April 02, 2020

Dear ABLE BC Members and Industry Colleagues, 

The COVID-19 outbreak continues to evolve rapidly and we’re working hard to get answers for you.

Included in today’s email you will find: 

  • Canada Emergency Response Benefit applications open next week
  • Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy available starting next week
  • British Columbia’s State of Emergency extended to April 14
  • go2HR: Your HR & OHS Resource During the COVID-19 Crisis
  • BC Hydro launches 3-month coronavirus relief package for customers 
  • Post Shift Podcast interview with ABLE BC Executive Director Jeff Guignard
  • Call to ABLE BC Associate Members
  • Complete the City of Vancouver COVID-19 Business Survey

Please continue to send your questions by email to ABLE BC: 
jeff@ablebc.ca or danielle@ablebc.ca

Find all past updates from ABLE BC here.

Applications for Canada Emergency Response Benefit open next week

Applications for the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) will open next week, according to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. 

The CERB collapses two previously announced benefits – the Emergency Care Benefit and the Emergency Support Benefit – into one. It offers income support for up to 16 weeks to those who lose pay because of the pandemic.

During a press conference this morning, Trudeau said that starting April 6, if you haven’t requested Employment Insurance (EI), you will be able to apply for the CERB. The CERB applications will be open through the CRA.

CERB payments will be issued every four weeks, and will be available from March 15, 2020 to October 3, 2020.

Applicants who have requested EI won’t need to register for the CERB. As well, Trudeau said that the CERB can’t be combined with the wage subsidy from businesses.

Read more about the CERB here.

Find a summary of all federal emergency support here.

Our update on March 18 provides an overview of the federal government’s initial support plan; however, visit the Canada government website for the most up-to-date details.

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Available Starting Next Week

Last week, the federal government announced it would offer a 75% wage subsidy for qualifying businesses, for up to three months, retroactive to March 15. As of next week, the wage subsidy will be available to small or big businesses that aren’t publicly funded, and can include bars and restaurants, as well as charities and non-profits.

The wage support program, called the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), is designed to discourage companies from laying off workers and encourage employers who already have laid off workers to put them back on the payroll.

Further Details on CEWS:

  • The federal government will offer a 75% subsidy to all businesses that have lost 30% of their revenue as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.
  • To qualify, companies will have to show that their revenue in March 2020 was 30% less than it was in March 2019. See below if you can’t show a 30% loss in revenue.
  • There may be some exceptions for start-ups and new firms.
  • The program will be in effect for three months and companies will have to reapply each month – demonstrating, for example, that revenues in April 2020 are also 30 per cent less than they were in the same month the year prior.
  • The 75 per cent wage subsidy will cover annual earnings up to $58,700 – or $1,129 a week in pre-crisis earnings. So the maximum subsidy for each employee would be $847 a week.
  • The program is retroactive to March 15.
  • The wage subsidy will be administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) through the My Business Account portal on the agency’s website.
  • Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau said the money will start to flow to businesses within the next three to six weeks, depending on how quickly the government can make the necessary technical and bureaucratic adjustments to get the money out the door. 
  • All businesses should register for direct deposit on the CRA My Business Account portal to ensure money can be sent electronically to avoid further delay.

Read more about the CEWS here.

Find a summary of all federal emergency support here.

The government announced a 10% wage subsidy earlier this month for small businesses. What happened to that?

The federal government has now clarified that program – called the Temporary Wage Subsidy Program – is still in effect. Small businesses can continue to claim the 10% benefit.

However, if they also qualify for the larger 75 per cent subsidy – the CEWS – then the money Ottawa sends will be adjusted downward to account for any payments made through that separate program.

Unlike the CEWS, small businesses can claim the 10 per cent subsidy even if they haven’t seen a drop in revenue in recent weeks.

The maximum subsidy for that previously announced program is $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer.

Read more about the TWS here.

ABLE BC is here to help you through this process

As the federal government works to quickly release details on emergency funding support and application processes, we understand how confusing the information has become. 

Once all the eligibility criteria and application details are available next week, we will provide a more comprehensive resource to help you understand the financial support available to you. 

Please don’t hesitate to contact ABLE BC with any other questions you may have: jeff@ablebc.ca or danielle@ablebc.ca.

British Columbia’s State of Emergency extended to April 14

On March 31, the BC government formally extended the provincial state of emergency to support the province-wide response to the COVID-19 pandemic, through the end of the day on April 14, 2020.

