Chamber Update
April 27, 2020
Province works with hotels to provide safe housing
On Saturday, the provincial government ordered the transition of people sheltering in Topaz Park and along Pandora Avenue into 324 hotel rooms to try and slow the spread of COVID-19 among people living in the encampments. The province negotiated agreements with willing hotel owners.

The government will also provide support services to ensure safety and allow people to access treatment to keep them in housing.

The evacuation order comes after the City of Victoria called on the province to re-purpose available hotel and motel rooms, which can provide the physical distancing that wasn't possible at shelters.

The province says the use of hotel spaces will help people transition into long-term housing solutions with the supports needed to mitigate a return to homelessness.
Relief for commercial rents relies on cooperation
The Chamber is urging the owners of commercial properties in Greater Victoria to find a way to help keep their tenants in businesses while they adhere to strict restrictions in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

A new program aimed at businesses struggling to pay their rent was unveiled last Friday. However, the plan will need a high level of co-operation between landlords and renters if it's going to truly work.

The Chamber thanks the federal government for reaching an agreement with provincial governments on a plan. The Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program could see rents lowered by 75% if the property owner participates. Government will provide landlords who take part in the program with forgivable loans covering 50% of their tenants' monthly rent for April, May and June.

"After wages, rent is the biggest fixed cost that most businesses have," Chamber CEO Catherine Holt told CTV. "We already have a 75 per cent wage subsidy from the federal government so that's a big piece of the puzzle for a lot of small businesses. Rent is the second-biggest cost for most of them so this will be the other big expense that they need help with in order to survive."

Businesses, non-profits and charities qualify if they pay less than $50,000 per month in rent, and have lost at least 70% of revenue because of COVID-19.

Applications open today for wage subsidy program
More than 10,000 businesses had filed for federal wage subsidies today — from the time the application process opened at 3 am PDT to when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau began his daily address at 8 am.

The first payments under the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, which covers up to 75% of each employee's wages for up to to 12 weeks, are expected by mid-May.

Business owners who pay themselves as an employee are eligible for the subsidy, though those who pay themselves through dividends are currently not. The subsidy is retroactive to March 15, and provides up to $847 per week per employee.
MLAs working to help businesses get to recovery
A letter to Greater Victoria business owners by MLAs Carole James, Rob Fleming and Mitzi Dean offers reassurance that the provincial government wants to help.

"Every British Columbian is impacted by this pandemic. People are worried about their health, their housing and their livelihood. With uncertainty looming, we want to provide you with reassurance that our government has your back," states the letter, outlining steps taken to help so far.

The letter also notes that $1.5 billion has already been set aside for the eventual economic recovery.
Don't miss these upcoming virtual events
BC Minister of Jobs, Economic Development & Competitiveness
Join Chamber CEO Catherine Holt and the Hon. Michelle Mungall, Minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Competitiveness, as they talk about provincial government initiatives aimed at helping businesses and workers get through the COVID-19 pandemic.

About the Series:

The Chamber is bringing you free virtual events to inform and provide guidance on key topics related to the current COVID-19 crisis and its effects on business. This is your opportunity to get answers on pressing issues, and information to help you in these uncertain times.
Submit your questions for our Fireside Chat by
9 am, Tuesday, April 28 to
Please check our Events Calendar for other events and updates on tools and suggestions to get through to the other side.
COVID-19 and Your Bottom Line
From wage subsidies to tax deferrals, there have been many new tax initiatives announced over the past five weeks by our federal and provincial government aimed at helping business and workers stay afloat during the COVID-19 crisis.

Join Chamber CEO Catherine Holt and Kris Wirk, Partner at Dusanj & Wirk as they talk about how to apply for benefits and what the long term implications are for businesses who take advantage of loans and tax deferrals.

Submit your questions for Kris by 12 noon on Thursday, April 29.
Virtual Business Mixer
Join us on April 30 for our next Virtual Chamber Mixer. Grow valuable connections from the comfort of your own home, and interact with a diverse group of professionals.
Thurs., April 30 |4-5pm
Webinar: Embracing Remote Working for Your Business
Remote working doesn't have to mean decreased team productivity or a crumbling work culture. Recent research shows the majority of CFOs are looking to move some staff to remote working permanently. As a business owner, now is the time to embrace remote working.
What’s ahead for BC’s Restaurant Industry
Join Chamber CEO Catherine Holt and Ian Tostenson, CEO of BC Restaurants and Foodservices Association , as they talk about how the BCRFA is looking at innovative solutions to re-open restaurants in the face of the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recovery for Business Post COVID-19
Join Chamber CEO Catherine Holt and Jamie Sawchuk, BC Government and Public Service Leader at Deloitte as they examine the latest information about planning for an economic recovery. The Chamber's Fireside Chat series is designed to help navigate our way through the ever changing environment related to the global pandemic.
Over 200 Jobs posted to Chamber Job Board to date
Our expanded Job Board has posted more than 200 jobs since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis.

When we heard from members in need of staff to provide essential services, we repurposed our job board to connect with people in our region looking for employment. We’re working hard to bring people together — after all connections are what we do best.

At this time, employers are able to post at no charge by using the code SUPPORTYYJ.

If you have any difficulty posting, email us and we will get back to you by next business day. All jobs posted to our job board have been vetted by a member of The Chamber team.
Let us know about updates to your hours or services
We've created a webpage to help your customers keep track of updated hours and services as a result of COVID-19. If your changes are not yet listed, email to have your information added.