September 29, 2020
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September 29, 2020

Your CFA Update on COVID-19

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BC Labour Relations Board makes a common employer ruling in Sobey’s et al v. United Food and Commercial Workers International Union

In mid September, the BC Labour Relations Board made a common employer declaration in a case that was brought forward by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union against Sobey’s, and several of its franchisees in BC. In the decision, Andres Barker, Vice Chair of the BC LRB, ruled that “Sobeys and the Franchisees constitute more than one entity carrying on a business or activity through the franchising and operation of the FreshCo stores. The LRB found that the entities are under common control or direction, and there is a labour relations purpose for making a common employer declaration.”

The CFA was not a party to the original matter. However, we are reviewing the decision with members of the Legal and Legislative Affairs Committee to determine if and how we may become more involved in the matter to ensure the franchise business model is protected in Canada.

The decision is available here.

Canadian Chamber Statement: Rent is due Thursday. What’s the plan?

This morning Canadian Chamber of Commerce President and CEO, Hon. Perrin Beatty, issued the following statement, regarding the urgent need for clarity on commercial rent support:

“When the September extension of the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program was announced, it was made clear the program was being wound down. Businesses needing rent support would need a new and improved program to help keep them afloat.

The problems associated with CECRA are well-documented: it was complex, restrictive, took a month-to-month approach, and depended on landlords, to name a few. Governments at all levels understand these issues and that’s why a new program is the preferred path. We agree.

The reality, however, is that businesses operate in real time and must be able to plan in order to be successful. Now, rent is due Thursday. That means businesses urgently need to know the plan.

A business-led recovery from the pandemic is our goal. But for many sectors, including restaurants, travel, and tourism, recovery from the pandemic remains a long-term challenge as restrictions on those businesses continue. As those businesses continue to be limited, the need for corresponding long-term programs to help cover some of the resulting losses is also ongoing.

Together, we need to ensure that businesses are able to survive the winter. Millions of Canadians’ livelihoods depend on it. On commercial rent, it’s time to see the long-term plan.”

Liberals, NDP reach deal on sick leave, avoiding federal election

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says the Liberal government is willing to boost the number of people who can access sick days, clearing the way for New Democrats to support the throne speech and bypass an immediate fall election.

Singh said the agreement involves a change to the wording in Bill C-2 — the proposed legislation that would transition people from the Canada emergency response benefit (CERB) to an employment insurance program with expanded eligibility, or to one of three new recovery benefits —  to significantly expand the number of Canadians who would be able to access paid sick leave.

The NDP's support for the throne speech would give the minority Liberals enough votes to pass it in the House of Commons and avoid a snap election.

Liberal House Leader Pablo Rodriquez tweeted this Friday afternoon that a deal has been reached, but didn't offer any more details about the sick leave changes.

CFA Business Recovery Summit Series

The CFA Business Recovery Summit Series in October 2020 is a month of virtual conferences and events to help franchisors and franchisees manage, adapt, and grow their business in the "next normal" during COVID-19 recovery. REGISTER NOW

Ontario imposes tighter restrictions on bars and restaurants

The Ontario government is implementing a number of new provincewide restrictions and public health measures aimed at curbing a surge in new cases of COVID-19. The Ontario government is taking the following measures:

  • Last call at bars and restaurants, including nightclubs, is 11 p.m.
  • All strip clubs will be closed until further notice.
  • Require all businesses and organizations to comply with the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams, including screening people who wish to enter their premises for COVID-19 symptoms.

The orders took effect at 12:01 a.m. Saturday. 

Quebec tightening COVID-19 restrictions 

Greater Montreal, Quebec City and Chaudière-Appalaches regions are now considered red zones under the province's COVID-19 alert system, Quebec Premier François Legault said Monday. The new restrictions, announced after Quebec reported 750 new coronavirus cases, take effect 12:01 a.m. ET on Thursday and are set to last for 28 days, until Oct. 28, in the red zones. The restrictions are: 

  • A ban on home gatherings, with some exceptions, such as a single caregiver allowed per visit.
  • All bars, casinos and restaurants are closed (takeout only).
  • Libraries, museums, cinemas and theatres will also be closed.
  • Being less than two metres apart will be prohibited. Masks will be mandatory during demonstrations.
  • Houses of worship and venues for events, such as funerals and weddings, will have a 25-person limit.
  • Hair salons, hotels and other such businesses will stay open.
  • Schools will remain open.

CERB comes to an end

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) began to wind down over the weekend after officially paying out more than $79 billion to almost nine million Canadians during the pandemic. Millions will be transferred to a beefed-up Employment Insurance (EI) program. Those who were collecting CERB through Service Canada will be automatically transferred, while those who received the benefit through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will have to apply for EI. Canadians who don't qualify for EI may qualify for three new temporary benefits recently announced by the federal government: the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB), and Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB). 

Click here to learn more.

