October 13, 2020
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October 13, 2020

Your CFA Update on COVID-19

October Early Bird Incentives Launched!

Learn More About the October Early-Bird Renewal Incentives

Ontario Continues to Support Restaurants 

Last week, the province introduced additional targeted public health measures in Toronto, Ottawa and Peel Region in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts to help slow the spread of the virus. Over the next 28 days, indoor food and drink service at restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments in these regions will be prohibited, but they may continue to offer takeout, delivery and outdoor dining.

To provide relief for local restaurants and other businesses impacted by the new public health measures, Ontario announced $300 million to help offset fixed costs, including property taxes, hydro and natural gas bills.

The government is also supporting small business through its Main Street Recovery Plan by:

  • Committing to permanently allow licensed restaurants and bars to include alcohol with food as part of a takeout or delivery order before the existing regulation expires;
  • Permanently allowing 24/7 deliveries to restaurants;
  • Supporting the distribution of local food and food products by increasing the range of products sold at the Ontario Food Terminal;
  • Ending outdated and duplicative rules so businesses can focus on their work;
  • Modernizing regulations to allow businesses to innovate and meet the challenges of today;
  • Providing mental health supports to business owners and employees who are struggling;
  • Providing $57 million with federal partners through the Digital Main Street program and creating new Digital Main Street squads to help small businesses grow online; and
  • Launching a new portal to assist small businesses to quickly find the supports and information they need.

In case you missed it: New Commercial Rent Relief Program announced

Today, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, announced new supports to help businesses including a new commercial rent program which CFA has been asking for. According to the news release, the supports, if passed by Parliament, will include:

New Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy

The new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy will provide rent support directly to tenants from now until June 2021. According to Finance Canada, the new program will “provide simple and easy-to-access rent and mortgage support until June 2021 for qualifying organizations affected by COVID-19”. We are told that the new rent subsidy program will be administered through the CRA not CMHC.

The new rent program will help business who have suffered a revenue drop, by subsidizing a percentage of their expenses, on a sliding scale, up to a maximum of 65 per cent of eligible expenses until December 19, 2020. Program parameters for 2021 will be released in the future. Organizations will also be able to retroactively make claims for the period that began on September 27, 2020 and ends October 24, 2020.

Rent Subsidy Top Up

The program also includes a 25 per cent top up for organizations temporarily shut down by a mandatory public health order. This top up is in addition to the 65 per cent subsidy. This commitment was made in the recent Throne Speech which committed Ottawa to providing direct financial support to businesses temporarily shut down as a result of a local public health decision.

CEWS Extension until June 2021

The extension of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy until June 2021, would continue to protect jobs by helping businesses keep employees on the payroll and encouraging employers to re-hire their workers. The subsidy would remain at the current subsidy rate of up to a maximum of 65 per cent of eligible wages until December 19, 2020. This measure, according to the Finance Minister, is part of the government’s commitment to create over one million jobs and restore employment to the level it was before the pandemic.

Expanding the CEBA Loan Program – new $20K Top Up

They also announced they are expanding the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loans so that eligible borrowers can access an additional interest free loan of up to $20,000. 50 per cent of the additional financing would be forgivable if repaid by December 31, 2022. The application deadline for CEBA is also being extended to December 31, 2020.

The additional CEBA loan would effectively increase CEBA loans from $40,000 to $60,000 for eligible businesses, of which a total of $20,000 would be forgiven if the balance of the loan is repaid before December 31, 2022. To date, over 765,000 CEBA loans have been approved, representing more than $30 billion.

CFA Commentary

Giving tenants direct access to rent support is great news for all CFA members. We are happy that government is doing away with the complicated CMHC landlord tenant application process. We have asked the federal government to look at providing a top up rent subsidy for businesses that are forced to reduce capacity by public health (not just close). We are looking for clarity about whether or not new businesses that started after March 2020 will qualify for the new rent program.

The CEBA top up is good news but there are many unanswered questions on issues that we, and others, have been raising since March.

  • Business bank accounts vs personal bank accounts: Under the current program criteria, a business that operates using a personal bank account was excluded from applying for the CEBA loan. The federal government is working with the banks on the issue but today’s announcement did not include the outcome of those discussions.
  • Qualifying Thresholds: Under the current criteria, the Borrower’s total employment income paid in the 2019 calendar year was between$20,000 and $1,500,000. The CFA has been advocating for the top and bottom thresholds to be expanded to help more franchised businesses.
  • Multiple Loans based on Location: Each qualifying business is limited to one CEBA loan for every CRA business account. The CFA believes that loans should be allowed for multiple locations based on business licenses, HST/GST accounts, WSIB accounts, etc. instead of simple corporate entities using the CRA account. We will continue to advocate for this change.

