1984. Read more about Premier Kenney’s Comments
Alberta to face its 'worst contraction' ever, ATB chief economist warns
The COVID-19 pandemic and its related economic fallout is poised to change Alberta's economy permanently, says ATB chief economist Todd Hirsch. "This pandemic and this economic fallout will permanently reshape our economy," Hirsch said during a webinar hosted Thursday by the Calgary Chamber of Commerce. "I've had a hard time in the last couple of weeks being an optimist on this. I do think this is something very serious for our economy … I do expect this to be the worst contraction Alberta has ever seen." Hirsch acknowledged there are many unknowns in the coming months. There are questions surrounding how long physical distancing will last and how long it will take for global oil demand to return. He said Alberta's energy sector is being hit extra hard, and entered the intensifying stages of this pandemic "already in a compromised position." Hirsch said he's "not as convinced" oil demand will be back up by the end of this year, citing concerns with transporting oil. His views on the economy echo Premier Jason Kenney's statement last month that Alberta's oil and gas industry is "on life support." Though the global economy could recover from the COVID-19 pandemic this summer, Kenney said Alberta's finances could suffer if an oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia drags on. Potential opportunities While Hirsch acknowledged the present moment's downsides, he pointed out potential innovation and positive change during the pandemic. He said the downturn could encourage a higher value being placed on information and communication technology or a growing demand for locally-produced food products. Or perhaps the pandemic will help in developing innovative healthcare technology or an increase in innovation around clean technology. "To me, success will be that we do take this opportunity to purposefully diversify our economy," Hirsch said.
Alberta expanding child care for essential workers
Alberta expanding child care for essential workers On April 1, Alberta announced an expansion of child care for essential service workers. The province has allowed child-care centres to reopen for a maximum of 30 people. The centres will be compensated for the reopened spaces that are not filled and up to $500 for cleaning supplies.
Alberta releases list of essential services
On March 30, Alberta released their essential services list following their announcement last week on the closure of non-essential businesses. ALBERTA'S LIST OF ESSENTIAL SERVICES
LAST UPDATED: June 1, 2020

British Columbia COVID-19 Update

BC's minimum wage jumps by 75 cents on June 1
The minimum wage for workers in British Columbia rose to $14.60 an hour on Monday. The jump is part of the provincial government's plan to gradually raise the rate from $11.35 in 2017 until it reaches $15.20 in 2021.
B.C. bans commercial landlords who eschew federal rent relief from evicting tenants
Landlords in B.C. who are eligible for emergency federal rent relief and choose not to apply will not be able to evict businesses that aren't able to pay rent, B.C. Finance Minister Carole James announced Monday. The emergency order restricts lease terminations, rent-repayment lawsuits, and repossession of goods and properties, and will stay in place until the end of June, when the federal relief program is currently set to end. James said she's heard from businesses and MLAs around the province that there are landlords who haven't applied for the relief, making the program unavailable to their qualified small-business tenants.
B.C. parks are set to reopen next week, with restrictions
According to B.C. Parks, Cypress, Juan de Fuca, Inkaneep, the Kettle River Recreation Area, Liard River Hot Springs, Porteau Cove, Mount Seymour, some Shuswap Lake sites and Shannon Falls will all open their gates to visitors on June 1, along with dozens of others. Services that will and will not be operating in each of the parks are listed on the B.C. Parks website. Hundreds of other provincial parks in B.C. already reopened on May 14.
B.C.'s extends state of emergency by another two weeks
British Columbia also moved Wednesday to extend its state of emergency for another two weeks, making it the longest period of time it has been under such orders. States of emergency can only be issued for two weeks at a time in B.C
B.C.: Gatherings will be limited to 50 people for now
In her daily press conference, Dr. Bonnie Henry said that even as some COVID-19 restrictions are loosened it is still too early to increase the number of people allowed to gather. The limit on gathers will be limited to a maximum of 50 for the time being.
BC could 'go it alone' on paid sick leave
British Columbia's premier says he wants the federal government to take the lead on the issue of paid sick leave so workers can stay home if they are sick — but he added that the province is "prepared to go it alone if need be." Speaking on Wednesday, Horgan said he wants Ottawa to spearhead a national sick pay program for workers so they wouldn't lose pay if they stayed home with flu-like symptoms, something that's particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic, and other issues during a phone-in news conference.
BC outlines plan to restart
Late on Wednesday, BC Premier John Horgan outlined the provinces plan for restarting economic activity. This will look different in BC than the other provinces because only a small number of sectors in the province were closed by public health order. Sectors that were ordered closed will be asked to work with WorkSafeBC to develop plans to reopen safely. WorkSafeBC is developing industry-specific guidance to help employers bring workers and customers back safely. Any business restarting operations must ensure it is in compliance with the provincial health officer’s orders and in accordance with occupational health and safety guidance provided by WorkSafeBC. B.C. is currently in Phase 1 of the restart plan. Phase 2 – Begins in mid-May:
  • small social gatherings;
  • a resumption of elective surgeries and regulated health services like physiotherapy, dentistry, chiropractors and in-person counselling;
  • provincial parks open for day use;
  • opening more non-essential businesses in keeping with safe operations plans; recalling the provincial legislature for regular sittings.
Phase 3 – target date is TBD
  • will include opening up of additional businesses and services, is between June and September 2020, if transmission rates remain low or in decline.
Phase 4 – target date is TBD
  • will only be achieved when the threat of COVID-19 has been significantly diminished through widespread vaccination, broad successful treatments, evidence of community immunity, or the equivalent.
For more information please see the Premier’s News Release
B.C. creates COVID-19 temporary layoff period
The BC government has extended the temporary layoff period from 13 weeks to 16 weeks for COVID-19 related reasons. Previously under the Employment Standards Act, a temporary layoff longer than 13 weeks in any 20-week period (or about three months in a five-month period) was considered a permanent layoff. With a permanent layoff, employers are required to provide employees with written working notice of termination and/or pay severance to qualifying employees, based on their length of service. Now, temporary layoffs relating to the COVID-19 pandemic can be extended to 16 weeks, if the employee agrees. This change to the Employment Standards Act aligns B.C.’s temporary layoff provisions with the federal Canada Emergency Response Benefit period. The federal period provides 16 weeks of financial support, allowing employees to take full advantage of those benefits. It also allows employees to keep their job, even if they are not working, for 16 weeks of temporary layoff. Employers will be able to quickly resume operations should the public health emergency end within that time. The COVID-19 emergency temporary layoff provisions are not intended to be permanent and will be repealed when no longer needed. For information on employment standards around temporary layoffs.
B.C. Premier extends state of emergency – details on reopening B.C. coming next week
B.C.'s state of emergency introduced last month in response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been extended until May 12. Premier Horgan also said he will outline details next week about lifting restrictions related to the pandemic. The reopening guidelines will be different than other provinces, mostly because B.C. didn't fully lock down its economy, but allowed construction, agriculture and other industries to continue operating. The reopening plan will focus on ensuring health orders on physical distancing and self-isolation are being practised, so that new COVID-19 cases are kept to a minimum.
B.C. home sales to fall by 40 per cent but comeback is likely, report says
B.C. is entering into a deep recession, characterized by falling housing sales and a shrinking economy, according to a new report from the BC Real Estate Association. It finds that the strict social and physical distancing measures by public health are having an immediate impact on the province. However, based on past modelling of recessions in B.C., economists are hopeful the province will be able to stage a comeback once restrictions are gradually lifted. The BCREA examined the impact of past recessions in B.C. to predict how the markets will react during the crisis, as well as its aftermath. Compared to historical recessions in the province, home sales typically have made recoveries of up to 46 per cent.
B.C. reducing most commercial property tax bills by an average of 25%
Late last week B.C. Finance Minister Carole James announced enhanced measures to support businesses and local governments. The relief includes:
  • 25% reduction of commercial property tax by and postponed late penalties;
  • Authorizing local governments to borrow, interest free, from their existing capital reserves to cover operating expenses;
  • Delaying provincial school tax remittances until the end of the year;
  • Greater flexibility to carry debt for an additional year; and
  • B.C. Business COVID-19 Support Service operated by Small Business B.C.
    B.C.'s Police can issue $2,000 fines for price gouging and reselling of medical supplies
    B.C.'s Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth announced on Sunday morning that he has has enabled police to issue $2,000 fines for people engaged in price gouging and reselling of medical supplies during the State of Emergency.
    B.C. extends state of emergency to April 28
    The provincial state of emergency in B.C. has been extended another two weeks as the province continues working to flatten its infection curve. The state of emergency gives the government continued power to take any steps necessary to respond to the health-care crisis and preserve the province's supply chains.
    B.C. Assessment appeal extended
    The BC Property Assessment Appeal Board has extended the appeal deadline to June 1 from April 30. The board helps owners who disagree with the assessed value of their homes, which could affect their tax rate. The board says the pandemic may affect peoples' access to their right to appeal to the board. The extension only applies to appeals required to be filed by April 30.
    B.C. Hydro offering 3-month bill credit
    The provincial government has announced BC Hydro is offering a three-month bill credit to people who are out of work or working at a reduced wage because of the outbreak. The credit will be three times their average monthly bill over the previous year and will not have to be repaid. For small businesses forced to close during the pandemic, the utility is offering bill forgiveness for April, May and June. Premier John Horgan said large, industrial customers can have 50 per cent of their payments deferred for the next three months. In addition, the premier said the B.C. Utilities Commission has approved a one per cent rate drop "across the board" to help cut costs for customers.
    B.C. and Saskatchewan extend States of Emergency to mid April
    Saskatchewan announced it is extending its state of emergency for another two weeks to April 15. B.C.'s provincial state of emergency has been extended until April 14
    B.C. releases list essential and non-essential services
    The province defines essential services as "essential to preserving life, health, public safety and basic societal functioning." Non-essential services can only stay open if they can demonstrate they are complying with public health orders B.C. LIST OF ESSENTIAL SERVICES
LAST UPDATED: May 28, 2020

