June 19, 2020

Dear ABLE BC Members and Industry Colleagues, 

Here’s what you’ll find inside today’s update:

  • Hospitality Pricing: send your thanks to the Attorney General
  • Western Financial Group: Employee Benefits Program Update
  • BC to allow cannabis stores to have transparent windows
  • LDB Customer Updates: Hospitality Pricing
  • ABLE BC in the news
  • Implications of BC’s new hospitality pricing system for wineries
  • Province seeks public input on economic recovery
  • Province extends Temporary Rental Supplement
  • Labour Minister Rejects Further Extension to Temporary Layoff Timeframe
  • BC premier optimistic about moving to Phase 3 ‘sometime next week’

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.

Hospitality Pricing: send your thanks to the Attorney General

Earlier this week, we were extraordinarily pleased to announce a historic liquor policy change. After years of advocacy from ABLE BC and our partners on the Business Technical Advisory Panel, BC’s hospitality licensees will soon be able to purchase liquor products at wholesale price. 

You can read more details here.

On behalf of ABLE BC’s Board of Directors, staff, and members, we are deeply grateful for Attorney General David Eby’s personal involvement in making this change happen. Our industry is immensely grateful to him and his team for being our industry’s champion when we need in most.

As a show of appreciation, please take a moment to write to Attorney General to let him know what this change will mean to your business. You may reach him at AG.Minister@gov.bc.ca.

Western Financial Group: Employee Benefits Program Update

Western Financial Group has shared the following update on our employee benefits program, with respect to COVID-19 premium relief: 

We are committed to taking steps to adjust our programs to the changing needs of businesses and are mindful of the difficult decisions that organizations continue to face in the new economic landscape. 

We are pleased to announce further changes to our TotalGuard Employee Benefits Program to help your business maintain coverage for your employees.

Dental Premium Reduction

Due to a continued reduction in claims activity, we are providing the following premium reduction effective July 1: a 50% reduction in dental premium.

Premium credits will be applied automatically to your July invoice and will include a credit based on your paid May dental premium. We will continue to review our premium relief measures on a monthly basis as provinces continue their phased re-opening.

Download a PDF copy of the update.

BC to allow cannabis stores to have transparent windows

Legal cannabis stores in B.C. are now able to have transparent street-front windows, the government announced June 18.

Previously, all exterior storefronts had to have at least translucent glass so no one from the public could see inside.

Federal law continues to ban anyone underage from being able to see cannabis products inside a store but it was the provincial government decision to ban clear glass from front windows.

BC government has also created a new program called Selling It Right, which it will require cannabis store workers and licensees to complete in order to be working in the sector.

Previously, workers were required to pass a rigorous certification program and criminal record check.

“These changes underline our government’s efforts to be flexible in the rules governing the legal cannabis industry as we gather more experience in a regulated market,” B.C. Attorney General David Eby said in a release.

“These changes will help employees feel safer while at work and ensure cannabis workers will be thoroughly trained to be safe, smart and socially responsible in their jobs.”

The course can be completed online for a $35 fee, plus GST, and certification is valid for two years after completion.

Existing licensees and staff have until September 30 to complete training before the regulation comes into force. New cannabis retail store licensees, marketing licence applicants, retail and government cannabis store sales staff and supervisors must earn certification prior to operating a store, working in a store or being issued a marketing licence.

Read more: 

LDB Customer Updates: Hospitality Pricing 

The LDB has shared the following customer updates related to hospitality pricing:

Read more about the temporary hospitality pricing model, coming into effect on July 20, 2020.

ABLE BC in the News

ABLE BC’s Executive Director Jeff Guignard recently spoke to several news outlets about the historic announcement of a temporary wholesale pricing model for hospitality customers, as well as the challenges our industry faces moving forward: 

  • CityNews: Bars, pubs struggling to stay open as more closures expected
  • Global News: BC restaurants can soon buy discounted beer, wine and spirits

Implications of BC’s new hospitality pricing system for wineries

Lawyer Mark Hicken (Vintage Law Group) recently wrote the following article on implications of BC’s new hospitality pricing system for wineries.

