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April 16, 2020 - Update from the Fernie Chamber

Thursday, April 16, 2020 - 11:56
We remain dedicated to helping our business community through this extremely difficult time. We understand the frustration and anxiety that has been building over the past few weeks, but I would point out that BC has been doing an excellent job so far of flattening the curve and keeping the pandemic within the capacity of our health care system. We must all remain committed to the orders of our provincial health authorities through this crucial time so that we can start to look forward to re-opening parts of our economy in the coming months. The timeline and nature of opening up businesses again remains a moving target, and hinges completely on the actions of our populations.

Since our last update, the federal government on Saturday formerly approved the new Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program. The Prime Minister yesterday announced additional eligibility for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), and late last week the BC government opened applications for the Temporary Rent Supplement of $500 per month. More information about all these developments is outlined below.

We are also announcing a rescheduled date for the Fernie Chamber AGM which will happen virtually on Zoom on Thursday 21 May. More details on this are also below.

Updates on the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)
  • Federal parliament enacted the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) on Saturday and it received royal ascent later that same day.
  • The passed legislation closely matched the previous announcements from the government on this program: eligible businesses will receive a 75% wage subsidy for eligible employees for a 12-week period back dated to March 15 to a maximum weekly payment of $847.
  • A business needs only to demonstrate a 15% reduction in gross revenues for March to be eligible. A business will  be able to compare its revenue to the same month last year OR an average of January and February 2020. A demonstrated 30% reduction will be required to receive the subsidy in April and May. 
  • Eligible employers will be able to apply for the CEWS through the Canada Revenue Agency's My Business Account portal. Employers will need to keep records demonstrating their reduction in arm's-length revenues and remuneration paid to employees. More details about the application process will be made available shortly.

Updates on Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
  • The Prime Minister yesterday announces some changes to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to make more Canadians eligible for this benefit.
  • The announced changes include:
    • Allow people to earn up to $1,000 per month while collecting the CERB.
    • Extend the CERB to seasonal workers who have exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to undertake their usual seasonal work as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
    • Extend the CERB to workers who recently exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to find a job or return to work because of COVID-19.
  • Details as to the application and delivery of this measure will be released shortly following further work with provinces and territories.

BC Temporary Rent Supplement Program
  • The BC government opened applications for the Temporary Rent Supplement program late last week. It will be available to low to-moderate-income renters who are facing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, but do not qualify for existing rental assistance programs.
  • Applications for the supplement are now open on the BC Housing website and the supplement will be paid directly to landlords

Best Online Resources – Business Relief Measures and Economic Recovery
BC Chamber of Commerce – Resources For Businesses Affected By COVID-19
Canadian Chamber of Commerce – Canadian Business Resilience Network
Government of Canada - Canada Business App
BC Economic Development Association – COVID-19 Resources for BC Businesses
Best Online Resources – Local Fernie Information
Fernie Chamber/Tourism Fernie - COVID-19 Updates & Local Business Closures/Changes in Service
Fernie Chamber – COVID-19 Updates for Local Businesses on Relief/Recovery
City of Fernie – COVID-19 Updates
Regional District of East Kootenay – Emergency Info & Regional Snapshots

The Fernie Chamber of Commerce continues to be engaged with local, provincial and federal governments and organizations, and are lobbying strongly on behalf of Fernie businesses.

Our key advocacy points continue to be:
  • Rent assistance for businesses with leases
  • Delay the minimum wage hike in BC scheduled for June 1 for 6 months
  • Defer municipal property taxes for 6 months (province covers a portion)

I am still so humbled to be working on behalf of the Fernie business community to ensure we all get through this together, and are ready to rebound when the time is right. I am impressed by the courage, innovation and empathy on display all over our community. This is been a really difficult time for a lot of us - both financially and emotionally. I continue to stress the importance of looking after ourselves and our loved ones. Be conscience of your mental health and take care of each other.

Reach out to me anytime if you need to.

Take care,

Brad Parsell - Executive Director
250 423 6868


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