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Alberta to impose tough new restrictions
This afternoon, Premier Jason Kenney, announced a number of new restrictions on Alberta businesses to help stem the spread of COVID-19. These mandatory restrictions apply provincewide and will be in place at least until January 12, 2021.
Closures – starting at 12:01 a.m., Dec. 13
- Restaurants, pubs, bars, lounges and cafes will be closed to in-person service.
- Only takeout, curbside pickup and delivery services are permitted.
- Casinos, bingo halls, gaming entertainment centres, racing entertainment centres, horse tracks, raceways, bowling alleys, pool halls, legions, and private clubs will be closed.
- Recreational facilities – fitness centres, recreation centres, pools, spas, gyms, studios, day and overnight camps, indoor rinks and arenas – will be closed.
- Outdoor recreation is permitted, but facilities with indoor spaces except for washrooms will be closed.
- Entertainment businesses and entities – libraries, science centres, interpretive centres, museums, galleries, amusement parks and water parks – will be closed.
- Hotels may remain open but must follow restrictions – no spas, pools or in-person dining. Room services only.
- Personal and wellness services, including hair salons, nail salons, massage, tattoos, and piercing, will be closed.
Social gatherings – immediate
- All indoor and outdoor social gatherings – public and private – are prohibited. Close contacts are limited to household members only. Individuals who live alone will be allowed up to two close contacts for in-person visiting, with those two people remaining the same for the duration of the restriction period.
- Festivals, parades, events, concerts, exhibitions, competitions, sport and performance remain prohibited.
Masking – immediate
- The mandatory indoor public masking requirement will be extended provincewide. Public spaces include locations where a business or entity operates and is applicable to employees, visitors and the general public. Applies to all indoor workplaces and facilities outside the home.
- Farm operations are excluded.
- Rental accommodations used solely for the purposes of a private residence are excluded.
Retail – starting at 12:01 a.m., Dec. 13
- Retail services must reduce customer capacity to 15 per cent of fire code occupancy, with a minimum of five customers permitted.
- Curbside pickup, delivery and online services are encouraged.
- Shopping malls will be limited to 15 per cent of fire code occupancy.
Health services, including physiotherapy or acupuncture, social or protective services, shelters for vulnerable persons, emergency services, child care, and not-for-profit community kitchens or charitable kitchens will remain open for in-person attendance.
Job recovery slows as pandemic hits employment in Western Canada
Economic Insights from the Conference Board of Canada
Despite the labour market adding 62,100 jobs in the month of November, the increase is smaller than the previous months and is another indicator the economic recovery is slowing.
Rising cases of COVID-19 into early December means employment may decline in the next survey.
While the unemployment rate fell, it coincided with a fall in the labour force. The labour force’s decline is likely due to discouraged workers who are struggling to find jobs in industries that are heavily impacted by the pandemic.
Nevertheless, the national unemployment rate continues to creep downwards, falling by 0.4 points to 8.5 per cent over November, which is of course, welcome news.
Unsurprisingly the jobs recovery is in different stages across the country, depending largely on the progression of the virus in each region.
The Atlantic provinces each enjoyed employment growth in the month of November. Employment was strong in Nova Scotia (+10,000), New Brunswick (+4,200) and Newfoundland and Labrador (+2,300). In Newfoundland and Labrador, employment has now recovered to pre-pandemic levels.
After employment declined in October, Quebec added 15,700 jobs. Progress continues elsewhere with employment numbers ticking up in Ontario (+36,600) and British Columbia (+23,900)
However, there were declines in all three of the Prairie provinces, with strict measures and rising cases leading Manitoba’s employment to fall by 18,100. Losses were also observed in Saskatchewan (–2,800) and Alberta (–10,800).
Apart from the utilities sector, all other goods-producing industries, including construction and manufacturing enjoyed employment growth this month.
Among service-producing industries the picture is more mixed. After another month of job losses, both accommodation and food services and information, culture and recreation industries will continue to struggle until a vaccine is widely available.
However, impressive employment growth in the wholesale and retail trade and transportation and warehousing may reflect an uptick in retail as we approach the end of the year. There is some upside for the retail industry as savings rates have increased substantially since the beginning of the pandemic, and households may decide to spend extra this holiday season.
Employment in finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing services now exceeds pre-pandemic levels as do the number of people working in professional, scientific and technical services.
Ontario has only dispensed 'a few million' from $600M fund to support businesses due to lack of applications
Premier Doug Ford says that the province has only dispensed a fraction of the money from a $600 million fund meant to support shuttered businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic and he is blaming a lack of applications for the delay.
The Progressive Conservative government set aside $300 million for businesses forced to close or significantly curtail their operations back in October and then doubled the fund to $600 million when it decided to move Toronto and Peel into a lockdown in November.
The money is intended to help eligible businesses offset fixed costs, including property taxes, hydro and natural gas bills. Applications for money from the provincial fund opened on Nov. 16 but Ford said that only a “few million” has been dispensed so far.
CFA is gathering a comprehensive list for members that will be shared shortly.
B.C. Recovery Benefit — worth up to $1,000 — starting Dec. 18,
The B.C. government introduced legislation on Tuesday to secure funding for approximately 3.7 million British Columbians to receive the tax-free B.C. Recovery Benefit. According to the province, all eligible adults in the province will be able to start applying for funds starting Dec. 18.
