August 18, 2020
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August 18, 2020

Your CFA Update on COVID-19



Canada has a new Finance Minister: Chrystia Freeland replaces Bill Morneau

Chrystia Freeland was sworn in as Canada's new finance minister today, becoming the first woman to take on the powerful role. Up until today, Freeland, the former foreign affairs minister, was serving as deputy prime minister and intergovernmental affairs minister. She will retain her role as deputy prime minister but hands over her responsibilities for relations with the provinces to Dominic LeBlanc.

Minister Dominic LeBlanc – a close friend and ally of Trudeau – was appointed as Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, re-assuming that role from Minister Freeland now that he is back to full health after cancer treatment.

PM Trudeau prorogues Parliament until Sept. 23

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has prorogued Parliament until Sept. 23, putting a more than month-long pause on parliamentary business as his government focuses on plotting its roadmap out of the ongoing pandemic. Trudeau said the late-September throne speech will mark the beginning of a new legislative session that will have a renewed focus on the next phase of Canada’s response to COVID-19.

This is the first time Trudeau has taken that massive procedural step of prorogation, after vowing when first elected to not use “prorogation to avoid difficult political circumstances,” as the Liberals accused former prime minister Stephen Harper of doing. News of Trudeau’s prorogation comes almost seven years to the day of Harper’s 2013 prorogation amid the Senate expense scandal.

A prorogation effectively ends the current Parliamentary session, killing all legislative business that has not passed. In this case means halting all ongoing WE Charity committee probes and wiping away the remaining pre-pandemic pieces of legislation.

Prorogation and a throne speech provides the opposition with a straightforward opportunity for a confidence vote which could force an election if the minority Liberals do not get the support of at least one of the opposition parties.

Throne Speech in September

The September Throne Speech will set a new policy agenda for the Government that accounts for both the immediate consequences of the pandemic and the potential for a changed economy thereafter. The Prime Minister said that agenda will focus on: Building healthy and inclusive communities, combating climate change, and supporting immigration.

Minister Freeland will be the driving force behind executing that policy vision. Ministers McKenna (Infrastructure and Communities), Wilkinson (Environment and Climate Change), and Guilbeault (Heritage) were already developing policies for a “green recovery”, which both the Prime Minister and Minister Freeland emphasized will be a high priority for the new Parliamentary session.

A fall election?

While the Prime Minister claimed today that he does not want a Fall election, but the Throne Speech will be crafted as a de facto election platform – a set of policies that the Liberals are comfortable offering to voters if all of the opposition parties refuse to support the Speech. In any case, we expect all major government communications in the coming months to take on a pre-election tone.

What’s Next

We expect the Government will issue new Ministerial mandate letters after the Throne Speech – as signaled by the Prime Minister’s statement today that governing priorities must change to respond to the current circumstances.

The Government has committed to giving an update on Federal finances this Fall, although it is unclear if that will take the form of a full budget or an economic statement. The Prime Minister pledged today that taxes will not be increased during the economic recovery.

The Official Opposition Conservatives will receive a boost in public profile when the new party leader is announced on Sunday night. The winner – with the odds favouring Peter MacKay or Erin O’Toole – will move quickly to restructure the party’s political leadership, hire political staff, begin election preparedness work, and consider a critic shuffle.

The House of Commons Finance Committee will begin pre-budget hearings for Budget 2021 shortly after Parliament resumes sitting. Especially in light of the new Throne Speech, that budget cycle is the best opportunity for stakeholders to get new spending initiatives off the ground – particularly if they align with the Government’s vision for economic recovery.

Canada Revenue Agency Opens Applications for Enhanced Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

Yesterday, the CRA announced that applications for period five of the CEWS were now available. Period five is the first of the periods that are a part of the new enhanced CEWS. Eligible employers can apply through their My Business Account or the CRA’s web form application.

More Information

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Question and Answer Teleconference, With the CRA

The Government of Canada recently implemented changes to adapt the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to protect jobs and promote growth. The CRA will shortly publish a number of online resources, including updated frequently asked questions, to help eligible employers understand how to apply and take advantage of this fiscal measure. To complement these resources, the CRA will host a series of interactive question and answer teleconference sessions for eligible employers and stakeholder organizations.  You are invited to attend one.

Register for Aug. 21 at 1:00 p.m. ET

Register for Aug. 27 at 2:00 p.m. ET

New Brunswick Election Called for September 14

NB Premier Blaine Higgs has called a provincial election, the first that will be held in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic, for Sept. 14. Higgs visited Lt.-Gov. Brenda Murphy at Government House in Fredericton on Monday afternoon and asked her to dissolve the legislature. She agreed. The decision came three days after the Liberal opposition pulled out of four-party negotiations on a proposal from Higgs that would have allowed his government to stay in power until October 2022 or until the end of the pandemic. The Liberals said that would hand too much power to Higgs and urged him not to go to the polls until the pandemic is over. 

CRA shuts down online services after thousands of accounts breached in cyberattacks

The Canada Revenue Agency has temporarily shut down its online services after the agency confirmed it was recently hit by two cyberattacks that compromised thousands of accounts linked to its services. While the breaches have been contained, services connected to My Account, My Business Account and Represent a Client on the CRA website have been disabled as an additional safety measure. 

The shutdown means that anyone attempting to apply for emergency COVID-19 benefits, such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit or the Canada Emergency Student Benefit, will be unable to do so until further notice. 

While it was initially reported that 5,500 CRA account users had their personal information accessed, officials confirmed on Monday that a total of 11,200 accounts for Government of Canada services were compromised in the attacks. Officials said that one-third of accounts were used to actually log into government services, while the others are being monitored for suspicious behaviour.

