COVID-19 Business Update – 10 February 2021
Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. Read on for the latest updates and some ideas to help us all move forward.
Ontario & Other Provinces Start Easing COVID-19 Restrictions
Ontario announced this week that it will gradually ease its COVID-19 restrictions and retailers will be allowed to reopen on Wednesday. However, Toronto would remain shut down for at least two more weeks.
Quebec, Alberta and Nova Scotia also moved to lift restrictions.
In Quebec, non-essential businesses and museums were allowed to open on Monday, but the night curfew will remain in place for an additional two weeks. In Alberta, gyms reopened for one-on-one workouts and restaurants were permitted to allow in-person dining. Meanwhile, Nova Scotia, gathering limits were increased to 100 people indoors and 150 for outdoor events such as weddings and festivals.
Mass COVID-19 Vaccinations to Start in B.C. in March
More COVID-19 vaccines are on the way to B.C., and the province is on track to begin mass immunization in March. People over the age of 80 will be prioritized and will be receiving information in the weeks ahead on when and how to get their vaccines.
A total of 154,496 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered, including 12,111 second doses.
Canada Implements Stricter COVID-19 Rules for Travel
Starting next week, all non-essential travelers arriving in Canada by land will need to show a negative PCR-based COVID-19 test or face a fine of up to $3,000 if they don’t have one.
For those arriving by air, Canada already requires travelers to show a negative PCR-based COVID-19 test within three days of arriving. Testing upon arrival will also soon be mandatory at the four Canadian airports where international flights are allowed.
Last month, it was announced that it will be made mandatory for air travelers to quarantine in a hotel at their own expense for up to three days at their own expense when they arrive.
Canada Lost 213,000 Jobs in January
Canada’s economy lost 213,000 jobs in January, about five times more than what economists were expecting, as retail lockdowns forced more businesses to close their doors across the country.
Jobless rate ticked up 0.6 percentage points to 9.4%, the highest level since August. Overall employment also fell to its lowest level since that month.
Almost all of the job losses came from Ontario and Quebec, in the retail, accommodation, and food industries. Meanwhile, minimal job gains were witnessed in Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. In British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and New Brunswick, jobs numbers held steady.
HASCAP Loan Applications Now Open
New loan applications from the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP) have opened starting 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.
Regional Relief and Recovery Fund
The $1.7 billion Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) is providing assistance to businesses and communities that may require additional support to cope with and recover from the pandemic. The RRRF is part of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan and is complementary to existing federal programs.
You must first apply for other federal support measures before applying to the RRRF. Applicants are required to attest that they have applied for other federal benefits and were approved, rejected or deemed ineligible.
More information on eligibility criteria and how to apply can be found here. You may also drop us a message if you need assistance on your application.
Ontario Now Accepting Small Business Support Grant Applications
The Ontario government has opened an application process for small businesses affected by the provincially ordered shutdown to access thousands in one-time support grants.
The Small Business Support Grant, which was announced at the end of 2020, will provide between $10,000 and $20,000 to small businesses that were ordered closed or were subject to “significant” restrictions.
To qualify for the program, the government required business owners to show they had a revenue decline of at least 20 per cent in April 2020 compared to April 2019.
You can learn more about it here. Also, you may drop us a message if you need assistance.
Government Expands Canada Emergency Business Account Loans
Starting December, eligible businesses facing financial difficulties due to COVID-19 can access a second CEBA loan of up to $20,000 – on top of the initial $40,000 that was available to small businesses. Half of this additional financing, up to $10,000, will be forgivable if the loan is repaid by December 31, 2022. However, conditions for eligibility have been tightened, and we highly advise seeking advice from a professional before applying for the $60,000 version of the CEBA loan.
Applications for CEBA have been extended to March 31, 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 are the available assistance you can 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.
When Should I Apply for a Business Loan?
Borrowing money is part of running a company, but it does come with a cost. This means you shouldn’t impulsively take on debt unless there’s a clear benefit for doing so.
Below are the top valid reasons for getting a business loan:
- Opportunity to expand your business– Whether it’s for hiring new staff, developing a new product, or launching a new marketing initiative, if it will help you grow your future revenues, it is a smart time to get a loan.
- Replace, repair, or upgrade equipment or systems– It is sometimes difficult to finance new business assets such as equipment, service vehicles, and systems out of your existing cash. A business loan can be used to cover these investments and help you improve your products or services.
- Refinance existing debt– If you already have a business loan, you may qualify for better terms now compared to when you first borrowed. Refinancing to a better rate will let you enjoy lower monthly payments while covering your debt.
If you require some guidance on deciding what type of business loan to apply for, or need some help with the completion of your requirements, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.
Get in touch
Contact us if you have any questions or want to discuss the next steps for your business.