Your weekly round up of BizNews from throughout Greater Victoria
January 27, 2021
Chamber Chat with the Hon. Murray Rankin
Check out our latest Chamber Chat with Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. Topics include efforts to help more businesses make better use of provincial grants, and how the inclusion of indigenous people in the workforce is changing attitudes about reconciliation across the province.
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Fed loan program for hard-hit sectors launched
There was some good news yesterday for business that have been the hardest hit by the pandemic as the federal government launched the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program. Up to $1 million in low-interest, government guaranteed loans are now available for businesses. Businesses with multiple locations can receive up to $6.2 million.

"We've been calling for help for the tourism and transportation sectors, which have been devastated," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams says. "This program is a lifeline, but we have concerns about adding more debt to businesses that have lost their revenue sources. Instead of loans, these businesses need relief to stay afloat until restrictions are lifted and they can start to make a living again."

To qualify, businesses need to show year-over-year revenue decline of at least 50% in three months, within the eight months prior to their application. The Business Development Bank of Canada will work with participating Canadian financial institutions to provide the loans.
Business Development Bank of Canada: Member since 1976
Connect with Provincial Ministers
Three virtual events you won't want to miss
The Chamber is hosting 3 high-profile provincial ministers in the coming weeks. This is your opportunity to ask questions - and get answers.
What will economic recovery look like after the pandemic?
As we emerge from the fog of the pandemic, find out how government is refocusing relief efforts to make sure no one is left behind.

Join Chamber CEO Bruce Williams and the Hon. Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation, to hear about what is being done to ensure an inclusive economic recovery across B.C.
Business Restart Series:
Thurs., Feb. 18 | 12 - 1PM
BC'S plans to address homelessness
Since the beginning of the pandemic, affordable housing and homelessness have become some of the most pressing issues facing our region.

Be a part of the discussion as Chamber CEO Bruce Williams talks with Hon. David Eby, BC Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing, about the province's 10-year housing plan and actions being taken to house the homeless.
Tues., Feb. 23 | 12 - 1 PM
BC's plans for transportation in the Capital Region
Hear from Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure on what's coming down the road in Greater Victoria including priority infrastructure projects, the South Island Transportation Plan,  transit improvements, green transportation initiatives and more. 
Business Restart Series:
Tues., Mar. 2 | 12 - 1 PM
Mutual aid agreements vital to efficient services
Renewed mutual aid agreements between Greater Victoria's core municipal fire department's are vital to ensuring efficient delivery of services.

The Victoria Fire Department agreed to terms with Esquimalt, and, in a separate agreement with Saanich and Oak Bay.

These integrated efforts are welcomed by The Chamber, which advocates for better regional services in Greater Victoria. Businesses and residents in the region need to know their communities are safe, and taxes are being wisely spent. We look forward to municipalities continuing to work together to ensure efficiencies in other regional services.
'Patience and resilience and determination' - PHO
CHEK News and reporter Rob Shaw deserve a shout-out this week for looking beyond the doom and gloom, and highlighting a hopeful message in an interview with Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

While many media stories this week have focused on pandemic fatigue, the CHEK report offers some context to Henry's plea for British Columbians to do more.

“If we can just get through the next few months and get to that place, we’ll be able to do a lot more this summer than we ever did last summer," Henry said in the interview. "And we’ll be able to get to that point where we can get back to not wearing masks again, where we can get back to being together in that way we all so want to."
CHEK News: Chamber member since 1971
CHEK News: Chamber Champion since 2020
Time to talk seriously about regional restrictions
In the fall, the province acknowledged that Fraser Health is where most of the cases of COVID-19 in BC are occurring and imposed further restrictions on that region. However, as the pandemic's second wave grew larger, all British Columbians were asked to take a step back and limit activities through the holidays.

"We now need to talk about going back to regional restrictions, even though it's not an easy conversation," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams says. "Re-opening of businesses and ensuring economic activity is vital to public health. Restrictions are taking a toll on the mental and emotional well-being of people in our community."

