Government Announcements as of March 12, 2021
PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATE
The PHO order on province-wide restrictions for gatherings and events has been updated.
Up to 10 people may now gather outdoors. All restrictions for indoor gatherings remain in place.
- Up to 10 people may gather at a park or beach
- Up to 10 people may gather in the backyard of a residence
- No gatherings of any size are allowed indoors
Do not gather with several groups of new people and continue to use COVID-19 layers of protection and maintain physical distancing.
No social gatherings of any size is permitted inside your residence with anyone other than your household or, if you live alone, your core bubble.
- Do not invite friends or extended family into your residence or vacation accommodation.
- Do not host a party or event inside your house
View the full order update here.
An overview of the full PHO order can be found below.
- Masks are required in many indoor public settings and all retail stores
- There are exemptions for:
- People with health conditions or with physical, cognitive, or mental impairments who cannot wear one
- People who cannot remove a mask on their own
- Children under the age of 12
- People who need to remove their masks to communicate due to a hearing impairment
- You are subject to a $230 fine if you:
- Do not wear a mask in an indoor public setting, unless you are exempt
- Refuse to comply with the direction of an enforcement officer, including the direction to leave the space
- Engage in abusive or belligerent behaviour
The full mask mandate order can be found here.
Event Gatherings by Sector:
- Drive-in and drop-off events: Drive-in events may proceed with a limited number of people and a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place. You can have a maximum of 50 cars in attendance. Drop-off events may proceed with a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place. View examples here.
- Formal meetings: The order restricts most formal in-person meetings outside the workplace, with some exceptions. View exceptions here.
- Workplaces: Employers must review and redouble their efforts on their COVID-19 Safety Plan, remind employees to monitor themselves daily and to always stay home if they have symptoms. Employers must make every effort to provide work from home options. Review the WorkSafeBC COVID-19 Safety Plan documentation here.
- No social gatherings of any size at your residence with anyone other than your household or core bubble.
- For most people, their core bubble is their immediate household
- An immediate household is a group of people who live in the same dwelling. For example:
- If you have a rental suite in your home, the suite is a separate household
- If you live in an apartment or house with roommates, you are all members of the same household
- An immediate household is a group of people who live in the same dwelling. For example:
- For others, including people who live alone, their core bubble may also contain a partner, relative, friend, or co-parent who lives in a different household
- This should be a maximum of two people outside of those living in your immediate household
Retail and Vending Markets:
- Retail businesses are required to:
- Establish capacity limits based on 5 square meters of unencumbered space per person
- Post occupancy limits
- Where practical, post directional signs to keep people moving in the same direction and not congregating
Restaurants, Pubs, and Bars:
- In order to limit the spread of COVID-19, people should only be visiting restaurants with their household
- For people who live alone, this should be with a maximum of two people they regularly interact with (core bubble)
- You must wear a mask when not at a table
Full details regarding the PHO on gathering and events can be found here.
Full details regarding the PHO on food and liquor serving premises can be found here.
Vaccine Appointment for Seniors
Vaccine call centres for seniors are now open and eligible seniors are now able to book a vaccine appointment with their Health Authority.
When you can call to book an appointment is determined based on your age in 2021:
- Week of March 8
- If you’re born in 1931 or earlier (90+)
- If you’re Indigenous and born in 1956 or earlier (65+)
- Week of March 15
- If you’re born in 1936 or earlier (85+)
- Week of March 2
- If you’re born in 1941 or earlier (80+)
Family members and friends are also able to call on behalf of eligible seniors.
Call centres are open seven days a week from 7AM – 7PM, and the call number for Fraser Health is 1-855-755-2455.
Fraser Health also has an online booking system for vaccine appointments.
Learn more about vaccine appointments for seniors here.
B.C. is now moving into Phase 2 of the COVID-19 Immunization Plan
The provincial government announced details of the next phases in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan on March 1, 2021.
This plan will see approximately 7.4 million doses of vaccine administered to every British Columbian who is eligible to receive it between April and the end of September.
During this phase, approximately 400,000 people will be immunized from March to mid-April, including seniors, Indigenous peoples, and people who live and work in independent living. With each phase, more people in B.C. will be eligible to be immunized.
Phase Two details are as follows:
- Timeline: February to April 2021
- Public Health Immunization Clinics (Call-In Required Starting March 8):
- Seniors born in 1941 or earlier not immunized in Phase 1
- Indigenous (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) peoples born in 1956 or earlier, Elders and additional Indigenous communities not immunized in Phase 1
- Priority Groups (No Call-In Required):
- Hospital staff, community general practitioners (GPs), and medical specialists not immunized in Phase 1
- Vulnerable populations living and working in select congregated settings
- Staff in community home support and nursing services
Learn more about B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan here.
Changes Announced to Small and Medium SIzed Business Recovery Grant Program
The B.C. government has announced changes to the Small and Medium-Sized Business Recovery Grant Program.
