2020 -04-23 - COVID-19 Update

Good afternoon, 

Join us in thanking AV Group NB, which announced earlier this week that they are donating $150,000 to local foodbanks (including $50,000 to the Fredericton Foodbank) to assist with the challenges faced in these unprecedented times and the increased need for community support. We are proud to call you a member! 

Pictured:  Sandra Olmstead, Executive Director of the Valley Food Bank and Mike O’Blenis, President and CEO of AV Group NB. 


As we wait for details on how the government plans to rollout reopening the economy, I encourage businesses and organizations to think about how their operations might have to be altered to accommodate some of the public health and safety measures that are currently in place. As a starting point, the federal government has published a series of brief sector-specific tip sheets that you may wish to consider. 


Federal Update 

  • Yesterday, the federal government announced a series of programs directed toward students and recent graduates, including the newly proposed Canada Emergency Student Benefit. This benefit would provide $1,250 per month for eligible students or $1,750 per month for eligible students with dependents or disabilities – available from May to August 2020. More information can be found here
  • We have received some clarification on eligibility for the federal 75% Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and the 14-day exclusion. For each of the relevant qualifying time periods (March 15 to April 11 is the first), an employer is not eligible to claim the CEWS for an employee for that period if the employee was not remunerated by the employer for 14 consecutive days within that time period. An employee receiving CERB does not affect the employers’ eligibility for the wage subsidy, but if the employee exceeds $1000 earned in a month, they will have to pay back CERB funds received for that period. 
  • We continue to wait for details on the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA), the announced federal government program to provide rent relief for small businesses. It will provide loans, including forgivable loans, to commercial property owners who in turn may lower or forgo the rent of small businesses for the months of April (retroactive), May, and June. The program will require a partnership between the federal government and provincial and territorial governments, which are responsible for property owner-tenant relationships.  
    • At this point, because provincial cooperation and resources are required, the program is not assured for New Brunswick. I encourage members to contact their MLA to communicate the importance of a rent relief program to New Brunswick businesses. We at the chamber are advocating to the provincial government to work with the federal government so that New Brunswick can have such a program, as rent has been identified by members as one of the biggest current challenges. Currently Manitoba is the only province that has signed a deal with the federal government for the CECRA program, although some provinces have also developed their own programs to support business rent. 


Provincial Update 

  • Earlier this week we wrote to Premier Higgs regarding challenges faced by pharmacists during the pandemic, including issues related to co-pays brought on by the 30-day refill restrictions directive by the NB College of Pharmacists. The letter can be found on our website here. Today, he announced that the Government of New Brunswick was over-riding the College’s directive and instead will create a working group which will identify those drugs which could experience a shortage and put in place a 30-day refill limitation if necessary in order to maintain the supply. 
  • The premier also stated that he would present an economic recovery plan in the coming days. Today’s new release can be found here. Yesterday’s release is here


Municipal Update 

  • In support of downtown businesses that have been offering take-out, pick-up and delivery services during COVID-19, as well as those receiving supplies, and in advance of those businesses that will be gradually reopening when the NB Chief Medical Officer of Health provides a path forward, the City of Fredericton will reinstate parking fees for parking meters, as well as municipal lots and parking garages effective April 27, 2020. More information here



  • Businesses that continue to receive mail but would like Canada Post to start holding their mail can sign up for the service here. The fee will be refunded. Any Hold Mail services purchased online since late March will be refunded. Canada Post is also offering free Mail Forwarding services. Businesses can sign up for it here
  • Thank you to chamber member Darren Crowther of Cooke Insurance for providing this checklist for items that his company suggests should be done if your building is left unoccupied or closed temporarily due to COVID19. If these items are not done there is a possibility that your insurance policy may not respond in the event of a claim. You should contact your commercial property insurance company to verify the requirements of your particular plan.  
  • TIANB is now providing a support line (phone and/or video) for tourism operators and staff during the COVID-19 crisis to help understand the federal and provincial programs available and eligibility. The support also includes understanding the application process as well what you will need to apply. You can call 1-833-50TIANB (1-833-508-4262) between 8:30 am and 6 pm Monday through Friday. 


Mental Health 

  • These last couple of months have been trying on all of us for various reasons and it is normal for our mental health to be affected. I encourage everyone to take time to visit the Canadian Mental Health Association of New Brunswick’s website which has many excellent resources. 
  • Yesterday’s Chambers Plan Webinar, Supporting Mental Health During the Pandemic presented by Arete HR, with Dr. Bill Howatt is now available for viewing online


  • Thank you to our friends at the Fredericton Playhouse for sending out information regarding upcoming online entertainment that we can enjoy when we can’t get out to live performances! Each week, they plan to keep us updated on the latest in online performing arts entertainment, so be sure to sign up for their emails here. There are so many opportunities to enjoy a date night from home, share in a musical experience with your kids or start a watch party with your friends over Zoom! Some upcoming performances include: 


If you haven’t yet checked out the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce’s Open, Operational and/or Offering help business directory, now would be a great time to do so. We have made it more user friendly and continue to ask all local businesses that are open, operational and/or offering help to fill out this brief form to help us populate the page.  And please continue to share, share, share so our community knows the services that are available! The resource now contains more than 400 product and service listings by businesses and organizations and how you can access them – including nearly 20 offering free services to assist you during this time!! 


You are receiving this message because you are on our email list. If you know other individuals or organizations that could benefit from our information, ask them to join our mailing list here. Of course, all daily emails are also available on our website by clicking here we are continuing to share them on our social media vehicles (FacebookTwitterLinkedInInstagram). 

We also still want to hear how the COVID-19 Crisis is affecting your business and any specific ways that the government can support you at this time.  Contact either myself or our Policy & Research Manager, Morgan Peters to share information or ask questions. 

kristar@frederictonchamber.ca / (506) 461-5165 

advocacy@frederictonchamber.ca / (506) 470-5593 


Krista Ross, CEO, Fredericton Chamber of Commerce