July 21, 2020

Dear ABLE BC Members and Industry Colleagues,
Here’s what you’ll find inside today’s update:

  • Recap of last week’s updates
  • Liquor and food primaries can now purchase liquor at wholesale price
  • Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy could be extended to December 19, 2020
  • Enhanced restrictions for hospitality industry
  • Online tool for temporary layoff provisions
  • Reminder: Serving it Right certification expiry on September 15, 2020
  • Tourism & Hospitality sector seeks $680 million recovery stimulus package from BC Government
  • ABLE BC on BNN/Bloomberg Radio
  • TikTok Challenge: teens dressing in COVID-19 masks to buy alcohol

Find all past updates from ABLE BC here.

As always, if you have any additional questions or need to reach us you can email: jeff@ablebc.ca or danielle@ablebc.ca.

Recap of last week’s updates

Here’s what you may have missed from ABLE BC last week:

  • Update on July 13: Policy deadlines extended – delivery of packaged liquor and liquor retail hours
  • Update on July 14:
    • Important: how to access wholesale pricing on July 20
    • Hospitality Product Catalogue: Training Video and Sample Hospitality Price List
    • Policy Deadlines Extended: Delivery of packaged liquor and liquor retail hours
    • New Member Discount: Wines of BC Explorer
    • Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy extended to December
    • New wine producing region recognized on Vancouver Island
    • Security verification period extended for retail cannabis workers
    • Research and insights by Destination BC: BC Public Perceptions Report
  • Update on July 16:
    • Important: how to access wholesale pricing on July 20
    • Hospitality Product Catalogue: Training Video and Sample Hospitality Price List
    • BC Government proposes significant changes to Workers’ Compensation Act
    • Save the date: BC Liquor Conference is going virtual
    • Reminder: Liquor Primary Reopening Protocols and Best Practices

Find all past ABLE BC updates here. Find COVID-19 resources here.

Liquor and food primaries can now purchase liquor at wholesale price

The day has finally come. Yesterday, for the first time in our industry’s history, British Columbia’s Liquor Primaries and Food Primaries can purchase liquor at wholesale price. Although your savings will vary from product-to-product, we expect on average this will lead to a 20 per cent reduction in your liquor purchase costs – and as much as five per cent to your bottom line.

Hospitality customers who have registered with the LDB can now use a searchable hospitality price list to help with their buying decisions. A complete online hospitality product catalogue will launch September 1, 2020.

If you haven’t registered for the Hospitality Product Catalogue, learn more and register here.

Hospitality pricing will remain in effect until March 31, 2021, at which time the program will be reviewed by government.

As a show of appreciation, ABLE BC is asking all members to reach out directly to the Attorney General to let him know how hospitality pricing will benefit your business. You may reach him at AG.Minister@gov.bc.ca.

Read our full update on hospitality pricing, sent yesterday, here.

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy could be extended to December 19, 2020

As we shared in last week’s update, the federal government plans to extend the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program.

The program covers 75 per cent of wages, up to a weekly maximum of $847, for workers at eligible companies and non-profits affected by the economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yesterday, Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced proposed changes to the CEWS that would “broaden the reach of the program and provide better targeted support so that more workers can return to their jobs quickly as the economy restarts. This support would continue to protect jobs and help Canadian businesses that are the most impacted.”

Today’s proposed changes included in the Government’s draft legislative proposals would:

  • Allow the extension of the CEWS until December 19, 2020, including redesigned program details until November 21, 2020.
  • Make the subsidy accessible to a broader range of employers by including employers with a revenue decline of less than 30 per cent and providing a gradually decreasing base subsidy to all qualifying employers. This would help many struggling employers with less than a 30-per-cent revenue loss get support to keep and bring back workers, while also ensuring those who have previously benefited could still qualify, even if their revenues recover and no longer meet the 30 per cent revenue decline threshold.
  • Introduce a top-up subsidy of up to an additional 25 per cent for employers that have been most adversely affected by the pandemic. This would be particularly helpful to employers in industries that are recovering more slowly.
  • Provide certainty to employers that have already made business decisions for July and August by ensuring they would not receive a subsidy rate lower than they would have had under the previous rules.
  • Address certain technical issues identified by stakeholders.

These proposed changes follow consultations with business and labour representatives on potential adjustments to the CEWS program aimed at ensuring that it continues to protect jobs and promote growth.

As you may recall, as part of the federal government’s consultation process on the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program, ABLE BC, TIABC, BCHA, and Restaurants Canada provided a joint submission.

Download our letter here.

For more information on changes to the CEWS, please read the government news release. ABLE BC will share more details on this issue as they become available.

