Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. We hope you and your family are safe and doing well. Read on for this week’s update.
International Border Closure, Mandatory Quarantine Order Extended
Canada is extending its global travel ban and mandatory quarantine measures that require people arriving in the country to self-isolate for 14 days. The mandatory quarantine order will last until at least August 31, while the travel ban for most travelers is extended to at least July 31. Meanwhile, travel by U.S. citizens is covered under a separate agreement, which was extended to keep the border closed to all non-essential travel until at least July 21.
Besides these border control measures, Canada is also set to launch a new COVID-19 contact tracing app as a response to the pandemic. Shopify and Blackberry have been working with local governments to develop a new app called COVID Alert which will use Bluetooth connections to swap randomly-generated codes with users in a geographic vicinity.
Those who have tested positive for the coronavirus self-report their status within the app using an eight-digit number from health officials to verify their positive result. The app will then alert people who came into contact with them. The new app is expected to be launched this month in Ontario, and then rolled out nationally.
Canada Launches Digitally-Connected Business Registration Access
On June 30, Canada launched the Multi-jurisdictional Registry Access Service (MRAS), which connects 14 business registries across Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia. By consolidating the business registries, the government hopes to reduce the registration complexity and cost for businesses.
Recently, the Ontario government has also partnered with the federal government to help businesses reach more customers with a $57 million investment in Digital Main Street, which will help up to 22,900 businesses in Ontario improve their online presence.
A part of this program is the Digital Main Street Grant, where a $2500 grant will be administered by the Ontario BIA Association for small businesses to adopt new technologies and embrace digital marketing. This is definitely a good opportunity for you to improve your profitability in these challenging times! You can read more here or drop us an email if you need assistance in taking advantage of this new grant.
Growth During a Recession
The battle against COVID-19 has no doubt had an impact on global financial markets. As a result, consumers are tightening their belts, and general demand is falling. These signs indicate that the next economic downturn may just be right around the corner.
Throughout history, we have seen that recessions can be brutal especially for small businesses. However, it is possible to grow a stronger business during a recession, and we’re here to help. In this Harvard Business Review article, they list four steps to capitalise on the problems encountered by your rivals during tough economic conditions. These are:
- Invest heavily in research and development.
- Spend some time learning about the customers of your weakest competitors.
- Identify your most critical suppliers and distributors.
- Think carefully about your talent needs – now could be a good time to hire!.
If you want to talk about your specific situation, please get in touch with us and we’ll help you work out a strategic plan to build a successful future-proof business.
Assistance for Businesses
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce and Salesforce announced on June 29 that 62 businesses across the country have received the $10,000-grant from the Canadian Business Resilience Network Small Business Relief Fund.
Aside from this grant, the Government of Canada has launched loan programs for small- and medium-sized businesses to gain easier access to the capital they need to see them through the COVID-19 situation. These financial assistance schemes include:
Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)
The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) provides interest-free loans of up to $40,000 for small businesses and not-for-profits. The eligibility criteria now includes “many owner-operated small businesses”. Businesses with payrolls less than $20,000 are now eligible to apply. We can help you assess if you meet the requirements for these loans.
Business Credit Availability Program Guarantee
Export Development Canada will guarantee new operating credit and cash flow term loans to small- and medium-sized businesses, up to $6.25 million, under the Business Credit Availability Program Guarantee. This financial support is available until or before 30 September 2020.
The Co-lending Program will bring Business Development Bank of Canada together with other financial institutions to co-lend term loans to small- and medium-sized businesses to provide additional liquidity and help them meet their operational cash flow requirements.
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy
The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) scheme provides eligible employers a subsidy of 75% of employee wages for up to 24 weeks. This has recently been extended to August 29 and changes have been made to extend the eligibility of the program to include organizations, such as partnerships and educational and training institutions. As of June 8, only $10.5 billion in wage subsidies have been paid, out of the total budget of $45 billion. So if you haven’t applied for the CEWS yet, now is the best time to do so. Additional details on the CEWS can be found here, but feel free to chat with us for any clarifications or questions you may have.
Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance
The Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program provides relief for small businesses experiencing financial difficulties due to COVID-19 by offering unsecured, forgivable loans to eligible commercial property owners to reduce the rent owed by their impacted small business tenants. Property owners must offer a minimum of 75% rent reduction for the months of April, May, and June 2020. More information for property owners and tenants can be found here.
If you are unsure which programs are best for your business, don’t hesitate to contact us and we will help you assess based on your current financial situation and business needs.
Have you got a plan for recovery and future business success? Contact us if you have any questions or want to discuss your next steps for your business.