The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to challenge our members and the community in diverse and extensive ways. Supporting our members through these challenging times has been the top priority for the Strathcona BIA. The Board has been working to apply a COVID-19 recovery lens to all board decisions and ensure that our programming and services support members through COVID-19 and facilitate recovery efforts. We have also continued to invest in placemaking initiatives in Strathcona to attract people to the area and bring new vibrant spaces that inspire and connect people.
COVID-19 Task Force
At the beginning of the pandemic we were the first BIA to join the COVID-19 Community-Coordinated Response Network, over 40 organizations operating in the Downtown Eastside working together to address the impacts of COVID-19. This group continues to meet and collaborate on ways to support the well-being of the community, expanding their scope of work to address other challenges such as heat wave weather events and the opioid crisis. Showing up as a community partner and building relationships with groups in the community who are working to create a thriving neighbourhood is integral to our success as an organization.
We’ve increased our direct member communications through COVID-19. We continue providing resources and information on available COVID-19 resources and business supports through our e-newsletter channel and social media channels. When new targeted grants came online to help hard-hit businesses or when new health order regulations were announced, we were quick to share about them with our members immediately, and we’ll continue to do so as long as the pandemic is impacting you and your operations.
COVID-19 Recovery Grant
We launched a COVID-19 Recovery Grant pilot program in September 2020 to support our business and property owners affected by the pandemic. Matching grants up to $1000 were used to help members manage unexpected expenses from COVID-19, attract customers, improve security, and invest in placemaking improvements. We were excited to award $15,620 to 22 Strathcona BIA members across multiple sectors and different sub-districts, for projects ranging from patio installations, to security fence upgrades, to bulk PPE supplies. The matching grants were put towards projects that resulted in a total investment of almost $50,000 in area improvements and recovery supplies.
Safe and Welcoming Grant
Building on the success of the Recovery Grant, in July of this year we launched the Safe and Welcoming Grant. We heard from members in our Safety Survey earlier in the year that more investment in environmental safety is a priority. Specifically, many members felt that improvements in things like lighting, street and crosswalk infrastructure, and more green space will have a large impact on the overall safety of the area. We took the learnings from the COVID-19 Recovery Grant pilot program and created this new grant program to provide members with the funding and flexibility to address their specific needs while also keeping a district-wide perspective. The goal of this program is to help our members make safety and beautification investments that will attract people to the area and create a more safe and welcoming community for all – small changes add up to big impact! Since the launch of the program, seven businesses have applied and are in the process of starting on safety and beautification projects. Applications continue to be accepted here.
We’re excited to have brought several new murals to the Strathcona neighbourhood this year in partnership with Vancouver Mural Festival and local property owners. Artist Sitji Chou created a mural piece called Ripple at Noble on 1001 Venables Street. The artist hopes the waves, lilies, and koi mingling in between will instill a sense of tranquility and whimsy to all who see the mural. Another piece includes Benjamin Stone’s bold new work at Container Brewing, titled No Arrival. A third mural at 603 Powell Street is part of the Black Strathcona Resurgence Project (BSRP). The BSRP is a project to reclaim Black visibility in Strathcona, an area historically populated by Vancouver’s Black community. The BSRP mural titled Watch Over this Child by artist Sasha Mbabazi, is a call to action to take responsibility for the wellbeing of each other. And the Thomas Cannell mural Give It Time, that we sponsored in 2020, has become a standout mural in the district and an East Hastings landmark. Public art has the power to help strengthen the connections between all who share space here, and we are so proud to be a part of supporting more murals for all to enjoy.
We have also invested in mural restoration and upkeep. Last year, we repaired and refreshed the mural at 812 East Cordova, an amazing colourful mural depicting the Squamish Valley and Stawamus Chief Mountain, among others, and we remain invested in ensuring murals in Strathcona are well maintained.
Adding and Refreshing Tree Planters
The Hastings Urban Tree Planters are an urban greening initiative going since 2014 that responds to the lack of trees along some of the streets in Strathcona. The tree planters bring life to our streetscapes by adding greenery through resilient tree varieties and colour through vibrant murals on the planter exteriors. Over the years, the planters have provided a platform for many emerging artists, and this year we are honoured to dedicate this visual space for an Indigenous artist to create a statement-making impact along East Hastings. Following a selection process with Vancouver Mural Fest, we’re excited that the planter murals are in the process of being refreshed by artist Zac George. The design, selected in part through consultation with participants in the planter program, is called Sacred Mountains and we can’t wait to see it completed soon. We’ll also be adding four new planters to the 800 Block of East Hastings, expanding the total number of tree planters in the community to 16.
