Weekly Digest – 26 May 2021

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

Canada’s Daily COVID-19 Cases Down Over 70% From April

COVID-19 cases are continuing to decline from their third wave peak. On Tuesday, there were only 2,506 new infections across the country, marking a 72% drop from the all-time high of 9,564 new cases reported on 15 April.

However, there were new surges and clusters in Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador.

For most other provinces, officials are becoming more open to discussing reopening plans. British Columbia unveiled a four-stage reopening plan this week, while Quebec is lifting all curfews in the province on Friday.

Beginning Sunday in Saskatchewan, gathering sizes will increase, restaurants and bars can open with limited capacity, and group fitness classes can resume. Albertans will be learning more about the reopening strategy soon, as cases have declined from their peak earlier this month.

This is good news for all of us but also a reminder to stay vigilant. Please get in touch with us if you are struggling in your business.

Percentage of People With One COVID-19 Jab Now Higher Than US

Nearly 49% of Canadians have received their first dose as of last Friday, while in the US, the CDC reported that 48.2% have had their first shot. Canada now ranks fifth in the world for share of the population with at least one COVID-19 jab.

The Canada-U.S. border will remain closed to non-essential travel for at least another month, but formal discussions regarding the reopening have started.

Mortgage Qualification Rules Tightened

Canadian officials have tightened mortgage qualification rules after the central bank issued a warning against buyers who are taking on too much debt.

Borrowers of both uninsured and insured mortgages must show that they can afford loans that are the higher of their current rate plus 200 basis points, or 5.25%.

This replaces the previous benchmark that used banks’ advertised rate, which is currently at 4.79%, to determine the minimum qualifying rate. Canada’s home sales and prices surged in recent months, as demand outweighed supply.

Do you want expert guidance on these new mortgage rules or want to discuss your cash flow? Get in touch to find a time to chat with us.

Assistance for Manitoba COVID-19 Response

Statistics Canada is providing an additional 50 interviewers to Manitoba for a total of up to 120 employees, to help trace people who’ve been in contact with people who tested positive for COVID-19. The Canadian Armed Forces will also continue to support vaccine rollout in up to 23 on-reserve indigenous communities in the province until the end of June.

Training to Help Canadians in Woodbridge, Ontario Become Certified in Skilled Trades

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.

Project Management Tips to Help You Achieve Your Goals

Planning your path towards your goals is one thing, but staying on course can be a different challenge. In this Forbes article, you’ll learn some tips to help you hit your targets. Here’s an overview of the key points:

Visualise the work needed to achieve your goal.

  • Write down the steps that are necessary to achieve your goals.
  • Write down all your other work tasks and engagements.
  • Keep a to-do list for responsibilities at home, and discuss family plans for the week.

Sort the work and optimise your schedule around known constraints.

  • Start with time-sensitive tasks that have fixed deadlines.
  • Block off your calendar for a couple of segments each day.
  • Split your tasks into two lists.

Stick to the plan.

  • Start your day by determining the tasks you’ll work on, write them down on sticky notes, and post them somewhere that’s easily visible to you.
  • Celebrate accomplished tasks, and take note of unplanned tasks.
  • Summarise your work for the day.

Need expert help on project management? Book a one-on-one consultation with us!

Get in touch

Contact us if you have any questions or want to discuss the next steps for your business.