Families with incomes under $125,000 will be eligible to receive $1,000 and families earning up to $175,000 will qualify for a reduced amount. Single-parent families also qualify for these benefit amounts. Single people earning less than $62,500 qualify for a $500 payment and individuals earning up to $87,500 will qualify for a reduced amount.
To be eligible to receive funds, applicants must be a B.C. resident over the age of 19 and have filed a 2019 tax return.
Online applications open Dec. 18 and, starting Dec. 21, phone-based support will be available at 1-833-882-0020 toll-free, Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m. People have until June 30, 2021, to apply for the benefit.
Michael Sabia named Canada’s next deputy minister of Finance
The prime minister has announced that veteran executive Michael Sabia will be the next deputy minister of Finance. He will take the job effective Dec. 14. Sabia replaces Paul Rochon, who will become senior official at the Privy Council Office.
Sabia is currently director at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy and chair of the board of the Canada Infrastructure Bank. He previously worked at the Department of Finance and the Privy Council Office before joining the private sector and brings a wealth of corporate experience to the job. He is a former chief executive of the Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec and a former chief executive of BCE Inc.
The deputy finance minister is the country’s third-highest ranking policy maker on economic matters, after the Minister of Finance and the Governor of the Bank of Canada.
Sask. eliminating small business corporate income tax for two years
The Saskatchewan government has introduced legislation that will eliminate small business corporate income tax for the next two years, then see it come back at a reduced rate for another year.
Small Biz Tax Rate to Zero
Beginning Oct. 1, 2020, the tax rate will be reduced from 2% to 0%.
- July 1, 2022, tax rate will move to one per cent.
- Jul 1, 2023, tax rate will move back to two per cent.
The threshold for businesses to get the reduced tax rate is $600,000. The government estimates the changes will benefit 31,000 small businesses and save them an average of $6,100 over the next three years.
Strong Recovery Adaptation Rebate (SRAR)
The government also introduced the Strong Recovery Adaptation Rebate (SRAR) on Monday. The rebate is for businesses forced to adapt to COVID-19, either physically or by changing their business or model. To be eligible each business will need to:
- Employ fewer than 100 people.
- Have incurred or will incur expenses to adapt business from Apr. 1, 2020, to Feb. 28, 2021.
- Plan to continue operating.
- Have lost at least 30 per cent of revenue from 2019.
- Continue to earn less revenue than before pandemic.
Those eligible will receive a rebate of 50 per cent up to a maximum of $5,000, "with amounts being determined based on business expenditures for changing business models to adapt to the current environment brought about due to the global COVID-19 pandemic."
The government said applications will be made available in a few weeks.
"Small businesses are continuing to do their part by not only protecting public health, but also helping to ensure a strong economic recovery in both the weeks and months ahead, and in the longer term as well," said Minister of Trade Jeremy Harrison in a statement.
Manitoba extends COVID-19 restrictions through holidays
On Tuesday, Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin and Premier Brian Pallister announced that COVID-19 restrictions will continue into January.
Initial provincewide restrictions came into effect Nov. 12, and were soon tightened even further, ushering in widespread closures to the retail sector, places of worship and a range of other services deemed non-essential.
Stores able to stay open have only been allowed to sell essentials in person since Nov. 21, forcing many big box stores to cordon off items with sheets of plastic wrap.
The revised public health orders walk back a ban on drive-in church services, which some churches have flouted recently in defiance of health orders. Worshipers aren't allowed to leave their vehicles, and vehicles should only carry members of the same household. Thrift stores will be allowed to stay open and sell non-essential items.
Manitoba extends bridge grant to small home-based businesses
Small business owners in Manitoba who run their operations out of their homes will now have access to COVID-19 financial supports previously not available to them. Beginning Wednesday, a range of home-based businesses will be able to apply for a grant equal to 10 per cent of revenues of their most recent calendar year, up to $5,000, through the Manitoba bridge grant.
Ontario Liquor Board suspends partnership with SkipTheDishes
The LCBO says it is putting its partnership with food delivery app SkipTheDishes on hold at the end of Sunday after it was instructed to so by the Ontario government.
Through the partnership, customers could have ordered alcohol from the SkipTheDishes app and website. The partnership caused consternation in the restaurant and bar industry, which has been relying in part on the sale of alcohol through takeout and delivery to pay its bills.
"Following direction from the Ontario Government, effective end of day today, LCBO's partnership with SkipTheDishes is paused until further notice," the LCBO said in a statement on Sunday.
In a tweet on Sunday, Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips said he and Premier Doug Ford asked the LCBO to pause the partnership as a show of support for restaurants.
P.E.I. restaurants takeout only due to COVID-19 restrictions
All restaurants on P.E.I. are now closed for indoor dining. The announcement was made by the province on Sunday after seven cases of COVID-19 were confirmed over the weekend. Restaurants are still allowed to operate for takeout.
Air Canada to suspend multiple flight routes to Atlantic Canada
Air Canada has announced plans to suspend flights at multiple airports in Atlantic Canada in the new year. Effective Jan. 11, Air Canada is suspending all flights in Sydney, N.S., and Saint John, N.B., until further notice.
The airline also announced, effective Jan. 11, it is suspending four routes in Charlottetown, Fredericton, Deer Lake, N.L., and Halifax until further notice.
This announcement comes less than two months after WestJet suspended 80 per cent of its Atlantic Canada capacity.
An earlier announcement in June by Air Canada indefinitely suspended 11 routes in Atlantic Canada, along with closing stations in Bathurst, N.B. and Wabush, N.L.
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