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Latest News from the ACC

As a valued member of the Cochrane & District Chamber of Commerce, you are also a part of the Alberta Chambers of Commerce. Since 1937, the Alberta Chambers of Commerce provides a powerful voice on behalf of the business community by speaking out on issues such as taxes, transportation, and education.

Your financial support of a local Chamber of Commerce ensures a resource of information and services for the business region that it serves. By supporting the Alberta Chambers of Commerce, you are supporting all the business communities in Alberta.

Latest News from ACC

ACC

ACC COVID-19 daily update

May 19, 2020

Prime Minister announces expansion of support for workers and small businesses

Today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced an expansion to the eligibility criteria for the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) to include many owner-operated small businesses.

The program will now be available to a greater number of businesses that are sole proprietors receiving income directly from their businesses, businesses that rely on contractors, and family-owned corporations that pay employees through dividends rather than payroll.

As not-for-profit organizations, chambers are encouraged to apply for CEBA by contacting their financial institution.

Canadian Chamber of Commerce issues statement regarding criteria expansion for CEBA

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce issued a statement in response to today's CEBA announcement.

Canada-U.S. border to remain closed until June 21

This morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed that the Canada-U.S. border will remain closed to non-essential travel until June 21. Watch here

Alberta government providing additional relief for the tourism industry

The Alberta government is providing new supports for hotels and other lodging providers that allow them to keep tourism levy amounts collected between March 1 and December 31, 2020. This measure will free up between $16 million and $27 million in additional cash flow for the hospitality sector, which employs 30,000 Albertans.

Regional Relief and Recovery Fund for SMEs

The Regional Relief and Recovery Fund is now available to Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) located in non-metropolitan regions in Western Canada.

Regional Relief and Recovery Fund Fact Sheet (PDF)

For more information, chambers and their members should contact their local Community Futures office.

Deloitte Economic Recovery Dashboard

Deloitte has put together an Economic Recovery Dashboard to provide a real-time, full picture view of the country’s situation as businesses, governments, and others continue to respond to the COVID-19 global health crisis.

ACC pulse check survey

The Alberta Chambers of Commerce, Economic Developers Alberta, and Community Futures Alberta have launched a short pulse check survey as Alberta begins the process of relaunching its economy. The survey will help our network gather insights on the barriers businesses face reopening in phase one of Alberta's relaunch as well as ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and low oil prices.

Please take the survey and share your insights. The survey will be open through Friday, May 22.

FINAL REPORT
ACC COVID-19 and low oil prices business impact survey

Thanks to your help, we received over 700 responses to the ACC COVID-19 and low oil prices business impact survey. The final report and analysis can be viewed here.

A follow-up pulse survey will be launched next week on Thursday, May 14, and remain open until Friday, May 22. The focus will be to gain further insights on the accessibility of government programs and issues businesses that are able to open during Phase 1 may face, including operating while using Personal Protective Equipment. The ACC will share the live survey link with the network on Wednesday, May 13, so that chambers can circulate it to their members the following day when the survey launches.

Over the next week, chambers can also expect to receive an invitation to join the ACC's Alberta Perspectives research community hub. All the research reports of the Alberta Perspectives program and related media will be posted in the community hub.

In early June, the ACC will launch a survey focused on economic recovery and priorities for the province. Insights gathered through the Alberta Perspectives program are being shared with the government to inform economic responses to COVID-19 and low oil prices, and economic recovery in the medium to long term.

Community chambers participation is what makes this program successful, and we appreciate your support. Thank you for all that you continue to do on behalf of your members, communities, and business in Alberta.

ACC media release — May 11, 2020

For Immediate Release

Recent survey data show obstacles to Alberta's relaunch

 

EDMONTON — A recent business impact survey—a joint effort between the Alberta Chambers of Commerce (ACC), Community Futures Alberta, and Economic Developers Alberta (EDA)—shows many businesses will face obstacles to Alberta's phase one economic relaunch, scheduled to begin May 14.

 

The survey—which took place online between April 10 and April 26, 2020—revealed half of Alberta businesses have laid off employees while 42 percent of respondents have employees working reduced hours. Among businesses reporting layoffs, 57 percent of respondents say they have laid off more than half their employees.

 

ACC President and CEO Ken Kobly caution that rehiring laid-off employees won't necessarily be an immediate step with Alberta's economic reopening.

 

"Rehiring will be a question of people’s perception of security and confidence that they will be safe, and not simply a matter of opening business doors," says Kobly. "Along the same lines, business recovery will be dependent on public perception and resources; people need to feel safe patronizing local businesses and have the means to do so. That could take time."

 

Seventy-four percent of businesses are pessimistic about the pace of Alberta's recovery, with low oil and gas prices and difficulty exporting oil compounding the economic challenges of COVID-19. More than 60 percent of respondents cite permanent damage to customers' ability to pay as the primary reason they expect the economic recovery to be slow. Among retail respondents, this number is 10 percent higher.

 

While these results are staggering, the ACC, Community Futures Alberta, and EDA agree on the importance of quality data to inform response, recovery, and reopening strategies.

 

"The insights this survey provides are vital indicators for our province," says Community Futures Alberta Executive Director Phyllis Maki. "We’re grateful to the hundreds of local businesses that provided feedback, and we are eager to join with our partners across Alberta to begin building a road to recovery."

 

All three organizations also underscore the importance of collaboration during this unprecedented period.

