COVID-19 & Your Business

COVID-19 & Your Business

EFFECTIVE JUNE 5, MOST BUSINESSES REQUIRED TO CLOSE UNDER THE PUBLIC HEALTH ORDER CAN REOPEN!

 
It’s been a tumultuous few months in business, in communities, on the markets – globally. It’s become clear that COVID-19 is going to have a huge impact on businesses, and we’re all worried about the future.  We’ve assembled information in key areas that businesses should consider in order to prepare effectively.  The sources we’ve provided here have credible, business-relevant and science-based information to help you stay safe, and to help your business prepare for the reality of a global pandemic.

Membership Has Its Benefits! Did you know that Chamber Members have access to discounted teleconferencing rates through Pragmatic (to help with social distancing), and competitively priced Group Health Insurance through the ChambersPlan for even the smallest of businesses?  The ChambersPlan includes a Teladoc service that gives you access to medical professionals via phone 24/7!  Contact Susan for details via email or at 902-625-1588.

 

Call to Action for Businesses to Fight COVID-19! Nova Scotia Business Inc has expanded on the Call to Action for businesses that could help with capacity and research to combat the impact of COVID-19. They’ve highlighted procurement, innovation, and research here. Ask yourself – can your business help with the fight?!

BUSINESSES THAT DELIVER!

Business owners and employees are used to going above and beyond to help their communities.  Their COVID-19 response is no different, with many closing as a preventative measure, and others adjusting their business models and providing services in a different way to help protect public health and safety.

 

To support small business, and to give the public safer access to the things they need, we’ve created two regional open Facebook groups that any business can post in to let people know that they either provide a delivery service, take out, or some other means of contributing to public safety.  This includes all sorts of businesses from restaurants, to technology firms, to hardware stores, and everything in between!  If you’re providing a a product or service that will help people stay safe during the outbreak, please post in the group where you’re located (feel free to post in both if that makes sense for your business)!

 

Businesses that Deliver – Southern Cape Breton/Northern Mainland

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Businesses that Deliver – Northern Cape Breton

WE’RE WORKING FOR YOU!

Your Chamber has been working hard to influence government programs and services to help businesses weather the COVID-19 storm. We’ve proactively engaged with elected representatives in this region, and we’ve partnered with both the Atlantic and Canadian Chambers of Commerce to influence government.

 

We’re also participating in the newly formed Nova Scotia Business Labour Economic Coalition led by the Halifax Chamber. The Coalition consists of leaders in chambers, industry associations, federations, and government from across the province to share resources and lobby for more effective programming and responses to the COVID-19 outbreak.

 

We’ve engaged consistently with MP Mike Kelloway, who has championed several issues at the federal level, and we’ve participated in three discussions with the Honorable Minister Joly, Minister of Economic Development, Tourism and Official Languages on key advocacy issues.

 

The key outcomes we are trying to drive are:

  • Keep cash in the hands of companies – don’t give it to government to give back to companies
  • Keep people working and off of social assistance of any kind for as long as possible
  • Ensure liquidity to support the recovery from this crisis and flattening the economic curve

Advocacy Issue

Working with Government to Reactivate Your Business & the Economy

Status Update

IN PROGRESS! The Strait Area Chamber is an active member of the Nova Scotia Business & Labour Economic Coalition led by the Halifax Chamber of Commerce. The purpose of the group is to advocate for business and their employees at this challenging time, to ensure all Nova Scotians are heard and supported, and to eventually assist in the development of a recovery plan.  This group meets three times per week and is comprised of businesses, not-for-profits, and the NS Federation of Labour, representing over 10,000 organizations and 200,000 employees.  The focus of discussions since the relaxation of public health orders has been on helping businesses reopen/reactivate safely. Through the work of this group, a series of resources have been assembled to help you get there!

Increasing the 10% wage subsidy to at least 75%

ACHIEVED! The Government of Canada announced a 75% wage subsidy for businesses in addition to the temporary 10% subsidy on March 27, 2020.

Ensuring that business owners have access to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and that dividend income would qualify

ACHIEVED! On April 8, we were able to confirm with MP Mike Kelloway that business owners/sole proprietors would have access to the CERB, that dividends would be considered, and furthermore that business owners can try to generate sales while accessing the CERB so long as they aren’t personally drawing income from the revenue.

Decreasing the payroll threshold for the Canada Emergency Business Account – CEBA ($40,000 interest free loan) from $50,000 to $20,000

ACHIEVED! As we continued to hear from businesses about the challenges they’re facing, we identified that the payroll threshold for small businesses to access the Canada Emergency Business Account was too high for many to meet. As a result, we sent a letter to MP Mike Kelloway with an urgent request to relax the criteria. The change in payroll thresholds was announced April 16, 2020.

Providing Access to Credit

ACHIEVED! The Government of Canada announced the BCAP and CEBA on March 27, 2020 and the Province of Nova Scotia followed suit by announcing the Small Business Impact Grant on April 2, 2020.  Changes to the Small Business Loan Guarantee Program were also announced by the province on March 26 to make it easier for businesses to access credit up to $500,000, and for those who might not qualify for a loan, government will guarantee the first $100,000. Additional programs including the federal Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) and the provincial  Small Business Credit and Support Program have filled the gaps.  Chambers of Commerce at the regional and national level continue to advocate for more flexibility in access to credit and non-repayable grants for their members during this unprecedented period of shutdown.

Providing a payroll tax holiday for at least 60 days

PARTIALLY ACHIEVED through the 10% Temporary Wage Subsidy.

