Although it was news that was expected by many, it was still sad to officially hear yesterday that the annual Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival and many other great events that our community loves have been cancelled. My heart goes out to all of the staff and volunteers that make Harvest and our other great events happen year-after-year. We’ll all have to come out with strong support next year!
Last week the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce joined a group of nine other economic development-facing organizations and wrote to Premier Higgs with the theme “Reimaging a Better, Stronger New Brunswick – How might we help?” It is important that the business community plays a strong role in moving the province forward to the new normal and these conversations have to start now. The letter on our website can be found here.
The Government of Canada is now accepting applications for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS). Applications can be made through your ‘My Business Account’ or ‘Represent a Client’ (for tax preparers) portals. Alternatively, businesses may apply via the CRA website with their access code. All applications received between now and May 3 will be processed on May 4. A step-by-step guide can be found here.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: Last week we shared that if employees are receiving CERB and falling under the $1000 per month threshold that employers could claim those wages under the wage subsidy program. We subsequently issued an incorrect update on Friday after contact with federal officials who informed us this was not the case. However, yesterday, officials at the Canada Revenue Agency confirmed our original understanding and I am happy to correct our correction – these wages are eligible. Apologies for the confusion. SO, to clarify – if an employee is receiving CERB and still working, but receiving less than $1000 per month – the employer CAN CLAIM the wage subsidy for these wages.
The federal government has also broadened the eligibility rules for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) by allowing self-employed workers to earn $1,000 more than their monthly business expenses, and by expanding the benefit to include those who pay themselves through dividends. The changes were posted to the CERB question and answer portion of the government website late last week without a formal announcement by the federal government.
Section Two of the document contains information specific to “Businesses, Education Institutions, Organizations, and Service Providers.” Of particular note is the requirement to develop an COVID-19 Operational Plan. The key message here is that you’ll need a plan and a good place to start is reviewing this document to help determine what needs to be in your individual plan. As the timeline progresses, government plans to share more sector-specific information. The document reads, in part:
“Your workplace will likely experience operational changes – ‘business as usual’ will not occur at this stage. Operators must develop a COVID-19 Operational Plan outlining how daily operations will be managed to meet the additional measures outlined in this document. Some examples include:
cleaning and disinfecting
hand and respiratory hygiene
pre-screening for symptoms
The plan must explain procedures on how the operator is able to adapt to these requirements. It is the responsibility of each business to ensure they have an Operational Plan in place that outlines how they will manage the safe opening and operation of their business/service/organization.
This plan must follow the recommendations and requirements of Public Health and the business may be asked to share their plan upon request of the proper authorities. Operators are to have their Operational Plan available for Public Health staff to review. This may occur during an unannounced visit or a pre-scheduled visit by a Public Health Inspector, WorkSafe NB or Department of Public Safety.
Facilities that cannot adapt to all of the minimum requirements outlined below should not open at this stage of the Recovery Phase. A sample checklist (see Appendix A) has been developed that will help to guide operators to helpful links and resources (e.g., handwashing posters that may be printed and displayed) as they work through the development of the Management Plan.”
We know that businesses want clear guidance and expectations from government as soon as possible to help facilitate your re-opening and recovery process. We have communicated the importance of this information to government and will share information as it becomes available. Be sure to stay apprised of our educational webinars – we are continuously adding to our upcoming offerings.
Other Provincial Notes:
Today Premier Higgs announced that no Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs) will be allowed to enter the province. TFWs currently in the province are not affected by the order. The updated State of Emergency declaration can be found here.
On Thursday, April 30, Restaurants Canada will host a webinar outlining the current and possible future relief measures, how they may impact your business, and their advocacy efforts so far. For more information and to register, click here.
Planet Hatch is partnering with Venn Innovation to host a Remote Work Webinar Series with Norbert Demps, Venn’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence:
April 29th: Tools, Technology & Solutions for Remote Work
May 6th: Management: Leading Your Team Through Remote Work
May 13th: Productivity & Remote Work
May 20th: Communication While Working Remote
Last week Ignite Fredericton hosted an informative online economic townhall meeting and panel. The recording can be found here.
Ignite Fredericton’s Economic Development Specialist, Andrew Lockhart, has created a new web series titled Locked-In with Lockhart. Join Andrew as he speaks with local businesses on how they have been impacted by COVID-19, how they have adapted operations and how we can support them! You can follow along on Ignite’s YouTube channel.
Good news for those chamber members taking advantage of the Chambers Plan benefit package. In addition to plan design modifications and benefit extensions during temporary employee layoffs, the Plan is announcing a 50% premium reduction adjustment on Dental and a 10% reduction on Extended Health, retroactive to 1 April 2020. There is nothing for you to do, the credits will be applied automatically. They do not represent a rate change; your May bill will show the credits applied for April, as well as the full premium for May. Adjustments deemed applicable for May would be reflected on their June billing, etc.
Shout out to chamber member Caribbean Flavas for launching their “Buy One Give One” offering. When a customer buys a sandwich or a wrap from the COVID-19 section on its website, Caribbean Flavas matches that and delivers the food to essential, frontline workers. The sandwiches and wraps are what’s being offered because they’re easier to eat during busy times. Read the full story in Huddle.
In these challenging times – we all need to take care of our mental health and our stress levels – today, the Province of NB launched a 30-Day Mindfulness Challenge aimed at lowering stress, increasing resilince and improving well-being, performance and optimism. The Challenge starts every Monday and only takes 5 to 10 minutes a day. As well, everyone who registers for the Challenge gets to invite a buddy to take the challenge with them for free. I have never done a ‘mindfulness’ program but I decided to try this one – maybe you’d like to try it too! Sign up here.
If you haven’t yet checked out the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce’s Open, Operational and/or Offering helpbusiness 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! More than 400 businesses and organizations have listed their services, products 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 (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram).
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.