COVID-19 Business Update – 20 January 2021
Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. Read on for the latest updates and some ideas to help us all move forward.
Travel Rules Changed Due to COVID-19 Variants
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau once again urged Canadians not to travel abroad as his government could change travel rules very quickly due to COVID-19 variants.
Trudeau called on Canadians who have booked trips to cancel them as a vacation is not worth it given the uncertainty and chance of either contracting the virus or ending up stranded abroad. He said they are closely following the latest science on more transmissible strains, including those from Britain and Brazil.
Last month, the Trudeau government imposed new travel rules, including the requirement to show a negative test result before boarding a flight into Canada and flights from Britain were banned.
Cut in Supplies of Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine To Hit Canada
Pfizer told Canada on Tuesday (Jan 19) it will receive no coronavirus vaccines next week, officials said, an unexpected development that promises more pain for provinces already complaining about a shortage of supplies.
The pharma giant said last week that it would slow production in late January and early February because of changes in manufacturing processes. However, Pfizer still plans to meet commitments to supply up to 4 million doses of the vaccine by the end of March.
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, there may be significant downsides to applying for the second draft. Seek professional guidance to determine whether this expansion is a good fit for your particular circumstances.
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, but the deadline to apply for the first 5 periods is January 31, 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.
Building Digital Resilience in 2021
Digital resilience gained momentum in 2020, as businesses across industries increased their adoption of digital tools and systems to maintain certain levels of activity amid the pandemic. In this Forbes article, different ways to boost digital resilience were shared including:
- Build a pipeline of digital initiatives– You can leverage what your business already has or capture and develop new ideas from various sources. Many companies have digital pilots already in place which were previously considered “nice to have”, but upon careful consideration were deemed essential in times of crisis.
- Invest in a core digital infrastructure– Integrate new digital initiatives with existing IT rules, systems, and capabilities. Keep in mind that digital transformation is an end-to-end process closely tied with back-end business processes and systems.
- Design for privacy and security– At the height of the pandemic in 2020, over 18 million scam emails per day were spotted by Google. Businesses can be prime targets for attacks such as phishing or malware. You will never predict when you’ll be hit by a cybersecurity crisis, so design an effective cyber resilience plan to mitigate risks.
- Increase visibility into your supply chain– Digital supply chain management leads to faster response time, working capital reductions, and increases in product availability. While digital supply chains may mean different things to each business, end-to-end visibility of inventory and control can be helpful during a crisis.
Have you yet to embark on your digital transformation? It’s time to get started. If you want to get rid of your traditional spreadsheets and move the accounting side of your business into the cloud, get in touch with us. Aside from making your financial data more accessible and protected, cloud accounting also streamlines processes and can get things done faster.
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Contact us if you have any questions or want to discuss the next steps for your business.