We’ve launched a pilot COVID-19 Recovery Grant Program to support businesses and property owners that have been affected by the pandemic.
We want to help your business navigate COVID-19 through the fall of 2020. This program is intended to help our members manage unexpected expenses, reduce the financial burden of COVID-19, attract customers and guests to the area, invest in placemaking improvements, and to help businesses invest in their own staff.
A funding pool of $35,000 has been allocated to help businesses and property owners keep their doors open through this period of uncertainty. Grants are open to all eligible SBIA members. Applications will be reviewed in the order they are received, and will be approved on a first-come, first-served basis. Applications will be accepted till December 31, 2020 or until the funding pool has been fully allocated.
Each member is eligible for a matching reimbursement grant of up to 50% for all SBIA approved project/supply costs to a maximum of $1,000. Members can apply for multiple grants up to a maximum of $1,000 per member across all grant areas. All grants will be paid after the work or supplies have been completed or purchased. Recipients will not need to repay the funds at any time. Approved grantees must provide the SBIA with an invoice for work completed no later than March 31, 2021.
To help you navigate the challenges of COVID-19 and to promote a safe, supportive and clean area for employees, community members and customers, we’re offering grants in the following areas:
To help you safely operate your business for both customers and employees. Grant recipients will receive 50% of the cost of the project, or supplies up to $1,000 for:
- Personal protection supplies
- Hand sanitizer, gloves, face masks, face shields, gowns, etc.
- Social distancing infrastructure
- Plastic barriers, line queuing, floor and wall decals, etc
To attract customers, improve private property amenities and exterior property improvements. Grant recipients will receive 50% of the cost of the project or supplies up to $1,000 for:
- Exterior building improvements
- Façade, lighting, signage, murals, etc.
- Public and private property infrastructure
- Sidewalk cafe, patios, benches, small gardens, etc.
To improve the security and outside sanitation of your business or property. Grant recipients will receive 50% of the cost of the project or supplies up to $1,000 for:
- Safety infrastructure
- Cameras, or fencing
- Sanitation and cleanliness
- Power washing, smell disinfectant, scrub treatments, etc.
To assist businesses in developing, training, implementing, and promoting inclusive practices within their business or organization. Grant recipients will receive 50% of the cost of the project or supplies up to $1,000 for:
- Workshops and sessions with business/organization employees and management
- Expert support
- Developing and implementing inclusive practices and policies
- The Applicant must operate or own a business/property in good standing located with the SBIA catchment area
- The Applicant must be the business owner, property owner, or designated representative
- For business applicants, a valid business license must be held
- All funding requests must be used to support and strengthen business activities
- In cases of building improvements/property improvements, the property owner must be notified and agree to the to proposed improvements
- Applications must be received and approved by the SBIA in advance of any work in order to receive a grant. Grants cannot be applied retroactively to work already completed.
- Operating or regular maintenance costs
- Staffing costs and/or time that is incurred to implement the project
- Improvements and upgrades made prior to the date of application approval
- Marketing and promotions (online promotions, ads, billboards, bus stops etc.)
The grant program will be open until Dec. 31st, 2020 or until the funding pool of $35,000 has been allocated to members.
How to Apply for the COVID-19 Recovery Grant:
- Confirm that you meet the Eligibility Requirements listed above.
- Fill-out the SBIA COVID-19 Reopening and Recovery Grant application form below.
- Within the application: provide a quote for any placemaking, safety & sanitation, and diversity and inclusion grant applications including cost estimates of proposed work. Recovery grant applications don’t require quotes prior to approval.
- Within the application: Provide a written statement in 200 words or less on what you intend to do, why this grant will help, and the impact it will have on your business/property. In this statement please demonstrate the need and what you will be using the funds for.
Next Steps After You Apply for a Grant:
- A SBIA team member will review your application.
- Within 7-14 days you will receive a decision from the SBIA about your grant application
- If applicable, a SBIA team member will schedule a Zoom meeting or phone call to review and discuss your application.