Manitoba COVID-19 Update

Manitoba launches online tool to match employers and students for jobs
The Manitoba government on Thursday launched an online tool to match students looking for job opportunities with employers who need help. Student Jobs MB helps students apply for multiple jobs with the click of a button. Private-sector employers, not-for-profit organizations and governments can post jobs and connect directly with students.
Manitoba: Restaurants, gyms, seniors’ centres can reopen June 1
Businesses that were forced to shutter their doors due to COVID-19 will be allowed to start back up Monday under the second phase of Manitoba's reopening plan, which includes gyms, indoor restaurant spaces and seniors centres, manicurists and pedicurists, film production, pools and a wide swath of other businesses can all resume operating The plan includes expanding capacity at child-care centres and opening bars at 50 per cent capacity. Manitobans will also be allowed to travel north of the 53rd parallel from within Manitoba, though they are advised to stay home if they have any symptoms of COVID-19, which include many cold and flu symptoms.
MB is considering an early start to the school year
Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister says the province is considering an early start to the school year. It's also looking at allowing access to pools and gyms, and limited travel to Manitoba's north as part of its next reopening phase, though no date was attached to the proposals. Manitoba is allowing outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people and indoor gatherings of up to 25 as of Friday, with physical distancing measures in place.
Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec lifting some COVID-19 restrictions
Ontario took its first steps Monday with the reopening of some businesses, including lawn care and landscaping, garden centres for curbside pickup, automatic and self-serve car washes, auto dealerships by appointment, and many construction projects. Manitobans can now visit everything from hair salons to museums to restaurant patios (with fewer seats than normal) provided everyone is following public health rules. In most of Saskatchewan, non-urgent medical offices are allowed to reopen and rules around some outdoor activities — including fishing and boating — are being loosened. But one owner of a physiotherapy clinic told CBC Saskatchewan she's got mixed emotions about opening up. Newfoundland and Labrador plans to move to alert Level 4 on May 11, meaning a relaxation of some public health measures to allow more social and business activities. The province followed New Brunswick's lead and allowed families to come together in "bubbles" made up of two households . Alberta took its first strides toward the large-scale resumption of public life under COVID-19 this weekend as provincial parks and golf courses opened under the government's phased economic relaunch. Alberta began to ease some public health restrictions on Friday, with provincial parks and boat launches reopening with limited services. Alberta has three stage plan starting May 14 called Opening Soon: Alberta’s Relaunch Strategy .
Hair salons, dentists, patios can reopen in Manitoba starting May 4
As of May 4, a variety of non-essential health care and retail businesses in Manitoba will have the option of reopening under strict guidelines. Those services, businesses and venues include:
  • Non-urgent surgery and diagnostic procedures.
  • Therapeutic and medical services.
  • Retail businesses.
  • Restaurants — patio/walk-up services.
  • Hair salons.
  • Museums, galleries and libraries.
  • Seasonal day camps.
  • Outdoor recreation and campgrounds.
If results during or at the end of Phase 1 are not favourable, the province will not proceed with further phases and may instead reintroduce some measures. All businesses and venues being allowed to reopen will be required to continue following social distancing and stringent cleaning practices to protect both employees and customers. Manitoba will continually re-evaluate and adjust plans for further easing of public health restrictions if one or any future phases result in a resurgence of cases. Phase 2 of the reopening, which would happen no earlier than June 1, may include an increase in the size of gatherings and more non-essential businesses, including:
  • Dining inside restaurants.
  • Non-contact children's sports.
  • Film production.
  • Additional personal services, such as nail salons.
Manitoba introduces $120M to support small and medium sized business
The Manitoba Gap Protection Program (MGPP) is available to any of the approximately 120,000 businesses in Manitoba who have fallen into a gap in failing to qualify for the various federal government assistance programs and wage subsidies created because of COVID-19. If one in six businesses have fallen into that gap that would mean approximately 20,000 Manitoba businesses would be entitled to this support, the premier noted. The province will advance each eligible business the non-interest bearing forgivable MGPP loan of $6,000, for a total of up to $120 million. The loan will be forgiven on Dec. 31, 2020, if the recipient attests at that time the business has not received any major non-repayable COVID-19 federal supports such as the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and the Canada Emergency Business Account, as well as sector-specific grant federal programs specifically developed in response to the pandemic. If the applicant has received benefits under a federal COVID program, then the loan will be added to the recipient’s 2020 tax bill. To be eligible for the MGPP funding, a business must:
  • have been operational on March 20, 2020, the date the Manitoba government declared a provincewide state of emergency under The Emergency Measures Act because of COVID-19;
  • have temporarily ceased or curtailed operations as a result of a COVID-19 public health order and have been harmed by the health order;
  • be registered and in good standing with the Manitoba Business and Corporate Registry;
  • have not qualified for federal government COVID-19 grant support; and
  • have an email address and a bank account.
Manitoba Workers Compensation Board to give $37M surplus back to employers
Premier Brian Pallister announced that Manitoba WCB will return 20% of 2019 premium to employers starting in May. The Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba is returning a roughly $37-million surplus to eligible employers. $29 million back to private-sector employers and roughly $7 million to small businesses. This is the second year the WCB has returned a surplus to employers. The WCB insures more than 34,000 employers in the province, or roughly three-quarters of Manitoba's workforce, the province said in a news release.
Manitoba extends COVID-19 public health orders to April 28 but more to come
Manitoba has extended public health orders shutting down non-essential businesses and limiting public gatherings for an additional two weeks. The orders, which were introduced on March 30, were previously set to expire on Tuesday. They are now set to expire on April 28. Under the current rules, bars, hair salons and massage therapy offices are shut down and restaurants are banned from serving eat-in service. Businesses are allowed to do repairs, provide security services or take items out of a closed establishment if they operate on a remote basis. The province is likely to enhance the orders later this week but Dr. Brent Roussin, the province's chief public health officer declined to provide specifics of what that could look like.
Manitoba adds new rules for businesses still allowed to operate
Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer issued the following measures that came into effect on April 1, 2020: All non-exempt businesses may:
  • Continue to operate where customers can order goods online or by telephone; however, customers cannot visit a business’ premises or property to order goods;
  • Continue to sell goods to customers where those goods can be picked up ‘curbside’ or delivered to customers; however, customers cannot pick up goods at a business’ premises or on its property;
  • Allow staff to visit the business’ premises without a limitation on the number of staff, as long as staff take measures to keep social distancing of one to two metres apart from each other; and
  • Accept delivery of goods and may allow services, such as construction, repairs, maintenance and cleaning to occur at their premises and on their property.
Ontario and Manitoba schools to remain closed until May
On March 31, the Ontario government announced that publicly-funded schools will remain closed until May 1 for teachers and May 4 for students. Private schools, licensed child care centres and EarlyON programs will also remain closed for at least another two weeks, according to the province's emergency declaration, which only allows closures to be extended for 14 days at a time. In Manitoba, classes for kindergarten to Grade 12 students in Manitoba are suspended indefinitely for this school year. Teachers will continue to teach remotely, assign work, conduct assessments and prepare report cards. Grades will be held at what they were before the classes were suspended, but students will still have the opportunity to improve their grades.
On March 30, Premier Pallister announced the restriction on non-essential establishment
The Public Health Order to enforce closure of non-essential businesses is in effect as of April 1, 2020. Manitoba followed suit with many other provinces to allow licensed establishments licensed establishments whose primary business is food to also sell liquor as part of their take-out menus. This will allow an added source of revenue for businesses facing significant financial impacts. MANITOBA'S LIST OF NON-ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES
Manitoba is shutting down all non-critical services April 1
The province's chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, made the announcement on Monday, closing any place that serves food for dine-in service, as well as bars, hair salons and massage therapy offices. Grocery stores will still remain open. Read more about what's happening in Manitoba
LAST UPDATED: May 28, 2020