Providing HST Rebates or deferrals to help cash flow

ACHIEVED! The Government of Canada announced on March 27, 2020 that they would allow businesses, including self-employed individuals, to defer all Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) payments until June, as well as customs duties owed for imports. This measure is the equivalent of providing up to $30 billion in interest-free loans to Canadian businesses.

Mitigating the impact on sectors such as agriculture regarding TFW entry/access (developing reasonable exceptions and procedures)

ACHIEVED! On April 14, 2020, the Government of Canada announced  that they will provide support of $1,500 for each temporary foreign worker, to employers or those working with them to ensure requirements are fully met. The funding is conditional on employers not being found in violation of the mandatory 14-day isolation protocols or any other public health order. TFWs must isolate for 14 days before going to work.

Ensuring that individuals have the support they need by increasing EI requirements flexibility and removing wait periods

ACHIEVED! On March 11, 2020, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the federal government is going to waive the mandatory one-week waiting period for employees to receive employment insurance (EI).  Further to this, the province announced a $20 million Worker Emergency Bridge Fund  on April 2nd to help the self-employed and those laid-off workers who do not qualify for Employment Insurance. Government will provide a one-time, $1,000 payment, to bridge the gap between layoffs and closures and the federal government’s Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

Providing increases to the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) to enable families to purchase the things they need to stay healthy

ACHIEVED! The Government of Canada announced on March 18, 2020 that the Canada Child Benefit will be temporarily increased within the coming months, delivering relief to families affected by the novel coronavirus. The measure would provide almost $2 billion in extra support for parents who may have been laid off from their jobs or unable to work due to the COVID-19 outbreak ($300 per child).

Investing in rural broadband infrastructure to enable more effective business continuity planning and online business growth

PARTIALLY ACHIEVED. On March 26, 2020 the Province of Nova Scotia announced $15 million as an incentive to providers to speed up projects under the Internet for Nova Scotia Initiative and complete them as soon as possible so that more Nova Scotians can access the internet to work from home. Develop Nova Scotia recently released an update of expanded services in the Shelburne area (among others), but there is more work to be done to even the playing field across rural Nova Scotia when it comes to broadband access.

Government working with big banks to clarify relief they can provide on loans, mortgage payments, zero or low-cost lines or credit, interest-free credit card period, etc.

PARTIALLY ACHIEVED through the announcement of the BCAP which involves co-lending partnerships with BDC, EDC, and financial institutions.  The CEBA’s 25% forgivable portion was also a welcome announcement on this front.

Providing merchant fee relief on the base and per transaction costs of using these systems as many businesses are moving to do more online to protect employees, clients and public

Some Flexibility Available (see the note below on credit card processing fees) and Currently Following Up with Minister Joly.

We’ve also been advocating specifically for our tourism industry, one of the hardest hit by the outbreak. Specifically, we’re calling for the expedited approval of shovel-ready tourism projects, such as: the Pan-Cape Breton Food Hub, Highland Village expansion, the Cape Smokey development, the Mabou Hill Campus, refurbishment of the Baddeck wharf, expansion of the St. Peter’s Marina, trail development by the Victoria County Trails Federation, a septic bed for the Canal Landing.  These types of tourism projects were assembled with input from Destination Cape Breton, and will be key stimulus projects and create more growth potential in the industry. These are just a few examples – please contact us if you have additional examples to add!

 

These results are clearly demonstrating that we are stronger together!  With our membership reaching nearly 400, your Chamber is the strongest voice for business in the region!

 


WORKING REMOTELY – As a Chamber Member, you have access to discounted teleconferencing rates through Pragmatic (to help with social distancing and self-isolation). Call Susan at 902-625-1588 for details.

 

ACCESS TO PHYSICIANS – As a Chamber Member, you have access to the ChambersPlan Group Health Insurance which includes a Teladoc service that gives you access to medical professionals via phone 24/7! The plan administration recently released an update and hosted a webinar on Building Resilience to COVID-19.  Call Susan at 902-625-1588 for details.

 

CREDIT CARD PROCESSING FEES – The Chamber’s Point of Sale system partner, First Data, has started to offer relief to merchants who have been hit hard by COVID-19 and will continue to monitor the situation. If your credit card processing fees are significantly increasing, call the customer support line at 1-888-263-1938 to speak with a loyalty expert. We’re working with our regional and national counterparts to pressure other point of sale companies nationally to do the same.

For an overview on the most recent actions taken by the Government of Canada and the Province of Nova Scotia, click here.

WEBINARS / LEARNING

Webinar: Navigating the CANADA EMERGENCY WAGE SUBSIDY – (CEWS) 

Last week we hosted a Free webinar in partnership with Cape Breton Partnership and Grant Thornton to help you navigate the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program. This webinar provided details and updates on the CEWS which officially launched on April 27, as well as information that businesses should know before making a decision on applying and when. In case you missed our session, you can watch it here.

 

FEMPOWER LEADERS REUNITE WITH THE CHAMBER TO HELP MEMBERS STAY CONNECTED!

The sessions were a hit! If you missed it, click on the link below to watch the videos on our YouTube Channel and stay connected with yourself.

FEMpower Staying Connected – Mindfulness, Nutrition, Movement

 

VIRTUAL TOWN HALL WITH MP MIKE KELLOWAY
Thank you for attending our Virtual Town Hall meeting with MP Mike Kelloway.  Mike was able to answer all of our questions and concerns regarding the COVID-19 situation and the programs offered to support the Business Community.  Watch the recording of the meeting on our YouTube Channel

 

FREE ONLINE TECHNOLOGY TRAINING FROM NSCC & CISCO

The Strait Area Chamber of Commerce has partnered with the NSCC and Cisco Systems to provide FREE access to our Chamber Members to a series of online NetAcad™ Courses! There is no previous knowledge required, and no requirement or time limit to complete the course once you start. You can learn at your own pace and in the comfort of your own space!  Courses offered include entrepreneurship basics, along with more tech-focused courses including IT basics and Internet, Cyber Security, the Internet of Things, and Packet Tracer.  Learn More

 

CB PARTNERSHIP HELPING BUSINESSES RESPOND DURING COVID-19 WEBINAR SERIES: 

The Cape Breton Partnership is hosting a series of webinar discussions to help businesses adapt. Sessions include a variety of topics including financing, e-commerce, legal, and navigating the many recently announced government programs and supports.