The time to apply for the Small and Medium-Sized Business Recovery Grant program has been extended from March 31, 2021, to August 31, 2021, to ensure that businesses have the time they need to apply.
In addition, 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. A business is now required to demonstrate only a 30% revenue loss in any one month between March 2020 to the point of application.
SMEs that have been impacted by COVID-19 are eligible to receive grants of $10,000 to a maximum of $30,000, and the amount received is related to the business’ pre-COVID revenue. Tourism-related businesses may also qualify for an additional $5,000 to $15,000.
Learn more about the changes here.
Launch Online Grant Program
The Launch Online Grant program provides funding to B.C.-based business to create an online shop and/or improve their e-commerce experience to attract new local customers and expand to new markets. The grant will pay for up to 75% of eligible expenses, up to a maximum of $7,500 per business.
Funding will be awarded on a first-come-first-served basis to small- and medium-sized B.C. businesses, until the funds have been fully subscribed.
Learn more about the Launch Online Grant here.
Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program
The Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP) allows businesses, that have been heavily impacted by the pandemic, guaranteed access to low-interest loans of $25,000 to $1 million to cover operational cash flow needs. These loans are available for small and medium-sized businesses that have seen their revenues decrease by 50% or more as a result of COVID-19.
With flexible and competitive terms, eligible businesses can benefit from a 4% interest rate and a repayment term of up to 10 years, with up to a 12-month postponement of principal payments at the start of the loan. This HASCAP Guarantee is available until June 30, 2021
Contact your primary financial institution, or visit the BDC website, to find out more.
The BC COVID-19 Recovery Benefit online applications are open
The BC Recovery Benefit is a one-time direct deposit payment for eligible families, single parents or individuals. Benefit eligibility is based on net income from your 2019 tax return. This benefit is a tax-free payment of up to $1,000 for eligible families and single parents and up to $500 for eligible individuals.
You must apply to receive the benefit, and you have until June 30, 2021 to apply:
Throne Speech highlights: actions to protect health, livelihoods
Today’s speech focused on the immediate actions government is taking to protect British Columbians’ health and livelihoods from the threat of COVID-19. In the months ahead, government will build on the measures already in place. Some initiatives will be extended or expanded, and new ones launched. View the full news release here.
- New Recovery Benefit: this will be rolled out by the end of the year. Families with a combined household income of less than $125,000 per year will be eligible to receive $1,000; families earning above that, up to $170,000, will receive payments on a sliding scale. Individuals earning less than $62,000 a year will be eligible for $500, with those earning up to $87,000 eligible for a payment on a sliding scale.
- Vaccinations: Preparations are underway to ensure that when a vaccine is available, it will be distributed to all British Columbians as quickly and safely as possible, beginning with those most at risk.
- Key investments in health care: this will allow more patients to receive treatment at home, reduce wait times, and train and hire more doctors and nurses.
- New tax measures: these steps will reward businesses for hiring, and help them grow and become more productive by making it easier for them to invest in equipment and machinery.
The focus is now on beating the virus, which will allow British Columbia to move as quickly as possible to address the economic recovery and its broader priorities: investing in people, strengthening communities, and supporting jobs and growth in a clean-energy future. The Government’s plans along these themes will be set out in more detail in a speech from the throne in the spring.
Releasing of the Financial Report of the Government of Canada for 2019-2020 & the Supporting Canadians and Fighting COVID-19: Fall Economic Statement 2020
On November 30, the Department of Finance Canada released the Annual Financial Report of the Government of Canada for 2019–2020. This annual publication provides an overview of the government’s spending and revenue for the previous fiscal year and highlights the factors affecting these results.
The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance also released Supporting Canadians and Fighting COVID-19: Fall Economic Statement 2020. This plan will continue to protect Canadians’ health, jobs and the economy by doing the following:
- COVID-19 Safety: Investments in testing & tracing, procurement of PPE, measures to protect people in long-term care, and $150 million to improve ventilation in public buildings.
- Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy: increasing the maximum rate of CEWS to 75 per cent for the period beginning December 20, 2020 and extending this rate until March 13, 2021. This program will be there for businesses until June 2021.
- Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy and Lockdown Support: extending the current rates of CERS and Lockdown Support until March 13, 2021. This program will be there for businesses until June 2021.
- Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program: New programs to support Canada’s hardest-hit industries, like tourism, hotels, arts and culture, and the air sector.
- Families with Young Children: Temporary support of up to $1,200 in 2021 for each child under the age of six for families entitled to the Canada Child Benefit.
- Sustainability Goals: Support for Canadians to make their homes greener and more energy efficient, a plan to plant 2 billion trees and laying the groundwork for a Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care System.
