The immediate impacts of COVID-19 are being felt by businesses across British Columbia.
As entrepreneurs try to figure out their own unique path forward, we’ve gathered the latest resources to help prepare small businesses to get through this challenging time.
Please Note: Small Business BC is awaiting concrete details on how our community can access the government supports outlined in the below updates. When we know, we will share this information with you as soon as possible, while providing any assistance we can in accessing it.
We will continue to update this resource list as more resources come online. Please check back regularly. This blog was last updated April 7th at 2:10pm
Latest Updates: April 7th
WorkSafeBC – Small Business and COVID-19 Safety – April 7th, 2:10pm.
Our partners at WorkSafeBC have produced this comprehensive resource on ensuring your business continues to operate safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
ITBC Emergency Relief Funds Program for Indigenous Tourism Businesses – April 7th, 9:25am.
The COVID-19 Emergency Relief Funds Program, offered by Indigenous Tourism BC (ITBC) will provide emergency relief to market-ready Indigenous tourism businesses to address immediate and short-term needs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic that has shuttered the 2020 tourism season. ITBC understands the importance of offering an immediate, short-term financial grant, which is up to $5,000.00 per market-ready Indigenous tourism business.
Catch up with SBBC’s Free COVID-19 Webinars – April 6th, 2:50pm.
Over the past few weeks, we have held several free webinars geared at equipping businesses in our province with the skills and knowledge they need to survive the new realities of our COVID economy.
In case you missed these sessions, they’re available to watch on-demand. Click the link above to view the recordings.
Applications Open for Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) – April 6th, 09:00am
Discover how to apply for CERB, who is eligible and other quick facts about the benefit.
Humi: A Summary of Canada’s 75% Wage Subsidy – April 4th, 12:50pm
HR specialists Humi have broken down the basics of the Canada Temporary Wage Subsidy program. Click the link above to find out more details.
Province of BC Announces Relief on Power Bills During COVID-19 – April 1st, 2:25pm
- BC Hydro will offer new, targeted bill relief to provide immediate help to those most in need.
- Residential customers who have lost their jobs or are unable to work as a result of COVID-19 will receive a credit to help cover the cost of their electricity bills. The credit will be three times their average monthly bill over the past year at their home and does not have to be repaid.
- Small businesses that have been forced to close due to COVID-19 will have their power bills forgiven for three months. BC Hydro is waiving bills for these customers from April to June 2020.
- Major industries, like pulp and paper mills and mines, will have the opportunity to defer 50% of their bill payments for three months.
Supply Products and Services to Support BC’s COVID-19 Response – April 1st, 11:30am
Are you a business that can supply products and services in support of B.C.’s COVID-19 response?
As worldwide demand increases, the B.C. Government is looking for both medical and non-medical products and services to help with the response. Discover the products and services needed, and how your business can help fulfill the need.
BC’s Non-Medical COVID-19 Hotline – April 1st, 9:10am
British Columbia is creating a new information hotline solely dedicated to answering non-medical questions about COVID-19.
Service providers at the new phone line will help answer questions about travel recommendations, social distancing, and what kinds of support, resources and assistance are available from the provincial and federal governments.
The new hotline, which can be reached by calling 1-888-COVID19 or 1-888-268-4319, will be staffed from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day with information available in more than 110 languages.
General Information Resources
Better Business Bureau: Avoiding Scams During COVID-19 – March 31st, 4:05pm
The Better Business Bureau reminds everyone to remain vigilant to avoid scams related to the virus, use necessary, common sense precautions when traveling, and find reliable sources to stay informed about what to do as the virus spreads. Click the link to view common scams to be aware of.
WorkSafeBC: Preventing Exposure to COVID-19 in the Workplace: A Guide for Employers – March 31st, 11:25am
Orders from the provincial health officer (PHO) and guidance to employers and businesses provided by them BC Centre of Disease Control represent the minimum standard that employers must meet, to comply with obligations to ensure worker health and safety. This guide for employers provides questions you should ask to address health and safety concerns in the workplace raised by COVID-19.
Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic response Plan – March 31st, 9:00am
Find information on Federal Government programs, resources and supports in this handy web portal.
Prime Minister Trudeau Provides Further Details on 75% Wage Subsidy for Businesses – March 30th, 9:40am
In his morning address from Rideau Cottage, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced details of the 75% wage subsidy for Canadian businesses:
Details for Businesses:
- Businesses qualify for the subsidy if revenues have dropped 30% or more as a result of COVID-19
- Number of employees is not a factor
- Benefit also applies for non-profits and charities
Details for Employees:
- Benefit covers up to 75% on the first $58,000 earned per year
- A maximum of $847 per week
- Benefit will be backdated to March 15th
SBBC Welcomes Additional Government of Canada Supports for Small Businesses – March 27th, 1:50pm
The Federal Government has announced further steps to support small businesses in Canada and the employees of those businesses. Small Business BC is extremely pleased to see increases in wage subsidies and assistance to help business owners with fixed expenses. These are two areas where we know businesses owners need relief during this time.
Government of Canada Announces Additional Supports for Small Businesses – March 27th, 10:30am
The Government of Canada is making additional investments to support Canadian businesses from the economic impacts of COVID-19. These new investments provide support to financial institutions and allow them to quickly provide credit and liquidity options for a range of businesses.
- A major increase to the wage subsidy for small- and medium-sized businesses, boosting it to 75 per cent, up from the 10 per cent previously promised.
- Launching a special account for small businesses, offering interest-free loans and billions more in assistance on cash-flow
- A deferral in HST and GST is also coming
Futurpreneur COVID-19 Resources for Small Business – March 27th, 2:45pm
Our friends at Futurpreneur remain available to assist entrepreneurs during this challenging period. They have gathered a list of resources, and are offering a range of webinars to support small businesses in British Columbia.
BC Farmers’ Markets Online to Open Soon – March 27th, 10:05am
During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets (BCAFM) is helping member markets move to an online model to continue providing consumers with locally grown and prepared food products.
British Columbians can find a farmers market near them and see which markets have launched online operations in the weeks and months ahead at: https://bcfarmersmarkettrail.com/
The B.C. government is providing $55,000 to the BCAFM to cover fees for individual farmers markets to join the online platform and set up their digital market store presence. Each participating farmers market will create its own virtual market store to best serve its communities.
Friday, April 3rd,
09:00am to 10:00am
In the coming weeks and months, Canadian businesses will face an unprecedented test of their resiliency due to COVID-19. How they respond during this time will make all the difference. Join leadership coach and consultant Christina Kikiforuk to learn how to practice resiliency as a small business. This free one-hour seminar will focus on the following key points:
- Practical strategies for self-care as leader in your organization
- Benefits of building personal resiliency
- Tips on how to build resiliency among your team
Covid-19 and Your Lease (Blog from Benchmark Law) – March 26th, 3:45pm
Our friends from Benchmark Law have created this blog post to share information with small businesses who have questions about the impact of COVID-19 on their commercial leases.
Government of Canada Calls on Businesses to Supply Essential Goods – March 26th, 10:40am
The Government of Canada has produced a list of the essential goods and services it needs to help combat COVID-19. If your business is capable of producing any of the goods on the list, they’d love to hear from you. To learn more about the process of selling goods to the Government of Canada, join us tomorrow, March 27th for a FREE webinar from 3-4pm.
COVID-19 Supports for Small Businesses in B.C. Resource – March 26th, 12:35pm
Governments and the private sector are providing a wide-range of supports for small businesses in British Columbia affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of B.C.’s COVID-19 Action Plan, the B.C. government is providing an additional $5 billion in income supports, tax relief and funding for people, businesses and services in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Find details and links to all the currently available resources in this handy PDF.
