March 25, 2021

Dear ABLE BC Members and Industry Colleagues,

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

  • Vaccine rollout and prioritizing hospitality workers
  • ABLE BC Crisis Communications Webinar: recording now available
  • Join us at the next monthly Q&A with ABLE BC: April 29
  • Province hikes fines to further enforce COVID-19 public safety
  • Updated public order: training in the workplace
  • Federal wage and rent subsidies to remain unchanged through to June
  • Call to action: extend and enhance the federal wage and rent subsidies
  • #StandUpForService campaign
  • Virtual event: Food and Beverage virtual business round hosted by Chamber of Commerce Brazil-Canada
  • Reminder for City of Vancouver: apply now for spring/summer temporary patio program
  • Business Recovery Grant Program improvements
  • Canada Emergency Business Account applications extended
  • Discounted compliance checks from Sting Investigations: offer expires March 31

Find all past updates from ABLE BC here.

As always, if you have any additional questions or need to reach us you can email: or

Vaccine rollout and prioritizing hospitality workers

As we shared in last week’s update, the Province recently announced that more than 300,000 frontline workers, including first responders, grocery store employees, and teachers and child care workers, will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations over the coming weeks as BC’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan moves forward ahead of schedule:

Phase 3: April to May 2021

  • People aged 79 to 60 in five-year increments
  • Indigenous peoples 18+
  • People aged 69 to 16 who are clinically extremely vulnerable
  • Priority frontline workers

Phase 4: May to June 2021

  • People aged 59 to 18 in five-year increments

Based on this schedule, everyone who is eligible for a vaccine will have access to a vaccine before July 1, 2021. 

The following frontline workers have been identified:

  • First responders (police, firefighters, emergency transport)
  • K-12 educational staff
  • Childcare staff
  • Grocery store workers
  • Postal workers
  • Bylaw and quarantine officers
  • Manufacturing workers
  • Wholesale and warehousing employees
  • Staff living in congregate housing at places such as ski hills
  • Correctional facilities staff
  • Cross-border transport staff

For more information, please read the government news release.

ABLE BC has requested priority access to vaccines for front-line retail and hospitality staff and we continue to raise this issue with government.

Millions of British Columbians visit a hospitality business every day, and nearly 2 million visit a liquor store every week. Although we know members have the right protocols in place to keep workers and customers safe, we share you’re concerns about this higher risk of exposure among your teams.

Unfortunately, at the moment these groups are not included in government’s front-line worker prioritization. We’ll keep on it and let you know if anything changes.

ABLE BC Crisis Communications Webinar: recording now available

There is a right way and a wrong way to communicate a COVID-19 outbreak. Learn the 7 steps to effective crisis communications.

On March 24, ABLE BC’s Executive Director Jeff Guignard led a webinar on crisis communications for BC’s hospitality industry.

COVID-19 outbreaks are a fact of life for the hospitality industry. What you do and how you communicate with the public and staff in the immediate aftermath has a significant impact on your business. There is a right way and a wrong way to communicate.

The webinar will show you what to do from a communications perspective – with your staff and customers – if something happens.

Leave with a checklist of the 7 steps to crisis communications and downloadable templates to support you in case of an outbreak. Jeff will also share tips on how to speak with the media during a crisis and how ABLE BC can support you.

ABLE BC members: please contact for a complimentary copy of the webinar recording, slides, and templates.

Non-members: purchase the webinar and related materials in our online store.

Join us at the next monthly Q&A with ABLE BC: April 29

ABLE BC members and industry colleagues are invited to join us at our next monthly Q&A with Executive Director Jeff Guignard: Thursday, April 29 at 10:00 am PT.

RSVP: A Zoom link will be provided once you RSVP.

What to expect during this one-hour meeting:

  • Catch up on anything you’ve missed over the last month
  • Hear directly from our Executive Director about the state of BC’s liquor industry
  • Get an update on our advocacy work and progress
  • Ask questions about liquor policy, regulations, public health orders, and government relations
  • We’ll also be joined by members of ABLE BC’s Board of Directors

Province hikes fines to further enforce COVID-19 public safety

Fines for promoting and attending gatherings that contravene the provincial health officer’s (PHO) order just got more expensive.