New Brunswick COVID-19 Update

New Brunswick nixes new property tax breaks for businesses, cottages
New Brunswick Finance Minister Ernie Steeves has moved to cancel more than $20 million in property tax cuts for businesses and cottages that he unveiled in his budget just 11 weeks ago. The measures being undone involve proposed relief for residential properties that are subject to secondary provincial taxes, including apartment buildings, cottages and single-family homes not lived in by the owner. That budget proposal was to reduce taxes by $140.40 per year on every $100,000 those properties are assessed to be worth. A second tax cut on commercial and industrial properties is also being withdrawn. It was worth $82.50 per year on every $100,000 of a business property's assessed value. It would have been a substantial saving for some of the province's larger business properties, including a $142,000 tax reduction for Champlain Place in Dieppe beginning next January and a $84,715 reduction in property tax on the Irving Oil refinery. There was also a plan to lower the same taxes identical amounts in 2022, 2023 and 2024, providing a total of $96 million in annual property tax relief to business and cottage properties after the fourth year. Premier Blaine Higgs said the province could not afford the loss in revenue, but he hoped to be able to restore the tax cuts when the province's finances improve.
NB moves to Phase 2 (Orange) of recovery plan
Premier Blaine Higgs announced that New Brunswick will be moving to Phase 2, Orange level. Under Phase 2 (Orange), several activities and openings are permitted, subject to maintaining physical distancing measures, general guidelines from Public Health and the Guidelines for New Brunswick Workplaces issued by WorkSafe NB. Businesses do not need to be inspected before re-opening, but they must prepare an operational plan that can be provided to officials, if requested. Businesses may open immediately, but it is up to each business operator to decide if they are ready and if all guidelines have been met. Re-openings and activities include: • Elective surgeries and other non-emergency health services, including dental, physiotherapy, optometry and massage therapy. • Outdoor public gatherings, with physical distancing, of 10 or fewer people. • Indoor public gatherings, with physical distancing, of 10 or fewer people for in-person religious services, weddings and funerals. • All in-person programs at post-secondary institutions, subject to the COVID-19 directives from Public Health. Virtual education options should be continued wherever possible. • Cultural venues such as museums, galleries and libraries. • Offices not deemed essential during the initial phase. • Retail establishments, including malls. • Restaurants. • Campgrounds and outdoor recreational activities, such as zoos and outfitters. • Early learning and child care centres regulated by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development will be permitted to reopen as of May 19. The department will contact operators to provide further information in the coming days. • Non-regulated child care providers may open as of today but must adhere to Public Health guidelines, including having an operational plan. • Day camps, if the organization can adhere to Public Health measures set out in the document called COVID-19 Recovery Phase: Guidance to Early Learning and Childcare Facilities and Day Camps. • ATV trails across the province.
NB launches job-matching platform
JobMatchNB, a virtual job-matching platform, was launched Monday to connect New Brunswickers with available positions. Employers can add jobs into the system and they will appear on the site within a few days. Last week, the New Brunswick government announced a ban on any temporary foreign workers entering the province.
NB extends state of emergency for two more weeks
The province has extended the state of emergency for another two weeks. The declaration under the Emergency Measures Act does include some revisions. All licences, registrations, certificates and permits issued under provincial laws that were valid as of March 16 have been extended to June 30. Many renewals can be done online. A new paragraph has been added to authorize municipal councils and council committees to hold more meetings electronically. New Brunswick's Local Governance Act normally limits councillors' participation in meetings electronically rather than in person.
New Brunswick releases four-phase plan to reopen his province's economy
The first phase of New Brunswick's recovery plan and the loosening of some public health restrictions were announced today by Premier Blaine Higgs, the COVID-19 all-party committee which includes Liberal leader Kevin Vickers, People’s Alliance leader Kris Austin and Green Party leader David Coon, and by Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health. As a first step, the following will be allowed effective today:
  • Two-household bubbles: Households may now choose to spend time with one other household, if both households agree. The selection made is not interchangeable.
  • Golf courses and driving ranges: If all physical distancing and safety measures are in place, golf courses and driving ranges can now open.
  • Recreational fishing and hunting: The delay on springs seasons has been lifted.
  • Outdoor spaces: With physical distancing, people can now enjoy the outdoors including parks and beaches.
  • Carpooling: Co-workers or neighbours can carpool if physical distancing measures are maintained by transporting the passenger in the backseat.
  • Post-secondary education: Students requiring access to campus to fulfill their course requirements will be able to do so.
  • Outdoor religious services: As an alternative to online worship, religious organizations can hold outdoor services if parishioners stay in their vehicles that are two metres apart.
  • A guidance document of the public health measures during the recovery phases is being developed and will be available soon.
Large gatherings, events and concerts prohibited are prohibited through Dec. 31, 2020, subject to change. New Brunswick four-phase plan
State of emergency extensions in NB and PEI
New Brunswick has extended its state of emergency for another 14 days. PEI has extended its state of public health emergency for an additional 30 days. Under the measures, anyone travelling to the province will need to disclose the purposes of their travel to determine if it is essential or not.
New Brunswick’s State of Emergency has been extended
New Brunswick's premier said the province's state of emergency has been extended for another two weeks. Blaine Higgs said his province will also put up barriers where needed to discourage people from congregating in public spaces. Request for review period for property assessments extended to May 1 The deadline to request a property assessment review has been extended by 30 days, until May 1. This extension will give property owners an opportunity to thoroughly review their assessments and allow assessors additional time to complete reviews.
LAST UPDATED: April 30, 2020

Newfoundland and Labrador COVID-19 Update

Newfoundland and Labrador outlines plan for relaxing public health restrictions.
plan for relaxing public health restrictions. Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald on Thursday unveiled the provincial government's five-stage plan for relaxing public health restrictions, including conditions that need to be met as the province progresses from present conditions — Level 5 — to living with COVID-19 — Level 1. The provincial government has set May 11 as the target date for moving to Level 4 Level 4 – Relaxation of several restrictions: •
  • Low-risk outdoor recreational activities — including golf and hunting — may resume, provided they're done so safely. •
  • Low-risk non-essential businesses — such as law firms, accounting firms, and outdoor businesses like garden centres — can reopen. •
  • Resumption of some medical procedures. •
  • Funerals with a maximum of 10 people, including the officiant, will be allowed. •
  • Limited expansion of child-care centres.
Level 3 includes further relaxation of public health orders: •
  • Private health-care clinics — such as dentistry, optometry and physiotherapy — can reopen. •
  • Medium-risk businesses — such as clothing stores, hair salons, pet centres — can reopen. •
  • Restaurants can reopen with reduced occupancy. •
  • Medium-risk outdoor recreational activities — such as team field sports — can resume. •
  • Further expansion of child-care centres.
Level 2 sees further loosening of restrictions: •
  • Small gatherings will be permitted, but there will be physical distancing restrictions. •
  • Higher-risk businesses — larger retailers, shopping centres, theatres, perhaps performance paces — can reopen, subject to conditions. •
  • Medium-risk recreational facilities — such as gyms — can also reopen, also subject to conditions.
AB, SK, NL and QC release provincial COVID-19 modeling
Saskatchewan released its modelling on April 8, which shows the provincial government is planning for 3,000 to 8,300 deaths and approximately 20 to 200 daily intensive care admissions from COVID-19 at its peak. The data does not say when that peak is expected nor when distancing measures might be eased. Newfoundland and Labrador outlined its projections on April 8. Their prediction focused on intensive care capacity instead of expected deaths. They expect to exceed its 57 intensive-care capacity by the end of June if the spread of the virus continues its current rate of growth. The first assumes current restrictions remain in place and projects 32 per cent of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians infected over a two-year period. Under that scenario, the peak of the virus would occur in early November, and the province would have enough hospital beds and ventilators to weather the pandemic. The second model projects a scenario in which current restrictions are eased and assumes 52 per cent of people in the province infected over the same two-year period. In that scenario, the peak comes sooner — mid-September — and overwhelms hospital beds, intensive-care units and ventilators. Alberta’s Premier Jason Kenney outlined what he described as a "probable" scenario for Alberta on Tuesday that suggested the province won't see a peak in the virus until mid-May. That model suggested Alberta could see as many as 800,000 COVID-19 cases by the end of the summer with death figures ranging from 400 to 3,100. Another more "elevated" scenario pointed toward the possibility of both higher case numbers and between 500 and 6,600 deaths. On Tuesday, Quebec’s model predicts at least 1,200 COVID-19 deaths by the end of April, and if preventative measures aren’t continued, the death toll could be as high as 9,000. Public health officials noted that the current thinking is that the number of deaths will be closer to the lower estimate. Prime Minister Trudeau said Wednesday that people would learn more about a national model in the coming days, but did not provide a specific date. The prime minister said it's not yet clear exactly when Canada will reach a peak but said that strict adherence to critical public health measures — including physical distancing and staying home as much as possible — will help reduce the impact of the outbreak. It’s important to note that the federal modeling requires data from provincial health authorities. Some provinces have better data than others which hinders the development of a national level forecast.
LAST UPDATED: May 27, 2020

Nova Scotia COVID-19 Update

Parts of N.S. economy, like hair salons, bars, gyms, can reopen if ready June 5
Parts of Nova Scotia's economy can begin to reopen June 5 if they're ready and follow public health protocol. If ready the following can reopen June 5:
  • Restaurants for dine-in.
  • Bars, wineries, distilleries and craft beer taprooms.
  • Personal services like hair salons, barber shops, nail salons, spas and tattoo parlours.
  • Fitness facilities like gyms, yoga studios and climbing facilities.
  • Veterinarians.
Other health providers can also reopen on June 5 if they follow protocols in their college or association's plan, as approved by public health, including:
  • Dentistry and other self-regulated health professions such as optometry, chiropractic and physiotherapy.
  • Unregulated health professions such as massage therapy, podiatry and naturopathy.
Lounges are not permitted to reopen yet.
N.S. students won't be returning to the classroom this school year
On May 8, NS Premier Stephen McNeil announced that Nova Scotia students and teachers will not be returning to the classroom this school year. At-home learning will continue until June 5, when the province's school year will end.
Nova Scotia eases restrictions
The Nova Scotia government announced Friday it is immediately easing some public health restrictions around COVID-19, including opening all municipal and provincial parks. Some of the initial steps include:
  • Reopening provincial and municipal parks (excluding playgrounds and beaches), trails and community gardens. Skate parks are open. Provincial parks won't have visitor facilities available to the public, including parking lots, washroom facilities and garbage collection because it is still off-season.
  • Reopening garden centres, nurseries and similar businesses.
  • Sport fishing is permitted from shore or boat, but fishing derbies are not allowed. People are now allowed to go to boating, yacht or sailing clubs to prepare boats for use.
  • Golf driving ranges can open, including those at golf clubs. Courses must remain closed, but golf clubs can perform the necessary preparation work for reopening.
  • People can use their cottages, but use is restricted to one household unit at a time. Travel must be directly to the cottage and back. Travelling back and forth frequently from cottage to primary residence is discouraged. This does not apply to cottage rentals.
  • Provincial and private campgrounds are still closed, but staff are now permitted to do maintenance work for reopening. An exception to this rule is recreational vehicles parked year-round at private campgrounds, which can be used but must follow the same rules.
  • Drive-thru religious services will be allowed as long as people stay in their cars and are parked two metres apart and there is no interaction between people in cars or between people in cars and others.
Rules around physical distancing and social gatherings remain in place. People must keep two metres apart and not gather in groups of more than five.
Big Win for the CFA getting changes to Nova Scotia’s Rent Deferral
Over the weekend CFA staff worked with officials within the government of Nova Scotia to get changes to the provinces Rent Deferral Support program so that franchisees are now considered qualified businesses. The COVID-19 Rent Deferral Support Program (CRDSP), was announced on May 27 and will indemnify qualified landlords for losses incurred as a result the State of Emergency in Nova Scotia. In the first iteration of the program criteria franchisees were excluded from the program. Thankfully Nova Scotia made changes to the program so that CFA members can now qualify for the program. The revised program criteria are available online. Under the program the provincial government may guarantee up to $5,000/month if that business tenant must shut its doors and its landlord agrees to defer rent payments from April, May, and June and spread the deferred amount over the remainder of the lease term. Without the CFA’s advocacy franchisees would have been excluded from the program.
LAST UPDATED: April 13, 2020