Province of BC Announces Supports for Renters, Landlords – March 25th, 1:50pm
To support people and prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Province is introducing a new temporary rental supplement, halting evictions and freezing rents, among other actions.
The new rental supplement will help households by offering up to $500 a month towards their rent, building on federal and provincial financial supports already announced for British Columbians facing financial hardship.
- The new temporary rent supplement will provide up to $500 per month, paid directly to landlords.
- Halting evictions by ensuring a landlord may not issue a new notice to end tenancy for any reason. However, in exceptional cases where it may be needed to protect health and safety or to prevent undue damage to the property, landlords will be able to apply to the Residential Tenancy Branch for a hearing.
- Halting the enforcement of existing eviction notices issued by the Residential Tenancy Branch, except in extreme cases where there are safety concerns. The smaller number of court ordered evictions are up to the courts, which operate independently of government.
- Freezing new annual rent increases during the state of emergency.
- Preventing landlords from accessing rental units without the consent of the tenant (for example, for showings or routine maintenance), except in exceptional cases where it is needed to protect health and safety or to prevent undue damage to the unit.
- Restricting methods that renters and landlords can use to serve notices to reduce the potential transmission of COVID-19 (no personal service and allowing email).
- Allowing landlords to restrict the use of common areas by tenants or guests to protect against the transmission of COVID-19.
5 Tips for Maintaining Mental Health During COVID-19 – March 25th, 12:40pm
Anxiety, stress and doubt are perfectly normal reactions to the uncertain times we live in. For many of us, COVID-19 has thrust the future into an uncertain light, laying waste to carefully laid plans and forcing us to pivot into situations we aren’t accustomed to. Not only are we grappling with a public health emergency, there’s also economic anxiety and the removal of our usual in-person social interactions. While we may not be able to control what’s happening around the world, we retain complete control over how we let it affect us.
In this article, we’ve put together five simple tips for maintaining mental health during COVID-19.
Government of Canada Introduces Emergency Response Benefit – March 25th, 11:15am
To support workers and help businesses keep their employees, the government has proposed legislation to establish the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). This taxable benefit would provide $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CERB would be a simpler and more accessible combination of the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit.
Key Details: The government is working to get money into the pockets of Canadians as quickly as possible. The portal for accessing the CERB will be available in early April. EI eligible Canadians who have lost their job can continue to apply for EI here, as can Canadians applying for other EI benefits.
First Nations Community Guide on Accessing COVID-19 Supports – March 24th, 12:00pm
In order to support First Nations in preparing for, and responding to, COVID-19, the Government of Canada announced several funding tracks through which First Nations communities can access resources. Click the link to find out more.
How to Find Out if Your Business Qualifies for the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy – March 24th, 11:30am
The Canada Revenue Agency has now released a more detailed breakdown of who is eligible and how the subsidy will be implemented.
This helpful article from CBC explains what you need to know.
Province of BC Announces Two Significant Changes to Employment Standards Act – March 24th, 11:00am
The Province has made two significant changes to the Employment Standards Act to better support workers both during the COVID-19 public health emergency and in the long term.
Firstly, changes will allow workers to immediately take unpaid, job-protected leave if they are unable to work for reasons relating to COVID-19. This means workers who are ill, need to self-isolate, need to care for their child or other dependent, or whose employer is concerned that the employee may expose others to risk, will be able to take leave without putting their job at risk.
Secondly, to better support workers on an ongoing basis, the changes also provide up to three days of unpaid, job-protected leave each year for people who cannot work due to illness or injury. This is a permanent change to the act that brings B.C. in line with all other provinces in Canada.
Financing Options for Businesses Impacted by COVID-19 – March 23rd, 3:05pm
Financing options are beginning to come on stream to help entrepreneurs weather the challenges posed by COVID-19. Small business owners are recommended to begin by talking to their financial provider, with most allowing additional flexibility around payments. Beyond that, there are several other options available.
