C-19 BULLETIN - April 1, 2020
As part of an ongoing effort to remain current on various government business support programs, this morning TIABC attended a webinar hosted by the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade on accessing government funding . Among other things, we learned that similar programs have been announced in 104 countries so far, and just like here in Canada, details and logistics are still being worked out.

We also learned that Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is building a new portal to house various applications. The goal is for the website to be ready next Monday, with the objective of a one-week turnaround to review applications. Applications will be accepted under an honour system for now, but government will be conducting audits and those found cheating will suffer the consequences.

This morning's webinar introduced 10 things SMEs can do to help address cash flow issues, some of which you may already know. However, here is a helpful synopsis:

1. Ensure your CRA business account is set up ASAP and ensure direct deposit is set up correctly.
Federal application processes may get started early next week and you want any funds being provided to arrive as quickly and easily as possible.

2. PROVINCIAL: Defer PST and Employer Health Tax   payments to September 30.  
See list of tax deferments available at:  www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/taxes/tax-changes/covid-19-tax-changes

3. FEDERAL: Defer GST and Federal tax payments, but continue to file your returns.
The CRA will allow all businesses to defer, until the end of June 2020, any GST/HST payments or remittances that become owing on or after March 27th and before June 2020. This means that no interest will apply if your payments or remittances are made by the end of June. The deadline for businesses to file their returns is unchanged.
The Canada Revenue Agency will allow all businesses to defer, until August 31st, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today and before September 2020. This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as instalments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act. 

4. Explore options with BC Hydro to defer bill payments or arrange for flexible payment plans with no penalty. 
BC Hydro is offering customer assistance programs to help customers experiencing financial hardship during the Coronavirus outbreak.
It was announced today that residential customers who have lost their jobs or are unable to work as a result of COVID-19 will receive a credit to help cover the cost of their electricity bills. The credit will be three times their average monthly bill over the past year at their home and does not have to be repaid. Small businesses that have been forced to close due to COVID-19 will have their power bills forgiven for three months. BC Hydro is waiving bills for these customers from April to June 2020.

5. Defer ICBC payments for 90 days. 
Note: ICBC needs you to use their online tool so be sure to request the deferral at least one business day before your insurance is due. This also applies to fleet insurance. 

6. Explore the Canada Emergency Business Account.  
Up to $40,000 loan, interest free for one year through financial institutions, but fully backed by the federal government. For some businesses, up to $10,000 may be forgivable. The program will likely become available next week.

7. Explore your eligibility for the Federal Wage Subsidy program. 
This program helps companies of all sizes, non-profits, and charities that have faced revenue decreases of at least 30% by providing employers a 75% pwage subsidy, back-dated to March 15. Today the federal government provided some clarity on eligibility:
  • Eligible employers who suffer a drop in gross revenues of at least 30% in March, April or May, when compared to the same month/s in 2019, will be able to access the subsidy. However, there is no clear guideline yet for businesses that just opened in 2020 or for seasonal businesses that are typically closed in March, April and May.
  • The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy would apply at a rate of 75% of the first $58,700 normally earned by employees – representing a benefit of up to $847 per week. The program would be in place for a 12-week period, from March 15 to June 6, 2020.

8. Defer individual tax payments.
For individuals, the deadline to file taxes is now June 1st.    But this is only an advantage if you expect to owe taxes. Do not delay if you expect a refund! If you do owe taxes after this later filing date, you will now have until August 31st to make the payment.

9. Check and see if your municipality is offering any tax deferral options.

10. Share information about the employment benefits available to your staff:
Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)   — Provides $2,000 per month for four months to any workers who have lost their income for reasons related to COVID-19 including reasons of sickness, quarantine, taking care of those with COVID-19 as well as working parents needing to stay at home with children. This applies to wage earners, contract workers, and self employed individuals. Applications for this benefit will begin April 6th at the earliest, with payments to Canadians set for April 16th.