 

Previous Webinars in the Series

 

GRANT THORNTON Q&A: YOUR BUSINESS QUESTIONS ANSWERED

A pre-recorded, one-on-one interview with Jonathan Krieger, National Leader of Restructuring, about what practical steps businesses can take to manage negative impacts on cash flow. View the Session

GOVERNMENT ACTION / RELIEF

UPDATE FROM THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA ON JULY 11, 2020:

 

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT RELEASES ECONOMIC SNAPSHOT, INCLUDING $343 BILLION DEFICIT

Today, the Government of Canada released its economic snapshot – a picture of the federal spending to date this year, amid the pandemic. The snapshot includes a projected deficit this year of $343 billion and a debt-to-GDP ratio of 49.1%. Following the release, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce made it clear that Canada needs a plan to restore private sector growth, starting with a tailored strategy and a timetable for safely reopening that will allow businesses and families alike to plan. Read Statement here.

 

CANADA EMERGENCY COMMERCIAL RENT ASSISTANCE (CECRA) PROGRAM EXTENSION
On Tuesday, June 30, the Federal Government announced that the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program will be extended by one month to help small businesses pay their rent at this critical time.

 

PHASE 2 OF THE DISBURSEMENT OF THE $500-MILLION EMERGENCY SUPPORT FUND FOR CULTURAL, HERITAGE &
SPORT ORGANIZATIONS
On July 8th, Minister Guilbeault has announced the final details regarding Phase 2 of the disbursement of the $500-million Emergency Support Fund
for Cultural, Heritage, and Sport Organizations. This final component helps address some of the gaps that have been identified by the industry across
Canada since the fund was first implemented. Thus, the second phase provides support to other organizations, some of which do not normally receive funding from Canadian Heritage, the Canada Council for the Arts, Telefilm Canada or the Canada Media Fund. The goal is still to help maintain jobs and support business continuity for organizations whose viability has been affected.

This final component of Phase 2 of the COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations will be distributed through grants and contributions as follows:

$45 million through the Canada Periodical Fund to assist free magazines and weekly newspapers, including those that serve official-language minority or ethnocultural communities;
$25 million distributed through partners to assist independent news and community radio broadcasters;

$20 million to Musicaction and FACTOR to help presenters in the live music sector;
$2.5 million to support producers of content in a language other than English or French through the Canada Media Fund; and
$52.1 million to various arts and culture organizations that do not normally receive funding from Canadian Heritage programs and/or did not receive funding during Phase 1.

This amount will be provided as follows:
$8.2 million for the arts sector;
1. $27.8 million for the audiovisual and digital media sector;
2. $5 million for the music industry;
3. $10 million for the publishing sector; and
4. $1 million for arts and culture organizations that serve official-language communities.

Like Phase 1, this second phase is open to a variety of organizations and equity-seeking groups such as Indigenous, official-language minority, LGBTQ2 and racialized communities.

Simplified funding application processes have been put in place to support organizations in need as quickly and efficiently as possible. Applicants
seeking emergency assistance from the Canada Periodical Fund will be able to submit their requests as of today. Application details for the other
Phase 2 funding opportunities will be available shortly on the dedicated COVID-19 emergency funding section of the Canadian Heritage website
and at the corresponding links above.

 

CANADA EXTENDS MANDATORY REQUIREMENTS UNDER THE QUARANTINE ACT FOR ANYONE ENTERING CANADA 
To help protect the health and safety of Canadians, the Federal Government extended the requirements for mandatory isolation and quarantine
for travellers entering Canada until August 31, 2020. Anyone entering Canada by air, land, or sea will continue to be required to isolate or quarantine
for 14 days. Border measures prohibiting non-essential travel will also remain in effect.

 

CRA DEADLINE CHANGES
The CRA has advised that T2 Corporation Income Tax Returns and T3 Trust Income tax Returns that would have been due in June, July, or August are now due on September 1. For T2s and T3s, as previously announced, any income tax balance due on or after March 18 and before September 1 will also be due by September 1.  More Information

 

WIL DIGITAL RESPONSE MEASURES TO SUPPORT ORGANIZATIONS DURING COVID-19
ICTC’s WIL Digital is an innovative Work Integrated Learning (WIL) program that helps employers grow their businesses. A wage subsidy of up $7,000 is available for employers that hire post-secondary students and provide them with valuable hands-on experience in IT and digital roles. WIL Digital is funded by the Government of Canada through the Student Work Placement Program (SWPP). Learn more and apply here.

UPDATE FROM THE GOVERNMENT OF NOVA SCOTIA – JULY 11, 2020

 

NOVA SCOTIA REPORTS NO NEW CASES OF COVID-19
As of today, July 10, Nova Scotia has three active cases of COVID-19. No new cases were identified on Thursday, July 9. The news release is below
and is also available here.

You can watch the Covid-19 update here.

 

SMALL BUSINESS REOPENING & SUPPORT GRANT APPLICATION DEADLINE EXTENDED
To date, the program has supported over 3,200 small Nova Scotia business across the province to safely reopen, with grants of up to $5,000 totalling
more than $9.7 million. In addition to the grant, these businesses also gain automatic access to the Business Continuity Voucher to engage consultants
or service providers for advice and activities that help their small business reopen, adapt to the impacts of Covid-19, and become more resilient.