Enhanced restrictions for the hospitality industry

During a news conference on Monday, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said enhanced restrictions will be coming for BC’s hospitality industry, in light of the recent spike in COVID-19 cases and concerns about the spread of COVID-19 in bars, pubs, and restaurants.

ABLE BC can confirm Dr. Henry is looking at additional protocols for Liquor and Food Primaries. We are currently working with the PHO and her team on these protocols; they will also be consulting with industry.

We expect there to be an announcement about the protocols later this week.

Online tool for temporary layoff provisions

Employers and workers who need to extend temporary layoffs due to COVID-19 can more easily apply for a variance using the Employment Standards Branch’s new online application.

In June, government extended the time period for temporary layoffs related to COVID-19 to a maximum of 24 weeks, expiring on August 30, 2020. This is expanded from 16 weeks, to give employers and workers more flexibility.

The new online application simplifies and streamlines the process for employers and workers to jointly apply for an extension beyond August 30, by eliminating the need for hardcopy documents and signatures, while ensuring the integrity of the branch’s decision-making process.

Employers are encouraged to apply as soon as they have received worker support. An application deadline of August 25, 2020, has been set to ensure that all applications will be processed by the Aug. 30 expiry date.

There are now two steps. Employers must:

  • Survey their workforce to obtain more than 50% support from workers before applying. Workers will receive information about the variance, including what their rights are and can provide their support using a new online response tool;
  • Once worker support is documented, employers complete the online form and submit the document in a new portal directly to the Employment Standards Branch.
  • There are new supportive templates and tools to assist employers and workers in taking these steps.

Under BC’s Employment Standards Act, temporary layoffs related to COVID-19 can last up to 24 weeks, or until August 30, before the layoff becomes permanent.

Government recommends that employers submit their variance applications early to avoid the potential of permanent staff layoffs and compensation for length of service to eligible workers upon the expiry of the COVID-19 emergency layoff period on August 30.

For more information, please see:

Reminder: Serving it Right certification expiry on September 15

A reminder for you and your staff: for individuals who have a Serving it Right card with no given expiry date (issued before September 15, 2015), these SIR certificates will now all expire September 15, 2020.

If you received your SIR after September 15, 2015, the expiry date will appear on your certificate 5 years after issue. 

Recertifications can be done here.

Tourism & Hospitality sector seeks $680 million recovery stimulus package from BC Government

Today, a coalition representing British Columbia’s more than 19,000 tourism and hospitality businesses has presented the Provincial government with a recovery stimulus proposal that would see the government allocate $680 million from its $1.5 billion recovery package as an initial investment to help mitigate the unprecedented impacts of COVID-19 on the BC visitor economy and its workforce.

ABLE BC has been an active member of this coalition since its start.

The recovery stimulus package proposed by the tourism and hospitality sector has three components: 

  • Working Capital Recovery Grant ($475 million) to help sustain and maintain solvency for businesses that have prospects to return to profitability in the medium term (i.e. 18 months). This could include the provision of low or no-interest loans with an extended payback period.
  • Support for Adaptation Costs ($190 million) that would provide funds to: help businesses adapt their operations to the health and safety requirements of COVID-19 and protect their workforce, visitors, residents and local communities; and develop innovative ways of delivering tourism experiences to augment and accelerate recovery.
  • Support for Developing Resilient, B.C.-focused Supply Chains ($15 million). The goal would be to support industry subsectors (accommodation, attractions, transportation, food services, and retail) refocus their supply chains and forge new relationships with B.C. suppliers, to create supply chains that will not only promote recovery over the next 18 months, but also contribute to the industry’s resilience going forward.

The proposal also recommends a joint industry-government task force to work alongside existing industry organizations and networks to finalize funding parameters, application processes, and monitoring and evaluation mechanisms. The task force would include participation by the BC Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, the Ministry of Jobs, Economic Development and Competitiveness, and the Ministry of Finance.

To view the proposed tourism and hospitality sector recovery stimulus proposal, please visit tiabc.ca.  

ABLE BC on BNN/Bloomberg Radio

ABLE BC’s Executive Director Jeff Guignard was recently a guest on BNN/Bloomberg Radio’s Hand-Crafted Spirits Show.

Listen to the interview here.

Jeff spoke with hosts Joe Leary and Darryl Lamb about the current state and future of BC’s liquor industry.

TikTok Challenge: teens dressing in COVID-19 masks to buy alcohol

A new TikTok Challenge has been spreading throughout the US and the UK: minors are dressing up as elderly people wearing COVID-19 masks to buy alcohol.

It is likely we will see the challenge in Canada too. Read more about it here and ensure your staff are checking for two pieces of ID.

Due Diligence Material: purchase ID checking signs and buttons in ABLE BC’s online store.


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