Your weekly round up of BizNews from throughout Greater Victoria
BizNews
April 8, 2020
Expert analysis for employers coping with COVID-19
The Chamber hosted our second virtual fireside chat today with Marcia McNeil , employment law specialist, who joined Chamber CEO Catherine Holt for an expert look at the federal and provincial governments relief programs for business.
 
The 26-minute discussion included questions from Chamber members about COVID-19 absence rights, lay-offs, terminations and the evolving case law around this. Also covered are details for employees and employers on how to best utilize the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and an analysis of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit .
 
This Chamber's virtual Fireside Chat series is designed to help Chamber members navigate the evolving programs offered by governments to provide relief for businesses affected by the COVID-19 crisis.
Tomorrow! Chamber hosts the Hon. Mona Fortier
Join Chamber CEO Catherine Holt and the Hon. Mona Fortier, federal Minister of Middle Class Prosperity and Associate Minister of Finance, as they discuss recent initiatives announced by the federal government aimed at helping business and workers affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

About the Series :

The Chamber is bringing you free virtual events to inform and provide guidance on key topics related to the current pandemic and its effects on business. This is your opportunity to get answers on pressing issues, and information to help you in these uncertain times.
Please check our   Events Calendar   for   other events and updates on tools and suggestions to get through to the other side.
Changes to federal wage subsidy announced today
The federal government announced changes this morning to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to enable more employers to qualify.

Businesses now only have to show a 15% decline in revenues for March as many didn't implement social distancing policies until the middle of the month. Businesses will need to show a 30% decline for April and May, though they can now compare to January or February of this year rather than the same month a year before. This helps start-ups and businesses that have experienced growth but have had their projections curtailed by the COVID-19 crisis.

Government also clarified that revenue can be calculated using the employer’s normal accounting method, and would exclude revenues from extraordinary items and amounts on account of capital. Employers will need to stick to one accounting method (accrual or cash) every time they apply for the subsidy.

Businesses can start applying for interest-free loans on April 9, through local financial institutions.

Another change allows charities and non-profits to choose whether they want to include government funding when calculating revenue.

The changes are welcomed by The Chamber, though we share concerns with business organizations across Canada that relief is taking too long to get to business.
Feds funding next generation of workers
Changes announced today to the Canada Summer Jobs program will bring a little cheer to the hearts of everyone hoping to fit student workers into their pandemic budget. The federal government will cover 100% of wages for 70,000 jobs across Canada for workers between 15 and 30 years old. The end date of employment has also been extended to Feb. 28, 2021 — instead of mid-August — and employers can hire staff on a part-time basis.

This is great news for our next generation of workers.

The Chamber also works closely with co-op programs for students at the University of Victoria and Camosun College, as well as an internship program with the Greater Victoria School District.

"The Chamber can personally vouch for how invaluable these programs are, both for our business and for the students who are our future," says Chamber Director of Operations Cheryl Wirch-Ryckman.
University of Victoria: Member since 1976
Camosun College: Member since 1981
ThinkLocalFirstYYJ gift card program raises $7,000
The SupportLocalYYJ.com initiative has sold more than $7,000 in gift cards for 123 participating businesses in Greater Victoria.

"We are working to ge t the word out to more local, independent businesses to let them know about the program," said Michèle Hamilton, Managing Director of Think Local First. " It is free for businesses to participate and they get the full value of the gift cards sold."

The organization has partnered with VanCity to absorb payment processing and transaction fees, and has attracted attention from other regions.
Municipalities look at options to offer financial relief
Greater Victoria municipalities have not been spared from having to rethink their budgetary plans to get through these unprecedented times.

On Thursday, the City of Victoria is scheduled to discuss ways it can reallocate funds from capital projects to help provide financial relief for businesses and the community. Staff are recommending extending the due dates of utility bills by 90 days, and the deadline for property taxes to Aug. 1 or later.

Among other initiatives, Victoria wants the province to reinstate the financial hardship deferment program and extend it to commercial properties. As well, the city is looking at reducing the proposed tax increase it had planned on implementing.

The District of Saanich has also suspended late fees for utility bills, and is waiting to hear from the provincial government about deferring property taxes. BC Premier John Horgan said today that options to do so are being looked at by BC Finance Minister Carole James and Municipal Affairs Minister Selina Robinson.
Topaz Park tents part of plan to help homeless
The City of Victoria has repurposed Topaz Park to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.

The unused fields are providing a space for people who can no longer stay in shelters or other facilities due to physical distancing requirements.

Former Our Place CEO Don Evans is overseeing the project. He needs volunteers to help maintain the temporary shelter. If you are healthy and able to work, or would like more details, send your contact info to evansdon@shaw.ca.