Throughout the pandemic, Vancouver Island has consistently had much lower case counts than other health regions in BC. Clearly, Islanders are overwhelmingly abiding by restrictions that slow the spread of COVID-19.

"We can do this. Better times are coming. As entrepreneurs and business leaders, our members know how to deal with diversity while keeping a healthy sense of cautious optimism," Williams says. "They deserve to be recognized for their efforts by being allowed to get back to business with restrictions that reflect what's happening in our region."
Thank you to our Chamber Champions!
Learn more about how these organizations are championing the work of The Chamber.
Board well-equipped for 2021: Business Examiner
It’s become clear that as our economy recovers from the pandemic, not all industries are faring the same. This is a real concern and goes against the spirit of resilience all of us shared at the beginning of the crisis. If we are truly all in it together, we need to make sure all businesses have a chance to recover.

With immunization efforts underway and the promise of summer prosperity in sight, we need to hang on to our most vulnerable industries — especially ones as capital intensive as transportation operators whose fleets have been grounded through no fault of their own. If these businesses are allowed to fail, our entire economic recovery will be affected.

Read Chamber CEO Bruce Williams' full column in the January edition of the Business Examiner
Businesses helping businesses bounce forward
As businesses deliver more of their goods and services online, Greater Victoria's tech companies have banded together to help. Through InnovateBC funding, VIATEC has developed an innovative program — DER3 — to lend a hand and guide businesses through, in some cases, new terrain.

"The various tools and support provided to our team through the DER3 program has informed our decision making and allowed us to proceed with greater confidence," said Jeff Wright, Regional Manager of Marketing for the Truffles Group. "This program has been invaluable to our success in navigating the digital world we’ve previously been unfamiliar with, and has helped us achieve success, despite the hiccups we faced."

The advice is free and provides an unbiased assessment of your current online capabilities and a roadmap forward. The Chamber has worked with VIATEC to humanize the first step, which is just a call to talk about where your business is and where you want to be. Take the time to have a simple chat, and we can work together to come out of this stronger than ever.
VIATEC: Member since 1991
Truffles Catering: Member since 1994
Final days to apply: Canada Summer Jobs program
There are only two days left to apply for Canada Summer Jobs funding. Funding covers youth hires between the ages of 15 and 30 for six to 23 consecutive weeks. And, similar to the program in 2020, stretches from April 2021 to February 2022 — a very welcome degree of flexibility.

Hiring a co-op students through programs at Camosun and the University of Victoria is more than an investment in your business, it's an investment in a future staff person. With up to 75% of the wage potentially covered for most businesses, it is worth taking 20 to 30 minutes to apply.

Deadline: January 29, 2021
"Over the years, we've been able to hire students each year thanks to the Canada Summer Jobs program. The new flexibility on dates has been incredibly helpful," says Cheryl Wirch-Ryckman, The Chamber's Director of Operations.

"One of the best parts of my day is hearing about the extraordinary things our previous co-op students are doing now. Always worth it!"
Camosun College: member since 1981
University of Victoria: member since 1976
What does local mean to you?
Our #ChamberLocalVicBC campaign aims to help individuals understand what local means on a social, economic, and community level. We're asking our members to answer this question with a quote about what makes their business or organization local.

We hope you will help us amplify these stories as we work with resilience to bounce forward out of this pandemic.

Contact Thomas Zeran to share your story.
Follow this campaign on social media with the hashtags:
#ChamberLocalVicBC #UnderstandLocal
The Chamber has always supported local business. Back to our founding in 1863, we helped Greater Victoria's economy thrive by serving as a unified voice for enterprise.
Prince of Whales Whale Watching: member since 2002
Newport Realty: member since 2006
Ride the Glide - RTG E-Bikes Inc: member since 2012
Brown's The Florist: member since 1981
Mayfair Optometric Clinic: member since 1996
CHEK News: member since 1971
Sheringham Distillery: member since 2018
Luxe Home Interiors: member since 2004
Highlighting Mental Health
Now more than ever, acknowledging the importance of mental health and taking action to reduce the stigma of addiction and mental illness is a fundamental aspect of creating safe, prosperous communities.