There is still capacity in the program. Please encourage businesses in your network to apply. Eligible businesses include:

restaurants and drinking establishments
fitness studios and gyms
live performing arts events
trade shows and exhibitions
small retail
dental offices
independent retail gas stations
those offering personal services such as massage therapy, eye care, and physiotherapy

Applications will be accepted until midnight July 17th, 2020. Find more information and apply here.

 

BORDER TRACKING FORM FOR NON-BUBBLE TRAVELLERS ONLINE
People entering Nova Scotia from outside Atlantic Canada must complete a tracking form to enter the province so that government officials can verify they complete 14 days of self-isolation required under the public health order.

Non-bubble visitors must provide an address where they will be staying and self-isolating for 14 days and a phone number where they can be reached 24/7.
Provincial staff will contact those visitors every day to make sure they are observing the 14-day self-isolation requirement.

Nova Scotia’s borders, while restricted, are not closed. People from outside of Atlantic Canada are welcome to the province, but they must self-isolate for
14 days when they arrive. If they have already self-isolated in another Atlantic Canadian province, they may enter Nova Scotia without having to self-isolate
again. If visitors who are supposed to be self-isolating do not answer their phone after three attempts in one day, police will conduct in-person checks.
The fine for violating the Health Protection Order is $1,000 for a first offence.

 

ATLANTIC BUBBLE FAQ DOCUMENT FOR ATLANTIC BUBBLE
The Province has provided a FAQs document to explain new requirements for Atlantic Canadian travellers under the Atlantic Bubble. FAQ link available here.

 

ACCESS NOVA SCOTIA CENTRES
Walk in service is now available at Access Centres. Depending on your transaction, this means you can either go online, make an appointment, or
drop in.  A high volume of walk in traffic is expected.  In the first three days, Access Nova Scotia staff served 8,000 clients, 5,000 more than usual
over three days!  If you can, complete your transaction online or make an appointment first to avoid a long wait.

 

NEW GATHERING LIMIT RESTRICTIONS
The new gathering limits are now in effect.  If a recognized business or organization is planning an event outdoors, 250 people can attend with
physical distancing in place. For an indoor event, the limit is 50 per cent capacity to a maximum of 200 – with physical distancing.

Gatherings not run by a recognized business or organization, for example a family event in a backyard, are still subject to the 50-person maximum
limit with physical distancing unless you’re in your close social group of 10.

Expanded gathering limits apply to social events, faith gatherings, weddings, funerals and other cultural events, and arts and culture events like
theatre performances, dance recitals, festivals and concerts. Communities, Culture and Heritage Covid-19 Provincial Guidelines for these types
of events are available here.

People can continue to gather in close social groups of up to 10 without physical distancing. People in a group are not required to be exclusive
but they are strongly encouraged to maintain a consistent group.

Businesses that are too small to ensure physical distancing can still have no more than 10 people on their premises at a time with as much physical
distancing as possible.

 

HEALTH PROTECTION ORDER UPDATED
With the recent easing of restrictions, the order of the Chief Medical Officer of Health has been restated.  You can find the new order under the Health
Protection Act here.

 

PROVINCIAL CAMPGROUNDS OPEN TO ATLANTIC PROVINCES
Campers from all four Atlantic provinces can now reserve and enjoy their spots at any of Nova Scotia’s 20 provincial campgrounds.  Reservations
will open at set times throughout the day. A schedule of which campgrounds open their reservations and at what time is posted on the Nova Scotia
Provincial Parks website.

Only registered campers can enter provincial campgrounds. Campers must have a confirmed reservation before arriving.

Other safety measures in place include frequent cleaning of common areas, signs to promote physical distancing and other healthy practices and changes to the on-site check-in process to minimize physical contact with park employees. A full list of visitor restrictions is found on the Nova Scotia Provincial Parks website.

PROGRAMS & OPPORTUNITIES

 

TAKING CARE OF EMPLOYEES AND ENTREPRENEURS

 

Canada Emergency Response Benefit – Apply Now!
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) provides $2,000 a month for up to 24 weeks for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CERB is available to Canadians who have lost their job, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, as well as working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures. The CERB applies to wage and dividend earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI).

 

Many thanks to MP Mike Kelloway for providing clarifications on several points related to the CERB that we’ve heard from our members!

 

  • Many small business owners pay themselves in Dividends from their corporation, rather then a salary. We’ve confirmed that dividend income will be permitted towards CERB eligibility.
  • There are many small business owners who would like to lay themselves off in order to keep as many of their people employed as possible. We’ve confirmed that business owners/managers do not need to be laid off to access CERB, just not earning income. So an owner CAN be getting the CERB and still access the wage subsidy for their employees.
  • We’ve had several inquiries from salons, gyms, etc that have had to close under the Public Order from the provincial government.  Business owners have applied for the CERB but are now wondering if they can try to sell some retail product online and ship it. We’ve confirmed that a business owner/manager generating revenue for their business through retail CAN still access the CERB, so long as they aren’t personally drawing income from the revenue.