Nunavut COVID-19 Update

LAST UPDATED: June 1, 2020

Ontario COVID-19 Update

Ontario increases the cost of electricity to 12.8 cents from 10.1 cents
Premier Ford announced the COVID-19 Recovery Rate of 12.8 cents per kilowatt hour that will be applied 24 hours per day, 7 days a week. This rate is a slight increase from the previous 10.1 cents per kilowatt hour but continues the suspension of time-of-use (TOU) energy pricing by offering a single, fixed hydro rate. The fixed rate will be applied to TOU customer bills automatically in an effort to provide stability in pricing. The rate will be in place until October 31, 2020. In addition, the Ontario Energy Board has extended its disconnection ban until July 31 for residential customers. In addition to the COVID-19 Recovery Rate, Energy Minister Rickford announced that customers will have the ability to choose the rate best for them beginning November 1, 2020. Beginning then, electricity customers will have the choice to be billed on TOU electricity rates or through tiered pricing. Finally, Minister Rickford announced the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Business. The $8 million dollar assistance plan will provide support to businesses that are struggling with energy bill payments as a result of the pandemic.
Ontario extending State of Emergency to June 30
The state of emergency, which was set to expire on June 2, will be extended until June 30 if the motion is passed on Tuesday at Queen's Park. The province declared a state of emergency on March 17 as the number of COVID-19 cases in Ontario continued to climb. Ontario entered the first phase of the reopening plan on May 19. A number of businesses, including those with a street-front entrance were allowed to reopen. The province was hoping to make an announcement on allowing larger social gatherings last month but said last week they delayed it due to an uptick in cases.
Ontario makes temporary change to layoff regulations to help businesses
Ontario is temporarily amending its labour laws to help businesses avoid permanently laying off workers and paying out severance, which could send some into bankruptcy during the pandemic. The government is expected to announce today that it will amend the Employment Standards Act, which requires businesses to terminate employees who have been laid off for 13 weeks. The law then requires the business to pay severance to workers. The change will see non-unionized workers who have had their hours reduced or eliminated placed on a temporary leave that preserves their job. Workers will still be eligible for federal emergency income support programs. News Release
Ontario Extending Emergency Orders to June 9
The Government of Ontario declared a provincial emergency on March 17, 2020 under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. This declaration of emergency was most recently extended on May 12, 2020, and is currently in effect until June 2, 2020. Current emergency orders include the closure of outdoor playgrounds, play structures and equipment, public swimming pools and outdoor water facilities, as well as bars and restaurants except for takeout and delivery. Additionally, there continues to be restrictions on social gatherings of more than five people, and staff redeployment rules remain in place for long-term care homes and congregate settings like retirement homes and women's shelters. Full News Release
Ontario announces support for apprenticeship, tourism and hospitality sector
Premier Ford announced the launch of a new Ontario Tools Grant program this summer, to help apprentices purchase equipment. An estimated 11,600 Ontario apprentices are eligible to receive: $1,000 each in motive power sectors; $600 each in construction and industrial trades; and $400 for those in-service sector trades. The grant program is slated to invest $2.5 million in 2020-21 and $7.5 million in 2021-22 and ongoing. To support tourism and hospitality workers displaced by the economic shut down, the Premier announced a partnership with UNITED HERE Local 75 to launch a Virtual Action Centre. The centre is expected to help up to 7,000 workers in the sector with supports from counselling for mental wellness to employment preparation through video conferencing. Read the full announcement
Ontario deficit could hit $41 billion – FAO
The Financial Accountability Office of Ontario (FAO) released its spring Economic and Budget Outlook report, which highlighted that Ontario is facing a $41 billion deficit – its largest ever. The annual operating shortfall is now estimated to be almost four times larger than projected prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the next two years, Ontario is expected to add an extra $78 billion in red ink to its provincial books. Financial Accountability Officer Peter Weltman stated that these numbers might even prove “too optimistic” if a second wave of COVID-19 forces longer shutdowns of the economy. The FAO projects that Ontario’s real GDP will decline by 9 per cent in 2020, the largest annual decline on record.
Ontario expected to extend state of emergency to June 2
Ontario's legislature will sit Tuesday and is expected to extend the province's state of emergency to June 2, while also holding question period again. A statement from the government house leader's office says unanimous consent is also expected to quickly vote on all stages of a bill that makes COVID-19-related changes to several acts.
Ontario reduces the minimum price for spirits ordered with food for takeout and delivery by 33%
Late Tuesday Ontario announced it had reduced the minimum price of spirits sold by licensed establishments with food takeout and delivery orders by 33 percent. This pricing change applies specifically to spirits with an alcohol content greater than 14.8 percent. The reduction in minimum pricing will be in effect until January 1, 2021. For more information please see the news release
Ontario announces a list of more businesses than can open with strict guidelines
The Ontario government is allowing all retail stores with a street entrance to provide curbside pickup and delivery, as well as in-store payment and purchases at garden centres, nurseries, hardware stores and safety supply stores.
  • On Friday garden centres and nurseries will be allowed to reopen
  • On Saturday, hardware stores and safety supply stores will also be allowed to reopen.
  • On May 11, retail stores with a street entrance will be allowed to reopen for curbside pickup.
The government is also expanding essential construction to allow below-grade multi-unit residential construction projects like apartments and condominiums to begin and existing above-grade projects to continue. This will help clear the way for the housing and jobs our economy will need to support economic recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Ontario Extends Electricity Rate Relief During COVID-19
The Ontario government is extending emergency electricity rate relief to families, farms and small businesses until May 31, 2020. Customers who pay time-of-use electricity rates will continue to be billed at the lowest price, known as the off-peak price, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This electricity rate relief, initially provided for a 45-day period starting on March 24, 2020, has been extended. For the full news release click here
Ontario Extends State of Emergency until May 19
On the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Ontario government is extending all emergency orders that have been put in place until May 19, 2020.
Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec lifting some COVID-19 restrictions
Ontario took its first steps Monday with the reopening of some businesses, including lawn care and landscaping, garden centres for curbside pickup, automatic and self-serve car washes, auto dealerships by appointment, and many construction projects. Manitobans can now visit everything from hair salons to museums to restaurant patios (with fewer seats than normal) provided everyone is following public health rules. In most of Saskatchewan, non-urgent medical offices are allowed to reopen and rules around some outdoor activities — including fishing and boating — are being loosened. But one owner of a physiotherapy clinic told CBC Saskatchewan she's got mixed emotions about opening up. Newfoundland and Labrador plans to move to alert Level 4 on May 11, meaning a relaxation of some public health measures to allow more social and business activities. The province followed New Brunswick's lead and allowed families to come together in "bubbles" made up of two households . Alberta took its first strides toward the large-scale resumption of public life under COVID-19 this weekend as provincial parks and golf courses opened under the government's phased economic relaunch. Alberta began to ease some public health restrictions on Friday, with provincial parks and boat launches reopening with limited services. Alberta has three stage plan starting May 14 called Opening Soon: Alberta’s Relaunch Strategy .
Ontario government allowing some businesses to reopen on May 4
Ontario government has announced that certain businesses and workplaces can reopen on Monday with strict public health measures in effect. The government said businesses permitted to reopen include seasonal businesses and some essential construction projects. The government said following proper health and safety guidelines, these businesses can reopen as of May 4 at 12:01 a.m.:
  • Garden centres and nurseries with curbside pick-up and delivery only
  • Lawn care and landscaping
  • Additional essential construction projects that include: shipping and logistics, broadband, telecommunications, and digital infrastructure; any other project that supports the improved delivery of goods and services; municipal projects; colleges and universities; child care centres; schools; and site preparation, excavation, and servicing for institutional, commercial, industrial and residential development
  • Automatic and self-serve car washes
  • Auto dealerships, open by appointment only
  • Golf courses may prepare their courses for the upcoming season, but not open to the public
  • Marinas may also begin preparations for the recreational boating season by servicing boats and other watercraft and placing boats in the water, but not open to the public. Boats and watercraft must be secured to a dock in the marina until public access is allowed.
CFA pens Op-Ed with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce
CFA President Sherry McNeil and Ontario Chamber of Commerce President Rocco Rossi penned an op-ed that was published in the Toronto Sun arguing for changes in the Canada Emergency Business Account to better help CFA and OCC members. A link to the op-ed is below. “All small business owners (franchised and non-franchised) are an essential part of the nation’s economic and social fabric. Like everyone, they are suffering through this crisis and need help to survive. Expanding the CEBA loan program will help more of these businesses survive the COVID-19 economic downturn and help ensure their employees still have jobs. Without this support, recovery will be tougher than it needs to be.” OPINION: Franchisee owners cannot be left behind
Ontario Providing Employers with Workplace Safety Guidelines to Help Businesses Adapt to New Environment
Ontario released safety guidelines released to provide direction to those working in manufacturing, food manufacturing and processing, restaurant and food service, and the agricultural sector.
  • 61 sector-specific guidelines are available here from Ontario’s health and safety associations.
  • Guidelines for construction are available here
. These new sector-specific guidelines recommend actions employers can take as they adapt to the new reality during COVID-19, including:
  • Ways to ensure appropriate physical distancing, including staggering shift times and using ground markings and barriers to manage traffic flow;
  • Changes to the workplace, including installing plexiglass barriers;
  • Promoting proper workplace sanitation.
Ontario is also issuing posters to promote a variety of useful safety tips on physical distancing and sanitation. They are downloadable from the Ontario.ca website .
58 new inspectors are on the job
Starting this week, 58 new inspectors will join the hundreds of existing provincial labour inspectors on the ground who are tasked with communicating COVID-19 safety guidelines to essential workplaces and enforcing emergency measures, including physical distancing and the closure of non-essential businesses.
Ontario to reveal reopening plans
Ontario announces three-stage process to reopen economy.
While there is no firm starting date Ontario announced it will reopen its economy through a three-stage process in the coming weeks and months. Ontario’s reopening will depend on a consistent two-to-four week drop in new daily COVID-19 cases; a decrease in cases not traced to a source; and a decrease in new hospitalizations. The stages for reopening are as follows:

Phase One:

  • Opening select workplaces that can meet the current health guidelines;
  • Allowing essential gatherings of limited numbers;
  • Opening some outdoor spaces;
  • Allowing hospitals to begin providing some non-urgent and scheduled surgeries; and
  • Protecting vulnerable populations.

