Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. Read on for the latest updates and some ideas to help us all move forward.
Government Advises Canadians Against Non-Essential Travel
The government is advising Canadians not to travel ahead of the holiday season.
Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said the advisory against international travel is going back in place. It was also announced that the government will continue to increase testing capacity at ports of entry.
Canada previously put increased restrictions on 10 African countries, including Botswana, Egypt, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. Also, all travellers from countries other than the U.S. will need to complete an on-arrival COVID-19 test and quarantine at home until they receive their results. If the test comes back positive, they must isolate for 10 days.
Economic and Fiscal Update Notes Higher Immigration is Part of Recovery Plan
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland presented the Canadian government’s Economic and Fiscal Update in Parliament on 14 December.
In her new address, the Finance Minister noted that immigration is an important driver of economic growth. With this, the government is committed to bringing in 411,000 immigrants in 2022, the highest number in Canadian history.
In order to support this effort and reduce processing time for permanent and temporary resident and citizenship applications, the government is investing $85 million in the immigration system.
According to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), this move will provide some relief for small businesses across the country that are struggling to find workers. A new CFIB report found 55% of small businesses cannot get all the staff they need for current operations or to meet new demand, while another 16% were able to face the challenge, but at a significant additional cost.
Government Investment to Increase Efficiency of Cargo Handling in Lower Mainland
The government is committed to strengthening the country’s trade corridors, which support supply chains, help economic recovery and growth, as well as create good middle-class jobs.
The Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra announced $8.7 million in funding for four new projects under the National Trade Corridors Fund, which will help to improve operational efficiencies at one of Canada’s major export gateways.
Inflation Rate Stays at 18-Year High of 4.7%
Canada’s inflation rate remained at 4.7% in November, matching the annual pace seen the previous month.
The data released by Statistics Canada on Wednesday was in line with economist expectations, tying October’s level, which was the highest inflation rate since 2003. Inflation rates are soaring around the world right now, as record government spending, supply chain disruptions, and a surge in demand for consumer goods has caused prices to increase quickly.
Statistics Canada data shows that while the cost of living has increased by almost 5% in the past year, incomes have only risen by about half that, or 2.8%.
Average Canadian House Price Hit All-Time High in November
The average selling price of a resale home in Canada last month was $720,850, topping the previous high set in March of this year.
The Canadian Real Estate Association said that the volume of sales was strong, too, with sales increasing by 0.6% from the previous month’s level. More than 630,634 homes have been sold on CREA’s MLS system this year, well ahead of the record of 552,423 set in 2020.
Ontario Extends Paid Sick Leave Program Into 2022
Labour Minister Monte McNaughton is extending the pandemic paid sick leave to 31 July. Originally, the provincial program was supposed to wrap up on 31 December. However, with the more contagious Omicron variant, the Labour Minister announced that it would continue.
Shift in COVID-19 Support Programs
Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough says the shift in the government’s COVID-19 support programs from passive ones to those that incentivize work reflects Canada’s success in fighting the pandemic.
The new measures are aimed at replacing the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS). which expired on Saturday.
It was announced last week that the federal government is spending $7.4 billion to extend and create new COVID-19 support schemes for hard-hit businesses and workers that will carry into the spring.
Skilled Trades Training
The government has announced funding of nearly $890,000 for the College of Carpenters and Allied Trades in order to support the implementation of online learning. This investment is intended to help develop a highly qualified skilled trades workforce, and prepare Canadians to fill available jobs as our economy restarts.
Alberta Expands Financial Support Program to SMEs
Alberta is expanding its Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant to include another payment of up to $10,000 for eligible businesses. This marks the third time the $10,000 payment has been made available to Alberta organizations. It will also be available to businesses that started operating between 1 March 2020 and 31 March 2021.
The Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant offers financial assistance to Alberta businesses that experienced at least a 30% decline in revenue because they were ordered to shut down or limit operations due to COVID-19.
HASCAP Loan Applications
Loan applications from the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP) opened February 1.
Loans start at between $25,000 and $1 million for a single business depending on the size of the operation, and run up to $6.25 million for companies with multiple locations like a chain of hotels or restaurants. Interest rates are set at 4% across the board, terms will be up to 10 years, with up to a 12-month postponement of principal payments at the start of the loan.
To be eligible, companies will have to show a year-over-year revenue drop of at least 50% over three months, not necessarily consecutive, in the eight months before the application.
Further details can be found here.
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