 

CRA Deadline Changes
The CRA has advised that T2 Corporation Income Tax Returns and T3 Trust Income tax Returns that would have been due in June, July, or August are now due on September 1. For T2s and T3s, as previously announced, any income tax balance due on or after March 18 and before September 1 will also be due by September 1. More Information

 

Federal Government Extends Time Periods Given to Employees Laid Off Due to COVID-19
Prior to these changes, employers could temporarily layoff their employees for up to three months if no notice with a recall date was provided or for a period of up to six months if they provided a notice with an expected recall date before the layoff became a termination. The amendments, which are set out in the Canada Labour Standards Regulations, temporarily extend these time periods by up to six months:

•For employees laid off prior to March 31, 2020, the time period is extended by six months or to December 30, 2020, whichever occurs first.
•For employees laid off between March 31, 2020 and September 30, 2020, the time period is extended until December 30, 2020 unless a later recall date was provided in a written notice at the time of the layoff.

These changes, which came into effect on June 22, 2020, do not apply to employees who are covered by a collective agreement that contains recall rights.  Learn More.


Work-Sharing Program
The Government of Canada is extending the maximum duration of the Work-Sharing program from 38 weeks to 76 weeks. The Work-Sharing program is offered to workers who agree to reduce their normal working hours because of developments beyond the control of their employers. Learn More

 

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) – Application is now open
The Government of Canada announced an up to 75 per cent wage subsidy for qualifying businesses, for up to 3 months, retroactive to March 15, 2020. This will help businesses to keep and return workers to the payroll.  The subsidy will apply at a rate of 75 per cent of the first $58,700 normally earned by employees – representing a benefit of up to $847 per week. The program would be in place for a 12-week period, from March 15 to June 6, 2020.

  • Eligible employers will need to have suffered a drop in gross revenues of at least 15% in March and 30% in the following months when compared to the same months in 2019, or to an average of their revenue earned in January and February 2020.
  • Eligible employers would include employers of all sizes and across all sectors of the economy, with the exception of public sector entities.
  • To recognize that different types of organizations are experiencing different types of funding pressures, it is proposed that charities and non-profit organizations be allowed to choose to include or exclude government funding in their revenues for the purpose of applying the revenue reduction test.
  • For non-profit organizations and registered charities similarly affected by a loss of revenue, the government will continue to work with the sector to ensure the definition of revenue is appropriate to their circumstances. The government is also considering additional support for non-profits and charities, particularly those involved in the front line response to COVID-19. Further details will be announced in the near term.
  • An eligible employer’s entitlement to this wage subsidy will be based entirely on the salary or wages actually paid to employees. All employers would be expected to at least make best efforts to top up salaries to 100% of the maximum wages covered.
  • In recognition that the time between when revenue is earned and when it is paid could be highly variable in certain sectors of the economy, it is proposed that employers be allowed to measure revenues either on the basis of accrual accounting (as they are earned) or cash accounting (as they are received). Special rules would also be provided to address issues for corporate groups, non-arm’s length entities and joint ventures.

 

Grant Thornton recently released a summary with valuable information for employers on the CEWS that provides an in-depth analysis of how the program will benefit your organization. Learn More

 

Applications opened on Monday, April 27 for the CEWS. In order to apply, you will need to first use the CEWS Calculator that is now online. There is no limit on the total subsidy amount that an eligible employer may claim. Click here to get started.  Before you calculate your subsidy, make sure you are eligible to apply.

 

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Guide
If you’ve been considering applying for the Wage Subsidy, you’ll find this Guide a helpful document full of hyperlinks to assist you in the process. This important economic measure provides up to $847 per employee per week, to eligible employers, for up to 12 weeks, preventing further job losses and encouraging employers to re-hire workers previously laid off as a result of COVID-19, retroactive to March 15, 2020.

 

Those organizations that do not qualify for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy may continue to qualify for the previously announced wage subsidy of 10 per cent of remuneration paid from March 18 to before June 20, up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer.

 

COVID 19 Worker Emergency Bridge – for workers ($20 million)
The Worker Emergency Bridge will help people who are no longer working and need help as soon as possible. Nova Scotians laid off or out of work on or after March 16 due to COVID-19, who earn between $5,000 and $34,000, and are ineligible for Employment Insurance, are eligible for a one-time, $1,000 payment to help them meet their basic needs. Eligibility for the program is not affected by a person or business being enrolled in another provincial program or the federal initiatives. For example, this can be combined with the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).  Eligibility for the program is not affected by a person or business being enrolled in another provincial program or the federal initiatives. For example, this can be combined with the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).    Learn More

 

Records of Employment
If your employees are directly affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) and they are no longer working, you must issue a Record of Employment (ROE). You can order these forms through ROE Web.

  • When the employee is sick or quarantined, use code D (Illness or injury) as the reason for separation (block 16). Do not add comments.
  • When the employee is no longer working due to a shortage of work because the business has closed or decreased operations due to coronavirus (COVID-19), use code A (Shortage of work). Do not add comments.
  • When the employee refuses to come to work but is not sick or quarantined, use code E (Quit) or code N (Leave of absence), as appropriate. Avoid adding comments unless absolutely necessary and get advice prior to issuing a code E or N in the current situation, as there could be legal or negative consequences for the employer if used inappropriately.

 


Managing Financial Health in Challenging Times
We know that financial stressors have a tremendous impact on mental health. Families may be experiencing anxieties around finances, from how to maintain your lifestyle during this pandemic to first-hand hardship through loss of an income. Whatever the source, financial emergencies can be stressful and cause considerable hardship for you and your family. If you or someone in your circle is experiencing hardships, consider consulting this resource from the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada: COVID-19 – Managing financial health in challenging times

 

 


ACCESS TO CREDIT / CASH

Small Business Reopening and Support Grant
The new grant available to small businesses and businesses ordered closed will now open on June 8th. The provincial government’s $25 million fund will provide grants of up to $5,000 to help your business open safely and business continuity vouchers for advice and support to become more resilient in the coming months. If you have already received the Small Business Impact Grant a month ago, you will already be qualified and will receive an email yesterday or today to get set up and receive the grant. If you didn’t receive the Small Business Impact Grant, you will need to apply for this new program if you qualify on June 8th. I would encourage you to apply early, since there will likely only be room for about 3,000 companies over and above the previous recipients. Learn More

 

Tourism Digital Assistance Program 

Tourism Nova Scotia in partnership with Digital NS will provide eligible tourism businesses with the services of qualified digital consultants to enhance or develop effective digital marketing and e-commerce tools. The program will:

–        Cover the full cost of consultant services (up to a maximum of $5,000).
–        Help eligible tourism businesses increase their visibility online and provide the services customers expect, like online booking
–        Digital Nova Scotia will pair selected businesses with consultants who have expertise in the tactics they require such as website creation, search engine optimization, content creation, digital marketing strategy, social media strategy, online booking systems, and e-commerce tools.