Read it here

This article is intended to explain the recent change to BC’s alcohol pricing system for hospitality customers and to outline the implications for BC wineries. Particularly, it covers the financial consequences for stakeholders. 

Read ABLE BC’s update on hospitality pricing here.

Province seeks public input on economic recovery

British Columbians are invited to share their feedback as the Province continues to build a strong economic recovery that works for people.

There are three main ways for people to share their ideas, experiences and priorities:

  • An online survey is the fastest and easiest way to provide answers to some important questions and give advice. Find the survey here.
  • Participate in virtual town halls. British Columbians can learn more about the virtual town halls here.

Learn more about B.C.’s economic recovery planning.

For information about B.C.’s Restart Plan, click here.

Province extends Temporary Rental Supplement

Today, the Province announced it is extending the temporary rental supplement (TRS) until the end of August 2020 to continue to support renters and landlords.

It will also maintain the moratorium on rent increases and evictions for non-payment of rent, while enabling other notices to end tenancy to resume.

People who have already been approved for the TRS do not need to reapply. They will receive an email asking them to confirm they plan to live at the same address through July and August. New applications will also be accepted until August 31 and will be eligible for a supplement for the month they are received and all subsequent months.

The moratorium on evictions has been in effect since March 30 and will continue for non-payment of rent. As the province moves forward with BC’s Restart Plan, the ban on evictions for reasons other than unpaid rent will be lifted later this month.

For full details please read the BC Government news release.

Labour Minister Rejects Further Extension to Temporary Layoff Timeframe

A group of industry associations, including ABLE BC, recently wrote to Minister of Labour Harry Bains, requesting government to once again extend the temporary layoff provision for at least a further 13-week period through to August 31. 

The group also urged government to ensure that the temporary layoff period runs the full duration of the province’s COVID-19 emergency orders, plus an additional 6 weeks beyond their expiry.

For many hard-hit tourism and hospitality employers that cannot fully re-open for the foreseeable future, the obligation to terminate and provide severance to temporarily laid-off employees at the conclusion of the impending 16 week timeframe will lead to bankruptcy and/or insolvency. 

Businesses will then need to go through a costly and time-consuming process to rehire most of their terminated employees when the recovery period is substantially underway.

In a letter received this week, Minister Bains reiterated that there are no plans for a further extension to the temporary lay-off time limit.

ABLE BC and our industry partners will continue to press for an extension, given the serious implications for tourism and hospitality employers and other sectors, should the status quo remain.

Employment Security in the Midst of a Pandemic

Ryan Anderson (Partner, Mathews Dinsdale & Clark LLP) wrote a comprehensive article on employment security in the midst of a pandemic. 

We strongly encourage employers to download and read the article here.
In the article, Ryan provides a brief overview of how the BC government has chosen to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic’s immediate and continuing impact on the workplace.

With reference to the responses of other provincial governments across Canada, Ryan also provides some recommendations that are designed to preserve employment relationships and employment security as businesses in BC struggle to survive this crisis. 

Download the article here.

Please note: this article here is not intended to provide a complete dissertation concerning statutory layoff and termination notice requirements in BC or legal advice in this respect. For this, please do not hesitate to contact Mathews Dinsdale in Vancouver: 604-636-2050.

BC Premier optimistic about moving to Phase 3 ‘sometime next week’

According to a report by CTV News, BC Premier Horgan says says he is hopeful that the province will be able to move to the next phase of its COVID-19 restart plan by next week.

The Premier made the remarks during a news conference in Victoria Wednesday where he announced the province is looking for public feedback as it reopens its economy.

“I’m hopeful based on the numbers we’ve seen over the past number of weeks that we’ll be in a position to move to Phase 3 sometime next week,” Premier Horgan said Wednesday in Victoria.

The Premier says provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry will be releasing new modelling data next week that will “help guide the decisions that cabinet will make with respect to various orders around travel.”

View BC’s Restart Plan here.

For more information:

Public Health Agency of Canada Website

Updates from the Government of British Columbia

Updates and Resources from WorkSafeBC

Updates and Resources from ABLE BC

Human Resources & Occupational Health & Safety Info from go2HR

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

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