Province of BC Announces COVID-19 Action Plan – March 23rd 1:35pm
British Columbians affected by the COVID-19 pandemic will benefit from $5 billion in income supports, tax relief and direct funding for people, businesses and services.
The COVID-19 Action Plan is government’s first step to provide relief to people and businesses in British Columbia. The plan dedicates $2.8 billion to help people and fund the services they need to weather the crisis; $2.2 billion will provide relief to businesses and help them recover after the outbreak.
Facebook Offers $100m in Support for Small Businesses – March 23rd, 10:30am
Facebook is offering $100M in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in over 30 countries where they operate. Details on how to apply will be released soon.
Frequently Asked Questions – Temporary Wage Subsidy for Employers – March 23rd, 9:50am
The Temporary Wage Subsidy for Employers is a three-month measure that will allow eligible employers to reduce the amount of payroll deductions required to be remitted to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Click the link above to find out more about this important program.
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding COVID-19 for Small Business – March 20th, 3:50pm
Small Business BC is here to help British Columbia’s entrepreneurs navigate the unique challenges posed by COVID-19. Our team have been hard at work via phone and email responding to client questions on a wide range of subjects relating to the impact on small businesses.
We’ve gathered the most common questions (and best information we currently have at hand to answer) in one convenient place for our community to reference.
An Update on COVID-19’s Impact on the BC Small Business Community – March 20th, 10:05am
Small Business BC, and several partner organizations, ran a survey to understand the specific impacts businesses in our province are experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We were blown away by the response we received, with almost 8,000 businesses taking the time to share their feedback. We wanted to share with you some of the data points.
Government of Canada Launches COVID-19 Resources Page for Canadian Businesses – March 20th, 1:45pm
Small and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of the Canadian economy. During this extraordinary time, the Government of Canada is taking strong action to help Canadian businesses as COVID-19 is affecting them, their employees and their families. This page aggregates the key information points for business owners.
The Canada Business App also offers a free smartphone resource with a dedicated section for COVID-19 information for business owners.
We believe this is a time, more than ever, for small businesses to come together to help each other overcome challenges and find solutions.
To help facilitate this, SBBC are pleased to share our new Digital Meetups, a community video call for the small businesses community during COVID-19. Every working day, we will be hosting a Digital Meetup focused around one pressing issue re:COVID-19: from how to generate revenue, to employment law, all specific to small businesses. We’ll be hosting a digital meetup each work day, click the link above to find out more and register to attend. Registration is free!
How to Apply for Employment Insurance During COVID-19 – March 19th, 10:25am
Visit this website to apply for EI benefits. Afterwards, you can apply to have the one-week waiting period waived by calling the government’s toll-free number at 1-833-381-2725.
What if I don’t qualify for EI?
The recently announced federal aid package also includes the Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit.
The Emergency Care Benefit provides up to $900 every two weeks for up to 15 weeks, to those affected by COVID-19. It’s intended for those who don’t qualify for EI, can’t go to work and don’t have paid sick leave.
Both benefit plans will be available to apply for in April, through the CRA website, and a toll-free number that has not yet been shared.
COVID-19: Managing and Pivoting During a Time of Crisis – March 18th, 4:55pm
In our latest article, we provide some practical ideas and inspiration to help you manage your business in this uniquely challenging time.
Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan: Support for Canadians and Businesses – March 18th, 1:25pm
The Government of Canada is taking immediate, significant and decisive action to help Canadians facing hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
On March 18, 2020, the Prime Minister announced a new set of economic measures to help stabilize the economy during this challenging period. These measures, delivered as part of the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, will provide up to $27 billion in direct support to Canadian workers and businesses.
Prime Minister Announces Supports for Workers and Businesses – March 18th, 08:30am
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced a new set of economic measures to help stabilize the economy and help Canadians affected by the impacts of this challenging period.
