March 25, 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:

  • House of Commons Passes Modified Bill C-13
  • BC Government announcement: support for renters and landlords
  • LDB update: not accepting returns and intermittent product delays
  • BC Liquor Stores update: Sunday closures
  • BDL update
  • New resources and tools for your business
  • BC Ferries: avoid non-essential travel at this time
  • Grocery Stores: need for temporary staff

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.

House of Commons Passes Modified Bill C-13

As you know, on March 18, the federal government announced Canada’s  $82 billion aid package to help individuals and businesses cope with the global COVID-19 pandemic, including income support, wage subsidies, and tax deferrals. 

Today, the Prime Minister said that the House of Commons passed modified version of emergency Bill C-13 for this aid package. 

Originally, government proposed two benefits for workers:

  1. Emergency Care Benefit: up to $900 biweekly, up to 15 weeks, income support for workers, including the self-employed who don’t qualify for paid sick leave or EI
     
  2. Emergency Support Benefit: up to $5 billion in support to workers who are not eligible for EI and who are facing unemployment

Government is modifying Bill C-13 and repackaging these two benefits – a change that will almost double direct financial aid in the government’s economic plan (because the new benefit is being funded from general revenues, and not the EI fund covered by employee and employer premiums.) 

The federal government will now provide a $2,000 per month payment for up to 4 months to workers whose income drops to zero because of COVID-19, including if they have furloughed by their employees but technically still have jobs. 

Affected workers will have to fill out an online application and meet a few conditions to apply. It will apply to any affected workers between March 15 and October 3. 

More details can be found here. 

The government is aiming to have the new benefit, paid once a month, available starting April 6 with payments landing 10 days afterwards, meaning the first benefits won’t arrive until the middle of April at the earliest. Those getting EI benefits now would receive the new benefit, dubbed the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, if payments end before Oct. 3 and they can’t go back to work due to COVID-19. 

Finance Minister Bill Morneau said the measure allows companies to temporarily let go of workers to cut payroll costs but puts money into the affected employees’ pockets. He also said more help will be announced for the hospitality industry.

BC Government Announcement: Support for Renters and Landlords 

BC government continues to roll out support for individuals and businesses. Today, the Province introduced new measures to support renters and landlords:

  •  New temporary rent supplement that will provide up to $500 per month per household paid directly to landlords. Benefiting people with low to moderate incomes, this supplement will be available to renters who are facing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, but do not quality for existing rental assistance programs.
     
  • Halt evictions by ensuring a landlord may not issue a new notice to end tenancy for any reason
     
  • Halt enforcement of existing eviction notices issued by the Residential Tenancy Branch
     
  • Freeze new annual rent increases during the state of emergency
     
  • Prevent landlords from accessing rental units without the consent of the tenant
     
  • Restrict methods that renters and landlords can use to serve notices to reduce the potential transmission of COVID-19
     
  • Allow landlords to restrict the use of common areas by tenants or guests to protect against the transmission of COVID-19

Read the full announcement here. A backgrounded is provided at the bottom of the news release. 

Government has been clear that more support is still coming for businesses, including measures aimed specifically at the hospitality and tourism industries. Read our update from Monday for more details on what BC has already announced as part of its COVID-19 economic action plan.

LDB Updates

Temporarily Not Accepting Returns 

As shared in yesterday’s update, effective immediately, BC Liquor Stores will no longer accept customer (hospitality and retail) returns. Distribution Centres will continue to enforce their current return policies. 

The LDB is very aware this will negatively impact some customers and it was not an easy decision for them to make. Please note this is a necessary but temporary measure the LDB is taking proactively to protect the overall supply-chain. The LDB is revisiting their current processes regularly and will make this service available as soon as they are able.

Intermittent Delays to Product Orders

The LDB has reported they continue to experience increased wholesale demand and strain on labour resources amid this crisis. Retailers should now expect intermittent delays to some product orders. Despite some confusion in our update yesterday, stores can still expect the same number of deliveries per week they are accustomed to receiving. Please disregard our update sent yesterday indicating otherwise. 

A full update from the LDB is provided below:

Wholesale Operations is working hard to respond to the challenges presented by the evolving situation with COVID-19. We are focused on protecting our supply chain and supporting our industry partners.

Due to unprecedented demand, the current strain on labour resources, and the constraints on logistics, we are unable to meet our standard delivery service levels. As a result, many of our Wholesale customers will experience delays in order delivery. 

