May 05, 2020

Dear ABLE BC Members and Industry Colleagues, 

We hope you enjoyed a safe and happy weekend. We are back with our COVID-19 update and will be sending the updates on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of this week.

As always, you can also reach us by email if you have any questions or concerns: or

Here’s what you’ll find in today’s COVID-19 update:

  • Recap of last week’s updates
  • What ABLE BC is doing to help: government relations update
  • Changes to Employment Standards Act: extended temporary layoff period
  • 1-minute ABLE BC survey: Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program
  • Invitation: Small Business Telephone Townhall on May 5

Find all past updates from ABLE BC here. If you have any other questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us: or

Recap of last week’s updates

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

  • Update on May 1
    • province extends state of emergency
    • reopening BC and hospitality businesses 
    • extension of liquor license expiry dates
    • BC Emergency Benefit for Workers available
    • BDL bank debits update
    • ContainerWorld update
    • Foodora ceasing operations
    • LDB resumed limited selection bottle
    • BWI has 6 types of COVID-19 protective cashier shields available
  • Update on April 29:
    • Western Financial Group: employee benefits announcement
    • Property taxes in Vancouver delayed until September
    • New COVID-19 resource hub:
    • ABLE BC Member Discount: outdoor signage
    • Pro bono coaching offer for ABLE BC members
    • Hand sanitizer retooling update: federal licensing process
  • Update on April 27
    • Applications for Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy open
    • Virtual 2019 BC Vintage Preview Part II
    • BC Chamber of Commerce: second ‘Pulse Check’ COVID-19 survey results

Find all past COVID-19 liquor industry updates here.

What ABLE BC is doing to help: government relations update

As we shared in Friday’s update, during the press conference last week BC Premier John Horgan alluded that details regarding the reopening of BC’s economy are coming this week. Other provinces have already announced their plans for reopening, including: Ontario, New Brunswick, and Saskatchewan. 

Last week, we also shared positive steps toward reopening hospitality businesses, including a “Blueprint for Re-opening” on-premise dining in BC.

Today, BC Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry shared new provincial modelling of COVID-19

Dr. Henry said the province is beginning to reach a point where regular interactions between people will eventually be able to double from its current point, while still containing the COVID-19 virus.  

Dr. Henry confirmed the province is continuing to work under the assumption that BC is currently around 30 per cent of regular interactions, but that the virus can be kept in check if it stays below 60 per cent going forward.

The Premier is expected to announce BC’s strategy for gradually reopening the province on Wednesday.

The BC government says that physical distancing will continue to matter much more than the use of personal protective equipment, as the province transitions to the next stage of its response to COVID-19. 

Read more about the new provincial modelling here.

As the province takes steps to reopen BC’s economy, we also know that some of the federal government’s support programs haven’t landed with your business. For instance, we’re aware of challenges with the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program and Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and are currently working to address them. 

We want to hear from you: 

  • Complete our 1-minute survey on the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program
  • If you haven’t already shared your concerns with ABLE BC (i.e. by email or in our COVID-19 survey), please email any challenges you’re experiencing with federal or provincial programs to

ABLE BC is also working with our industry partners on the Business Technical Advisory Panel to advance high priority recommendations that will save your business money and make it easier to reopen.

We hope to have positive news for you soon.

Changes to Employment Standards Act: extended temporary layoff period

This morning, the BC government announced changes to the Employment Standards Act: 

To ease financial hardship on businesses and to keep employees connected with their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic, government has extended the temporary layoff period to 16 weeks for COVID-19 related reasons.

Previously under the Employment Standards Act, a temporary layoff longer than 13 weeks in any 20-week period (or about three months in a five-month period) was considered a permanent layoff. 

With a permanent layoff, employers are required to provide employees with written working notice of termination and/or pay severance to qualifying employees, based on their length of service. Now, temporary layoffs relating to the COVID-19 pandemic can be extended to 16 weeks, if the employee agrees.

This change to the Employment Standards Act aligns BC’s temporary layoff provisions with the federal Canada Emergency Response Benefit period. The federal period provides 16 weeks of financial support, allowing employees to take full advantage of those benefits.

It also allows employees to keep their job, even if they are not working, for 16 weeks of temporary layoff. Employers will be able to quickly resume operations should the public health emergency end within that time.

The COVID-19 emergency temporary layoff provisions are not intended to be permanent and will be repealed when no longer needed.  

A note from ABLE BC: this temporary change is in direct response to our industry’s coordinated efforts. We greatly appreciate the ongoing work of our government partners to support our industry in this time of crisis. Several other recommendations are currently being examined, and we hope to have additional news for you soon.

For more information: 

1-minute ABLE BC survey: Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program

Thank you to everyone who took the time to complete our first COVID-19 liquor industry survey. Your feedback is incredibly helpful. We received 150 responses and will share insights from the survey soon.

As you know, in response to the global COVID-19 crisis, the BC government and federal government have implemented new policy changes and announced economic programs to support businesses.

This includes the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program: a program announced by the federal government that will lower rent by 75% for small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19. It is expected to be operational by mid-May.

ABLE BC would like your feedback on the effectiveness of the CECRA program. Please complete our 1-minute survey on the program.

If you have any questions or concerns about this survey, please contact ABLE BC:

Invitation: Small Business Telephone Townhall on May 5

While ABLE BC continues to work directly with our government partners on issues that matter to your business, BC Liberal Leader and MLA for Vancouver-Quilchena Andrew Wilkinson is also interested in hearing from you. 

Wilkinson is hosting a telephone townhall tomorrow (May 5) at 3:30 pm with small businesses. We encourage members to dial-in to the townhall and submit questions and concerns about your business and COVID-19 recovery.

Learn more and register here

For more information:

Public Health Agency of Canada Website

Updates from the Government of British Columbia

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

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