These measures include:
- Provide eligible businesses a 10 per cent wage subsidy for the next 90 days up to a maximum of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer. Employers benefiting from this measure would include corporations eligible for the small business deduction, as well as not-for-profit organisations and charities.
- Allow all businesses to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today and before September 2020. This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as instalments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period. This measure will result in businesses having more money available during this period.
- Increase the credit available to small, medium, and large Canadian businesses. As announced on March 13, a new Business Credit Availability Program will provide more than $10 billion of additional support to businesses experiencing cash flow challenges through the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada. The Government is ready to provide more capital through these financial Crown corporations.
- Further expand Export Development Canada’s ability to provide support to domestic businesses.
- Provide flexibility on the Canada Account limit, to allow the Government to provide additional support to Canadian businesses, when deemed to be in the national interest, to deal with exceptional circumstances.
- Augment credit available to farmers and the agri-food sector through Farm Credit Canada.
- Launch an Insured Mortgage Purchase Program to purchase up to $50 billion of insured mortgage pools through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). As announced on March 16, this will provide stable funding to banks and mortgage lenders and support continued lending to Canadian businesses and consumers. CMHC stands ready to further support liquidity and the stability of the financial markets through its mortgage funding programs as necessary. The Government will enable these measures by raising CMHC’s legislative limits to guarantee securities and insure mortgages by $150 billion each.
- Additional assistance to families with children by temporarily boosting Canada Child Benefit payments. This will deliver almost $2 billion in extra support
- Introduction of an Emergency Care Benefit of up to $900 bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks to provide income support to workers who must stay home and don’t have access to paid sick leave
- An Emergency Support Benefit delivered through the CRA to provide up to $5 billion in support to workers not eligible for EI and who are facing unemployment
- Waive, for a minimum of six months, the mandatory one-week waiting period for EI sickness benefits for workers in imposed quarantine or who have been directed to self-isolate
- Waive the requirement for medical certificate to access EI sickness benefits
- Extend the tax filing deadline for individuals to June 1, and allow taxpayers to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing
What Employers Need to Know About Temporary Layoffs – March 19th, 2:20pm
While we encourage each employer to do everything in their power to avoid layoffs, we understand there’s a need for this information and we want to service that need. This article explains how to handle temporary layoffs, covering information on how employees can apply for EI.
As announced by the Finance Minister, BDC is increasing the amount of financing available to entrepreneurs during the COVID-19 outbreak.
- Small Business Loan: Up to $100,000 can be obtained online.
- Working capital loan: Get extra funds to bridge cash flow gaps and support everyday operations.
- Purchase Order Financing: Increase your cash flow to fulfill domestic or international orders with very flexible terms.
This page aggregates official Government of Canada news and releases for COVID-19. It contains information on supporting employees during this time, financial implications, business travel, and import/export.
Public health officials have currently identified that the risk of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) spreading within British Columbia is low, and WorkSafeBC is continuing to monitor the progression of the virus. Here are some measures to help keep your workplace safe.
These measures include:
- Regular handwashing, especially after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose
- Handwashing should be thorough and take at least 20 seconds
- If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Avoid touching the face with unwashed hands
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
- Encourage staff to stay home when sick
The British Columbia Economic Development Association (BCEDA) is deeply concerned about the impacts COVID-19 will have not only on individuals, but also local, Indigenous and regional communities. The impact on businesses and the employees should be an important consideration and as such they are doing their best to provide updated information as it comes available.
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has outlined Canada’s whole-of-government response to COVID-19, by establishing a more than $1 billion COVID-19 Response Fund. This comprehensive approach includes measures already underway to respond to the outbreak, as well as new investments to limit the spread of the virus in Canada and prepare for its possible broader impacts on our people, our economy, and our small businesses.
Of particular note for small business owners are the following points:
- Provide support to workers in quarantine or who have been directed to self-isolate who will claim Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits by waiving the mandatory one-week waiting period so they can be paid for the first week of their claim. We are exploring additional measures to support other affected Canadians, including income support for those who are not eligible for EI sickness benefits.
