Weekly Digest – 16 June 2021

Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. Read on for the latest updates and some ideas to help us all move forward.

Canada, US in Talks on Lifting Border Restrictions

Canadian and US officials met on Tuesday to discuss how to lift border restrictions between the two countries, but no immediate action is expected. The ban on non-essential travel was imposed in March 2020 and has been extended on a monthly basis since.

Current restrictions are set to expire on 21 June, but US and industry officials expect that it will be extended again. As vaccination rates increase and COVID-19 cases continue to decline, further details on a phased approach to reopening the international borders of Canada are expected in the next weeks.

Latest Numbers on COVID-19 Vaccinations

As of 4:00 a.m. ET on 15 June (Tuesday), the provinces are reporting 446,458 new vaccinations for a total of 29,454,614 doses administered. A total of 4,910,084 people or 13% of the population has been fully vaccinated nationwide.

CREA: Canadian Home Sales Fell 7.4% in May But Likely to Hit Record for 2021

Home sales across Canada are starting to decline from its record highs, but the total number of transactions for 2021 is expected to set a new record, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.

The 56,156 sales for the month of May represented a 7.4% decline from April’s 60,638 sales. Although this figure was a significant decline compared to the same period last year, CREA expects sales to recover towards the latter half of 2021 and into 2022.

The association forecasts a 23.8% increase in transactions in 2021 compared to last year.

$22.2 Million Government Investment in Municipal Infrastructure for Eastern Ontario

The governments of Canada and Ontario are injecting over $22.2 million to safeguard the health and well-being of residents throughout eastern Ontario.

The investment will be used to support upgrades to improve important municipal buildings such as town centres and healthcare facilities. Recreational and community infrastructure will also be rehabilitated, and local trail and pedestrian path systems will be improved.

Atlantic Provinces Outlining Plans to Resume Travel Bubble

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey announced that travellers from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island will be allowed entry without self-isolation or getting tested for COVID-19. This decision comes as cases have remained low in the province, while vaccination rates are increasing steadily.

Nova Scotia is also allowing visitors from other Atlantic provinces without the 14-day isolation period amid its high vaccination rates and low hospitalizations. Meanwhile, Prince Edward Island will allow people from other Atlantic provinces to enter without self-isolating starting 23 June, provided they have obtained a P.E.I. Pass.

This will provide proof of residency and of at least a single dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine. However, unvaccinated travellers will have to complete a shortened self-isolation period.

As for New Brunswick, it will only reopen to residents of Nova Scotia’s Cumberland County without self-isolation for now. The rest of Nova Scotia will not be allowed to enter without self-isolating until at least 1 July.

Skilled Trades Training

The government of Canada 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.

Government Encourages Businesses to Apply for Free Rapid Testing

The government is encouraging businesses and organisations to apply for free rapid tests for workplace screening projects. Rapid tests will be available to employers through:

  • Shoppers Drug Mart locations in COVID-19 hot spots in Ontario for small- and medium-sized enterprises;
  • The Canadian Chamber of Commerce will enable local chambers to distribute rapid tests to smaller organizations, based on the successful StaySafe Rapid Testing Program in Waterloo Region;
  • Non-profit, charitable and Indigenous community organizations can pre-register now to access rapid tests through the Canadian Red Cross;
  • Since April, larger organizations with close-contact employees have been able to request rapid tests directly through a new federal portal; and
  • More federal workplaces where workers are at higher risk of exposure to COVID-19 can launch workplace screening programs using rapid tests.

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.

Government Extends Access to COVID-19 Benefits

Legislation enacted in March 2021 extends and expands the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB), the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) and Employment Insurance (EI) regular benefits.

The amendments include:

  • Extension of the maximum duration of CRB and the CRCB to 38 weeks (from 26 weeks)
  • Extension of the CRSB to four weeks (from two weeks)
  • Extension of the EI regular benefits so they’re available to a maximum of 50 weeks (from 26 weeks) for claims that are made between 27 September 2020 and 25 September 2021.

Self-employed individuals who have opted into the EI program will now be able to use a 2020 earnings threshold of $5,000 (previously $7,555). This change is retroactive for claims as of 3 January 2021 and applies until 25 September 2021.

More information can be found here.

HASCAP Loan Applications Now Open

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.

Canada Emergency Business Account Deadline Extended

Eligible businesses facing financial difficulties due to COVID-19 can access a second CEBA loan of up to $60,000 with up to $20,000 of that being forgivable.

CEBA has two streams of eligibility: the Payroll stream and the Non-Deferrable Expense stream. If you previously received a loan of up to $40,000, you can apply for the CEBA expansion to increase your loan by an additional $20,000 ($10,000 of which is forgivable if repaid before Dec 31, 2022).

Applications for CEBA have been extended to June 30, 2021. More information can be found here. Alternatively, if you have any questions or require assistance, simply drop us a message.

Government Support for Businesses

The federal government continues to enact measures to mitigate the financial impact of the pandemic. Here is an overview of the assistance you may be able to take advantage of:

Wage Subsidies

  • The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) is intended to help businesses cover a portion of wages and keep employees on payroll. It continues until June 2021.
  • The work-sharing program allows employees whose hours got reduced by an average of 10% to 60% to claim employment insurance for lost wages. This has been extended to 76 weeks from 38.

Rent Relief

  • The Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy provides rent and mortgage assistance until June 2021. Businesses can make claims retroactively for the period of Sept. 27 to Oct. 24, 2020.

Business Loans

  • The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) offers government-guaranteed bank loans of up to $40,000 for small businesses. The deadline for the application has been extended to March 31, 2021.
  • For mid-sized companies, the Business Development Bank of Canada’s mid-market financing program provides commercial loans between $12.5 million and $60 million.

Eight Key Signs You Need To Hire Additional Support Staff

How do you work out when it’s time to bring on new team members? For busy business owners and those that are new to the game, it may not always be clear when it’s time to move beyond your core employees and get additional help.

In this Forbes article, a panel of Young Entrepreneur Council members share eight telling signs that you need more support staff. Below is an overview of the indicators you should look out for:

  • Your team hesitates to use time off
  • Employees complain of being too busy
  • Staff are behind on key responsibilities
  • KPIs and success rates begin to fall
  • Managers and employees lose focus
  • Overtime and errors spike
  • Customer service tickets pile up
  • Customers complain more frequently

Do you manage your own books? It’s best to focus on your core responsibilities as a business owner and get expert help for the financial side of your business. Book a consultation with us and let’s discuss how we can make your life easier.

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