Your weekly round up of BizNews from throughout Greater Victoria
July 15, 2020
The changes could also increase the cost of premiums for employers by about 1.4 cents for every $100 of payroll, Labour Minister Harry Bains said.

The proposal includes raising maximum insurable earnings to $100,000, allowing preventative medical treatments before a claim is accepted and making it easier for workers to access benefits if they catch COVID-19. WorkSafeBC would also be able to get warrants allowing them to search workplaces during investigations.

During the pandemic, WorkSafeBC has allowed businesses to defer paying premiums for six months without penalty or interest. As well, as an extra help for hard-hit businesses, WorkSafeBC waived premiums on wages paid to workers of employers receiving the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy for the duration of the program.
WorkSafeBC: Member since 2006
Provincial deficit could hit $12.5 billion: Minister
Yesterday's news conference by BC Finance Minister Carol James serves as further evidence that we are living through surreal times. The numbers are staggering, with a potential operating deficit of $12.5 billion this year because of COVID-19.

It's difficult to add context to this number as BC is in the same situation as every jurisdiction in the world. The cost of getting through this pandemic needs to be measured against the damage that would have happened if governments were not able to backstop the economy. The Chamber has been supportive of government-relief programs designed to help businesses. The faster we can recover and get back to a thriving economy, the better off all of us will be.

"The pandemic has forced all of us to look closely at what we value and the kind of community we want for ourselves and our families," says Chamber CEO Bruce Williams. "The next few months will continue to be difficult but we have an opportunity to embrace changes that will make businesses more resilient and provide long-term economic prosperity."
Region's unemployment rate climbs to 11% in June
Greater Victoria's unemployment rate hit 11% in June — up from 10.1% in May, according to the latest report from Statistics Canada.

The numbers are in contrast to the rest of BC and Canada. Provincially, the rate was 13% in June compared to 13.4% in May. Nationally, the unemployment rate was 12.3% in June, down from 13.7% in May.

The economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has hurt the tourism and hospitality sector especially hard, which could account for Greater Victoria's numbers. Our region typically has one of the lowest unemployment rates in Canada.

It's difficult to forecast where the rates will go from here as more businesses re-open and expand their operations. The hope is that an increase in local customers as well as a focus on travelling within the province will help.

“We’ve proven that flattening the curve is good for the economy,” Chamber CEO Bruce Williams told CHEK News. “We’re not back to the unemployment numbers that we had before ... but it does mean that we are embracing the ability to move forward to restart the economy.”
Final two weeks for Chamber Board nominations
Now more than ever leadership matters.

We’d like to invite you to be a part of the history of the region and serve on The Chamber Board.

Each fall the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce holds an election for new board members. Each board member is elected for a two-year term with staggered renewal dates. This year, six (6) board positions are up for election and we're looking for great nominees like you.

Our influential board works with decision-makers at all levels of government to support our region’s businesses and maximize the value of membership with The Chamber.

Click here for key dates, the nomination process and the voting procedure.

Download a nomination form here. Please also include your bio and photo for the election ballot. Additional questions can be directed here.

Nominations close Thursday, July 30 at noon.
Patio Season has arrived in Greater Victoria! Use this handy checklist to discover patios with incredible views, delicious food and cold drinks to enjoy on a hot day.

Before heading to a Chamber member patio, ensure they are open by visiting the Chamber Member Service Update page or by contacting them directly.

Take a photo of yourself completing the Patio Checklist, and tag us with @victoriachamber and #YYJPatioChecklist for a chance to be featured on our social media channels. Stay safe and support local this season.
Getting you back to business
Tomorrow! Virtual Business Mixer with KWENCH
Establish and renew valuable business relationships at Thursday's after-hours Virtual Business Mixer, hosted by  KWENCH .
Chance to win!
Register and attend for your chance to win a pair of hop-on, hop-off bus tour tickets provided by Wilson's Group of Companies .
Go behind the scenes
Attendees will have the unique opportunity for a tour of the newly renovated  KWENCH   space.
Thurs., July 16 |5-6pm
Hear how the Air Travel sector is about to take flight
Join Chamber CEO Bruce Williams and a panel of air transport and tourism leaders as they discuss how to safely and responsibly open aviation travel and the role of tourism in moving our local economy forward.
Have your questions answered by industry experts
Join our Chamber CEO Bruce Williams, Matthew Hohnsbehn, Liaison Officer at the Canada Revenue Agency, and Kris Wirk, Partner, at Dusanj & Wirk Chartered Professional Accountants as they break down how businesses can take advantage of this program and avoid any pitfalls.
Upcoming Virtual Events
Thurs., Aug. 13 | 8-9am
Tues., Sept. 1 | 12- 1pm
Will farmers help lead Island's economic recovery?
Farm sales reached record levels in 2019, and the provincial government says the growing sector could point the way to economic recovery.