- Successful applicants will be required to sign a contract between the applicant and SBIA that includes: terms of the grant, grant amount, and project details before beginning work on their project.
- Approved grantees must provide the SBIA with the agreed-upon documentation including all receipts, records of expenses, and before/after pictures, if applicable.
- Approved grantees must provide the SBIA with an invoice for work completed no later than March 31, 2021.
- The SBIA may ask for a testimonial related to the grant application and to confirm that the grant funding was used in accordance with the agreed-upon criteria.
Our Safety Program now operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
To support our membership and the needs of the community, we have stepped up where we can when it comes to safety and security, and we’re doing it in partnership with other BIAs. The Patrol team can be reached at: 604-789-4143.
The program has transitioned to a single patroller operating the marked SBIA patrol vehicle. This is to ensure we are meeting provincial health guidelines to allow them to maintain a safe physical distance from others while working. Rigorous sanitation practices as directed by government health authorities are also in place.
A reminder of Patrol duties and how the team can help:
- Provide a safe presence in the area and vital eyes on the street.
- Conduct daily hot-spot checks and check on businesses that have temporarily closed.
- Report all activity witnessed during their shift, including debris, graffiti, illegal activity, and help report vehicle and property crime.
- Identify areas in need of additional SBIA, Police, or City resources.
- Respond to member calls for service, offering advice and support where needed and directing emergencies to the relevant services.
To inform the SBIA of your business closure or adjusted hours, please email email@example.com.
Things you can do to enhance safety at your business location:
Move items away from windows and put everything out of sight, or alternatively, remove any valuables from the space all together.
- Have working alarms and strong locks.
- If possible, install a security camera.
- Do not leave your front-door or alcove messy and remember to pick-up your mail.
- Leave no money behind on the premises.
- Leave your lights on. Greater visibility will deter crime and help our night patrol team do their job.
- Put shutters on windows to minimize damage.
- Some businesses have moved to board up their businesses as an additional precaution.
The Vancouver Police Department has shared a Security Audit Checklist to help prevent theft and after hours break-ins. Download and print the Security Audit Checklist here.
Finally, you are welcome to send us your emergency contact information (a cellphone number) so we may reach you if something happens at your business or property. Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Online Crime Reporting
In the case you need to report a non-emergency crime, the VDP is encouraging online crime reporting. You can report the following non-emergency situations online if there is no element of violence:
- Something valued under $10,000 was stolen from you
- Your property and/or your vehicle is vandalized with the repair cost expected to be under $10,000
- Your car is broken into
- Your bank card/cheques are used without your permission and the total loss is less than $10,000
- For all other non-emergency crime reports, you can call the non-emergency line at 604-717-3321.
How does online crime reporting work?
The process works by submitting a report through an online questionnaire. Your report will be reviewed within 24 hours by VPD staff. The information will either be entered into their records management system or you will be contacted by an officer for follow-up. A Vancouver Police Incident number will be generated and sent within 48 hours of your submission that can be used for an insurance claim.
The types of questions you will be asked include the date and location of the incident, your contact information, any details required such as your vehicle’s license plate or value of items lost or stolen, and a summary of what happened.
If you are looking for more resources, visit the dedicated COVID-19 resources page on our blog that we update as information comes online.Read More
The Strathcona BIA is working to support our members across the district of Strathcona facing unprecedented impacts from COVID-19. Please do not hesitate to be in touch with us directly. We are closely monitoring all calls that come through at 604-258-2727 as well as emails at email@example.com.On this page you’ll find relevant COVID-19 updates and resources we’ve gathered to help our members get through this challenging time. This page will continue to be updated as more resources come online.To learn about businesses still open in Strathcona offering take-out, delivery, or other services, visit this page.
Update on SBIA Programs and Advocacy
Strathcona Safety Patrol Program: To support our membership and the needs of the community, this program now operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The program has transitioned to a single patroller operating the marked SBIA patrol vehicle to allow team members to keep safe social distance. They can be reached at 604-789-4143. We are monitoring business closures as best we can and alerting the Safety Patrol Team to keep an extra eye on vacant properties at this time. To inform the SBIA of your business closure or adjusted hours, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.Learn more about the transition to 24/7 safety patrol and ways to keep your business location safe.