Using the extraordinary powers under the Emergency Program Act, Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, has issued a series of orders to ensure a co-ordinated response to COVID-19 across all levels of government. Through these orders, the Province is taking an active role in co-ordinating the supply chain for essential goods and services, supporting the enforcement of the provincial health officer’s orders and prohibiting the secondary selling of essential goods and supplies.

You can read more about essential services in our update from March 26.

The extension of the provincial state of emergency is based on recommendations from B.C.’s health and emergency management officials. Farnworth made the original declaration on March 18 after Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, declared a public health emergency.

Physical Distancing Orders to Remain

During yesterday’s press conference, BC Health Minister Adrian Dix also said: “There’s zero chance BC’s orders will be varied in April,” in reference to physical distancing.

Looking further ahead to a May or June timeline, Dix said it’s “hard to say,” noting that “this is going to be a challenge for a long time.”

This means that in terms of the provincial orders currently in place, and when they might change, Dix said the chance of this happening in May “or the immediate weeks after May” is “little to none.”

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry noted that BC is dealing with its “first wave” of COVID-19 right now, which she believes will likely last another few weeks. The province will also have to prepare for the potential of a second wave of the virus in the fall. 

We will continue to update members on provincial orders, as the pandemic progresses.

go2HR: Your HR & OHS Resource During the COVID-19 Crisis

With the COVID-19 crisis, many tourism and hospitality employers have to reduce opening hours, lay off employees, or even shut down the operation completely. go2HR is here to continue providing HR and health & safety support for our industry.

Below, you will find a number of HR and OHS resources that go2HR has developed and curated with you in mind. 

They have also opened up the go2HR job board to allow other sectors, such as retail, agriculture and healthcare, to post their job openings. This can help your displaced tourism and hospitality employees find temporary employment during this trying time.

On another note, go2HR has welcomed their new CEO, Krista Bax, this week. She is replacing Arlene Keis, who is moving on to retirement after nearly 18 years in the role. Even though we are all practicing physical distancing, Krista looks forward to connecting and working with the industry in the near future.

HR and OHS Resources

BC Hydro launches 3-month coronavirus relief package for customers

BC Hydro is rolling out a three-month relief package for customers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Premier John Horgan, along with Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines, and Petroleum Resources, made the announcement on Wednesday afternoon.

Described as a “comprehensive, targeted program,” the relief plan is available to homeowners, small businesses, and larger industrial businesses:

  • Residential customers who have lost their jobs or are unable to work due to coronavirus will receive a bill credit equal to three times their monthly bill.
  • Small businesses forced to close as a result of COVID-19 will have their power bills forgiven for three months, between April to June of 2020. This “payment holiday” is meant to provide relief to retail stores, restaurants, tourism, and other small businesses that are struggling during the pandemic.
  • Large industrial customers are also being given the option to defer 50% of their bill payment over the next three months. Interest will be applied should this option be taken.

Small businesses will be able to apply starting the week of April 14. All customers will have until June 30, 2020, to apply for these programs.

The BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) also approved a 1% rate reduction to all customer classes. Although the rate drop was approved today, this is independent of the coronavirus pandemic. The application was made to the BCUC in August of 2019.

Post Shift Podcast interview with ABLE BC Executive Director Jeff Guignard

ABLE BC’s Executive Director Jeff Guignard was recently interviewed on the ‘Post Shift’ podcast hosted by Shawn Soole.

Jeff spoke about the legislation changes ABLE BC and our industry partners have pushed through during the COVID-19 crisis, the state of affairs with the government, the plan going forward, and the outlook for recovery.

Download and listen to the episode here.

Call to ABLE BC Associate Members: 

If you have a product or service that could support our members during this time, we want to hear from you and help spread the word! 

Is there some way we could support you and your business during this challenging time? 

Please contact Danielle: danielle@ablebc.ca

Complete the City of Vancouver COVID-19 Business Survey

The City of Vancouver has invited businesses in the city to complete the COVID-19 Business Survey. This survey will help city officials better understand your local business needs and challenges, and will guide planning and action for the future. 

The survey will take approximately 15 minutes. If you require technical assistance completing the survey, please contact Alex Brunke at alexbrunke@gmail.com. The results of this survey will be made available on www.michaelwiebe.ca. Fill out the survey here.

For more information:

Public Health Agency of Canada Website

Updates from the Government of British Columbia

Updates and Resources from ABLE BC

Human Resources & Occupational Health & Safety Info from goHR

If you have any other questions or concerns, please contact ABLE BC:
604-688-5560 or info@ablebc.ca.

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