The foundation of our daily lives depends on feeling safe in our homes, our cities and our workplaces. This includes feeling safe to seek support, utilize resources and speak openly regarding mental health concerns.
Through the Chambers of Commerce Group Insurance Plan Employee Assistance Program (EAP) - Arive®, you and your employees can access confidential, professional counselling services. Counselling from Chamber members is also available, and can provide a variety of services for specialized help.

If you’re not sure which resource is most helpful for you, take the anonymous Mental Health Check-In Assessment from the Canadian Mental Health Association.

The Chamber has focused on the importance of mental health before and during the COVID pandemic, and we will continue to advocate on behalf of our members for the creation and implementation of support networks into the future.
This Thursday, Bell Let’s Talk will return for its eleventh consecutive year to support mental health initiatives across Canada. Created to raise awareness and reduce the stigma of mental illness, the campaign has seen more than 1.1 billion interactions on social media. 
Chamber Job Board

Whether you’re a CEO, small business owner, or a manager looking for talent, finding and retaining employees is crucial.

As businesses start rebuilding their team, making the right decision can be a make or break move. Hone your hiring plan by taking Futurpreneur Canada 's free workshop on selecting the right candidate.

And of course, post your position on The Chamber’s Job Board connecting great employers needing help with employees in need of work.

Learn more about how to post on the job board here. ​If you have any questions about posting, please email [email protected]
Member News
Nominations open for UVic Senate

The University of Victoria is seeking nominations for the UVic Senate. Nominations are open to alumni, staff members, students who completed one full-year at Victoria College before 1963, and past and present members of UVic’s Senate and Board of Governors.

Four positions are currently available, and successful candidates will be invited to participate in three-year terms starting July 1, 2021.
University of Victoria: member since 1976
Coldest Night of the Year

Our Place Society’s Coldest Night of the Year will be hosted virtually this year on Feb. 20.

Join thousands of Canadians and raise funds and awareness for homelessness and poverty issues while participating in a winter walk. Prizes will be given to those who post the best photos of their walk using #CNOY21 and #YYJCNOY.
Our Place Society: member since 2010
Eye on the prize

Elate Cosmetics has been featured in a recent article by Glamour Magazine. The magazine praises Elate Essential Mascara for its durability and effectiveness on sensitive eyes

Elate was a finalist in the 2020 Business Awards for their Sustainable Business Practices.
Eluma Beauty Inc (Elate Cosmetics): member since 2019
Do you have a success story? We want to hear from you!
Designing the Songhees connection

Western Interior Design Group Ltd. Is working with the Songhees Nation to design and construct two cannabis stores in downtown Victoria. Featuring a pair of carved house posts at one location and salvaged old growth timbers at the other, design considerations were made to celebrate local materials and indigenous culture.

Western Interior Design Group Ltd: member since 2013

Songhees Nation: member since 2017
Sustainable certification

The Oak Bay Marine Group has obtained its first Clean Marine BC eco-certification for its Oak Bay Marina location. The Clean Marine BC program recognizes marinas, boatyards, yacht clubs and harbour authority facilities that implement environmental measures to reduce toxins, conserve water and energy, and make efforts to protect marine habitats. Oak Bay Marina has received four out of five possible anchors, displaying the organization's commitment to environmental conservation.
Oak Bay Marine Group: member since 1969

Sysco Victoria has launched #FoodiesUnite, an initiative to support local restaurants during the pandemic. Simply order from your favourite local restaurant, upload a picture and use #FoodiesUnite to support the restaurant and encourage others to eat local. 
Sysco Victoria: member since 1979
Community Cheer success

WIN Resale Shops’ Community Cheer Campaign has concluded, raising $27,457. The funds will be used to support WIN’s five empowerment programs. The programs aim to provide women in Greater Victoria with skill development, housing assistance, and more in an effort to fight the she-cession exacerbated by COVID.
WIN Resale Shops: member since 1998
Welcome to our newest members!