Government officials said they first became aware of security issues on Aug. 7, contacted the RCMP on Aug. 11, and yet Canadians were not informed until this weekend, after further attacks were executed. 

Impacted individuals have had their accounts suspended, and the government is working on notifying all affected users and tallying the damage done by these cyberattacks. Government officials are encouraging all who suspect they have had their accounts compromised to report it, and check the status of other login accounts, such as online banking and to in the future always use unique logins and passwords, especially with services that hold personal information.

Ontario Launches Consultation on Strengthening Provincial Privacy Laws

On August 13, 2020, Ontario’s Ministry of Government and Consumer Services announced that the Ontario government has launched consultations to improve the province’s privacy protection laws. The focus of the consultations is on strengthening transparency and accountability concerning the collection, use and safeguarding of personal information online, with the goal of creating a “legislative framework for privacy in the province’s private sector”. The government cited the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on increasing reliance on digital platforms to carry out day-to-day tasks as a key motivator for launching these consultations now.

Grand Forks, BC offering free rent for new businesses to revive the downtown core

To help revive the downtown core, the local downtown business association is offering new commercial businesses six months of free rent on two-year leases. Businesses just have to submit a business proposal and commit to a minimum two year lease term. The program is meant only for new businesses, because rather than having shops relocate, the association would like to fill up the storefronts downtown to attract both local shoppers and tourists to the area.

Wildfiresfloods and the global pandemic forced many business owners to look for other space to operate out of. Several have closed their businesses altogether. 

Regina unveils grant for businesses forced to transform because of pandemic

Regina entrepreneurs can now apply for a new grant to help them reshape their business during the pandemic. Under the Regina Economic Recovery Grant, businesses can receive help for initiatives such as starting curbside pickup or ramping up e-commerce.

Businesses have the option to apply before the end of the year for smaller grants up to $5,000 for immediate short-term needs such as personal protective equipment, or apply for grants up to $25,000 available in the New Year for longer-term initiatives, but they can't choose both.

The city said grant applications are only available online and will be received every Monday starting at 9 a.m. CST for 24 hours or until 40 have been submitted.

An adjudication committee will award the grants to the applications that best meet the core criteria, which include helping people return to work, keeping the business open and diversifying or transforming the business in response to a changing market.

The city estimates businesses chosen to receive the grant will receive payment within two to three weeks of applying.

Average Canadian house price rose 14% in year up to July, CREA says

The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), said Monday that 62,355 Canadian resale homes were sold via the Multiple Listings Service, shattering the previous record for most sales in a month. The July figure was 26 per cent higher than June's figure.

The sales boom is being led by Canada's biggest cities, as home sales rose by 49.5 per cent in the Greater Toronto Area, 43.9 per cent in Greater Vancouver and by 39.1 per cent in Montreal.

CREA says the average price can be misleading because it is easily influenced by sales of expensive properties in big markets like Toronto and Vancouver. The Home Price Index, which it says is a better gauge of the market because it strips out that volatility and adjusts for both the volume and type of housing being sold in every market. The HPI increased at a 7.4 per cent annual rate in July. That's the fastest pace of gain since 2017. All 20 of the biggest housing markets in Canada had a higher HPI number in July than they did in June.

The Toronto area, Guelph, Ottawa and Montreal saw the biggest price spikes, with prices climbing faster in most markets east of Saskatchewan. Prices rose more modestly in British Columbia and Alberta.

N.L. increases limit on gatherings to 100 people

Newfoundland and Labrador is increasing how many people can gather at organized events, under a new special measure issued by the province's chief medical officer of health. Effective Aug. 24, gatherings by a "recognized business or organization" may allow up to 100 people — up from 50 — inside a venue for social gatherings such as weddings, funerals and concerts as long as it's still less than 50 per cent of the venue's capacity. Outdoor gatherings will also be capped at 100 people. What qualifies as "recognized" business or organizations are those that can provide oversight and have somebody responsible for ensuring the number of people in the venue falls within the guidelines.

Webinar Series On Demand

Did you know our COVID-19 webinars are available on-demand?

Since the start of August, we have hosted three webinars providing critical information on the topics our members have asked about: the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) extension, management of employment related risks, and a safe return to the workplace. Each webinar provides valuable insights into these crucial topics and are targeted towards BOTH franchisors and franchisees.

We encourage franchisors to share these webinars with your franchisees, to help your team better navigate towards recovery and growth.

Update on Government Programs: Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy


Speaker: Justin Mastrangelo, BDO Canada LLP

In this webinar, learn from an expert from BDO Canada about the recent changes to the CEWS and understand how they will affect your business as you recover.


Back to Basics: What Covid-19 has taught us about employment essentials


Speakers: Matthew Badrov and Allyson Lee, Sherrard Kuzz LLP

Covid-19 brought about a significant amount of change for Canadian employers that had to be dealt with in very short period of time. In this webinar, experts Matthew Badrov and Allyson Lee from Sherrard Kuzz gives practical advice on what you need to consider in best practices in management your employment related risks.


Returning to the workplace: What employers need to know


Speakers: Michael Sherrard and Matthew Badrov, Sherrard Kuzz LLP

In this webinar, experts Michael Sherrard and Matthew Badrov from Sherrard Kuzz LLP give practical advice on what you need to consider in developing policies and procedures to keep your employees safe and satisfy your legal obligations.



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Feedback from our Members

“My husband, Jim and I would like to thank everyone at the CFA who has worked so hard and tirelessly to provide us with updated information on the Covid-19 crisis, for the webinars, lobbying for change and for all of the support you provide to members on a regular basis. We are sincerely grateful. To everyone at the CFA, take care and stay healthy.”

 - Nadine Cartman, CEO, Chicken Delight of Canada Ltd

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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