 

Eligibility:
–       The program is open to Nova Scotia tourism businesses that are listed on NovaScotia.com and are currently open or plan to open for the 2020 tourism season.
–       Businesses must demonstrate a need to update a component of their online presence and that they are able to implement the identified goals and outcomes in 2020-2021. Businesses and organizations must have been in operation for at least one year and be in good standing with the provincial  Registry of Joint Stock Companies
–      Priority will be given to small and medium sized businesses whose primary focus is attracting and servicing visitors
–      Applications must be submitted by Wednesday, July 8 at 4pm

More Information here

 

Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF)
The Government of Canada has announced additional relief for businesses who have either unsuccessfully applied for COVID-19 programs or who have successfully done so but continue to face hardship. They have created the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund to address gaps left by other support measures. $110 million is being allocated to support affected Atlantic Canadian businesses and communities. The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and the Atlantic Association of Community Business Development Corporations (CBDCs) will be distributing the RRRF in Atlantic Canada. Businesses in sectors that are critical to the resilience and survival of Atlantic Canada’s economy, such as advanced manufacturing, ocean industries, clean growth technology, and tourism, may be given priority. You can apply by speaking to an ACOA program officer to ensure the RRRF meets your needs and fill out the RRRF application form online. Learn More

 

COVID-19 Small Business Credit and Support Program
Eligible small businesses can get a loan of up to $25,000 through participating provincial credit unions. The loan application will be available from 29 April to 30 June 2020. If approved for the loan, businesses will also be eligible for a one-time grant of up to $1,500 and a business continuity voucher of up to $1,500. The voucher supports businesses in accessing professional advice and support to help adapt to, or recover from, the impacts of COVID-19. To be eligible under the COVID19 Response Stream, a borrower must meet the following criteria.

  • The Borrower’s wages and salaries paid in the 2019 calendar year was less than $20,000, or if a new business, is projected to pay less that $20,000 in 2020. The calculation of total wages and salaries does not include dividends paid to business owners.
  • Has not received a loan through the Canada Emergency Business Account program.
  • Experienced a decline in revenue of at least 15% in March 2020 or at least 30% in April, May or June 2020 for the same period in the 2019 or, if a new business, is projected to lose revenue in the month of application.
  • Business established before March 1, 2020.
  • Be a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, co-operatives, society, social enterprise, not for profit, charity in business, and other similar organizations. Online applications can be found here: www.honestmoney.ca/nsbusinessrelief

 

As part of the package of supports for small businesses, the province is working with post-secondary education partners to deliver education, training and guidance to small businesses. A centralized hub hosted by the Nova Scotia Community College will connect businesses to support programs available from post-secondary institutions and other regional organizations which is accessible at business@nscc.ca or through www.nscc.ca/businesssupport.

 

Business Opportunity! The voucher associated with this program can be accessed by businesses/non-profits once they’re approved for the loan. The business can select a consultant of their choice to assist with the challenges they’re facing. NSBI is assembling a consultant directory to assist businesses in making these connections. Consulting companies wishing to be placed in the directory can email consultantdirectory@nsbi.ca. Learn More.

 

 

Canada Emergency Business Account
The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) will provide interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits, to help cover their operating costs during a period where their revenues have been temporarily reduced. To qualify, these organizations will need to demonstrate they paid between $20,000 to $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019. Business owners can apply for support from the Canada Emergency Business Account through their banks and credit unions.

The program has been expanded and is now available to a greater number of businesses that are sole proprietors receiving income directly from their businesses, businesses that rely on contractors, and family-owned corporations that pay employees through dividends rather than payroll.  To qualify under the expanded eligibility criteria, applicants with payroll lower than $20,000 would need:

  • a business operating account at a participating financial institution
  • a Canada Revenue Agency business number, and to have filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return.
  • eligible non-deferrable expenses between $40,000 and $1.5 million. Eligible non-deferrable expenses could include costs such as rent, property taxes, utilities, and insurance.

 

As of June 19, 2020, the program was further expanded to include owner-operated small businesses that had been ineligible for the program due to their lack of payroll, sole proprietors receiving business income directly, as well as family-owned corporations remunerating in the form of dividends rather than payroll will become eligible this week.

 

Business Credit Availability Program

On May 11 the Federal Government expanded the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) to mid-sized companies with larger financing needs. Support for mid-market businesses will include loans of up to $60 million per company, and guarantees of up to $80 million.

The Government of Canada established a Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) to provide $65 billion of additional support through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC). BDC and EDC are working with private sector lenders to coordinate on credit solutions for individual businesses, including in sectors such as oil and gas, air transportation, exportation and tourism.  This program includes:

  • Co-Lending Program for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises – The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) is working with financial institutions to co-lend term loans to small businesses for their operational cash flow requirements. Eligible businesses can obtain incremental credit amounts of up to $6.25 million through the program at a commercial interest rate with a 10-year repayment period. Like the one above, this program will roll out in mid-April, and interested businesses should reach out to their current financial institutions to get ready to apply.
  • Loan Guarantee for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises – Similar to the BDC, Export Development Canada is also working with financial institutions to issue new operating credit and cash flow term loans of up to $6.25 million to SMEs.