BC reported $3.9 billion in farm cash receipts last year, with areas of growth including cannabis, dairy, beef and field vegetables.

“COVID-19 has opened our eyes to the importance of our province’s self-sufficiency," said Saanich South MLA and Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham. "I urge everyone to continue to show their appreciation for our farmers and support our local food system by making a special effort to Buy BC.”

The BC Farm, Fish and Food Job Connector was launched in May to help farmers find workers needed for this season's harvest. Last year's record represents on increase of $462 million in revenue from 2018.

To help Island farmers adapt to the changing climate, the provincial and federal governments have identified 11 strategies to increase resilience. With warmer and dryer conditions, new types of insects and more extreme weather events, farmers need to prepare for challenges and opportunities ahead, the report says.
Funding aims to help people find pathway to hope
To reduce the number of people living in homeless camps in our region, housing needs to be supported by mental health and addiction services that can address the root issues facing this population.

On July 13, the provincial government announced it was expanding the number of health care teams focused on helping people with addictions stay connected to treatment. Teams are tailored to their community and can include nurses, counsellors, social workers and peers. The goal is to reach people as individuals and help them stay connected to services and stay away from toxic street drugs.

In May, the BC Coroner's office reported 170 people died from overdoses. That was the highest monthly fatality rate in the province, and 90% higher than the same period last year.
Businesses facing tough decision to reopen: survey
Businesses across Canada are facing a difficult decision as they can’t afford to stay closed but are struggling with reduced revenue that doesn’t cover expenses. The paradox is reflected in the results of a survey released yesterday by Statistics Canada and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

Getting through this difficult phase will be critical for the economy and requires businesses to overcome three key challenges.

  1. Employers need to have their workers on the job. So far, only 22% of businesses have accessed the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy. It’s clear that government needs to make this program more accessible.
  2. Commercial rent relief needs to be improved. Only 25% of businesses reported they have been able to get relief from rent or mortgage payments.
  3. Safety requirements remain a priority and require businesses to be able to source personal protective equipment — especially sectors that require physical proximity, such as retail, events, hotels and food services.

To help our members learn more about how they can benefit from the wage subsidy program, as well as its tax implications, Chamber CEO Bruce Williams is hosting Matthew Hohnsbehn, Liaison Officer at the Canada Revenue Agency , and Kris Wirk, Partner, at Dusanj & Wirk Chartered Professional Accountants, on Aug. 11.
Register Now
Tuesday, Aug. 11, Noon to 1 pm
Let us know you're open!
To help locals looking to support businesses in the region, we want to make it easier to find businesses that are open and ready to provide products or services.
You'll see on our Chamber  online business directory  that we've added an Open icon for businesses.
Details on how the business has adapted and/or new hours will appear in Products and Services at the bottom of the listing.

We've also enhanced the SEO keywords on these listings to get you noticed.

Do you have updated business hours or services? Contact us   for your Open Icon and enhanced directory listing.
Job Board exclusive member benefit
The job board has returned to being an exclusive benefit of Chamber membership.

The Chamber is proud to have featured more than 500 jobs on our  job board  , including 250 since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. We opened up this member benefit to help our community meet the demand for essential service jobs. We are now seeing a return to job postings that reflect the restart of our economy.

If you have any difficulty posting, please 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.
Members Around Town
Reconnect in Victoria

Destination Greater Victoria has launched the “Reconnect In Victoria This Summer” initiative, which focuses on supporting various businesses within the tourism sector.

Included in this initiative is a promotion to receive a $75 Visa gift card if you book two consecutive nights at a local hotel.

Many Chamber members are included in this promotion, including:

A youthful look at finance

The Victoria Foundation is hosting two virtual Youth Vital Conversations that address financial well-being, affordable housing options, and much more in Canada’s changing economic landscape.

The program, which is sponsored by Coast Capital Savings, will be tailored for youth between 15-21 on July 16, and for young adults aged 20-27 on July 23.

Victoria Foundation: member since 2004

Coast Capital Savings: member since 2011
Pop Up Opera

Pacific Opera Victoria will be hosting Pop Up Operas throughout the summer. These free events will feature one to two performers singing over tracks created by pianist Robert Hollston. From parks to street corners, these 10-minute performances will be sure to brighten your day.
Pacific Opera Victoria: member since 2007
A new maestro

Matthew White has been named the new CEO of the Victoria Symphony. The organization will be looking into innovative ways to engage with patrons, says White, who has performed with operas and orchestras in New York, Toronto, and Vancouver.
Victoria Symphony: member since 1984
Dining delight

The Hotel Rialto will be opening a new restaurant this summer. The Palms, which will open its doors this August, will feature a full cocktail menu, Sunday brunch with live DJ, and other unique characteristics to entice new customers.
Hotel Rialto: member since 2001
Is your business implementing new strategies or innovative ways of connecting with consumers?