Weekly Digest – 30 June 2021

Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. Read on for the latest updates and some ideas to help us all move forward.

Canadian Border to Reopen in Phases

The government has announced that it will reopen its border in phases, with the first one coming into effect by 5 July. This will allow fully vaccinated Canadians to return home and skip previous quarantine requirements. These travelers must file their travel and vaccination history at ArriveCAN. However, they should still submit a negative test result taken up to 72 hours before departure and undertake another test on arrival.

The government is expected to announce an update to its current policy before 21 July.

Canada’s Total COVID-19 Vaccine Doses to Top 50 Million by End of Week

Canada should have sufficient vaccines by the end of the week to fully vaccinate three-quarters of all Canadians 12 years old and above.

Pfizer-BioNTech is expected to send more than 2.4 million doses this week and Moderna about 1.4 million, pushing total vaccine deliveries above 50 million doses to date. Another 18 million doses are expected in July, enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over 12 years old.

As of Sunday, more than 25.5 million had received at least one dose of an approved vaccine.

Government Funding for Infrastructure in Leduc-Nisku Region

Western Economic Diversification Canada, in partnership with Infrastructure Canada, is investing in infrastructure projects that create jobs and attract business for residents of coal-impacted communities in Alberta.

A $17.7 million investment has been announced to complete the Nisku Spine Road in Leduc County, Alberta which is a north-south roadway in Leduc County. This will increase accessibility and is expected to attract investment and new business opportunities in the region.

OBCA Changes to Come Into Effect on 5 July

Amendments to the Business Corporations Act (Ontario) (OBCA) will take effect on 5 July. These changes include:

Removal of the Canadian residency requirement for directors
Shareholder resolution approval process for private corporations will be simplified

This means corporations can make expertise and representation as priorities over Canadian residency when deciding on board composition. Meanwhile, the second change involves lowering the approval threshold for private corporation shareholder resolutions in writing to a simple majority, instead of unanimous approval.

Skilled Trades Training

The government of Canada announced funding of nearly $890,000 for the College of Carpenters and Allied Trades in order to support the implementation of online learning. This investment is intended to help develop a highly qualified skilled trades workforce, and prepare Canadians to fill available jobs as our economy restarts.

Government Encourages Businesses to Apply for Free Rapid Testing

The government is encouraging businesses and organisations to apply for free rapid tests for workplace screening projects. Rapid tests will be available to employers through:

  • Shoppers Drug Mart locations in COVID-19 hot spots in Ontario for small- and medium-sized enterprises;
  • The Canadian Chamber of Commerce will enable local chambers to distribute rapid tests to smaller organizations, based on the successful StaySafe Rapid Testing Program in Waterloo Region;
  • Non-profit, charitable and Indigenous community organizations can pre-register now to access rapid tests through the Canadian Red Cross;
  • Since April, larger organizations with close-contact employees have been able to request rapid tests directly through a new federal portal; and
  • More federal workplaces where workers are at higher risk of exposure to COVID-19 can launch workplace screening programs using rapid tests.

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.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Pushing Through With a New Product or Service

As a business leader, you’re probably full of ideas, especially when it comes to new products or services. However, this doesn’t mean that you should always move forward with them.

In this Forbes article, members of the Young Entrepreneur Council share some questions you can ask yourself before investing time, money, and resources into a product or service idea.

  • Does the customer need this feature?
  • Is the market large enough?
  • How does it help revenue or retention?
  • Will the product or service be able to scale?
  • Is creating the product within my budget?
  • Do I have to make the product myself?
  • Would I use it?
  • Would my enemy use it?

By spending time thinking about these questions, you’ll be able to decide if you should push through with your idea or not.

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