Graffiti Removal Program: Goodbye Graffiti is implementing rigourous social distancing and sanitation measures. All employees work individually with their own vehicles. Graffiti removals through this program will continue as usual at this time. Graffiti on private property can be reported by calling 1-877-684-4747 or emailing email@example.com
Street Cleaning Program: Litter and debris continue to be collected through the Street Cleaning Program so long as employees are able to keep a safe social distance from others.
Staff and Board: Office staff are currently working from home but are still monitoring all calls that come through at 604-258-2727. The SBIA Board of Directors and Executive Committee continue to convene for regular meetings via teleconference. Advocacy: The SBIA is joining with BIAs across Vancouver to work together to support our members and mitigate impacts where possible by seeking relief from all levels of Government.
Government COVID-19 Relief Measures
We are closely tracking Government Relief measure announcements for both individuals and businesses. Note that the eligibility requirements for some of the newly announced programs as well as the exact timing of when they will become available are still unknown. We will be monitoring this closely.
Federal Government COVID-19 Economic Response Plan
As of April 15th, here are the details for the key federal relief programs:
This is a taxable benefit of $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here is the online portal to apply.
You have not quit your job voluntarily
you earned a minimum of $5,000 income in the last 12 months or in 2019 from one or more of the following sources: employment income, self-employment income, or benefits related to maternity or paternity leave
Expanded access as of April 15th: Seasonal workers and those who have recently run out of EI, along with people who make less than $1000 a month will now also qualify for the CERB
Program designed to encourage employers who already laid off workers to put them back on payroll. CEWS offers a 75% wage subsidy up to a maximum benefit of $847 per week per employee to qualifying businesses. Employers will be able to apply through the CRA My Business Account or through a web-based application shortly. Note that if you receive a subsidized salary for the CEWS, you cannot apply for the CERB.Eligibility Requirements:Businesses that demonstrate a 15% drop in revenue in March 2020 and 30% for following months as a result of COVID-19Employers are allowed to calculate revenues under the accrual method or the cash method and will compare to the same month in 2019 or an average of January and February 2020 to demonstrate drop in revenueProgram is open to all sectors and business sizesThe program also applies to non-profits and charitiesAll employers would be expected to make best efforts to top up salaries to 100% of the maximum wages covered
The new Canada Emergency Business Account will provide interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits, to help cover their operating costs. Business owners can apply for this relief measure through their banks or credit unions.Eligibility Requirements – expanded as of April 16thOrganizations need to demonstrate they paid between $20,000 to $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019
This new program was announced April 16th and will seek to provide loans, including forgivable loans to commercial property owners who in turn will lower or forgo the rent of small businesses for the months of April (retroactive), May, and June. Learn more details about how it will work here.
The Canada Summer Jobs Program will now provide private and public sector employers with up to %100 of the minimum hourly wage for each employee. Employers are also now allowed to hire staff on a part-time basis.The Work-Sharing program will be extended from 38 weeks to 76 weeks.All businesses can defer, until after August 31, 2020, payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after March 18 and before September 2020. More information here.All businesses, including self-employed individuals, can defer until June 20, 2020 payments of GST/HST, as well as customs owing on their imports.Canada’s full COVID-19 Economic Response Plan can be found here.
Provincial Government COVID-19 Economic Response Plan
Announced April 16th 2020: Reducing most commercial property tax bills by an average of 25% by further reducing the school property tax rate for commercial propertiesPostponing the date that late payment penalties apply for commercial properties in classes 4,5,6,7 and 8 to Oct.1st, 2020 to give businesses and landlords more time to pay their reduced property tax, without penalty.Announced April 9th, 2020:Renters who are experiencing a loss of income during the COVID-19 pandemic can now apply for the Province’s new temporary rental supplement. The program will provide $300 per month for elibible households and $500 per month for eligbile households with dependents.
Announced April 1st, 2020:BC Hydro will offer new, targeted bill relief to provide immediate help to those most in need. Small businesses that have been forced to close due to COVID-19 will have their power bills forgiven for three months, April to June 2020. Residential customers who have lost their jobs or are unable to work due to COVID-19 will receive a credit to help cover the cost of their electricity bills that does not have to be repaid.
Announced March 23rd, 2020. HighlightsA new BC Emergency Benefit for Workers will provide a tax-free $1000 payment to British Columbians whose ability to work has been affected by COVID-19. Applications will open on May 1st, 2020.Many Provincial tax filing and payment deadlines are deferred to Sept. 30, 2020Businesses and light and major property classes will see their school property tax cut in half for the 2020 tax year, providing 500 million in relief for businesses that own their property and for tenants on triple-net leases. Canada’s six largest banks have worked together to freeze mortgage payments for six months for those in need.