 

These programs will roll out in mid-April, and interested businesses should reach out to their current financial institutions to get ready to apply.  Learn More about the BCAP.

 

Support for Women Entrepreneurs

On Saturday, Minister Ng announced that the Government of Canada will provide $15 million in additional funding to support women entrepreneurs through the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES). This money will go directly to select organizations that are currently WES Ecosystem Fund recipients and will help women entrepreneurs through the COVID-19 pandemic. This investment is designed to help thousands of women entrepreneurs and business owners navigate this crisis, ensuring they can access the support they need through things like business workshops, mentorship and skills training to adapt to a digital marketplace.

 

Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations

The COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations is now available. The Emergency Support Fund will provide additional temporary relief to support cultural, heritage and sport organizations and help them plan for the future. The Fund will help maintain jobs and support business continuity for organizations whose viability has been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Up to $326.8 million to be distributed by Canadian Heritage, of which:

  • $198.3 million will be provided to the beneficiaries of arts and culture funding through existing programs as well as other organizations with demonstrated needs;
    • $72 million will be provided to the sport sector;
    • $53 million will be provided to the heritage sector through the emergency component of the Museums Assistance Program; and,
    • $3.5 million will be provided for COVID-related projects under the Digital Citizen Initiative.
  • $55 million to be distributed by the Canada Council for the Arts to help arts organizations that support artists.
  • $115.8 million to support the Canadian audiovisual sector, to be distributed by the Canada Media Fund ($88.8 million) and Telefilm Canada ($27 million).

 

The use of the remaining funds will be assessed based on needs. Learn More

 

Nova Scotia Business Inc Small Business Development Program

NSBI has updated the Small Business Development Program to serve Nova Scotia businesses better. The program helps businesses work with a private consultant to overcome a pain point or barrier, or a business expert to help identify and develop the leadership skills needed to scale your company.  Learn More

 

Increasing Credit Available to Farmers

The Government of Canada is supporting Farm Credit Canada by allowing an additional $5 billion in lending capacity to producers, agribusinesses, and food processors. This will offer increased flexibility to farmers who face cashflow issues and to processors who are impacted by lost sales, helping them remain financially strong during this difficult time. Learn More

 

Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF)

Establish a Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF) to provide bridge financing to Canada’s largest employers, whose needs during the pandemic are not being met through conventional financing, in order to keep their operations going. The objective of this support is to help protect Canadian jobs, help Canadian businesses weather the current economic downturn, and avoid bankruptcies of otherwise viable firms where possible. This support will not be used to resolve insolvencies or restructure firms, nor will it provide financing to companies that otherwise have the capacity to manage through the crisis. The additional liquidity provided through LEEFF will allow Canada’s largest businesses and their suppliers to remain active during this difficult time, and position them for a rapid economic recovery.

Use key guiding principles in providing support through the LEEFF, including:

  • Protection of taxpayers and workers: Companies seeking support must demonstrate how they intend to preserve employment and maintain investment activities. Recipients will need to commit to respect collective bargaining agreements and protect workers’ pensions. The LEEFF program will require strict limits to dividends, share buy-backs, and executive pay. In considering a company’s eligibility to assistance under the LEEFF program, an assessment may be made of its employment, tax, and economic activity in Canada, as well as its international organizational structure and financing arrangements. The program will not be available to companies that have been convicted of tax evasion. In addition, recipient companies would be required to commit to publish annual climate-related disclosure reports consistent with the Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, including how their future operations will support environmental sustainability and national climate goals.
  • Fairness: To ensure support across the Canadian economy, the financing is intended to be applicable to all eligible sectors in a consistent manner.
  • Timeliness: To ensure timely support, the LEEFF program will apply a standard set of economic terms and conditions.

 

CANADIAN SEAFOOD STABILIZATION FUND
The $62.5 million fund provides support for fish and seafood processors who incurred COVID-19 related expenses after March 15, 2020.

The fund will help cover the costs of:

  • increased storage capacity
  • plant operations to invest in new equipment, materials or services to protect workers, adapt plant operations, products or packaging, increase efficiency and productivity
  • market responsiveness to meet new market demands, respond to new consumer needs, find new markets, deliver to new markets.

The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) will accept applications from indigenous and non-indigenous fish, seafood and aquaculture processors wishing to access the fund as of June 22, 2020. ACOA will be delivering a total of $38.1 million in funding from Fisheries and Oceans Canada. More information on the fund and how to apply can be found here.

 

Small Business COVID 19 Impact/Sustainability Grant – for employers ($20 million)
UPDATE: The Small Business Impact Grant closed to applications Saturday, April 25. Assessments continue on the applications received by deadline, and applicants will be notified of results this week. 

Small businesses are highly valued in Nova Scotia. Their recovery from interruptions caused by Covid-19 is important for our economy and our communities. Small businesses ordered to close or with operations substantially curtailed by the Public Health orders can access support through the new Small Business Sustainability Grant. This flexible, onetime, upfront grant can be used by the business owner as they determine, for their business to weather this unprecedented period. Eligible small business can receive a grant of up to 15 per cent of their revenue from sales for either February 2020 or April 2019, at the option of the business owner, to a maximum of $5,000 per enterprise. Click here for Eligibility Criteria.  The COVID-19 Small Business Impact Grant can be combined with all other federal and provincial support for small business.