- Introduce enhancements to the Work-Sharing program to help support employers and their workers who are experiencing a downturn in business due to COVID-19. Work-sharing helps keep workers employed and able to receive income support even as their hours of work may be reduced. These enhancements will double the length of time that employers and workers are eligible to use work-share from 38 to 76 weeks, and streamline processes so help can be accessed as soon as possible.
These downloadable resources can be printed and displayed in the workplace to highlight best practices in hygiene and disease prevention.
This downloadable PDF contains simple, common sense and low-cost measures for preventing the spread of infections in the workplace to protect employees, customers and contractors.
Designed in an easy to digest, frequently asked questions format, the BC Centre for Disease Control Information Page contains answers to many common questions surrounding COVID-19.
This comprehensive document contains strategies businesses can implement immediately to lessen the risks their team members face from COVID-19. Originally produced for a U.S. audience, the common-sense tips can be easily implemented by Canadian businesses.
Healthlink BC’s information page contains general updates regarding COVID-19 news, prevention tips and information on self-monitoring/self-isolation. Their 8-1-1 number allows anyone with COVID-19 concerns to speak to a health service navigator at any time who can provide information and advice.
To support BC’s health care providers, this web resource has been established to provide a centralized, current, and evidence-based source of information about this emerging health issue in BC.
Written by an expert in employment law, this blog contains frequently asked questions relating to employment law, sick leave and staff members facing quarantine situations.
Peak Resilience are offering a crowd-sourced list of mental health resources and tips during this time.
Resources for Creating a Crisis Plan
Small Business BC and the B.C. Government Small Business Branch have prepared a joint informational electronic resource that provides a checklist of considerations that small businesses can use to help minimize the impacts of COVID-19 to their employees and operations.
This checklist is also available in the following languages:
Calling All Suppliers: Help Canada Fight COVID-19 – March 19th, 3:15pm
Are you a business that can supply products and services in support of Canada’s response to COVID-19? The Government of Canada wants to hear from you! Click the above link to find out how your business can get involved and help make a difference.
An emergency plan (or crisis plan) is a guideline for how you and your business will respond to a disaster. Knowing what to do can reduce anxiety and help keep staff focused and safe. Consult Prepared BC’s Guide for Small Business and Small Business Emergency Plan to learn more.
The provincial government is currently drafting a specific COVID-19 pandemic plan based on the existing BC Pandemic Influenza Response plan. As new COVID-19 materials are produced, they will be published on this page. Visitors can also reference earlier, flu-specific pandemic plans for reference.
Depending on where your business is located in British Columbia, you face a number of potential threats. These 10 tips provide basic guidance for disaster proofing your business.
In 2018, Small Business BC hosted a two-part seminar series focused on how to disaster proof your business. Attendees were given instruction on how to build a preparedness plan, how to communicate with staff and customers during a disaster, alongside a primer on disaster insurance.
From preventing employee exposure, to benefits and remote working, this article covers common questions employers are asking surrounding COVID-19.
The Government of Canada is now recommending Canadians avoid ALL non-essential travel outside of Canada.
If you are still considering travelling:
- Check your destination’s Safety and security, Entry/exit requirements and Health sections.
- Get the Government of Canada’s latest updates on COVID-19.
If you are outside of Canada:
- Find out what commercial options are still available to return to Canada. Consider returning to Canada earlier than planned if these options are becoming more limited.
- Ensure that you have sufficient finances and necessities, including medication, in case your travels are disrupted.
This document provides the latest updated recommendations for international travel. Considering the rapidly evolving situation it is updated frequently with the latest information.
With the busy summer travel season on the horizon, Canada continues to be a safe travel destination. Destination British Columbia will use this page to keep the local travel industry updated as new information becomes available.
Find answers relating to current screening processes and other airline-related queries at YVR’s dedicated information page.