City of Vancouver Relief Measures
The City of Vancouver has launched a webpage for businesses where you can learn about available business support programs, what City services for businesses are up-and-running, and make suggestions to the City about business and the economy.
Additional MeasuresBrining forward a plan to delay the July property tax payments for up to 60 days. Parking enforcement is temporarily suspended for metered parking, rush-hour zones, residential permit-parking zones, and parking time limits. Building on-site inspections and development permits, applications, and inspections are continuing with enhanced safety precautions. The Vancouver Police Department has established a VPD liaison officer for the BIA Partnership to assist businesses with safety and security issues that may arise.
Other Relief Measures and Opportunities
Business Development Bank of Canada is offering a range of low interest loans.For more on financing options for businesses impacted by COVID-19, Small Business BC has written a helpful article.The Vancouver Foundation in partnership with Vancity Credit Union and others has announced a Community Response fund targeting community organizations and low-income populations. They are currently exploring how grants will be awarded and chanels to accept requests for funding. They aniticipate it going live by March 25th.
.Facebook is offering $100 million in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses. Detail on how to apply will be released soon.
Daily Hive in partnership with West Coast Technology Innovation Foundation have launched a free platform to help bring small Canadian restuarants online called Adopt My Shop. The service will enable digital features like the ability to sell gift cards, accept orders, and create an oline sotre via Shopify or Square. Anyone who would like help moving all or part of their business operations online can contact the team directly thorugh Adopt My Shop.Small Business BC has launched a COVID-19 Support Service, connecting businesses with the resources, and guidance necessary to navigate challenges from COVID-19. They also have a Small Business Market Place helping to promote local small businesses still able to provide products and services during COVID-19.
Learn more here.
How to Apply for the Work-Sharing program
The work-sharing program is an adjustment program designed to help avoid layoffs when there is a temporary reduction in the normal level of business activity that is beyond an employer’s control. The Federal Government is doubling the length of time that employers and workers are elgible to use the Work Sharing program from 38 to 78 weeks. The employer and the employees must agree to participate in a Work-sharing agreement and must apply together. Learn about how to develop your application here.
Relevant News Updates: Week of April 27th
April 27th: The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) opens for applications today, April 27th. This program will provide a 75% wage subsidy for employers impacted by COVID-19. The first payments are expected to be processed on May 7th.Employers can apply for the CEWS through My Business Account or through the CRA’s online application portal, and their representatives can apply through Represent a Client. Learn more about how to apply here.
Relevant News Updates: Week of April 20th
April 25th: The provincial government announced new measures to support people living in Oppenheimer Park to help curtail the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak in the DTES. The Province will be working with stakeholders to transition people living in Oppenheimer Park into safe, temporary accomodations with wrap-around supports. Learn more here.
April 24th: Further details were announced about the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) Program. The program will lower rent by 75% for small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19. Details include:Small and medium sized businesses, as well as charities and non-profits, paying less than $50,000 in monthly rent will be eligible. Businesses need to have experienced at least a 70% drop in pre-COVID-19 revenues or temporarily ceased operations.The program will provide forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners to cover 50% of rent during April, May, and June. Loans will be forgiven if the property owner agrees to reduce rent for tenants by 75%. The tenant would be responsible for covering 25%, the property owner 25%, and the federal government and provinces would share the remaining 50%. The forgivable loans would be disbursed directly to the mortgage lender.The rent forgiveness agreement will need to include a term not to evict the tenant while the agreement is in place.It is expected that CECRA will be operational by mid-May, with commercial property owners lowering the rents of their small business tenant’s payable for the months of April and May, retroactively, and for June.Read the federal annoucement about CECRA here.
April 23rd: Applications for the B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers will open
May 1st. This one-time, $1000 payment is designed to support B.C. residents whose ability to work has been impacted by COVID-19. Learn more about the provincial benefit here.
April 22nd: The Prime Minister announced several additional supports for post-secondary students and recent graduates, including the Canada Emergency Student Benefit and the Canada Student Service Grant. Learn more about the federal announcement here.