The Wholesale Customer Centre will make every effort to communicate these changes to you in a timely manner to minimize the impacts to your business. Wholesale Operations is committed to remaining open for business to ensure the best outcomes for your operations, and thanks you for your continued patience as we navigate this rapidly changing situation.

ABLE BC is in touch with the LDB daily on how this crisis is impacting their operations. Although inconvenient, these temporary measures are necessary to protect the overall integrity of our industry’s vital supply chain. We fully support the LDB in their efforts to balance their scarce resources during this emergency.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact ABLE BC’s Executive Director Jeff Guignard: jeff@ablebc.ca

BC Liquor Stores: Sunday Closures

BC Liquor Stores continue to operate across the province, with the exception of some stores who are experiencing staffing issues. These are stores are closing periodically when they can’t staff to acceptable safety levels.

You can view store closures here

Effective March 29, BC Liquor Stores will be closed across the province on Sundays. This a temporary measure to allow for resource allocation and help ensure staff are getting much needed rest.

BDL Update:

ABLE BC has received the following update from BDL:

We have had two days this week of good volume. Today (Wednesday, March 25) is no exception. We remain on track for order processing and delivery with no delays to date.

We will continue to update members on BDL.

New Resources and Tools for your Business: 

New resources, tools, and other content are being created at a rapid rate to support businesses during the COVID-19 crisis. 

Here are some helpful links we have recently come across:

BC Ferries: Avoid non-essential travel

In line with directions provided by the Public Health Agency of Canada and other leading health authorities, BC Ferries is advising customers to avoid non-essential travel at this time.

Many communities served by BC Ferries have issued advisories to travellers notifying them of limited supplies, healthcare equipment and resources.
Travellers should inform themselves of local situations before travelling, especially when travelling to northern communities such as Bella Bella, Bella Coola, Klemtu, Ocean Falls, Port Hardy, Prince Rupert, Shearwater and Haida Gwaii. The travel distances to these communities are long and the communities have limited resources for medical and other situations. 

Other communities including Bowen Island, the qathet (Powell River) Regional District, and some Northern and Southern Gulf Islands have also issued advisories. According to health authorities, staying at home and avoiding non-essential travel helps to “flatten the curve” and reduces the risk of the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Read more

Grocery Stores: need for temporary staff

The BuyLow Foods Group and Sobeys are in immediate need of temporary staff to help with processing shopping orders, replenishing shelves. As an employer, we know having to lay off your staff is difficult. Below is information that you can pass on to your staff if they are looking to gain some immediate employment.

Buy-Low Foods, Nesters Market, AG Foods, Meinhardt Fine Foods

  • Stores: Metro Vancouver, Clearwater, Gabriola, Grand Forks, Hope, Houston, Kelowna, Keremeos, Lillooet, Nanaimo, Oliver, Osoyoos, Port Alberni, Squamish, Summerland, Whistler
  • Email application/interest to: theresa_smith@buy-low.com, telephone (604) 888-7061 Ext. 233

Choices Markets & Canadian Choice Wholesale

  • Stores: Abbotsford, Burnaby, Kelowna, South Surrey, Vancouver
  • Commissary: Burnaby
  • Warehouse: Delta
  • Email application/interest to: scameron@choicesmarkets.com, telephone (604) 970-0022

Nature’s Fare Markets

  • Stores: Kamloops, Kelowna, Langley, Penticton, Vernon, Westbank, White Rock
  • Commissary: Vernon
  • Email application/interest to: Careers@naturesfare.com, telephone (250) 542-5910 Ext. 1600

Thrifty Foods & Safeway

  • Any candidate is welcome to visit one of 67 Thrifty Foods or Safeway locations throughout the province, and the Customer Service Desk representative would be happy to assist them in their applicant and/or on-boarding.
  • Alternatively, candidates are able to search job and apply online using our Sobeys Careers site: https://jobs.sobeyscareers.com/

As we shared in Monday’s update, go2HR has also opened up their job board to health care job postings. 

The goal is to provide a tool for displaced tourism and hospitality employees to find temporary work, to ensure their livelihood is not disrupted. Tell your team about the go2HR Job Board. Let them know that these job opportunities will be posted and can help them in the short term.

For more information:

Public Health Agency of Canada Website

Updates from the Government of British Columbia

Updates and Resources from ABLE BC

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


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