March 27, 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:

  • Federal government boosts wage subsidy to 75%
  • LDB Update
  • Province defines LDB as essential service
  • BDL Update
  • WorkSafeBC defers Q1 2020 Payment
  • Notice from LCRB: Clarity for packaged and sale of draught beer
  • COVID-19 Resource: Are you complying with emergency act and public health orders 

Please continue to send your questions by email to ABLE BC: or

Find all past updates from ABLE BC here.

Federal government boosts wage subsidy to 75%

Today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced more help for small and medium-sized businesses to keep employees on the payroll during the COVID-19 crisis, including a 75 per cent wage subsidy and guaranteed interest-free loans.

The prime minister said the wage subsidies will be backdated to March 15, 2020. The government previously announced a 10 per cent wage subsidy for business. Today, Trudeau acknowledged that was not enough.

The government will also guarantee loans of up to $40,000 for small businesses which will be interest-free for the first year. Under certain conditions, up to $10,000 of the loans could be non-repayable.

Trudeau said details of the programs are still being worked out and that more information will be coming out between now and Monday.

You can read more about the Federal government COVID-19 economic response plan here.

ABLE BC, along with other industry associations, have been actively engaged with our government partners since this emergency began to secure increased support for small businesses, including a higher wage subsidy. This increased wage subsidy is a direct result of that collective industry work. We commend and fully support government for acknowledging and acting on this today.

More specific support for BC’s tourism and hospitality industry is coming. We will share those details as soon as we can.

LDB Update

The LDB’s retail and wholesale operations remain stable.

BC Liquor Stores continue to operate across the province with the exception of a couple of stores in some of the smaller communities who have hit critical staffing 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.

Note: LRS are not required to close on Sundays, nor are you required to maintain any particular operating hours. The only exception on hours is that you cannot open earlier or close later than the hours posted on your liquor license. 

Both the LDB’s Kamloops Distribution Centre and Delta Distribution Centre are seeing flattening volumes, though volume remains high. Both continue to function with lower than optimal staffing levels. The LDB is still planning to add extra shifts in DDC this weekend.

Province defines LDB as essential service

Yesterday, the Province, in consultation with the Dr. Bonnie Henry, BC’s provincial health officer, has defined essential services British Columbians rely on in their daily lives in the context of COVID-19 response and recovery. 

BC’s list of essential services included the liquor industry. Read our full update on essential services here.

The LDB has shared with us the following memo from Chief Executive Officer and General Manager, Blain Lawson on the the province defining LDB as an essential service: 

To our valued stakeholders,

As you may have heard this morning (March 26), Premier John Horgan and Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth announced BC’s next steps to support the COVID-19 response.

In consultation with Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, the Province has defined essential services British Columbians rely on in their daily lives in the context of COVID-19 response and recovery. Furthermore, the government outlined the extraordinary powers it will rely on to maintain essential goods and services under the current state of provincial emergency.

Retail outlets that sell liquor and the supply chain services that support them are included on the list of essential services, along with all government functions.

This means that the BC Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) and each of its lines of business remain an essential service to the province. 

Our distribution centres will continue to serve wholesale customers, including public and private retail stores and those hospitality customers permitted to remain open by following the orders and guidance of the provincial health officer.

COVID-19 has created challenges for some of our logistics partners that may impact the quality and timeliness of service to all of our customers. I want to assure you, that as we continue to respond to the inevitable challenges we are being faced with, that we are committed to working with you to minimize the impacts to your members.

We know that the impacts from COVID-19 are bringing unprecedented change to our everyday lives and the way we do business, and I expect it will take some time to adjust to a new normal.

The health and safety of our employees, our customers, those most vulnerable and the communities we serve will continue to be our top priority. We remain committed to keeping you updated as we move forward in this evolving situation, and thank you for your continued patience as we navigate this challenging and ever-changing situation. 

Blain Lawson
General Manager & CEO, LDB

BDL Update

As you know, on March 25, Brewers Distributor Ltd. (BDL) was subjected to a cyber-attack. Read more about this in our March 26, 2020 email. BDL is doing everything possible to be fully operational as soon as possible. We will continue to update you.

WorkSafeBC defers Q1 2020 Payment

We have been informed that WorkSafeBC has decided to allow employers to defer payment of their Q1 2020 premiums by three months. This means employers who report payroll and make payments on a quarterly basis, as well as Personal Optional Protection (POP) coverage holders, can defer payment until June 30, 2020. Employers who report annually will not be impacted because they do not report payroll or pay premiums until March 2021.

Employers who report and pay on a quarterly basis may still find it to their advantage to report their payroll by April 20, even if they defer payment, to ensure their account balance is accurate and clearance is not negatively impacted.

More information will be provided to employers in WorkSafeBC’s upcoming Q1 mailing, as well as through and incoming phone messages to their Employer Service Centre. 

WorkSafeBC is actively monitoring and adjusting to the COVID-19 situation to determine how they can best support their stakeholders around the province.

Notice from LCRB: Clarity for packaged and sale of draught beer

On March 21, 2020, the LCRB issued Policy Directive 20-05 to allow liquor primary and food primary licensees that are permitted to remain open during the current health crisis to sell and deliver packaged liquor of all types from the service area for off-site consumption to patrons with the purchase of a meal, subject to new terms and conditions for these purposes. 

Since PD 20-05 was issued, the LCRB has received questions regarding the sale of draught beer and the meaning of the word “packaged.” 

Per the LCRB:

You may sell draught beer in new glass vessels referred to as growlers and bombers of a size no less than one litre provided by you, with a meal. Growlers and bombers are considered packaged beer, so they have been specified under the packaged beer line item for clarity and are subject to that minimum price (see table).

The word “packaged” means in the container the manufacturer sold the product in. You must not sell any liquor you have packaged yourself, with the exception of draught beer noted above.

This authorization remains in effect until July 15, 2020.

For more information:

COVID-19 Resource: Are you complying with emergency act and public health orders

McMillan LLP has produced a new COVID-19 resource outlining ‘New Emergency Rules for Operating Businesses in BC,’ and ‘How to Comply with BC’s “Essential Business” and Public Health Orders.’

Our sincere thanks once again the Shea Coulson and McMillan for their ongoing support to our industry during this crisis.

Download a copy here.

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

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