Relevant News Updates: Week of April 13th
April 17th: The Prime Minister announced several additional measures, including help for the energy sector, the cultural sector, and rural employers. Relevant highlights for small businesses include: $962 million announced for regional development agencies to help smaller employers in rural areas$270 million announced for Futurpreneur Canada and programs to support entrepreneurial and industrial research$500 million announced for Heritage Canada to support Canadians who work in the arts, culture, and sports sectors.Learn more about the annoucement in this CBC article.
April 16th: The B.C. Provincial government announced new relief measures for businesses including:Reducing most commercial property tax bills by an average of 25% by further reducing the school property tax rate for commercial propertiesPostponing the date that late paymenet penalties apply for commercial properties in classes 4,5,6,7 and 8 to Oct.1st, 2020 to give businesses and landlords more time to pay their reduced property tax, without penalty.Learn more about the provincial announcement here.
April 16th: The Prime Minister announced two important measures that will further support businesses:Introduction of a Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program. The program will seek to provide loans, including forgivable loans, to commercial property owners who in turn will lower or forgo the rent of small businesses for the months of April (retroactive), May, and June. More details to come soon.
The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) free-interest $40,000 loan program is expanding to include businesses that paid between $20,000 and $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019.Learn more about the federal announcement here.
April 15th: The Prime Minister announced expanded access to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit program. Seasonal workers and those who have recently run out of EI, along with people who make less than $1000 a month will now also qualify for the CERB. This will benefit the cultural sector, seasonal and tourism employees, and those working in the gig economy. Read the government announcement here.
Relevant News Updates: Week of April 6th
April 9th: Canada Emergency Business Account applications opened. Interested parties are invited to apply through their own financial institution.Learn more in this article from Small Business BC.
April 9th: Applications for BC Temporary Rental Supplement opened. Renters who are experiencing a loss of income during the COVID-19 pandemic can now apply for the Province’s new temporary rental supplement. The program will provide $300 per month for elibible households and $500 per month for eligbile households with dependents. Learn more and apply here.
April 8th: The federal government annouced changes to the eligibility criteria for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsity to allow more businesses to qualify for the support.Read the government announcement here.
April 6th: Applications opened for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). This is a taxable benefit of $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Apply for the CERB here.
Relevant News Updates: Week of March 30th
April 1st: Province of BC and BC Hydro announced relief on power bills during COVID-19. Small businesses that have been forced to close due to COVID-19 will have their power bills forgiven for three months, April to June 2020. Residential customers who have lost their jobs or are unable to work due to COVID-19 will receive a credit to help cover the cost of their electricity bills that does not have to be repaid.Read the announcement from the Provincial Government here.Apply for the relief here.
March 30th: Prime Minister’s office provided further details on the 75% Wage Subsidy for businesses. Details of the announcement are as follows:Businesses qualify for the subsidy if revenues have dropped 30% or more as a result of COVID-19Number of employees is not a factor. Benefit also applies to non-profits and charities. Benefit cover up to 75% on the first $58,000 earned per yearA maximum of $847 per week. Benefit will be backdated to March 15th. Tommorrow, the Minister of Finance and Minister of Small Business are expected to provide more details on how businesses can apply.
Relevant News Updates: Week of March 23rd
March 27th: Prime Minister’s office annouced several huge measures to keep employees on the payroll. Here are the four key points:Increasing wage subsidy for qualifying small and medium-sized businesses from 10% to 75% and will be backdated to March 15th.A Canada Emergency Business Account has been created that will provide small businesses loans up to $40,000 interest free for a year. The first $10,000 could be forgiven if certain conditions are met (unspecified as of now).GST and HTS and custom duty payments are deferred until June.Additional $12.5 billion to flow through Export Development Canada and Business Development Bank of Canada to assist businesses with operational cash flow requirements.As more information comes available over the coming days, we’ll be sure to keep you informed.You can learn more about some of the additional measures here.
March 26th: The Province posted the list of essential services in BC. Essential services should and are encouraged to remain open so long as they are following the orders and guidance of the Provincial Health Orders (PHO) to ensure safe operations and reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Any business or service that has not been ordered to close and is also not identified on the essential service list may stay open if they can adapt their services and workplace to the orders and recommendations of the PHO.