PAYMENT, RENT, AND TAX RELIEF

 

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) Portal 
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) is administering the CECRA program on behalf of the Government of Canada and the provinces and territories. The application portal for the federal/provincial rent deferral program will open on Monday, May 25. CMHC now has a portal online for the program; applications are now available on the CMHC portal.

 

Rent Deferral Agreement – Deadline Extended
The Provincial Government is encouraging landlords to defer rent for their tenants. If you’re deferring rent because your tenant’s business is closed due to the Health Protection Act order, you could be eligible for coverage (up to a maximum of $50,000 per landlord and $15,000 per tenant) if you can’t recover the deferred rent. To be eligible for the COVID-19 Small Business Rental Deferral Guarantee Program, landlords must register with the Department of Business by emailing NSRentDeferral@novascotia.ca. The rent deferral agreement deadline has been extended from April 1 to June 26, and must be registered with the Department of Business. The Department of Business also provided a template to help set up the agreement. Learn More

 

Deferring the Payment of Business Income Taxes
The Government of Canada is allowing all businesses to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after March 18 and before September 2020. This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as instalments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period. Learn More

 

Deferral of Sales Tax Remittance and Customs Duty Payments
The Government of Canada will allow businesses, including self-employed individuals, to defer until June 30, 2020 payments of the Goods and Services Tax / Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST), as well as customs duties owing on their imports. The deferral will apply to GST/HST remittances for the February, March and April 2020 reporting periods for monthly filers; the January 1, 2020 through March 31, 2020 reporting period for quarterly filers; and for annual filers, the amounts collected and owing for their previous fiscal year and instalments of GST/HST in respect of the filer’s current fiscal year.

 

Changes to Payments to the Province
The Provincial Government will defer payments until June 30 for all government loans, including those under the Farm Loan Board, Fisheries and Aquaculture Loan Board, Jobs Fund, Nova Scotia Business Fund, Municipal Finance Corp. and Housing Nova Scotia.

  • Government will defer payments until June 30 for small business renewal fees, including business registration renewal fees and workers compensation premiums (a list of fees will be posted online early next week).
  • Changes to the Small Business Loan Guarantee Program, administered through credit unions, include deferring principal and interest payments until June 30, enhancing the program to make it easier for businesses to access credit up to $500,000, and for those who might not qualify for a loan, government will guarantee the first $100,000.
  • Small businesses which do business with the government will be paid within five days instead of the standard 30 days.

 

Changes to the Registry of Joint Stocks
All Registry of Joint Stock Company (RJSC) renewals due in March, April and May 2020 have been extended to June 30, 2020. Name reservations, sole proprietorship and partnership registrations and annual renewals can be completed online. Counter service is not available at this time. The Business Registration Unit, located on 6 North in the Maritime Centre, 1505 Barrington Street, Halifax, will have a dropbox in the building lobby for deliveries of documents for processing. Drop boxes are in place at Access Nova Scotia Centre locations in Yarmouth, Kentville, Bridgewater, Dartmouth, Amherst, Stellarton and Sydney to receive RJSC deliveries and will be delivered to the Maritime Centre for processing.

 

During this period, scanned copies of originally signed documents or digitally signed documents where the digital signature information is clearly readable when the document is printed, will be accepted. These scanned or digitally signed documents may be submitted via email to RJSC@novascotia.ca.

 

Emails containing a credit card number is automatically blocked for security reasons. Please provide a phone number of a contact person from whom to obtain the relevant credit card information to complete payment. Contact the RJSC directly at 902-424-7770 or 1-800-225-8227 with any questions.

 

Nova Scotia Power Providing Options & Payment Relief
In an email to customers, NS Power President & CEO Wayne O’Connor issued the following statement:  “We’ve been listening to you. We understand that many of you are concerned about the future, about employment insecurity and your ability to pay your bills. The last thing we want you to worry about is going without power during this tough time. We are here to help. For at least the next 90 days, we will not be disconnecting customers for nonpayment. We’re also committed to being flexible, relaxing payment timelines, waiving penalties and fees on unpaid bills, and providing options for residential and small business customers. If you’re struggling to pay your bill, our Customer Care team is ready to listen and work with you, so you can stay as current as possible with your payments. We also encourage those that can, to stay up to date with their payments. Not only will this avoid building up a balance, but it will help us support those who are most in need of financial assistance.”

 

Also announced was a further donation of $500,000 to support customers through the HEAT Fund. The Home Energy Assistance Top-up (HEAT Fund) is available annually to individuals and families in Nova Scotia who live on a low income to help pay their energy bill. Customers can learn more about the program at nspower.ca/heatfund.

 


CYBERSECURITY

 

Texting Scams
The Prime Minister warned Canadians about a text scam going around on the new emergency response benefit. Trudeau said Canadians should be looking at reliable sources for information on the pandemic and relief efforts, such as government websites. Learn more 

 

Free Intro to Cyber Security Course
The Strait Area Chamber of Commerce has partnered with the NSCC and Cisco Systems to provide FREE access to our Chamber Members to a series of online NetAcad™ Courses! There is no previous knowledge required, and no requirement or time limit to complete the course once you start. You can learn at your own pace and in the comfort of your own space!  The Intro to Cyber Security course explores cyber trends, threats and staying safe in cyberspace, and protecting personal and company data.  Learn More

 

Canadian Chamber and CIRA Cybersecurity Program
Canadians Should Be Vigilant for Scams Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic – As part of the Canadian Chamber’s Essential Business Services, they launched a cybersecurity program with CIRA, the non-profit that runs the .CA web domain. With more people working from home and many businesses switching to online operations, it is more important than ever that we remain vigilant for email phishing scams and other malicious cyber attacks. Learn more