As well, the Dandelion Society is in urgent need of Shelter Support Staff for Topaz Park. People with a background in Social Work, Mental Heath, Custodial, Security or Customer Service are desperately needed. Email your availability and level of experience to mforbesbc@gmail.com.
Canadian Chamber survey vital tool for advocacy
It is an overwhelming time for businesses and organizations blindsided by the COVID-19 pandemic. To help make sense of the steps needed to access financial relief, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Government of Canada created the Canadian Business Resilience Network . It features a website and supporting campaign to help businesses navigate this crisis and be prepared for recovery.

Right now, the Canadian Chamber is urging all businesses to help by filling out the Canadian Survey on Business Conditions . The Statistics Canada questionnaire, which adheres to strict privacy requirements, can be accessed directly here .

The Chamber strongly encourages all of our members to participate and help make our case to senior levels of government. Please take a few minutes to fill out the survey . For more information, see StatCan.gc.ca.
Fortis offering help with bills for affected businesses
FortisBC has implemented a fund to help customers affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

Businesses forced to close due to the pandemic can get bill credits to offset charges while they're unable to continue operating. Businesses facing a slowdown in revenue but that have not closed can defer their bill from April 1 to June 30.
These measures are in addition to the previously announced suspension of late fees as well as service disconnections for financial reasons.

For more information, email COVID19Recovery@fortisbc.com .
FortisBC Energy: Member since 1990
Hoppy Easter!

With Easter just around the corner, here are a few tips to have a very Hoppy Easter

The Chamber would like to wish you a fun and relaxing Easter!
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  membership@victoriachamber.ca  to have your information added.

Click on a category below to find innovative ways our members continue to serve Greater Victoria.
Connecting employers with employees today
During these extraordinary times, we've expanded our Job Board to support our community.

We've heard from members that they need more staff as they gear up to provide essential services to our community. We also know a lot of great staff with transferable skills who need work. We want to connect the two — 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, please email members@victoriachamber.ca. We will get back to you ASAP on the next business day.

All jobs posted to our job board have been vetted by a member of The Chamber team.
Thanks to our friends at Hothouse Marketing, we have a new ad campaign you'll see online. It encourages out-of-work locals to pitch in at businesses that need help.
Virtual Networking Breakfast
Join us for the first Virtual Breakfast event. Grow valuable connections from the comfort of your own home, and interact with a diverse group of professionals.
Virtual Fireside Chat
Join Chamber CEO Catherine Holt and Jamie Sawchuk, BC Government and Public Service Leader at Deloitte as they discuss how businesses can prepare now for recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.
Thurs., April 9 | 9-10 AM
Zoom
Wed., April 15 | 11-11:30am
Members Around Town
Free Tesla Trips

Current Taxi is offering free rides for healthcare workers to and from hospitals. Current Taxi’s fleet of Teslas offer touchless door handles, and vehicles undergo thorough sanitization after each customer. This service will be offered over the coming weeks, and rides can scheduled online using the Current Taxi app .

Current Taxi: member since 2019
50 Year Anniversary

The Victoria Native Friendship Centre is celebrating 50 years as a hub for Indigenous connections. The centre offers 35 programs , a large daycare, and provides services to approximately 20,000 Indigenous people. 

Victoria Native Friendship Centre: member since 2019
Free Seedlings

Interested in starting your own garden? The City of Victoria is offering free vegetable seedlings for those who cannot afford vegetable starts at this time. The program is expected to provide 50,000 to 75,000 plant starts over the next few months.
City of Victoria: member since 1962
Rapid Relief Fund

The Victoria Foundation , Times Colonist , and the Jawl Family have created the Rapid Relief Fund to provide support to local registered charities and other charitable organizations affected by COVID-19. 

With nearly $4 million raised to date, donations have been received from numerous community members, including Surinder Kumar , retired CEO of Vecima Networks, who recently donated $50,000.
Victoria Foundation: member since 2004
Times Colonist: member since 1961
Jawl Residential: member since 2019
Vecima Networks: member since 2006
Free Design Services

Interested in receiving modern design solutions for your business? Western Interior Design Group have made their design services free of charge in response to COVID-19. Businesses that are interested are encouraged to contact ann@westerninteriordesign.ca

Western Interior Design Group: member since 2013
Four Frames Greetings

Four Frames Photo Booth has implemented a new service: Four Frames Greetings . Send in a fun photo of your friend or family member, and Four Frames will create digital files including GIFS, Boomerangs, MP4s and Selfies to brighten someone’s day. 

Four Frames Photo Booth : m ember Since 2019
Is your business implementing new strategies or innovative ways of connecting with consumers?
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victoriachamber.ca