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November 24, 2020

Your CFA Update on COVID-19

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Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) Open!

Yesterday, the CERS portal opened up for applications. Canadian businesses, non-profit organizations or charities that have seen a drop in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic may be eligible for a subsidy to cover part of their commercial rent or property expenses retroactive to September 27, 2020 until June 2021. This subsidy will provide payments directly to qualifying renters and property owners, without requiring the participation of landlords.

Click here for more information

Federal government to deliver economic, fiscal update on Nov. 30

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland says the federal government will deliver a long-awaited update on the health of federal finances on Nov. 30. She made the announcement Monday in the House of Commons. The Liberals had promised an update this fall on the federal deficit — a document that also could include the first steps toward a national child care program.

The government has not tabled a budget for this fiscal year, but in July delivered what it called a "fiscal snapshot" that estimated the deficit was heading for a record of $343.2 billion. That figure doesn't include added spending since July or the many promises the government has made since. 

The Liberals also have said the update will provide the government's outlook for the economy and spending guidelines to keep deficits from spiralling out of control. 

Ontario announces COVID-19 workplace education and enforcement campaigns

On November 19, 2020, the government of Ontario announced that it is undertaking a series of education and enforcement campaigns to promote compliance with COVID-19 health and safety requirements. Over 1,000 businesses have been visited by enforcement officers to date. Currently, the safety campaign has focused on education rather than ticketing, but businesses should be aware that they could be liable for fines ranging from $750 to $10,000,000 for noncompliance with the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020. Upcoming campaigns are planned for Eastern Ontario, York Region, Ottawa, and Toronto.

For more information, see the government’s press release.

Alberta government to announce new COVID-19 measures 

Premier Jason Kenney, Health Minister Tyler Shandro, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw and Dr. Verna Yiu, CEO of Alberta Health Services, will be at today's COVID-19 briefing to provide an update on the pandemic and the province's response.

The news conference has been scheduled for 4:30 p.m. MT. You can watch the briefing here.

In a noon-hour tweet Tuesday, Kenney confirmed that he, Hinshaw and Shandro will announce new measures "that will help Alberta slow the spread" of COVID-19.

Alberta finance minister sees hopeful signs in latest fiscal update

Finance Minister Travis Toews says he sees reason for hope in Alberta's latest fiscal update, even though the province is well into the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. His optimism is based on slight improvements in some key indicators since the first-quarter update was released in August. 

Alberta is now forecasting a deficit of $21.3 billion at the end of the fiscal year, an improvement over the $24.2-billion deficit reported at the end of the first quarter. The change is due to increased revenues of nearly $3 billion from the projections in the last quarter. Toews attributed that to a better outlook for bitumen and other resource revenues, increased income from investments and transfers from the federal government. Real GDP is expected to contract by 8.1 per cent in 2020, not the 8.8 per cent forecast in Q1.The update forecasts real GDP growth to hit 4.4 per cent in 2021.

The government is setting aside $750 million for COVID-19 expenses in the next fiscal year, an acknowledgement that the pandemic will not be over by March 31, 2021. The appropriations bill, tabled Tuesday, will request an additional $5.7 billion to fund pandemic expenses and the government's economic recovery plan. 

The second-quarter update forecasts Alberta will end the 2020-21 fiscal year with $41.4 billion in revenue and $62.7 billion in expenses. Taxpayer-supported debt is forecast at $97.4 billion, with a debt-to-GDP ratio of 20.6 per cent. Toews said the government plans to keep that ratio below 30 per cent. 

Alberta government widens criteria for small business pandemic grant program

The Alberta government has expanded a grant program for small businesses that have taken a large financial wallop during the pandemic. Jobs, the Economy and Innovation Minister Doug Schweitzer said the province has lowered the threshold for small and medium businesses to qualify for a grant of up to $5,000.

The government will also offer a second round of grants for affected businesses and will begin taking applications within weeks. Businesses with fewer than 500 employees previously qualified for aid if they'd lost more than 50 per cent of their pre-pandemic revenue. That bar will now drop to 40 per cent, and businesses that previously applied and now meet the new criteria will receive aid retroactively, said Schweitzer's press secretary, Justin Brattinga. Companies have until Tuesday to apply for the first round of grants. Within weeks, the government will take applications for a second round of grants until March 31, 2021. 

CRA warns 213,000 Canadians that they might have to pay back CERB overpayments

The Canada Revenue Agency says it's warning about 213,000 Canadians who may have been paid twice through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) program that they could be called upon to repay the money. But repayment isn't required right away, says the agency. The CRA has suspended collection of debts for the duration of the pandemic emergency.

"The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has issued letters to individuals who may have applied for the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) from both Service Canada and the CRA, and who may be required to repay an amount to the CRA". "The letters did not require immediate payment; rather they informed the taxpayer that there may be a requirement to repay amounts received. "We will resume collections activities when it is responsible to do so, including collection of debts related to CERB payments".

The Atlantic bubble is no more

Both Newfoundland and Labrador and P.E.I are exiting the Atlantic bubble for at least two weeks as COVID-19 cases rise in parts of the region. Newfoundland Premier Andrew Furey said the province will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation in the other Atlantic provinces to see if the two-week break needs to be extended. Travel to and from Newfoundland and Labrador will only be for essential reasons.

P.E.I. Premier Dennis King delivered a similar message during a nearly simultaneous news conference, saying his government would re-evaluate over the next two weeks. King said the changing epidemiology in the region was concerning, "and it forces us to use what I believe are the tools in our limited toolbox to do everything we can to avoid an outbreak here in P.E.I." He said that given the province's small size, it wouldn't take much for its health-care system to become overwhelmed.

The Atlantic bubble was established July 3.

Newfoundland's heightened travel restrictions will come into effect on Wednesday, and P.E.I.'s come into effect Monday at midnight.


December 2, 2020
AT 2:00 PM ET

Government Programs Update

SPEAKER: David Black, Director, Government Relations & Public Policy

Over the past few weeks there have been a number of significant changes in federal and provincial government supports that franchised business can use to help them through these difficult times. The new Canada Emergency Rent Support (CERS) just launched and there have been some important changes to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA). Provincial governments have also announced a number of other supports to help small businesses. Please join David Black, who will update CFA members about these changes and answer questions about the changes.



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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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