Effective immediately, an amendment to the Violation Ticket Administration and Fine Regulation raises the fine for promoting and for attending a non-compliant gathering or event from $230 to $575. The current fine for those who organize or host a prohibited event remains the same at $2,300.

A $230 fine will continue to apply to a range of COVID-19 violation measures, including failing to wear a mask and failing to abide by patron conditions. Government writes: “The increased fine aimed at non-compliant events reflects that this behaviour is generally more risky than other offences in the $230 category, but less egregious than the offences in the $2,300 category.”

More information on types of provincial tickets and fine amounts is available here.

BLE BC is pleased to see this announcement, as we called for fines to be increased for delinquent patrons.

Updated public order: training in the workplace

The public order for Gatherings and Events was recently revised to allow for in-person training and onboarding, referred to as ‘occupational training’ in the public order.

See section D, number 2 (page 11-12): an owner or organizer must not permit more than fifty patrons, or the lesser number who can be accommodated safely as provided for in section 8, to be present at a support group meeting, a critical service meeting, a meal provided without charge to people in need, a program for children or youth, occupational training, or an outside funeral which is conducted by a religious body…

Occupational training includes: health, safety or re-hiring training, which cannot be provided virtually.

For more information, please read the public order.

Federal wage and rent subsidies to remain unchanged through to June

On March 3, the federal government announced the wage and rent subsidy amounts will remain unchanged through to June.

The government intends to extend the current rate structures for these subsidies from March 14 to June 5, 2021. Specifically:

  • the maximum wage subsidy rate for active employees would remain at 75 per cent
  • the maximum rent subsidy rate would remain at 65 per cent
  • Lockdown Support would remain at 25 per cent and continue to be provided in addition to the rent subsidy, providing eligible hard hit businesses with rent support of up to 90 per cent

With regard to furloughed employees, the government intends to continue to align the wage subsidy rate structure with the benefits provided through the Employment Insurance program from March 14 to June 5, 2021. This means employers who qualify for the wage subsidy would be able to continue to claim up to a maximum benefit of $595 per week per employee to support remuneration of their furloughed workers.

Further details can be found here.

Call to action: extend and enhance the federal wage and rent subsidies

On March 23, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland announced that the federal government will table a budget on April 19. This is a critical week to influence the upcoming Federal Budget and ensure that government continues to provide much-needed support to the tourism and hospitality sectors.

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy have been critical lifelines for our sectors and employees throughout this pandemic. However, as noted above, these programs are set to end on June 5. It is critical that we see an extension and expansion of both these programs in the upcoming Federal Budget, helping insure our industry can make it to the other side of recovery.

ABLE BC has reiterated the importance of the wage and rent subsidies in all our discussions with government and in our federal budget submission. But we also need your help!

The Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses is calling on businesses to make ‘as much noise as possible’ and ensure government knows the importance of extending these subsidies.

Three critical asks for you:

  1. Call or email your MP and tell them the wage subsidy and fixed costs support are critical and must continue until the end of 2021. Share the Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses’ key recommendations: download ENG and FR.
  2. Send a letter to your local MP. It will take less than 1 minute to send. Use the coalition’s website to send the letter: ENG and FR.
  3. Spread the word on social media. Pre-written social media content can be found on the coalition’s website.

#StandUpForService campaign

From now until May 23, the public is asked to nominate deserving colleagues, servers, cooks, friends, or businesses in the restaurant industry that are providing a welcoming and unique dining experience while following best practices to combat COVID-19. 

Each week, one winner will be selected to receive a $100 Save-On-Foods gift card and a gift from Sumac Ridge Estate Winery. At the end of the campaign, four individuals will be chosen to each receive a special Sumac Ridge Estate Winery gift and a $250 credit to Save-On-Foods. 

Submit your nominations here.

Virtual event: Food and Beverage virtual business round hosted by Chamber of Commerce Brazil-Canada

The Chamber of Commerce Brazil-Canada (CCBC) invites you to a virtual business round: April 12 and 13.

Canadian importers will have the opportunity to connect directly with Brazilian food and beverage suppliers and discover a world of unique and high-quality products and ingredients that can positively impact their operations in Canada.

From fruit and vegetables, to non-alcoholic beverages, edible oils, seasonings, condiments, herbs, and so much more, the CCBC is opening the gates for Canadian buyers and suppliers to exotic, high-quality ingredients.