Passing of Bill C-9
Previously announced supports for business have now become law. These measures will provide critical support to hard-hit businesses. Measures passed in Bill C-9 are:
- Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS)
- Rent and mortgage interest support directly to eligible tenants and property owners until June 2021.
- Provides a maximum of 65% of eligible expenses until December 19, 2020.
- Retroactive to September 27, 2020.
- More Info
- Lockdown Support
- Additional 25% support through CERS for qualifying organizations subject to a lockdown or significant restrictions.
- Hard-hit businesses could receive up to 90% rent support.
- Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) Extended until June 2021
- CEWS will remain at the current rate of up to 65% of eligible wages until December 19, 2020
Application Process for Provincial Small and Medium-Sized Business Recovery Grant Program Now Open – Apply Now!
The Small and Medium-Sized Business Recovery Grant Program will invest up to $300 million in targeted financial support for some of the hardest hit businesses that employ between two and 149 BC residents and have experienced declines in revenue since March 10, 2020.
Grants of $10,000 to $30,000 are available. An additional $5,000 to $10,000 grant is available to eligible tourism-related businesses that have been hit especially hard by COVID-19.
The program runs until March 31st, 2021 or until the funds are fully allocated, whichever comes first. Read more details here.
New Rent Relief Program, and CEWS and CEBA Extension
Earlier today, the Government of Canada made several significant announcements on changes to federal support programs related to COVID-19 that we have been advocating for. While full details are not yet available, below is a summary of changes to come:
- New Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) will provide simple and easy-to access rent and mortgage support – provided directly to tenants, while also providing support to property owners – until June 2021.
- A top-up Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) of 25 per cent for organizations temporarily shut down by a mandatory public health order issued by a qualifying public health authority, in addition to the 65 per cent subsidy.
- Extension of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) at the current rate until June 2021, which would continue to protect jobs by helping businesses keep employees on the payroll and encouraging employers to re-hire their workers.
- An expanded Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) to enable businesses, and not-for-profits eligible for CEBA loans to access an interest-free loan of up to $20,000, in addition to the original CEBA loan of $40,000. As early as October 26, 2020, the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) will be available to businesses that have been operating out of a non-business banking account. The application deadline is being extended to December 31, 2020.
The government plans to introduce legislation to provide support that would help these businesses safely get through the second wave of the virus and the winter, cover costs so they can continue to serve their communities, and be positioned for a strong recovery. Read more here.
BC’s Economic Recovery Plan
- Creating jobs and opportunities by investing in targeted training for people to get work in high-demand fields.
- Helping businesses grow and rehire with a 15% refundable tax credit based on eligible new payroll.
- Hiring 7,000 new front-line health-care workers.
- Supporting strong communities by investing
- over $400 million to revitalize community infrastructure and support local governments to provide services
- $100 million in infrastructure grants for shovel-ready projects that will create jobs right away
- over $1 billion in provincial and federal investments to help keep people moving, whether by transit, TransLink or BC Ferries
- an additional $540 million in combined federal/provincial funding to help B.C. communities address other local challenges impacted by COVID-19.
More details can be found here.
Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) Extended
Yesterday, the Federal Government announced that the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) will be extended by one month to help eligible small businesses pay rent for September 2020. Learn more here.
CERB Transition to Simplified Employment Insurance
CERB Is Ending. If you’re on it, the money you will receive stops when you’ve received 28 weeks of benefits or on October 3, 2020, whichever comes first.
What benefits are available now that CERB is done?
- A modified version of the existing Employment Insurance (EI) program. If you apply and receive EI, you’ll get a taxable benefit of at least $500 a week, or $300 a week for extended parental benefits. EI claimants are eligible for at least 26 weeks.
The government has created three new benefits for Canadians who don’t qualify for EI, providing a payment of $500 a week:
a) The Canada Recovery Benefit, for the self-employed or gig workers up to 26 weeks.
b) The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, for workers who are sick or must self-isolate due to COVID-19 up to two weeks.
c) The Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit, for people who can’t work because they need to care for a child or dependent for reasons related to COVID-19 up to 26 weeks.
All three of these benefits will be in effect for one year.
How to apply for EI and these new benefits
You can check out which EI benefits you qualify for: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei.html
- You’ll have to keep track of your earnings.
- Recipients must make “reasonable and ongoing job search efforts” while receiving EI
- According to the government, if you’ve been receiving CERB through Service Canada and still need income support, you most likely do not have to reapply for the new EI benefit.
After you receive your last CERB payment, continue completing your reports as you have been. The government will review your file and start you on EI if you qualify. If not, expect notification over the mail. You will still need to apply for EI after your CERB ends, however, if you have a SIN that starts with a 9, you’re self-employed, or you have declared that you have returned to work full-time on your CERB report. If you received your CERB through the Canada Revenue Agency, you’ll need to apply for EI through the Service Canada. You can apply after the end of your last CERB eligibility period. You must receive all of your CERB payments before applying for EI payments.