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January 6, 2022

Your CFA Update on COVID-19

ALERT: Error in federal spreadsheet for wage and hiring support may have affected your eligibility

The federal government is advising that recent applicants for the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program (THRP) may have been affected by an error in the calculation spreadsheet for wage and hiring support, which erroneously showed they were ineligible for the THRP when they may have been eligible.  

Who This Error May Affect

You may have been affected if:

  • You were applying for period 22 (October 24 to November 20, 2021)
  • You used a version of the spreadsheet for wage and hiring (version 2021-1) that was available between Tuesday, December 21, 2021 at 6:00 am ET and Friday, December 24, 2021 at 12:00 pm ET
  • You indicated you are a qualifying tourism or hospitality entity and had both a current-month revenue drop and 12-month average revenue drop over 40%
  • Step 5 in the spreadsheet showed a zero dollar amount and gave the message that you were not eligible for the THRP

This error was only present in the calculation spreadsheet for wage and hiring support.

What To Do If You Think You Have Been Affected by This Error

If you did not apply for period 22:

If you already applied for wage subsidies under the Hardest-Hit Business Recovery Program (HHBRP) or Canada Recovery Hiring Program (CRHP) for period 22:

  • Contact the Business Enquiries line at 1-800-959-5525 to make your THRP - Wage application

 

Visit the federal Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program (THRP) page for the latest information.

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Quebec will require people to show vaccine passport at liquor, cannabis stores

Quebec will expand its vaccination passport system so that users will eventually be required to have three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine in order to use it, Health Minister Christian Dubé announced during a news conference Thursday.

Dubé did not provide an exact date for the change, only saying it would be made once all Quebecers have been given the chance to get a third dose.

Currently, the general population has access to a third dose if they are 50 or older. All adults will have access as of Jan. 17.

Dubé also announced that Quebecers will need to show proof that they are adequately vaccinated in order to enter the Quebec Liquor Corp. (SAQ) and government-run stores selling recreational cannabis (SQDC) as of Jan. 18.

Poll: Canadians prefer rate hikes during highest inflation since 2003

According to a recent Nanos poll, Canadians are giving their central bank the go ahead to start raising interest rates amid decades-high inflation. While a majority of households say they’ll be hurt by higher borrowing costs, they are much more concerned about the rising cost of living, according to polling late last month by Nanos Research Group for Bloomberg News. 

Almost nine in 10 Canadians -- or 87 per cent --  say they are more worried about the current pace of rising prices than they are about higher interest rates, the survey found. Only 10 per cent see rising borrowing costs as the bigger issue, with 3 per cent unsure.

The survey illustrates the extent to which inflation and cost of living have become the top source of anxiety, suggesting there is ample public backing for the Bank of Canada’s plans to start withdrawing pandemic monetary stimulus in coming weeks. Canada’s inflation rate has been hovering near 5 per cent in recent months, levels not seen since 2003. 

Public support for higher rates is all the more significant given the nation’s households are among the most indebted anywhere, and will be squeezed by the rising borrowing costs. The poll also found 51 per cent of Canadians expected to be at least somewhat negatively impacted by higher interest rates.

The Bank of Canada has been indicating it’s poised to begin raising interest rates early this year to quell the price pressures. Officials have kept their key policy interest rate at a historic low of 0.25 per cent since March 2020. That rate is now seen rising to at least 1.5 per cent by the end of this year, according to money markets. 

Even with the Federal Reserve looking to quickly tighten U.S. monetary policy, it will be a delicate balancing act for Governor Tiff Macklem in Canada. Raising rates too soon and too fast could inadvertently trigger a downturn at a time when the nation is coping with another spike in COVID-19 cases and new lockdowns. 

The economy has also become increasingly sensitive to higher borrowing costs after accumulating massive debt levels over the past decade. 

“Younger Canadians are much more likely to report a negative sensitivity to higher interest rates compared to middle-aged and older individuals,” Nanos said. “This suggests that there is latitude to increase interest rates with a recognition that they could result in a negative generational squeeze on younger people.”

But cheap money also poses major problems, and moving too slowly comes with big risks. That includes a real-estate boom that has seen record home-price gains over the past year. Prices for everyday goods and services are also outpacing wage increases and eroding purchasing power, undermining consumer confidence. 

If inflation becomes entrenched, economists warn the problem will compound for the Bank of Canada. 

“The key risk to delaying rate hikes is that inflation will run too hot for too long, forcing the Bank of Canada to hike rates faster and higher than otherwise,” Benjamin Reitzes, macro strategist at the Bank of Montreal, said by email.

The Nanos poll is a hybrid telephone and online survey of 1,005 Canadians, with a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points, taken between Dec. 22 and Dec. 23. There is little variation in the result across regions.

Flight cancellations mount as Canadian airlines struggle with staff shortages

Canadian airlines are slashing their flight schedules as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on air industry plans and profits.

Transat A.T. is cancelling nearly 30 per cent of its flights for the next two months due to the ongoing impact of the Omicron variant and the federal government's “restrictive measures'' last month have triggered a wave of trip cancellations by passengers. Transat's slimmed-down flight schedule is in place Thursday through Feb. 25, though the Montreal-based company says more changes may be necessary.

Air Canada said in a flight advisory Wednesday it is suspending flights to at least 14 Caribbean destinations “in light of the current pandemic context,'' effective Jan. 24 through April 30. Air Canada cancelled 11 per cent of all flights Thursday and 10 per cent Wednesday - 87 trips in total. Air Canada Rouge called off 14 per cent of its flights Wednesday. And regional carrier Jazz Aviation cancelled 16 per cent and 14 per cent Wednesday and Thursday respectively, or 155 flights in all. Air Canada said all travellers impacted by the Caribbean route suspensions will receive a full refund.

WestJet Airlines Ltd. Announced last week it would cut 15 per cent of its scheduled flights through to the end of January, citing a high proportion of flight crews calling in sick due to Omicron.

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COVID-19's impact on the world is creating waves across all sectors and industries.

Every member of the CFA community is dealing with an issue that is affecting the world, our industries, our communities, our businesses, and our people.

We would like to hear from you if you have any topics, issues or questions to navigate turbulent times in order to support you further: 

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