Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. Read on for the latest updates and some ideas to help us all move forward.
New Travel Changes
Following the discovery of the Omicron variant, new travel restrictions have been introduced.
The federal government banned entry to foreign travellers who have been to Nigeria, Malawi and Egypt in the last two weeks– adding to the list of countries facing travel bans that were first announced on 26 November.
Canadians and permanent residents who have travelled through any of the listed countries in the past two weeks will be allowed to return, but must be tested at the airport and would have to quarantine while awaiting test results. Testing will be mandatory even to those who are fully vaccinated.
Anyone coming into Canada from a country aside from the US would also have to be tested on arrival and must isolate while waiting for the result.
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.
Canada Adds 154,000 Jobs in November
The economy recorded an unexpectedly large job gain in November, as it added a net 153,700 jobs. This is well above the expectations of a 35,000 increase. The unemployment rate also dropped to 6%, beating a consensus estimate of 6.6% and edging closer to the 5.7% jobless rate in February 2020.
Employment increased in both the services and goods-producing sector, and gains were fairly evenly split between full-time and part-time work.
Support for Pork Producers
Agriculture and Agri-food Canada has announced an investment of more than $4.6 million for three projects to grow the pork industry within Canada and in international markets. The investment will also help farmers ensure high levels of safety from threats of African swine fever.
SAP Canada study: Digital Transformation Will be Most Valuable Business Investment for 2022
According to a new SAP Canada study conducted in partnership with IDC Canada, digital transformation will be the most valuable business investment Canadian companies can make as they enter 2022.
The survey showed a huge increase in enterprises which have fully integrated digital strategies into their core business, with nearly 40% of those surveyed having this integration.
Data also showed 75% of enterprises planned on migrating all or some of their applications and data to the cloud in 2021, and 84% of respondents highlighted that investment into digital technologies met or exceeded their expectations this year.
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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