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COVID-19 – DAILY BULLETIN: March 27, 2020

Provincial Health Officer:

Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, and Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, have issued the following joint statement regarding updates on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) response in British Columbia.

Read the full statement here.

  • 67 new cases of COVID-19, total of 792 cases
  • Every health region in British Columbia has patients with COVID-19:
    • 391 are in the Vancouver Coastal Health region,
    • 262 are in the Fraser Health region,
    • 57 are in the Island Health region,
    • 70 are in the Interior Health region and
    • 12 are in the Northern Heath region.
  • two more deaths as a result of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal health region
  • In total, 11 long-term care homes in the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health regions have confirmed cases of COVID-19
  • 275 patients with COVID-19 have recovered and no longer have isolation requirements.
  • 73 individuals are currently hospitalized
  • seeing less severe upward path but also continue to see steady increases in community transmission cases, concerned about outbreaks, which could quickly grow and challenge our pandemic response.
  • with every person in British Columbia 100% committed to physical distancing, we can flatten the curve. Over the next two weeks we must be united in this one goal.
  • No in person gathering of any size at this time
  • community and farmers markets are shifting to an online model. Reminder: public gathering order in place and physical distancing must be followed.
  • For BC-grown food can continue to reach customers, a public health officer order has been issued, effective immediately.
  • All occasional/recurring/weekly events where food and other merchandise is sold (e.g., markets, street markets, night markets, Saturday markets or community markets) must only allow vendors that sell food to be at these events. Vendors of non-food items and all other merchandise are prohibited to sell at these events.
  • Every day that we stay home and stay apart will bolster our COVID-19 response. This is how we will protect our health-care workers, whose job it is to care for us, our loved ones and ourselves

Prime Minister:

Prime Minister announces support for small businesses facing impacts of COVID‑19

Read the full statement here.

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced additional support for small businesses dealing with the economic impacts of the pandemic as a part of the government’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, which already commits $107 billion.

To further support small businesses, the Government of Canada will:

  • Announce a 75% wage subsidy for qualifying businesses, for up to 3 months, retroactive to March 15, 2020. More details on eligibility criteria will be shared before the end of the month.
  • Allow businesses, including self-employed individuals, to defer all Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) payments until June, as well as customs duties owed for imports.
  • Launch the new Canada Emergency Business Account. This program will provide up to $25 billion to eligible financial institutions so they can provide interest-free loans to small businesses.
  • Launch the new Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Loan and Guarantee program that will enable up to $40 billion in lending, for guaranteed loans when small businesses go to their financial institutions to help weather the impacts of COVID-19.

These new investments will help Canada’s financial institutions provide the credit and liquidity options that a range of Canadian businesses need immediately.

Things to consider for your business survival (includes some of the above):  This is information is compiled from several spots and input from many and changes almost daily!

  • Apply for BDC Line of Credit– increase your available working capital by applying for additional Government initiative line of credit financing through BDC- link (indicate that the additional loan is for the impacts of COVID-19
  • Contact your Banker and Defer Loan Payments
  1. Defer business term loan payments – ask them for a deferral of payments on your business term loans for as long as they will allow (please note the banks are going to be overwhelmed by inquiries, if you cannot get through to them you may want to consider causing the loan payments to not go through)
  2. Defer personal mortgage payments for up to 6 months – request the 6 months of deferral on your personal mortgage (again the banks are going to be overwhelmed with requests, you may need to force the situation.  Consider not waiting for their permission if they are not getting back to you.)
  3. Apply for an increase to your Line of Credit to give you extra working capital
  4. Discuss with your banker other deferral options available for other loans and credit cards, or increasing credit limits
  • EI Employee Work Sharing Program– talk to your employees to see if they would be willing to go to reduced hours using a work sharing program which is topped up by EI- link
  • Wage Subsidy– Immediately take advantage of the new Wage Subsidy – this is directly taken off of your payroll remittance for the next 3 months and is equal up to 75% of remuneration to employees this has been back dated to March 15th more details to be announced Monday (this link has not yet been updated)
  • Emergency Response Benefit –this benefit is a $2,000 per month benefit for up to 4 months and replaces the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and EI Sickness Benefit.  This is available for you and your employees if you have a loss of income due to the virus outbreak.  It is available to anyone with income over 15 years of age with income over $5,000 in the last 12 months. Target release of funds is April 6th.  (This amount is effectively available to everyone experiencing a loss of income and even if it is later determined you are not to be eligible the amount is repayable without interest.  Unless you feel you will not be impacted or are already on EI,  you and your employees should apply and figure out later if any portion is repayable.  You need the short term cash flow.) Details of how to apply have not been released yet, we will send update once it become available.
  • Review your Credit to Customers– many customers will not be able to pay for your services.  Make sure to grant credit to only those that are credit worthy and take upfront payment or deposits as much as possible.
  • Tax Refunds– if you are expecting personal or corporate tax refunds, get the returns filed to receive the refunds.
  • Commercial Rent Payments –if you are renting premises you need to contact your Landlord and make arrangements for deferral of rent payments.  Currently there is no requirement for them to do so but they have the ability to defer their mortgage payments and there will be a 50% reduction of a portion of the property tax so they would have the ability to facilitate this.  You may want to suggest to them that if they force your business to fail, there is no one waiting to rent your space due to the current economic crisis.  You and your Landlord have a mutual benefit to work together to have you business survive.  The Landlord will tell you there is nothing they can do, but there definitely is something they can do and need to do to protect their interests as well
  • BC Hydro Payments –if you are making payments directly to BC Hydro, contact them and make arrangements to defer the payments.  You can do so without penalty- link There is also a grant available offered by BC Hydro- link
  • ICBC Payments –if you are making monthly payments, you will be eligible to defer payments for 90 days without penalty- link

For Your Employees

  • Defer personal mortgage payments- for 6 months – encourage them to contact their banker to defer their mortgage payments for up to 6 months.  Also suggest they discuss other debt deferral options with their banker for other items such as credit card payments.
  • EI Program– If the employees are laid off, they are currently eligible for the regular EI payments (changes are anticipated to this)- link
  • BC Hydro and ICBC Payments– your employees will be eligible as well for the deferrals listed above- ICBC link and BC HYDRO link
  • Apply for the BC Emergency Worker Benefit –this is a onetime $1,000 payment – link

Minister’s statement on COVID-19 support for arts and culture sector

Lisa Beare, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, has released the following statement about immediate responses to novel coronavirus (COVID-19) for the arts and culture sector. Read full statement here.

  • COVID-19 and the need for physical distancing has had a significant impact on the arts sector by cancelling events, performances and festivals and on artists, their families and arts organizations.
  • To support the people and organizations in the arts sector, we have developed a $3-million Arts and Culture Resilience Supplement to be administered by the BC Arts Council. Operating and eligible project clients will receive a supplement of up to $15,000 in early April to help them pay their bills.
  • Starting in April 2020, the BC Arts Council will provide operating clients a 50% advance on 2020-21 funding and are also extending application deadlines, relaxing reporting requirements and allowing organizations to use funding to cover immediate needs like rent and utilities.
  • These actions build on our government’s COVID-19 Action Plan. The new BC Emergency Benefit for Workers allows people in the arts sector, who have had their income affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, to apply for a one-time payment of $1,000. Our government’s financial support plan includes several actions that arts organizations are eligible for, such as delaying tax filing and payment deadlines.
  • More to follow

Taking steps to keep kids learning during in-class school suspension

Read full statement here and Link to School District 73 website.