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March 9, 2021

Your CFA Update on COVID-19

Canadian Economic Dashboard (as of March 5)

Economic activity continued to strengthen at a sturdy pace in late 2020 despite the widespread introduction of tighter containment measures in many regions of the country. Real GDP rose 2.3% in the fourth quarter, supported by large changes in business stockpiles, continued strength in housing market activity, and higher exports. Increased business outlays on machinery and equipment and higher government spending also contributed to the headline gain.

The Dashboard

Canadian Survey on Business Conditions, first quarter 2021

Over the period from January 11 to February 11, 2021, over two-fifths of businesses expected their profitability to decrease and close to one-third expected sales to fall over the following three months. Nevertheless, nearly three-quarters of businesses expected their number of employees to remain the same.

BC business recovery grant program extended

The B.C. government has extended the deadline for the Small and Medium Sized Business Recovery Grant program to ensure businesses have the time they need to apply. The time to apply for the Small and Medium Sized Business Recovery Grant program has been extended from March 31, 2021, to Aug. 31, 2021.

The previous requirement for a business to have experienced at least a 70% revenue loss at some point in March or April 2020 has been adjusted. Now, a business is required to demonstrate only a 30% revenue loss in any one month between March 2020 to the point of application.

The Small and Medium Sized Business Recovery Grant program provides fully funded grants to businesses that employ up to 149 B.C. residents. Grants of $10,000 to a maximum of $30,000 are available, with up to an additional $5,000 to $15,000 available to tourism-related businesses.

For more information on the Small and Medium Sized Business Recovery Grant program, including the application process and eligibility, visit:

Conference Board: Vaccination policies survey results

As provinces and territories across Canada move to vaccinate Canadians against COVID-19, employers are faced with an unprecedented challenge: how to fulfill their duty to ensure a safe work environment without the power to mandate vaccinations. 

Here's what employers said about their vaccination policy plans:

  • 65 per cent of organizations surveyed are encouraging employees to be vaccinated.
  • Nearly 50 per cent of employers have no plan to develop a vaccination policy.
  • A case by case basis is how vaccine refusal will be handled.

B.C. tax changes affecting sugary drinks, vaping products coming into effect April 1

Tax changes targeting sugary drinks and e-commerce services based outside of B.C. will come into effect on April 1 after being delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The B.C. government says the changes include the elimination of the provincial sales tax exemption for carbonated beverages that contain sugar, natural sweeteners or artificial sweeteners. The tax will apply to all beverages dispensed through soda fountains or similar equipment, along with all beverages dispensed through vending machines.

The second tax change will apply to those selling digital software and telecommunication services, who will be required to collect the PST on sales to B.C. customers if they have revenue in the province of more than $10,000.

All Canadian sellers of vapour products, such as vape pens, will be required to register to collect the sales tax on all online or mail-order sales to B.C. customers as part of the new measure.

HuffPost Canada, HuffPost Quebec shutting down

HuffPost Canada will stop publishing content, the outlet announced on its website Tuesday.

"As of March 9, HuffPost Canada will no longer be publishing content. Existing content will be maintained as an online archive," it said in a statement.

The HuffPost Canada union said operations at HuffPost Canada and HuffPost Quebec will shut down operations next week. About two dozen workers at HuffPost Canada had filed for union certification in February, according to media union CWA Canada.

Buzzfeed recently acquired HuffPost from Verizon. Buzzfeed, which also announced layoffs for the U.S. newsroom on Tuesday, said it's closing HuffPost Canada's operations and laying off 23 workers as part of a broad restructuring plan for the company. It also said it is beginning consultations in Australia and the U.K. to propose "slimming operations" in both places, according to a statement from the company.

Quebec to table budget March 25, increases net debt by $12B after accounting change

Quebec Finance Minister Eric Girard says he will table his third budget on March 25. Girard told reporters Tuesday the budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year will also include an accounting change sought by the auditor general that will increase the province's net debt by $12.4 billion. The minister says the change relates to accounting norms regarding transfer payments and had been requested by the auditor general since 2013.

Auditor general Guylaine Leclerc told a legislative committee in February she thought the province had been underestimating its debt by $12 billion, adding that the situation was akin to someone receiving a credit card bill and saying the minimum payment is all they owe.

Quebec's Finance Ministry had estimated the province's gross debt at $220.8 billion by March 31, or 50.5 per cent of GDP.

Girard's November economic update projected a $15-billion deficit for 2020-21 and a 6 per cent drop in GDP.

Atlantic bubble could reopen by late April

Atlantic Canadians could see the return of the Atlantic bubble by late April. New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs said he spoke with Nova Scotia's Premier Iain Rankin on Monday to discuss when they might open the borders between the two provinces to families and workers, and the conversation "rolled into a discussion of when we thought the Atlantic bubble could be reintroduced." "We're both thinking that if things stay as they are and continue to improve in our respective provinces, that we'd be looking at some time maybe in late April," Higgs said in an interview Tuesday evening.

They plan to have a conference call with all four Atlantic premiers next week to discuss the bubble and other regional items.

Nova Scotia: New Rankin government pledges focus on environment, equality, economic recovery in throne speech

The first throne speech for Premier Iain Rankin's government pledged to have a focus on inclusion, economic equality and respect for the environment.

"In framing my government's vision for Nova Scotia, it is nearly impossible to untangle and separate these three elements," according to the speech read by Lt.-Gov. Arthur LeBlanc at Province House on Tuesday.

Rankin made his commitment to the environment a key pillar of his recently successful Nova Scotia Liberal Party leadership bid.

The speech also touched on the government's commitment to a more inclusive society, one that addresses issues such as systemic racism and the need for economic equality. To that end, the speech referred to the newly created Office of Equity and Anti-Racism Initiatives and the appointment of Andrea Anderson, a Black woman, as the new public service commissioner. Anderson is the first person of African descent to hold the powerful role in the Nova Scotia government.

The speech included promises of help for tourism operators, food producers and to address affordable housing. The government is awaiting the report from the new affordable housing commission, expected sometime in May, which will include recommendations.

Opposition responses

Tory Leader Tim Houston said it's good to focus on people's well-being, but he said he wants to hear more concrete plans from Rankin and his government about how they plan to tackle certain issues affecting the public, particularly as it relates to health care. The Tories drew attention on Tuesday to the fact that 60,000 people in Nova Scotia are on a waiting list for a doctor.

NDP Leader Gary Burrill, meanwhile, said he was troubled by the absence of one subject in particular in the speech. "I think it's discouraging that we should mark the one-year point in the pandemic with a throne speech that doesn't even mention this key public health and economic issue of paid sick leave."

US Update: Protecting the Right to Organize or PRO Act

This week, the US Congress will consider one of the most sweeping changes to U.S. labor law in a generation when the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act heads to the House floor. Among its many provisions, the PRO Act would reclassify independent contractors as employees.

Click the link below to read op-ed by IFA's President & CEO, Robert Cresanti.


Business Recovery Summits On-Demand Videos Now Available for Purchase!

Session recordings from the Business Recovery Summit Series are now available for purchase! Choose from the Franchisee Recovery Summit, Franchise Recruitment Summit, Operations & Franchisee Support Summit, and Franchise Marketing Summit! View On-Demand Library

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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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