Your weekly round up of BizNews from throughout Greater Victoria
September 9, 2020
SD61 students begin returning to classrooms
The Greater Victoria School District (SD61) has a Return to School Plan ready to go as students head back into classrooms.

The school district is following the BC Ministry of Education's restart plan, which focuses on the safety of students and staff while trying to give kids as much in-class instruction as possible. To help with the extra level of planning needed this year, the federal government is providing BC with $242.4 million to implement COVID-19 protocols for child care, transportation, health and safety and learning supports.

There's no question anxiety levels have been heightened during the pandemic, and the provincial government is spending an additional $2 million on school-based wellness programs. If it means fewer people suffering from mental health issues in the years ahead, it will have been an invaluable investment.

To help families manage back to school stress and anxiety, The Chamber is also happy to give shout out to Telus for hosting two seminars by clinical counselor Lindsay Killam. You can get more details and register for the Sept. 10 or Sept. 14 event here.

It's a critical time for families in British Columbia as we learn to live with COVID-19, and continue to work on restarting our economy. The Chamber encourages everyone to follow the most current advice of BC Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. There is less uncertainty around COVID-19 than there was in the spring, and efforts to slow transmission are much more focused — as detailed in today's announcement of a $1.6 billion plan for the fall and winter.
Greater Victoria School District: Member since 1976
Telus Communications: Member since 1962
Nightclubs, halls closed to slow spread of COVID-19
Yesterday, citing extensive work of contract tracers, the provincial government ordered all nightclubs and stand-alone banquet halls to close.

“Despite weeks of effort by public health teams, these venues are creating significant risk to everyone in BC, and making it more challenging to protect those who are most vulnerable to serious illness," says a statement by Health Minister Adrian Dix and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

The new order also states that liquor sales in bars, pubs and restaurants must cease at 10 pm. And unless they provide a full meal service, they need to close by 11 pm.
Province confirms tax measure implementation dates, deferral deadlines for businesses
Businesses have been given a reprieve as the provincial government announced last week that it is delaying implementation or increases to several taxes.

Quarterly installments for the Employer Health Tax have been pushed back as follows:
  • Dec. 31, 2020 (original installment date was June 15, 2020)
  • Jan. 31, 2021 (original installment date was Sept. 15, 2020)
  • Feb. 28, 2021 (original installment date was Dec. 15, 2020)

As well, the scheduled elimination of a Provincial Sales Tax exemption for sweetened carbonated beverages, and the requirement for e-commerce businesses outside BC to collect PST have been delayed until next April. And annual increases to the provincial carbon tax, postponed back in April, also won't begin until next year.

The Ministry of Finance is also reminding businesses that the due dates for the following sales taxes, extended in the spring, are coming up Sept. 30:
  • PST
  • hotel tax, also known as municipal and regional district tax
  • tobacco tax
  • motor fuel tax
  • carbon tax

"These administrative deferrals are not being extended further," says a statement from the ministry. "Businesses were never able to spend taxes collected from customers such as PST, but delaying tax remittances removed an administrative burden from potentially short-staffed businesses during the beginning of the pandemic."
Rent relief extension welcome, but changes needed
The federal rent relief program for commercial properties has been extended, though there continues to be concerns raised about how it was rolled out — and what comes next.

For many businesses that have been able to access Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA), the program has been a lifeline through the pandemic. Extending relief until the end of September will help. However, as the weather cools and revenues begin to fall, many restaurants and storefront retailers are wondering how they will survive.

The Chamber, along with our chamber network across the country, is calling on the federal government to rethink its approach to commercial rent relief. Rent is one of the biggest costs for many businesses and this is an area that government can provide real help. A new program is also required for the many businesses that needed help but couldn't access CECRA because of its complexity or landlords who were unwilling to shoulder risk and revenue loss.
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Q&A sessions
Do you have questions about the federal government's wage subsidy program? The Canada Revenue Agency is hosting a series of virtual Q&A sessions to help employers better understand new rules and restrictions in this phaseCanada Emergency Wage Subsidy.

To register, email with the session number:
Postive job numbers a sign of slow and steady climb
BC's economic restart continued in August, with the unemployment rate in Greater Victoria dropping to 10.3% from 11.1% the month before.

"This is the fourth month we’ve seen a bit of a rise in the number of people working, which is good,” Chamber CEO Bruce Williams told CHEK news. “It's a sign that we’re slowly on the road to recovery, but still reflects the great big hole in the economy with tourism and hospitality not really returning to anything near normal levels right now.”

The province says it has now recovered 94% of jobs lost during the initial economic restrictions imposed to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Support services vital to ensure housing is effective
The provincial government paid $1.8 million for a property at 1176 Yates St. that will be used to provide up to 40 units of housing for homeless people in Greater Victoria. The homes will include support for mental health and addiction treatment.

Homelessness is a complex issue that requires a multi-faceted approach. The Chamber is focusing our ongoing advocacy on the need to improve mental health services that are often at the root of homelessness. We need to move beyond encampments that provide shelter but don't address underlying concerns.
Getting you back to business
Tomorrow! Bank of Canada's Economic Progress Report with Governor Tiff Macklem
The next three weeks will be critical for Canadian businesses as we prepare for the return of the federal parliament and a Speech from the Throne that will detail the government’s recovery strategy. The Bank of Canada will also play a critical role in the recovery.