The B2B meetings will take place on April 12 and 13 via Zoom from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm EDT and will be 20-25 minutes in duration. Registration closes on March 29 and is free.

Register here.

Reminder for City of Vancouver: apply now for spring/summer temporary patio program

City of Vancouver staff are now welcoming applications from local business for temporary patio permits (free) on public property for the spring/summer patio season, April 1 – October 31, 2021.  

At this time, businesses can expect to receive their spring/summer temporary patio permit within 10 business days. However, the city is expecting over 400 patio applications this summer, so to avoid wait times and processing delays, they are encouraging businesses to apply now for their patio permits.  

All businesses that wish to retain or re-install their patio through the spring summer season, must apply for an extension. Businesses applying for a first time temporary patio permit, or renewing an existing or previous patio permit, can find more information at 

Steps to renew spring/summer patio permit:

  • Find out what is allowed for your type of patio
  • Determine what additional permits and requirements you may need
  • Make sure you have the necessary documents and apply

A Safe Patio Season

The City’s top priority is the health and safety of residents. City staff will be working to ensure that the Temporary Expedited Patio program continues to support businesses recovery efforts and balances their responsibility to keep pedestrians and patio-goers healthy and safe and maintain accessibility in public spaces. To protect the health and safety of residents, patios should not:  

  • Restrict accessibility or reduce space for physical distancing on the sidewalk.
  • Encroach too far onto the street, which may negatively impact other road users or interrupt City street cleaning, utility or construction work.  
  • Reduce the open-air aspect of the patio with additional structures or enclosures (COVID-19 transmission concern).  
  • Block access to critical utilities such as fire department connections.

 The City is committed to supporting local businesses. They hope that by continuing to offer the temporary patio permit at no cost, more businesses can safely welcome customers while maintaining physical distancing.

Business Recovery Grant Program improvements

The Ministry of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation (JERI) recently announced improvements and an extension to the BC Recovery Grant:

  • The Program has been extended to August 31, 2021 or until funds are fully expended, whichever comes first.
  • Applicants no longer need to show a revenue loss of 70% in March or April 2020 when compared to the same one-month period in 2019. Businesses now only need to show a 30% revenue loss.
  • Businesses that have applied to the Program will have their applications re-evaluated if they didn’t qualify because of the previous 70% revenue requirement.
  • Businesses that have been approved for funding are not affected by these changes.

Government has also allowed for extra help with things like gathering the right documents during the application stage, or support with translation or interpretation services. Business can now get help throughout the process from a Small Business BC vetted professional service provider. This service will now be included in the up to $2,000 in additional government funding paid to the service provider.

Please visit the Program website for full eligibility criteria and to apply.

Canada Emergency Business Account applications extended

On March 22, the federal government announced that the deadline for new Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) applications is being extended from March 31 to June 30, 2021.

This deadline extension applies to any new applications for CEBA loans of $60,000 or to new applications from businesses that have already received the $40,000 loan and intend to apply for the additional $20,000.

The extension will allow more businesses to access the support they need as Canada’s economy continues to deal with localized public health restrictions and, for a number of businesses, reduced opening hours or reduced demand for services. Extending the application deadline to June 2021 also aligns CEBA with the timelines of other federal government support programs for business.

For more information, please click here.

Discounted compliance checks from Sting Investigations: offer expires March 31

ABLE BC Associate Member Sting Investigations is pleased to offer members a discount on staff due diligence checks: purchase a check for $75 (regular $100) until March 31, 2021. Sign-up here

By performing a due diligence check at your establishment, Sting Investigations can help you improve your business from an investigative point of view, ensure your employees are following the Liquor Control and Licensing Rules, and enhance your customer service.

Your customized compliance check reviews:

  • Checking IDs
  • Serving of intoxicated patrons
  • Problem resolution
  • Customer service
  • Facility and operations management
  • Cash handling
  • Promotions
  • NEW: COVID-19 compliance (i.e. signage, hand sanitizer, appropriate physical distancing, capacity, masks are being worn)

Request a check here. For more information please contact Sting Investigations: 1-877-717-8464 or

This discount is only available to ABLE BC Members. Not yet a member? Join today!

Join the fight! Become a member today.


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