Phase Two:

  • The opening of additional workplaces with mitigation plans;
  • Opening of additional public spaces; and
  • Larger public gatherings.

Phase Three:

  • Reopening all workplaces responsibly; and
  • Relaxing restrictions on public gatherings.
Each stage will last at least two to four weeks, at which point Ontario's chief medical officer of health will be able to tighten certain restrictions, extend the stage or advise that the province can move into the next phase.
Ontario’s publicly funded schools will remain closed until at least May 29.
Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced that all publicly-funded schools will remain closed until at least May 31. At a news conference on Sunday, Lecce said the decision was made based on the advice of Dr. David Williams, the province's chief medical officer of health, and the province's COVID-19 Command Table. He said the announcement is also to provide students, parents and teachers with "greater certainty" as the pandemic continues.
Ontario Supporting Frontline Workers with Pandemic Pay Increase
The Ontario government is providing frontline staff with a temporary pandemic payment. This increase will provide $4 per hour worked on top of existing hourly wages, regardless of the qualified employee's hourly wage. In addition, employees working over 100 hours per month would receive lump sum payments of $250 per month for each of the next four months. This means that eligible employees working an average of 40 hours per week would receive $3,560 in additional compensation. Those eligible to receive the payment will be staff working in long-term care homes, retirement homes, emergency shelters, supportive housing, social services congregate care settings, corrections institutions and youth justice facilities, as well as those providing home and community care and some staff in hospitals. Click here for more details on the Pay Raise for Frontline Workers
Community spread 'appears to have peaked' in Ontario, but long-term care cases rising
Community spread of the novel coronavirus in Ontario appears to have peaked earlier than expected, updated modelling suggests, but the public must "stay the course" to ensure a best-case scenario remains achievable in the weeks ahead, public health officials say. The revised projections come as health authorities provide a briefing on Monday afternoon on the current status of COVID-19 in Ontario. The total number of cases for the span of this wave of the outbreak is "now likely less than 20,000" — if the physical distancing and other emergency measures remain in place, documents provided by the province's dedicated COVID-19 task force say. That figure is "substantially lower" than the worst-case scenario of 300,000 and expected-case scenario of 80,000 included in Ontario's previous modelling update on April 3. Experts initially anticipated a peak of community spread at some point in May. Unfortunately, spread in long-term care and other congregate settings seems to be growing. Outbreaks of COVID-19 have been reported in 127 long-term care facilities, according to the province's task force. The Ministry of Health says there has been 249 deaths among residents at long-term care homes in the province, while one staff member has died. The figures provided today by the COVID-19 task force put deaths in long-term care at 367. Health officials said on Monday that they've now tested all residents and staff, even if they were asymptomatic, at 21 long-term care homes in the province. April 20, 2020 Pandemic Modelling for Ontario
Ontario – Lower energy consumption might mean higher global adjustment costs for some small businesses, manufacturers
Ontarians are using about 12.2 per cent less power compared to two years ago, according to the Independent Electricity System Operator. Unfortunately, Ontario's electricity system has substantial fixed costs through contracts meant to ensure stable ongoing supply, and this system did not anticipate a dive in demand related to a pandemic. Ontario also uses a global adjustment, which in part covers the difference between the guaranteed price and what generators can earn on the wholesale market. Residential ratepayers, who are currently paying the lowest amount on the time-of-use scale for all hours of the day, are protected from the global adjustment increase at this time, as are farms and some small businesses. Class B ratepayers, which includes some other small businesses and manufacturers, are not protected. With fewer ratepayers paying the freight, these ratepayers will have to pay a larger proportion to make up the difference. The CFA will be working with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce because we are very concerned about the impact the COVID-19 crisis is having on small business’ electricity bills.
Ontario launches COVID-19 Action Plan: Long-Term Care Homes
Premier Doug Ford announced Ontario’s Action Plan for Long-Term Care Homes to prevent further outbreaks and deaths. The Action Plan includes:
  • Aggressive Testing, Screening, and Surveillance: enhancing testing for symptomatic residents and staff and those who have been in contact with persons confirmed to have COVID-19; expanding screening to include more asymptomatic contacts of confirmed cases; and leveraging surveillance tools to enable care providers to move proactively against the disease.
  • Managing Outbreaks and Spread of the Disease: supporting long-term care homes with public health and infection control expertise to contain and prevent outbreaks; providing additional training and support for current staff working in outbreak conditions.
  • Growing our Heroic Long-Term Care Workforce: redeploying staff from hospitals and home and community care to support the long-term care home workforce and respond to outbreaks, alongside intensive on-going recruitment initiatives.
Ontario Extends State of Emergency for 28 days until May 12
During a special session of the Legislature Ontario passed a bill to extend the State of Emergency to May 12, 2020. The order closes non-essential businesses and child-care centres until May 12. Ontario public schools will not reopen on May 4 The provincial government initially planned to reopen schools on May 1 for teachers and May 4 for students, and suggested that any further closures would be up to the Chief Medical Officer of Health.
Ontario long-term home workers will not be permitted to work at multiple facilities amid COVID-19
Ontario Premier Doug Ford will issue an emergency order that will prohibit employees from working at multiple long-term care facilities in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. Ford, who said long-term care homes are quickly turning into the front lines in the fight against the novel coronavirus, said at a news conference that the order will take effect Tuesday night. Of the province's 626 long-term facilities, 114 are currently reporting infections, representing about 14 per cent of all such homes. Ontario will be launching an action plan Wednesday that would see available resources within Ontario's health system redeployed to homes experiencing outbreaks.
Ontario extends State of Emergency
Emergency orders remain in place until April 23. That means the continued closure of amenities in parks and recreational areas, non-essential workplaces, public places and bars and restaurants, along with restrictions on social gatherings and the prohibition of price-gouging. The Ontario Legislature will reconvene tomorrow where the Legislature will approve a few items including an extension of the province’s state of emergency by 28 days. A state of emergency declaration can be extended by no more than 14 days with approval by the Lieutenant Governor, but it requires a vote by the legislature to be extended by 28 days. The extension, if approved, will extend the State of Emergency into May.
Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee created to start mapping out the economic recovery
Premier Ford announce the creation of the “Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee,” which will aim to help the economy recover after the COVID-19 pandemic is over. The committee will be chaired by Finance Minister Rod Phillips. Other Ministers on the committee are Vic Fedeli, minister of economic development, job creation and trade, Caroline Mulroney, minister of transportation and Monte McNaughton, minister of labour, training and skills development. The committee will focus on “getting businesses up and running and people back to work,” according to a press release.
Ontario Providing One-time Payment of $200 or More Per Child
Today the Ontario government announced the new Support for Families initiative offers a one-time payment of $200 per child 0 to 12 years of age, and $250 for those 0 to 21 years of age with special needs. Families can complete a simple online application at Ontario's Support for Families web page to access this financial support. Parents already receiving Support for Parents (http://www.ontario.ca/SupportForParents) payments through direct deposit will be automatically eligible for this financial support and do not need to submit a new application. Through this initiative the government is providing over $300 million in relief to parents across Ontario as part of Ontario's Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19.
Ontario halts commercial and industrial construction
The Ontario government revised the list of essential businesses. Following the update all industrial and commercial construction projects are required to stop work at by the end of day on April 4, 2020. Any business that has not been deem essential and continues to operate can be fined up to $500,000 per offence. ONTARIO LIST OF ESSENTIAL WORKPLACES
COVID-19 Modelling Update
On Friday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford released extensive COVID-19 modelling, revealing several scenarios that project the potential number of cases and deaths. In doing so, the province is providing the public with full transparency about the consequences should everyone but essential workers fail to stay home and practice physical distancing. The detailed graphs were not available in time for the April 3 update. DETAILED COVID-19 MODELLING The Quebec government is being asked to release their projections for the aftermath of the crisis. The "most likely" scenario for Quebec should be available by Tuesday, April 7.
Ontario reduces list of essential services to 44
On April 3, 2020, Ontario updated the list of essential businesses that can remain open. The restrictions are aimed at further reducing contact between people and stopping the spread of COVID-19. The number of essential businesses has been reduced from 74 to 44. Among those businesses no longer allowed to operate are
  • Private sector industrial, commercial and institutional projects will be affected, while public sector infrastructure work and some residential construction will be allowed to continue.
  • Projects related to the health-care sector, including any work necessary to ensure the production of critical equipment and medical devices, as well those required to maintain the operations of petrochemical plants and refineries, will be exempted from the shut down.
  • Ontario's retail cannabis outlets have been taken off the essential list and will be forced to close, although people can still order from the province's online store.
ONTARIO'S LIST OF ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES
LAST UPDATED: May 28, 2020