Office vacancies spike in Toronto, Vancouver

Vacancy rates in Canada’s tightest office markets are spiking, as employees continue to work from home and more businesses try to get rid of space amid the economic fallout from the novel coronavirus pandemic. Subleases in downtown Toronto more than doubled over the past three months, sending the office vacancy rate to 4.7 per cent in the third quarter, from 2.7 per cent in the second, according to new data from commercial real estate brokerage CBRE.

In downtown Vancouver, sublease space rose 30 per cent, pushing the office vacancy rate to 4.6 per cent, from 3.3 per cent. (Sublease space is included in the overall vacancy rate.)

Across the country, the vacancy rate reached 12 per cent in the third quarter compared with 11 per cent in the second. Calgary, which was still trying to recover from 2014′s oil crash when it was hit with another oil downturn and the pandemic, is in a dire position. Its downtown vacancy rate is nearly 30 per cent.

Montreal and Ottawa, two cities that had enjoyed a downtown real estate revival, also had more space become available throughout the pandemic. In Montreal, the office vacancy rate in the core rose to 8.7 per cent from 7.3 per cent. In Ottawa, the level climbed to 8.8 per cent from 7.7 per cent.

Before the pandemic slowed the global economy, businesses big and small competed fiercely for offices in downtown Toronto and Vancouver. That sent vacancy rates to record lows of around 2 per cent, pushed up rental rates and triggered a flurry of office skyscraper developments. In the early months of the health crisis, a wave of smaller tenants such as Ritual Technologies and CrowdRiff tried to get rid of their office space in downtown Toronto. Over the summer, bigger tenants such as PricewaterhouseCoopers, Cisco Systems Inc. and Oracle Inc. put some of their space up for sublease.

Although the new data showed that rent prices remained flat quarter to quarter, brokers say that rents are effectively lower now with some landlords offering more incentives, including a period of free rent and more cash for tenant improvements.

Saskatchewan election kicks off

Saskatchewan's election is underway. Premier Scott Moe, leader of the Saskatchewan Party, met with Lt.-Gov. Russ Mirasty Tuesday morning and asked him to dissolve the legislative assembly in order for the province's 29th election to begin. The province will go to the polls on Oct. 26.

British Columbia Election: Polling Update

Though polls suggest dissatisfaction with the early election call, it does not seem to have had a major impact on support for the New Democrats, who are in clear majority territory with a wide lead over Andrew Wilkinson's Liberals. They would very likely get the 44 seats needed for a majority government, and potentially much more than that as the Liberals are in danger of losing ground to the NDP. The B.C. Greens are in contention to retain most of their seats but have some work to do to move into a position where they could make any gains.

The New Democrats hold a commanding lead on Vancouver Island and are also well ahead in Metro Vancouver, where they can pick up seats from the Liberals. The race is very competitive in the rest of the province between the NDP and Liberals, though there are some significant variations in support across the B.C. Interior and North. The Greens are strongest on Vancouver Island, but they are still narrowly trailing the Liberals for second place there.

Polling (brackets indicate change in party support since Sep. 24, 2020)

  • NDP: 46.6% (+2.5)
  • LIB: 32.6% (+1.0)
  • GRN: 13.5% (-1.0)
  • OTH: 7.3% (-2.5)

NB Premier Blaine Higgs unveils new cabinet

Premier Blaine Higgs and the members of the Executive Council were sworn in at a ceremony held today in Fredericton. Higgs gave a brief address focusing on economic recovery, health care and education.

The Minister’s most relevant to the CFA and franchising are

  • Arlene Dunn – Minister responsible for Economic Development and Small Business, Minister responsible for Opportunities NB, Minister responsible for Immigration, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs
  • Gary Crossman – Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Minister responsible for the Regional Development Corporation
  • Ernie Steeves – Minister of Finance and Treasury Board
  • Dorothy Shephard – Minister of Health
  • Trevor Holder – Minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour

CFA staff will be reaching out to the new Ministers to start to build those relationships.


DENTON’s – Ontario employers now legally required to screen employees coming to work – using the government’s “Screening Tool”

Webinar Series On Demand


Impact of COVID-19 on Banks & Lenders: Now how do you approach the bank

SPEAKERS: Paul daSilva, RBC; Joseph Pisani, BMO Bank of Montreal; Tom de Larzac, HSBC Bank Canada; and, Mohammed Jehangir, CIBC

In this webinar, learn how COVID-19 has impacted how Canadian banks are looking at business loans and what additional information they need. What programs and services have banks introduced to serve SMEs and how can they be accessed? What is the impact of the pandemic on  a bank's risk tolerances? Have banks changed how they will lend and for what they will lend? Are loan losses as government support programs taper off expected to tighten loan approval requirements? How do I take advantage of changes in the marketplace? How do i grow my franchise?


CFA’s Business Recovery Summit Series

Stay up-to-date with the latest news and developments with Canada’s financial institutions at CFA’s Business Recovery Summit Series throughout the month of October, where speakers will present updates on financing and lending. Register here


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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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