Don’t miss this opportunity to hear from the Governor of the Bank of Canada, Tiff Macklem, as he presents the Bank of Canada’s Economic Progress Report.

Governor Macklem will discuss the September interest rate decision and will explain how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting different sectors and people in the economy.

As a member, you will have the exclusive opportunity to participate in the event by video conference and submit questions to the Governor. 
The link to the video conference and a mechanism for submitting questions to the Governor will be sent to registered participants prior to the event.
Tiff Macklem
Governor of the Bank of Canada
Prepare to be inspired!
There is no doubt the last few months have been some of the most challenging for businesses in our community. 

Join our Chamber CEO Bruce Williams and a panel of experts as they break down how businesses can find opportunity through innovation during the pandemic and beyond.
Anita Pawluk
Founder and Director of Operations
Dr. Richard Gale
Director of Camosun Innovates
Rasool Rayani 
2020 Greater Victoria Business Awards
Cue the cameras and roll out the red carpet!

Watch the 2020 Greater Victoria Business Awards live on CHEK Saturday, September 19 at 6 p.m. The program recognizes members in 14 different award categories. Click here to see the 2020 finalists!

Join in the celebration and dine-in with special award menu options from Chamber members House of Boateng, Toque CateringTruffles Catering and Food for Thought Catering. Thank you for choosing to support Chamber members.
Trade Accelerator Program
Take your business to the next level!
Apply for the Trade Accelerator Program today (partial bursaries available for a limited time, for qualifying companies).

New trade agreements and a competitive Canadian dollar make it an ideal time to extend your company's reach through the export of goods and services.

The Trade Accelerator Program is designed to help SMEs TAP into their full export potential. It has a proven track record helping participants get results.
Just six months after graduating the program:

• On average, export revenue increased by 28%

• Participants forecast their export sales to grow 47% over the next 5 years

Deadline to apply for the fall session is Sept. 30, 2020.

Have questions? Call TAP B.C. Team on 604-640-5491 or email
Chamber job board
If you're an employer looking for your next great hire, make sure to post your career opportunities on the Chamber job board.

The job board is an exclusive benefit of Chamber membership.

If you have any difficulty posting, email

We will get back to you within one business day. We know how important hiring the right person can be.

All jobs posted to our job board have been vetted by a member of The Chamber team.
Current Job Listings:
Set the school year off right
It’s hard to believe, but the start of the school year is already here!

For many of us, September means the end of summer staycations and time to get back to business. Take advantage of The Chamber's exclusive member-only deals and discounts on quality school and office supplies.
Chamber members can save:
10% at Monk Office supplies
30% when Chamber Members update laptops and PCs through Lenovo
Up to 85% off at Grand & Toy Office supplies
Discover all of our discounts and savings here.
Members Around Town
Seaspan Victoria Shipyards has announced plans to consolidate their South Island supply chain operations in a new 85,000 sq.ft. office and warehousing space in City of Colwood's Allandale District on Veterans Memorial Parkway near Sooke Road. The property is owned by Omicron Development Inc.
Seaspan's new custom designed office and warehouse space will be built by Omicron on the 3.95-acre Lot A parcel within the 20-acre mixed use development.
City of Colwood: member since 2020
Omicron Development Inc.: member since 2015
Seaspan Victoria Shipyards: member since 2002
BC Ferries joins Whale Trail

BC Ferries has joined the Whale Trail — a series of interpretive signs at various terminals to provide learning opportunities about marine wildlife in the area.

BC Ferries has also added 769 additional sailings on minor and north coast routes to help rebuild local economies. The new sailings will bring operations back up to pre-pandemic levels.
BC Ferry Services Inc: member since 1983
Art by the water

The Victoria International Marina has unveiled a new fine-art gallery featuring Canadian artists. The gallery, open from Tuesday to Saturday, 11 am to 2 pm, gives a portion of proceeds from artwork sold to the Bateman Foundation.
Victoria International Marina: member since 2018
The Bateman Foundation Gallery of Nature: member since 2013
Hungry Hearts Gala

The Hungry Hearts Auction has officially opened for bidding. The auction will help support initiatives of Our Place Society, focusing on creating a sense of belonging to neighbours in need. The Hungry Hearts Virtual Gala will be hosted this Saturday, Sept. 12, and will feature the winner of the regions best mac and cheese dish.
Our Place Society: member since 2010
Hit the slopes

Mount Washington Alpine Resort has begun pre-sale for their 2020-21 season passes. The early-bird rate, available until Sept. 30, provides discounts of up to $200. Customers also have the option to defer pass purchases to 2021-22.
Mount Washington Alpine Resort: member since 2017
Books for back to school

Just in time for going back to school, Bolen Books is giving away sets of books to five lucky readers. To enter the contest, follow @bolenbooks on Instagram, like a prize post and tag a friend to enter. Books include Everything is Mama by Jimmy Fallon, Home Ground by Alan Gibbons, and much more!
Bolen Books: member since 1979
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