Prince Edward Island COVID-19 Update

PEI extends state of emergency until June 14
Cabinet extends state of emergency until June 14.
PEI moves to Phase 2 reopening
Many Prince Edward Island business are getting set to reopen tomorrow as the province moves into Phase 2 of its recovery. There were no new cases reported on P.E.I. Thursday.
On the lighter side: Quit smoking and get some lobster
The P.E.I. Lung Association is luring smokers with lobster as a way to convince them to quit. A Smoke-Free Now Challenge launching this week offers people who quit for 28-days $30 worth of lobster or a $30 local gift card. There is an online Facebook group where Islanders and those participating from Nova Scotia can all go on and get support from one another. The promotion is modelled after a similar challenge in Nova Scotia that's helped more than 1,000 people quit over the last few years. P.E.I.'s Smoke-Free Now Challenge starts Friday at noon. It's open to all residents aged 19 or older who are current smokers.
Re-Open plans are starting to be discussed
Several provinces have begun to talk about reopening the economy, which has been virtually shut down since mid-March, the pressure is on to find reliable, rapid tests to determine who is infected with the virus and who has developed immunity to it. Prince Edward Island, where the caseload is low, is aiming to ease measures put in place to slow the spread in late April and reopen businesses in mid-May.
State of emergency extensions in NB and PEI
New Brunswick has extended its state of emergency for another 14 days. PEI has extended its state of public health emergency for an additional 30 days. Under the measures, anyone travelling to the province will need to disclose the purposes of their travel to determine if it is essential or not.
Big Win for CFA on P.E.I. Commercial Rent Deferral Program Guidelines
On April 7, P.E.I. amended the Rent Deferral Program Guidelines that will now allow franchisees to participate in the program. The original program, which was similar to the Nova Scotia program, prevented franchisees from taking part in the program. The CFA spent the weekend working with the PEI government to get the program guidelines amended with the changes being announced this afternoon. The program allows landlords to defer rent for tenant’s whose business is closed to the public due to the related to the COVID-19. Landlords can be eligible for coverage (up to a maximum of $50,000 per landlord and $15,000 per tenant) if you can’t recover the deferred rent. To be eligible for the COVID-19 Small Business Rental Deferral Guarantee Program, landlords must register with Finance PEI by April 20, 2020 by emailing financepei@gov.pe.ca. The Rent Deferral Agreement must be in place by April 20, 2020. For more information, read the Commercial Lease Rent Deferral Program documentation. CFA working with other provinces to get commercial rent relief The CFA continues to work with provincial governments across Canada to get them to put in place rent deferral and rent rebate programs to help franchisors and franchisees through this difficult time.
P.E.I. announces COVID-19 supports for businesses and individuals
On April 3, the Province of Prince Edward Island announced a $1,000,000 fund for Islanders who may not qualify for existing support programs.
  • COVID-19 Business Adaptation Advice Program – The program will cover the entire cost for businesses and entrepreneurs, up to $2,500, to hire a professional to provide advice and support on how to adapt or recover from the impacts of the pandemic. Professional services may include human resources and financial planning, digital or IT solutions, or even marketing. COVID-19 Special Situations Fund – will provide up to $1,000 to Islanders who have experienced urgent income loss as a result of COVID-19 and are not eligible for other federal and provincial funding support.
  • Temporary Rental Assistance Benefit – will provide $1,000 per household to help cover the cost of rent for a three month period. Eligible Islanders will receive $500 in the first month they apply and $250 the next two months.
  • Community Champions Initiative – a new $300,000 partnership with Loblaw Companies Limited to create a Community Champions Initiative where community organizations across all 27 provincial electoral districts will receive gift cards which can be used at any Loblaw’s store to support the food-related needs of their populations.
LASTED UPDATED: June 1, 2020

