Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. Read on for the latest updates and some ideas to help us all move forward.
Alberta Toughens COVID-19 Restrictions
Alberta will increase restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19 as a third wave of the pandemic threatens to overwhelm the hospital system within weeks.
These measures include:
- confining schools to online learning
- ordering workplaces with COVID-19 outbreaks to close for 10 days
- closing salons
- takeout service only for restaurants
- reducing the number of people allowed at funerals and religious services
Alberta has the highest per capita rate of COVID-19 cases in the country.
Pfizer to Start Shipping COVID-19 Vaccines to Canada
Pfizer will next week start supplying Canada with COVID-19 vaccine made in its U.S. plant, making it the second country to receive doses from the Michigan facility. Canada has deals with Pfizer for up to 76 million doses and expects to remain on the same schedule, with 2 million doses expected each week in May and 2.4 million doses each week in June.
$1.1 Billion Trade Deficit for March as Imports Increase
Canada posted a merchandise trade deficit of $1.1 billion in March as imports hit its highest level since May 2019.
According to Statistics Canada, the trade deficit for the month followed two consecutive monthly trade surpluses including $1.4 billion in February and nearly $1.3 billion in January.
Total imports rose 5.5% in March to $51.8 billion.
Canada Continues Investments for Economic Recovery in Atlantic Canada
Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) highlighted the positive impact that Budget 2021 will have on Atlantic Canada’s economy.
ACOA is set to deliver the Atlantic region’s share of the national allocations for the following key measures:
- $80 million more through the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund
- $51.7 million over four years under the Black Entrepreneurship Program
- $250 million over three years for an Aerospace Regional Recovery Initiative
- $500 million over two years for a new Canada Community Revitalization Fund
- $500 million to establish a new Tourism Relief Fund
- $700 million over three years through the Regional Economic Growth through Innovation Program
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Tasks Business Owners Should Be Delegating
It doesn’t matter what your big plans are or how well-designed your road map for growth is– the future success of your business will be limited if you don’t work on the right things. This Forbes article discusses the tasks that business owners should delegate to accelerate their business’ growth.
- Low-value admin tasks– Your time is of high value and it’s finite. So instead of spending your time on tasks that anyone with the right tools can do with little instruction, it’s best to focus on the core activities that drive business growth.
- High-value tasks you’re NOT an expert in– If you haven’t been working in accounting, marketing, or any other area of specialisation for the past 10 years, find a professional who has. While you can teach yourself how to do all these, your performance won’t likely match the skill of an expert with years of experience, not to mention that you’ll be slower in completing the task.
- High-value tasks you ARE an expert in– While this may come at a later stage in your business journey, it’s important to train people to perform in the same areas you’re an expert in. This will make your business more resilient to challenges, changes, or unexpected circumstances that will inevitably come.
Need help with the finance-side of your business? Get in touch with us today and ease your burden by delegating your accounting with us.
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Contact us if you have any questions or want to discuss the next steps for your business.