March 25th: The Province announced support for renters and landlords, with the key highlights being: temporary rent supplement of up to $500 per month, paid directly to landlords for up to four months for those in need.Eviction moratorium until the crisis has passedFreezing new annual rent increases during the state of emergency.Read the Provincial annoucement here
March 23rd: The Province of BC announced two significant changes to the Employment Standards Act:The first change will allow workers immediately to 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 dependents, 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.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.Read the announcement here.
March 23rd: City of Vancouver Council added further social distancing enforcement bylaw measures that:Allow the City to fine businesses up to $50,000 if customers aren’t kept at least two metres apart. Enable bylaw officers to issue tickets to individuals for non-compliance (up to $1,000)Read the announcement here.
Additional COVID-19 Resources
Here are some additional business resources that you might find helpful:Business Continuity Checklist: Key Considerations for Small Business. Available in multiple languages.Calling All Suppliers: Help Canada Fight Covid-19. The Canadian Government is seeking businesses that can supply products and services in support of Canada’s response to COVID-19.Managing and Pivoting during a time of crisis. Small Business BC provides practical ideas and inspiration to help manage your business in this uniquely challenging time.For up to date information on the current state of the COVID-19 virus, see the following resources:BC Centre for Disease Control UpdateGovernment of Canada Virus UpdateWorld Health Organization Update
Checking for SymptomsIf you’re worried about COVID-19 symptoms, you can help save healthcare capacity by using this self-assessment tool first: https://covid19.thrive.health/The BC Government also launched theBC COVID-19 SUPPORT app that you can download at the App Store or Google Play.
Experiencing symptomsIf you think you have symptoms of COVID-19 (for example, dry cough or fever), please stay home, and self-isolate for 14 days. COVID-19 presents as a mild illness in the majority of patients; testing is not recommended for those who have mild respiratory symptoms. If respiratory symptoms worsen, please call 8-1-1 or your health care provider.Read More
We are continuing to monitor COVID-19 announcements and disseminate what we feel is directly relevant to our members.
Earlier today the Prime Minister announced an $82-billion aid package to help Canadians and businesses cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, including income supports, wage subsidies, and tax deferrals.
The first signs of financial relief to businesses are optimistic.
There are reassurances that people without paid sick leave as well as people who don’t typically qualify for Employment Insurance (EI) will be eligible for benefits. Two different programs are being created:
- 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 do not have access to paid sick leave. This includes those who are self-employed, sick or quarantined, and those who are staying home to look after others and children who are not in school. The measure could disburse up to $10 billion.
- An Emergency Support Benefit from the Canada Revenue Agency to provide up to $5 billion in support to workers who are not eligible for EI and who are facing unemployment as a result of COVID’s impact.
The Government is introducing more flexibility for taxpayers and businesses experiencing hardships during COVID-19:
- The tax filing deadline for individuals will be extended to June 1, 2020.
- They are allowing taxpayers and businesses to defer until after Aug. 31, 2020 the payment of any income tax amounts that are due after today and before September without penalty.
The Government is proposing a temporary wage subsidy program for small businesses:
- Eligible small businesses would qualify for 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 to encourage employers to keep their workers on the payroll
Additional relief measures were also announced around Child Benefit payments, the Reaching Home homeless care program, homeowner mortgage payments, student loan payments, and Indigenous community support.
Approvals: Some of these new measures will still require legislative adoption by Parliament.
Timing: Two-three weeks (early April) is the optimistic timing for some of the new programs, like the Emergency Care Benefit or the Emergency Support Benefit, to actually get up and running.
Only Step One: This is only the first phase of economic support and the approach is meant to be elastic and designed to expand depending on need.
Here’s what the Strathcona BIA will be watching for in the coming days:
- Eligibility requirements for the different measures
- How to actually access these supports
- Timing of when they become available
- Other assistance measures being made available by other levels of government
The SBIA is joining efforts with all 22 BIAs across Vancouver to use all tools available to advocate for promised relief to reach small businesses impacted across our communities.
March 18th update from Mayor Stewart
In Vancouver this afternoon, the Mayor announced new measures the City is taking to help limit the spread of COVID-19. He has decided to declare a state of emergency in Vancouver in order to give the City the tools it needs to move faster and keep businesses and residents safe. All public-serving businesses are to close to assembly service and can only remain open to provide take-out or delivery. Read the full letter from the Mayor here.