Quebec COVID-19 Update

Quebec: Relaunching the cultural sector After thanking and congratulating Quebec artists for their ability to innovate and adapt in the face of this crisis, and for using their influence to share the government's health instructions, Legault announced a $400 million plan to ensure recovery in culture. Minister Roy was present to provide several clarifications to the government's plan and hopes that these funds will give artists the financial freedom they need to create and work.
  • $91.5 million to encourage film and television productions;
  • $71.9 million to help cultural businesses and organizations that have had to close their doors to the public because of the pandemic;
  • $50.9 million to support the performing arts in the creation and dissemination of innovative performances through calls for projects to continue their activities despite health regulations;
  • $33.5 million to the music industry and its craftspeople to meet the challenges of new listening habits and health measures;
  • $6.5 million to writers in order to better remunerate their works, part of which will be dedicated to an emergency fund managed by the UDA.
  • $5.9 million to enhance existing festival support to encourage online events; and
  • Investment of $13.5 million in advertising and promotion to boost culture.
  • The minister also pointed out that this assistance is in addition to the $59 million announced at the end of March in advance credit to cultural organizations and a $50 million loan program to ensure the working capital of cultural businesses and organizations. Filming in the television and film sector will be able to resume on June 8, and the government hopes to reopen venues by June 24.
    Quebec courthouse to reopen June 1
    Today, Quebec Justice Minister Sonia LeBel confirmed that courthouses in Quebec would reopen on June 1. She said there will be a limited number of people allowed inside, physical distancing rules and Plexiglas barriers for judges. On a more positive note, the Minister also stated that the pandemic had considerably accelerated the process of digital transformation of the justice system in Quebec. The resumption of activities will thus rely on the reopening of courthouses and tribunals, on the one hand, and on technology, on the other. • 136 virtual courtrooms have been created and have been permanently integrated into how the justice system operates. • All judicial institutions that will reopen on June 1 will be adapted in order to comply with social distancing instructions: o Transparent plastic screens will be installed where appropriate; o Hand washing stations and disinfectant will be made available; o Facilities will be redesigned to respect the 2-metre distance; o Each facility will be able to resume operations at a pace that corresponds to its capacity.
    Shopping centres reopening in Quebec (outside Montreal) June 1
    Quebec's Minister of Economy and Innovation Pierre Fitzgibbon confirmed the reopening of shopping centres as of June 1 for all regions of Quebec, except for the Greater Montreal area and Joliette. The epidemiological situation is being studied very closely following the reopenings in order to determine whether or not there is a risk of a second wave. CNESST has published a detailed protocol on the sanitary upgrading of shopping centres as well as a list of mandatory daily checks for each merchant and shopping centre. The measures include:
    • A limit on the number of customers;
    • Installation of partitions at transaction counters;
    • Maintaining the closure of dining areas; only take-out meals will be permitted;
    • Traffic directions can be indicated on the ground;
    • Increasing the number of security guards to enforce the 2-metre distance;
    • Increasing the number of security guards;
    • Denial of access to any person with symptoms;
    • Recommending that masks be worn.
    Quebec to allow outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people – more openings on June 1
    Quebec is loosening more of its COVID-19 restrictions, despite continuing to have the highest number of new cases in the country. The province's deputy premier, Geneviève Guilbault, announced Wednesday that as of Friday, people will be allowed to hold outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people, composed of up to three households. She said people must maintain physical distancing and must not hold the gathering indoors. Quebec private health-care services, such as dentists and physiotherapists, will be allowed to reopen as of June 1. Businesses that provide personal care services, such as hairdressers, will be allowed to open on the same date — but not in the greater Montreal and Joliette areas, where there are still significant COVID-19 outbreaks.
    Montreal reopening delayed to May 25
    The Quebec government has postponed the planned reopening of elementary schools, daycares as well as businesses in the Montreal area. They are now reopening May 25. Premier François Legault said the government was looking at two factors when it decides whether to go ahead with reopening part of the province: how fast the virus is spreading and the availability of hospital beds. Elementary schools and daycares outside of the Montreal area are still expected to open on May 11. The return to class is voluntary.
    Quebec premier delays restart date for retail stores in Montreal
    The reopening of non-essential stores in the Montreal area, which was scheduled to begin May 11, has been pushed back to May 18, Quebec Premier Francois Legault announced Monday, but the region's schools are still set to reopen as planned. Legault cited the high number of COVID-19 cases and related hospitalizations in the Montreal area as one of the reasons for pushing back the gradual business reopenings. Non-essential stores in the rest of Quebec started reopening Monday . Manufacturing and construction, two other industries that are set to reopen in the Montreal area May 11, will do so as scheduled, Legault added. Elementary schools in the Montreal area are also still scheduled to reopen as planned on May 19. Elementary schools in the rest of the province are due to reopen May 11.
    Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec lifting some COVID-19 restrictions
    Ontario took its first steps Monday with the reopening of some businesses, including lawn care and landscaping, garden centres for curbside pickup, automatic and self-serve car washes, auto dealerships by appointment, and many construction projects. Manitobans can now visit everything from hair salons to museums to restaurant patios (with fewer seats than normal) provided everyone is following public health rules. In most of Saskatchewan, non-urgent medical offices are allowed to reopen and rules around some outdoor activities — including fishing and boating — are being loosened. But one owner of a physiotherapy clinic told CBC Saskatchewan she's got mixed emotions about opening up. Newfoundland and Labrador plans to move to alert Level 4 on May 11, meaning a relaxation of some public health measures to allow more social and business activities. The province followed New Brunswick's lead and allowed families to come together in "bubbles" made up of two households . Alberta took its first strides toward the large-scale resumption of public life under COVID-19 this weekend as provincial parks and golf courses opened under the government's phased economic relaunch. Alberta began to ease some public health restrictions on Friday, with provincial parks and boat launches reopening with limited services. Alberta has three stage plan starting May 14 called Opening Soon: Alberta’s Relaunch Strategy .
    Quebec outlines how some businesses will reopen in May
    A day after outlining a plan to allow children to return to daycares and primary schools in May, Quebec Premier François Legault laid out his plans Tuesday to begin reopening some businesses in the province. Over the course of the month of May, three sectors will be allowed some degree of reopening. They are:
    • Retail stores not in shopping malls.
    • Retail stores that are in malls but have a direct door to the outside.
    • Construction and civil engineering.
    • Manufacturing.
    Stores outside of the Montreal region will be permitted to reopen May 4, while those in the Montreal area will reopen May 11. Construction projects, including road work, will fully resume May 11, with about 85,000 workers expected to be back to work. Manufacturing companies will be allowed to reopen May 4 with some restrictions: those that have 50 or fewer workers will be allowed to reopen with full staff; those with more than 50 employees will only be allowed to have 50 workers plus 50 per cent of the total number of employees above that for any shift throughout the day.
    Quebec to reveal reopening plans
    Quebec moves forward with plan to begin opening schools. In his daily briefing Quebec Premier Francois Legault said elementary schools and daycares will begin reopening on May 11 outside of Montreal and on May 19 on the island of Montreal. All other schools — high schools, colleges and universities — won't reopen until late August. Legault said that timeline will depend on the number of hospitalizations for COVID-19 remaining stable. There are now 1,541 people in hospital — an increase of 23 over Sunday. Some 210 patients are in intensive care, down five from yesterday.
    Quebec real estate brokers get the green light to return to work amid COVID-19 pandemic
    The Quebec government has authorized the province's real-estate brokers to get back to work during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it won't exactly be business as usual. The brokers have been granted permission to work only on transactions deemed to be a priority, defined as those that must be completed before July 31. The Organisme d'autoreglementation du courtage immobilier du Quebec (OACIQ), the agency that regulates real-estate brokers in Quebec, said it has sent directives to ensure that public-health orders put in place during the pandemic are respected. Open houses are not allowed, and in-person visits and home inspections must respect physical distancing guidelines. No broker, or any party involved in a physical interaction regarding a transaction, can have COVID-19 or any of its symptoms and must sign a document attesting to that. During in-person visits, the current occupants of a property must wait outside. Only one person can enter the property along with the broker, maintaining a two-metre distance at all times. No children or people over 70 may take part in a visit. Parties involved in a transaction must also sign a document confirming that the sale is urgent. The brokers are also being asked to work remotely as much as possible. Brokers who do not respect the directives could face disciplinary measures from the OACIQ, which is reminding its members that not respecting the current public health orders means breaking the law.
    Economic relaunch planning starting in Quebec
    As the current state of COVID-19 spread seems relatively under control (with low rates of hospitalization), Premier Legault has said the government of Quebec is starting to think more seriously about allowing businesses to reopen in the upcoming weeks. The government reminded the population that this is not a simple process and that everything must be thought through in order to avoid a second wave of contamination.
    • The government has also announced that, even as businesses start to reopen, the 2-metre rule will be enforced for several months.
    • Businesses that are able to apply the principles of social distancing in their daily activities will be able to restart operations first.
    • Residential construction will probably be able to resume in the coming days or weeks, in an effort to prevent some people from becoming homeless.
    • It is unlikely that schools and daycare centers will be able to reopen before the end of the school year, since it is impossible to maintain a distance of 2 meters in these contexts.
    AB, SK, NL and QC release provincial COVID-19 modeling
    Saskatchewan released its modelling on April 8, which shows the provincial government is planning for 3,000 to 8,300 deaths and approximately 20 to 200 daily intensive care admissions from COVID-19 at its peak. The data does not say when that peak is expected nor when distancing measures might be eased. Newfoundland and Labrador outlined its projections on April 8. Their prediction focused on intensive care capacity instead of expected deaths. They expect to exceed its 57 intensive-care capacity by the end of June if the spread of the virus continues its current rate of growth. The first assumes current restrictions remain in place and projects 32 per cent of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians infected over a two-year period. Under that scenario, the peak of the virus would occur in early November, and the province would have enough hospital beds and ventilators to weather the pandemic. The second model projects a scenario in which current restrictions are eased and assumes 52 per cent of people in the province infected over the same two-year period. In that scenario, the peak comes sooner — mid-September — and overwhelms hospital beds, intensive-care units and ventilators. Alberta’s Premier Jason Kenney outlined what he described as a "probable" scenario for Alberta on Tuesday that suggested the province won't see a peak in the virus until mid-May. That model suggested Alberta could see as many as 800,000 COVID-19 cases by the end of the summer with death figures ranging from 400 to 3,100. Another more "elevated" scenario pointed toward the possibility of both higher case numbers and between 500 and 6,600 deaths. On Tuesday, Quebec’s model predicts at least 1,200 COVID-19 deaths by the end of April, and if preventative measures aren’t continued, the death toll could be as high as 9,000. Public health officials noted that the current thinking is that the number of deaths will be closer to the lower estimate. Prime Minister Trudeau said Wednesday that people would learn more about a national model in the coming days, but did not provide a specific date. The prime minister said it's not yet clear exactly when Canada will reach a peak but said that strict adherence to critical public health measures — including physical distancing and staying home as much as possible — will help reduce the impact of the outbreak. It’s important to note that the federal modeling requires data from provincial health authorities. Some provinces have better data than others which hinders the development of a national level forecast.
    Quebec releases projections that suggest Covid-19 will kill between 1,200 and 9,000 in April.
    Public health experts with the Quebec government are projecting between 1,200 and 9,000 people could die of COVID-19 by the end of the month, although authorities hasten to add they believe the current trajectory for mortalities is toward the lower end of that range. Public health officials in Quebec had been reluctant to release the models because there is a still a huge amount of uncertainty involved in the calculations. Quebec released two scenarios about what could happen by April 30.
    • Optimistic scenario: projects 29,212 confirmed cases, with as many as 1,404 people in hospital at once and 1,263 deaths.
    • Pessimistic scenario: 59,845 confirmed cases, with as many as 3,208 people hospitalized at one time and 8,860 deaths. Ontario released projectionsOntario released projections late last week and federal officials, who have faced questions about projections and transparency, have indicated they plan to release some projections in the days ahead.
      $100M to train Quebecers
      Quebec Minister of Labour Jean Boulet announced Monday afternoon that the government has earmarked $100 million to cover the cost of training employees in new skills. The aim, he said, is to have an even stronger workforce once the economy is restarted. Quebec will cover as much as 100 per cent of employee salaries while those workers improve their skills — be that worker a chef learning a new culinary technique or a window-installer learning to do that job more efficiently. Independent businesses of all sizes are eligible for up to $100,000 in subsidies, with the goal of retaining employees and improving their skills and abilities.
      Quebec offers low-wage essential workers extra $100 weekly to stay on the job
      The Quebec government is giving low-wage workers an extra incentive to stay on the job during the COVID-19 pandemic. Finance Minister Eric Girard announced Friday the province will give up to $100 extra weekly to cashiers, grocery stockers, delivery people and everyone else who keeps the province running. The program is meant to ensure that those essential workers will earn more by working than by applying for the federal government's emergency benefits program (CERB), which provides Canadians struggling financially with $2,000 a month. The new program will be retroactive to March 15, for a maximum of 16 weeks. With this compensation, the worker will obtain, in addition to their wages, a taxable lump sum of $400 per month, or $1,600 for a period of 16 weeks. Workers can apply for this benefit through Revenu Québec's website starting May 19, and the direct deposits will start on May 27.
      Quebec announces $150 million to support small business
      Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon announced a new $150 million in funding for small and medium-sized businesses requiring less than $50,000 in assistance. This program is intended to provide temporary support for the working capital of businesses in all sectors, including cooperatives, non-profits and social economy enterprises carrying out commercial activities, whose financial situation became precarious because of COVID-19. The government of Quebec also announced a two-year extension of the Local Investment Funds (LIFs), until December 31, 2022, to enable RCMs to better meet the current needs of Québec businesses. New measures to ease the repayment terms of loans granted under the FLI are also planned.
      • Offers businesses an additional 3-month respite for the repayment of their loan (principal and interest).
      • These new measures are in addition to those announced on March 19 and bring the delay period for businesses to 6 months.
      Supports for Workers in Quebec The Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Solidarity Jean Boulet and the Minister of Finance Éric Girard also announced a temporary wage increase for low-income workers in essential services. This measure would affect close to 600,000 workers and more than 50 sectors. It is intended to compensate workers who earn less money to work than those who have access to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). Temporary benefit of $100/week retroactive to March 15, 2020. To access this benefit, workers must:
      • Demonstrate that they are working in an essential sector;
      • Prove to have worked during this period;
      • Have a gross weekly income of less than $550; and
      • Have a gross annual income of less than $28,500.
      The web form will be available as of May 19, 2020 and payments will be made by direct deposit.
    LAST UPDATED: May 21, 2020