BC Emergency Benefit for Workers — Tax-free one-time payment of $1,000 to British Columbians (EI-eligible and non-EI eligible) whose ability to work has been impacted by COVID-19, to be aligned with federal government program

Employees who are unable to work due to COVID-19 related reasons are permitted to take unpaid, job-protected leave. This is retroactive to January 27th.

 Supply Products and Services to Support BC's COVID-19 Response

COVID-19 virus has resulted in an unprecedented consumption of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the healthcare system. BC’s suppliers and manufacturers are doing their part, stepping up to relieve the possible shortages of these products. The challenge is there has been no single effective way for suppliers to understand the most pressing product needs and specifications, become newly certified, or for the Health Authorities to efficiently evaluate the overwhelming number of proposals being received.

In an effort to facilitate fast and effective supply chain and procurement protocols, the Business Council, the Digital Technology Supercluster and Traction on Demand have been working with the BC Health Services Authority on a solution. This important initiative has resulted in a system to triage the many and diverse inquiries to ensure that qualified suppliers can connect directly with key provincial institutions and organizations.

The  COVID19 Supply Hub  is now live We encourage you to explore this resource to  see if you can contribute any of the needed supplies . Please also  share this information  with your business and personal networks so we can reach as many potential suppliers as possible .

The Business Council of BC would especially like to thank David Labistour, a member of their Executive Committee, and their Chair, Sue Paish, President and CEO, and Bill Tam, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer, Digital Technology Supercluster, for their leadership in making the  COVID-19 Supply Hub  possible.

No-Cost Ways to Cut Your Energy Costs In Uncertain Times

Sustainable Tourism 2030 has teamed up with local BC-utility companies, FortisBC and BC Hydro, and are offering free energy assessments for businesses in the Thompson Okanagan region. If  you  are a business in the Thompson Okanagan region,  contact us  to schedule your free energy assessment. 

If you are outside of the Thompson-Okanagan region, fear not. They’ve compiled a list of no-cost tips for cutting your energy costs during times of reduced levels of operation or temporary closures: 

Heating and cooling
  • Reprogram your thermostat to reflect adjusted operating hours. 
  • Recommended thermostat heating temperatures, health permitting, are 68°F / 20°C when the building is occupied, and 58°F / 14°C when unoccupied.  
  • Recommended thermostat cooling temperatures, health permitting, are 68°F / 23°C when the building is occupied, and 58°F / 28°C when unoccupied.
  • For larger businesses – reprogram your building management system to reflect your building’s new operating schedule. Put the building on “Holiday/Break” mode if unoccupied for an extended period.
  • Turn off radiant and unit heaters when the building is unoccupied.
Hot Water
  • Turn down water heaters when the building is unoccupied for a longer period of time.
Appliances and Electronics
  • Turn off and/or unplug idling appliances, electronics, and equipment when not in use. 
  • Turn off computers, printers or, at minimum, place in sleep and hibernate modes when business is unoccupied.
  • Turn off the power strip when electronics aren’t in use.
  • When not in use, unplug small appliances and electronics, like coffee makers and printers. 
  • Turn off lighting, including outdoor signage and display cases (if appropriate), when the building is unoccupied.
  • Reprogram lighting controls to reflect adjusted operating hours.
Food Service-Specific Tips
  • Turn off empty refrigerated display cases and refrigerators, leaving the display case door open when the restaurant is unoccupied.
  • Turn off stoves, fryers, grills and boilers when the restaurant is unoccupied
  • Turn off booster heaters and dishwasher water heaters when the dishwasher is not in use and when the restaurant is unoccupied.
  • Turn off kitchen exhaust fans when the restaurant is unoccupied.

Sustainable Tourism 2030 understands how hard the tourism industry is being affected by COVID-19. Wellness, health, and safety are key to sustainability and to that end,  they would love to help you to amplify your messages of how you’re handling this situation. 

Feel free to send us your ideas on what information would be valuable for TIABC to share through our COVID-19 Bulletin going forward. Drop us a line at info@tiabc.ca.