We’ve already seen Strathcona BIA members demonstrate incredible bravery, resourcefulness, resilience, and sacrifice while nagivating through this vulnerable and uncertain time. Learn more about what’s going in the district as of this March 17th blog post.
As we continue to work to support our business members across the district of Strathcona during this unprecedented time, please do not hesitate to be in touch with us. We are closely monitoring all calls that come through at 604-258-2727 as well as emails at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please be well, stay safe, and let’s stay connected.Read More
We want to take a moment among all the other COVID-19 related communications you are inundated with right now to say: we see you. In the last few days we’ve seen Strathcona BIA members demonstrate incredible bravery, resourcefulness, resilience, and sacrifice while navigating through this vulnerable and uncertain time. Several Strathcona businesses and organizations have heavily altered or temporarily ceased operations in a valiant effort to slow the advancement of the COVID-19 virus. These are extremely difficult decisions to be making, all while weighing the impacts to your businesses, your personal lives, the lives of your staff, and our community members. Know we are holding this close as we try to aid in resources and advocacy as the situation unfolds.
Here are just a few examples of Strathcona members we know about that have altered operations that we want to acknowledge:
- Belgard Kitchen is closing their doors until further notice.
- Fazakas Gallery will be closed to the public this week.
- Luppolo Brewing and Container Brewing have decided to close their tasting rooms for the time-being, but are still open for beer to-go purchases.
- Mackenzie Room has temporarily shut it’s doors, but they are putting together a new menu of 500ml meals ranging from $5-$10 that you can purchase for pick-up fresh to eat or freeze starting Wednesday. Find out more here.
- Dosanko Restaurant will be open for take-out only with an abbreviated menu from 11:30am-7pm.
- Agro Roasters is now open for takeout only.
- The Garden Strathcona is implementing a number of measures including encouraging phone-in orders for take out.
- les amis du Fromage is also implementing several measures with safety of customers and staff in mind.
- UGM is implementing a Pandemic Plan and helping to ensure information sharing, care, and proper measures are taken to support their guests and community.
- Enterprising Women Making Art have cancelled all workshops until further notice, but are still operating regular business hours.
- Railtown PR firm, We Are Reformation, has created a crisis communications planning guide and are offering 100% free public relations, social media, and communications consultations to small businesses right now.
|How are you pivoting? Has your restaurant moved to online orders and deliveries? Are you hosting online tutorials and want help to get the word out? If you have specific changes in operations that we can help promote, get in touch with us. Email email@example.com. Or message us on instagram @MadeInStrathcona.|
|Update on SBIA Programs Our Safety Patrol team continues to operate in the neighbourhood, while taking measures to keep safe social distance. They are keeping vital extra eyes on the street and continue their regular duties of reporting activity and debris and offering support where needed. They can be reached at 604-789-4143. If you decide to close your business temporarily, please inform the SBIA, and we will alert the Safety Patrol team to keep an extra eye on the property during their regular district patrols. At this time, our Graffiti Removal program and majority of our Street Cleaning programs will continue so long as employees are able to keep safe social distance from others.|
|Additional Resources and Information There are lot of COVID-19 Business Resource lists in circulation. If you are looking for a comprehensive jumping off point, Vancouver Economic Commission has developed a helpful webpage. The Government of Canada has also launched a webpage for Canadian businesses that addresses key considerations for businesses at this time. Note that the one-week waiting period for EI sickness benefits will be waived for new claimants who are quarantined so they can be paid for the first week of their claim. Employment and Social Development Canada is doubling the length of time that employers and workers are eligible to use the Work Sharing program from 38 to 76 weeks. This is an adjustment program designed to help avoid layoffs when there is a temporary reduction in the normal level of business activity that is beyond an employer’s control. We know that not everyone affected by this crisis will necessarily be eligible for current government programs. The Federal Minister of Finance has also announced a $10 billion stimulus package through the Business Development Bank of Canada, which will support businesses impacted by this crisis. More details are to be shared in the coming days and we are following this closely. The SBIA is joining efforts with all 22 BIAs across Vancouver to pull together all levers and tools available to advocate to all levels of government for policy supports and for promised relief to reach small businesses impacted across our communities. As we continue to work to support our business members across the district of Strathcona during this unprecedented time, please do not hesitate to be in touch with us. We are closely monitoring all calls that come through at 604-258-2727 as well as emails at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please be well and let’s stay connected. |
Executive Director, Strathcona BIA