    Saskatchewan COVID-19 Update

    Saskatchewan to open bars, restaurants in Phase 3 reopening, set for June 8.
    Saskatchewan's bars, restaurants and many other businesses will be allowed to reopen June 8 when Phase 3 of the government's reopening plan starts. However, eateries and licensed establishments will have to operate at 50 per cent capacity to comply with physical distancing rules in the COVID-19 era. In addition to restaurants, gyms and fitness facilities will also be able to open for business. Childcare facilities and places of worship will also be allowed to open their doors. The additional list of personal service businesses that will be allowed to open include: • Estheticians. • Tattoo artists. • Make-up applicators. • Electrologists. • Manicurists. • Pedicurists. • Sun tanning parlours. The amount of people allowed to gather will also be increased as part of Phase 3. Indoor gatherings of up to 15 will be permitted, along with outdoor gatherings of up to 30. Phase 2 of the reopen plan began Tuesday, allowing many retail stores to reopen.
    Emergency Support Program For Saskatchewan Small Businesses Extended
    On Friday, the Government of Saskatchewan announced the Saskatchewan Small Business Emergency Payment (SSBEP) program will be extended to the month of May for businesses that are required to remain closed or substantially curtail operations after May 19, 2020. Businesses will not need to reapply to the program. Businesses that qualify for the program will automatically receive a second payment after May 19. Launched on April 13, 2020, the SSBEP program is a $50 million program providing financial support to small and medium businesses that have had to temporarily close or substantially curtail their operations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible applicants receive a payment of 15 per cent of their sales revenue from April 2019 or February 2020, up to $5,000, to help businesses with expenses including fixed costs such as rent. To date, the SSBEP has processed more than 4,700 applications and provided more than $15 million in support to Saskatchewan businesses. For more information and the SSBEP application, businesses can visit www.saskatchewan.ca/covid19-businesses.
    Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec lifting some COVID-19 restrictions
    Ontario took its first steps Monday with the reopening of some businesses, including lawn care and landscaping, garden centres for curbside pickup, automatic and self-serve car washes, auto dealerships by appointment, and many construction projects. Manitobans can now visit everything from hair salons to museums to restaurant patios (with fewer seats than normal) provided everyone is following public health rules. In most of Saskatchewan, non-urgent medical offices are allowed to reopen and rules around some outdoor activities — including fishing and boating — are being loosened. But one owner of a physiotherapy clinic told CBC Saskatchewan she's got mixed emotions about opening up. Newfoundland and Labrador plans to move to alert Level 4 on May 11, meaning a relaxation of some public health measures to allow more social and business activities. The province followed New Brunswick's lead and allowed families to come together in "bubbles" made up of two households . Alberta took its first strides toward the large-scale resumption of public life under COVID-19 this weekend as provincial parks and golf courses opened under the government's phased economic relaunch. Alberta began to ease some public health restrictions on Friday, with provincial parks and boat launches reopening with limited services. Alberta has three stage plan starting May 14 called Opening Soon: Alberta’s Relaunch Strategy .
    Saskatchewan Plan for reopening released
    The Saskatchewan government is to outline a plan Thursday for how some businesses and services could be allowed to resume next month if the number of cases there stays low. The plan introduces five phases to methodically, gradually and cautiously re-open businesses and services beginning May 4, 2020.
    • Phase One – Beginning May 4, 2020 – Re-opening of medical services restricted under the current public health order, and the resumption of low-risk outdoor recreational activities, including fishing and boat launches, golf courses and a fixed date for parks and campgrounds. The size restrictions of public and private gatherings will remain at a maximum of 10 people.
    • Phase Two – May 19, 2020 – Re-opening of retail businesses and select personal services that were previously not deemed allowable. The size restrictions of public and private gatherings will remain at a maximum of 10 people.
    • Phase Three – Date To Be Determined – Re-opening of remaining personal services, along with the re-opening of restaurant-type facilities, gyms and fitness facilities, licensed establishments and childcare facilities. Capacity limits will remain in some facilities, such as limits to 50 per cent of regular capacity for restaurants and licensed establishments. Other than in allowable businesses, the size of public and private gatherings will increase to a maximum of 15 people.
    • Phase Four – Date To Be Determined – Re-opening of indoor and outdoor recreation and entertainment facilities. All businesses and customers will be expected to maintain physical distancing practices, guidelines and recommendations. Other than in allowable businesses, the size of public and private gatherings will increase to a maximum of 30 people.
    • Phase Five – Date To Be Determined – The fifth phase will be implemented following an evaluation of transmission patterns of COVID-19 and the preceding four phases, and will include the consideration of lifting long-term restrictions.
    Saskatchewan releases Preliminary Revenue Impacts of Covid-19
    Saskatchewan Premier Moe and Minister of Finance Donna Harpauer held a news conference to announce three scenarios of projected revenue impacts related to the economic impact of COVID-19. The potential revenue decline in 2020-21 ranges from $1.3 billion to $3.3 billion, depending on the duration of pandemic-related economic restrictions. The potential revenue declines are based on three economic scenarios. Each scenario includes assumptions on a number of economic factors, including the duration of current economic restrictions, how soon resource prices may recover and anticipated consumer behaviour once restrictions are lifted. Real GDP scenarios for 2020 are all negative and range from a decline of 4.1 per cent under the most optimistic scenario to a decline of 14.9 per cent in the most pessimistic scenario. At this time, the Government is managing spending within the amounts allocated in the budget estimates released on March 18, 2020. Saskatchewan was on track for a surplus in 2019-20 and 2020-21 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and oil price collapse. Saskatchewan has maintained the second highest credit rating in the country, continues to have among the lowest net-debts as a percentage of GDP and continues to maintain a solid cash position.
    Saskatchewan – Schools not likely to reopen soon
    Saskatchewan's Premier Scott Moe said today that it isn't likely schools in that province will reopen this academic year.
    Saskatchewan announces $50 million Emergency Support Program for Small Businesses
    On April 9, Premier Scott Moe announced that small businesses will receive additional provincial support through the new Saskatchewan Small Business Emergency Payment (SSBEP). The $50 million program will provide financial support to small and medium-sized businesses that have had to temporarily close or significantly curtail operations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The SSBEP provides a one-time grant for small and medium-sized enterprises directly affected by government public health orders related to COVID-19. Grants will be paid based on 15 per cent of a business’ monthly sales revenue, to a maximum of $5,000. To give maximum flexibility to businesses, the grant is not dedicated to specific cost pressures. Through the consultation process, many businesses made it clear they are facing acute cash flow pressures in the immediate term due to fixed overhead costs, such as rent and lease payments. The SSBEP will help businesses address these immediate pressures. To be eligible for the SSBEP, a business must:
    • have been fully operational on February 29, 2020;
    • have ceased or curtailed operations as a result of the COVID-19 public health order;
    • have less than 500 employees; and
    • commit to reopen business operations following the cancellation of the COVID-19 public health order. The Government of Saskatchewan will be requesting that the federal government exempt the SSBEP from business income for tax purposes. The SSBEP supplements previously announced supports for businesses, including waiving penalties and interest charges for three months for late PST returns, zero-interest bill deferral for up to six months for all Crown utilities, and waiving Workers Compensation Board premium penalties until June 30, 2020. For more information on the supports Saskatchewan is providing click here
      AB, SK, NL and QC release provincial COVID-19 modeling
      Saskatchewan released its modelling on April 8, which shows the provincial government is planning for 3,000 to 8,300 deaths and approximately 20 to 200 daily intensive care admissions from COVID-19 at its peak. The data does not say when that peak is expected nor when distancing measures might be eased. Newfoundland and Labrador outlined its projections on April 8. Their prediction focused on intensive care capacity instead of expected deaths. They expect to exceed its 57 intensive-care capacity by the end of June if the spread of the virus continues its current rate of growth. The first assumes current restrictions remain in place and projects 32 per cent of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians infected over a two-year period. Under that scenario, the peak of the virus would occur in early November, and the province would have enough hospital beds and ventilators to weather the pandemic. The second model projects a scenario in which current restrictions are eased and assumes 52 per cent of people in the province infected over the same two-year period. In that scenario, the peak comes sooner — mid-September — and overwhelms hospital beds, intensive-care units and ventilators. Alberta’s Premier Jason Kenney outlined what he described as a "probable" scenario for Alberta on Tuesday that suggested the province won't see a peak in the virus until mid-May. That model suggested Alberta could see as many as 800,000 COVID-19 cases by the end of the summer with death figures ranging from 400 to 3,100. Another more "elevated" scenario pointed toward the possibility of both higher case numbers and between 500 and 6,600 deaths. On Tuesday, Quebec’s model predicts at least 1,200 COVID-19 deaths by the end of April, and if preventative measures aren’t continued, the death toll could be as high as 9,000. Public health officials noted that the current thinking is that the number of deaths will be closer to the lower estimate. Prime Minister Trudeau said Wednesday that people would learn more about a national model in the coming days, but did not provide a specific date. The prime minister said it's not yet clear exactly when Canada will reach a peak but said that strict adherence to critical public health measures — including physical distancing and staying home as much as possible — will help reduce the impact of the outbreak. It’s important to note that the federal modeling requires data from provincial health authorities. Some provinces have better data than others which hinders the development of a national level forecast.
      B.C. and Saskatchewan extend States of Emergency to mid April
      Saskatchewan announced it is extending its state of emergency for another two weeks to April 15. B.C.'s provincial state of emergency has been extended until April 14
      Saskatchewan is expanding the list of businesses that need to close during the COVID-19 outbreak
      Saskatchewan is lowering the number of people permitted at a public gathering to 10, down from 25. Read more about what's happening in Saskatchewan, including a plan in Regina to get bagged lunches to kids who are not in class.
    LAST UPDATED: May 21, 2020

    Yukon COVID-19 Update

    Yukon extends business relief program for 2 more months
    The Yukon government is extending a relief program aimed at keeping local businesses afloat through the COVID-19 pandemic. The Yukon Business Relief Program was announced last month and was set to expire on Friday. Economic Development Minister Ranj Pillai announced on Tuesday that it's been extended for another two months — to July 23. The program is aimed at businesses that have seen a reduction in revenue of at least 30 per cent due to lost business during the pandemic. Businesses can apply for up to $30,000 per month, to cover fixed costs including rent, water, sewer, electricity, internet, or insurance.
    Yukon gov't offers $10M in relief money to businesses hurt by pandemic
    The Yukon government says it's looking to keep local businesses afloat through the COVID-19 pandemic, with a new relief program worth up to $10 million. Businesses can apply for up to $30K per month for two months to cover fixed business costs including rent, water, sewer, electricity, internet, or insurance. It's aimed at businesses that have seen a reduction in revenue of at least 30 per cent due to lost business during the pandemic. The grant is available to cover a two-month period from March 23 — when the territorial government ordered many businesses to close — to May 22. The Yukon government expects there could be up to 4,000 applications under the program.

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