BC Election – Leaders Debate and Polling Update

The B.C. leaders' provincial election debate is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 13 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. PT and will be broadcast live. The 90-minute debate will feature Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau, NDP Leader John Horgan and Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson.

According to recent polling, the trend line so far in the campaign has been steady — and that is good news for John Horgan and the B.C. New Democrats as election day gets closer. The NDP has maintained its wide lead over Andrew Wilkinson's B.C. Liberals and would likely form a majority government if the vote were held today. The B.C. Greens under Sonia Furstenau continue to struggle to build momentum and will need to fight to keep their seats on Vancouver Island.

Projections show that the BC NDP has a 99% chance of forming a majority government.

Poll averages

  • NDP: 50.0% (+2.1)
  • LIB: 34.1% (+0.2)
  • GRN: 12.2% (-1.2)
  • OTH: 3.7% (-1.1)

Brackets show the change in party support since Oct. 8, 2020.

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

Office vacancy rate drops slightly in downtown Edmonton as market remains flat

A recent report shows a slight drop in vacant office space in downtown Edmonton as office vacancy rates remain flat despite the pandemic. The report by commercial real estate company CBRE Canada found increases in vacancies and sublet space throughout Canada in the third quarter of 2020. The about turn comes after a historic run that, according to CBRE, has left Canadian office markets in a more resilient position.

Alberta's two main cities topped the list for office vacancies among Canadian cities, with Edmonton just below 20 per cent and Calgary just over 25. But while Edmonton's overall office space vacancy remained about the same since last quarter, its downtown bucked the increasing national trend with a decrease from 19.7 to 19 per cent.

Saskatchewan Election

Only one poll has been published since the start of the campaign, but it confirms the trends seen in polls conducted over the summer. Scott Moe's Saskatchewan Party continues to hold a very wide lead over Ryan Meili's New Democrats, and would be very likely to win a big majority government if an election were held today. No other party is in contention to win seats. Projections show that the Saskatchewan Party has a 99% chance of forming a majority government.

Poll averages

  • Sask Party: 56.8%
  • NDP: 32.6% (+5.6)
  • GRN: 1.6% (+0.2)
  • OTH: 9.1% (-5.8)

Brackets show change in party support since the Sep. 3, 2020 pre-election poll.

Manitoba eliminates PST from cost of personal tax preparation

Manitobans are getting a break on the cost of getting their income tax returns prepared. They will no longer be charged the seven per cent provincial sales tax on that service, the Progressive Conservative government announced on Tuesday.

The elimination of the PST on income tax preparation is also an election promise the Tories made in August 2019. The change to save Manitobans a total of nearly $5.5 million per year.

The Progressive Conservatives plan to implement further tax cuts during this legislative session, including the elimination of probate fees on estates and phasing out the education property tax.

Virtual Franchise Awareness Day - November 2

Don't miss an opportunity to connect with elected officials to help raise awareness about the importance of franchising. Ask politicians to consult with the CFA as the voice of franchising in Canada and on any policy issues that affect businesses like yours. RSVP

Manitoba Hydro told to charge customers 2.9% more for electricity starting in December 2020

Manitoba Hydro is being told to charge customers an extra 2.9 per cent for electricity starting in December. The provincial government introduced legislation Friday that includes the rate increase, bypassing the usual practice of Hydro asking for a rate increase and then the Public Utilities Board having the final say. The change was found in the Budget Implementation and Tax Statutes Amendment Act.

Typical Ontario electricity bill set to increase nearly 2% as fixed pricing ends

Energy bills for the typical Ontario home are going up by about two per cent with fixed pricing coming to an end on Nov. 1, the Ontario Energy Board says. The province's electricity regulator has released new time-of-use pricing and says the rate for the average residential customer using 700 kWh per month will increase by about $2.24.

Time-of-use pricing had been scrapped for residential bills for much for the pandemic with a single price set for all hours of the day. The move, which came into effect June 1, was meant "to support families, small business and farms while Ontario plans for the safe and gradual reopening of the province," the OEB said at the time. Fixed pricing meant customers' bills reflected how much power they used, rather than when they used it. Customers were charged 12.8 cents/kWh er no matter their time of use.

Beginning November, the province says customers can choose between time-of-use and tiered pricing. Rates for time-of-use plans will be 21.7 cents/kWh during peak hours, 15 cents/kWh for mid-peak use and 10.5 cents/kWh for off-peak use. Customers choosing tiered pricing will pay 12.6 cents/kWh for the first 1000 kWh each month and then 14.6 cents/kWh for any power used beyond that.

The energy board says the increase in pricing reflects "a combination of factors, including those associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, that have affected demand, supply costs and prices in the summer and fall of 2020."

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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