 

"Now more than ever, collaboration to advance Alberta’s economy is essential—and this survey is a strong example," says Economic Developers Alberta CEO Leann Hackman Carty. "As Alberta’s economic development network, we are confident these survey results will help equip our economic developers with the information they need to continue essential work to help repair our economy, accelerate economic recovery, and create a more resilient province in the months and years ahead."

 

ACC's comment on the Alberta Relaunch Strategy

Hear ACC President and CEO Ken Kobly's remarks to CTV news (5 minute mark) on Alberta's COVID-19 relaunch strategy.

Reopening Canada's Economy

The COVID-19 pandemic curve is starting to flatten; provinces and territories are allowing businesses to reopen, and Canada needs a plan to restart the economy. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has identified five key areas that need to be part of the country’s strategy to reopen the economy quickly and safely. The CCC is also looking to hear from you.

CCC Webinar: The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Explained

Join the Canadian Chamber on Thursday, May 7, 9 a.m. MT, to tackle common questions that have surfaced and discuss CEWS with tax partner John Di Liso at  Grant Thornton LLP.

Register online.

Government of Canada creates COVID-19 supply council

The Government of Canada announced the creation of the COVID-19 Supply Council which will bring together a diverse group of leaders to provide the government with advice on the procurement of critical goods and services required as part of Canada’s COVID-19 response and recovery.
Statement on joint action plan to facilitate flow of goods, services and personnel amid COVID-19
The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, issued a statement on the joint action plan to maintain global supply chains.
Prime Minister announces virtual care and mental health tools for Canadians
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced an investment of $240.5 million to develop, expand, and launch virtual care and mental health tools to support Canadians.

Increased access to fibre helps protect jobs

The Forest Jobs Action Plan supports forest businesses by increasing the annual allowable cut by up to 13 per cent, while ensuring continued sustainable forest management principles.

April 6, 2020
Canadian Business Resilience Network (CCC microsite)

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce recently launched the Canadian Business Resilience Network microsite in response to COVID-19.

CERB application

Eligible Canadians born in January, February, or March were able to begin applying for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) today.

Source: Government of Canada

Letter from Ministers to employers – Temporary Foreign Workers – COVID-19

The federal Minister of Health and Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion issued a letter emphasizing an emergency order under the Quarantine Act regarding temporary foreign workers and the associated obligations of employers.

Temporary Alberta employment standards changes

Today, the Alberta Government announced temporary rules to provide job protection for workers and flexibility for employers during this pandemic.

Relief for forest companies affected by COVID-19

In response to COVID-19 and the economic effects to our forestry industry, the Alberta government will defer timber dues for six months.

Federal supports for individuals and families

Past ACC Chair Brad Severin has released the third and final newsletter in his three-part series on COVID supports, this one focused on federal supports and programs for individuals and families (see past newsletters on federal business supports and provincial programs).

ACC response to COVID-19

March 18, 2020

WHO resources

National resources

On March 18, the federal government announced new supports for Canadians and businesses. See the full list of measures here.

The ACC is closely following the provincial and national governments' responses to COVID-19. In efforts to reduce overlap of sources and information, the ACC is using the Canadian Chamber of Commerce data on COVID-19 and business preparedness.

We encourage community chambers to use these resources as their primary source of information when communicating to your members as well.

Provincial resources

On March 17, Alberta Health declared a state of emergency under the Public Health Act.

The ACC won't venture to guess how long the current situation will last, but understands the impact the COVID-19 virus will have on you, our members and the business community in Alberta. In response, we have put together a short, three-question survey to track the revenue losses of Alberta chambers.

Given this is trade show season, we are aware that many of you are looking at substantial losses that may undermine the stability of your chamber. The ACC will track the commitments of all levels of government to assist business and the not-for-profit sector as things progress.

Please continue to keep us updated by way of the survey (above) regarding cancellation of chamber gatherings. The survey will remain open and you can respond multiple times from the same e-mail address.

Video conferencing services

With Canadians encouraged to limit in-person contact, many organizations are shifting to working and/or meeting remotely. The below article provides six free video conferencing apps to help you stay connected during this time.

HR concerns

The ACC has been in contact with the Chambers Group Plan and asked that they reach out to Arive, which administers the HR component available to clients of Chamber Plan. They have agreed to do so and rather than inundating Arive with calls from chambers, will determine if they are able to assist with HR-related concerns.

We hope to be able to provide polices to assist chambers if quarantine becomes more frequent or desired by staff, advice for discussions with boards of directors for issues like working from home and continuance of payroll.

Anyone with Chambers Plan health benefits can access Teladoc Telemedicine to speak with a doctor within an hour at no cost. Download the app or call 1-888-983-5236.

Alberta Employer updates

Sick Leave - Alberta

On Friday, March 13, 2020 the Alberta government announced changes to the Employment Standards Code Regulation prohibiting employers from requiring sick notes from employees, expanding job-protected leave from 5 to 14 days, and waiving the requirement that employees be employed for 90 days before being entitled to this job-protected leave. At the time, the government indicated that this leave would be paid, though did not provide specifics.

Unfortunately, the government has not yet been able to provide further information about how this leave would be "paid". The amended regulation has not been published. We understand there may be discussions underway between various levels of government with respect to compensation for employees who need to access this leave. When the regulation is published, we expect it may be retroactive to March 13, 2020. The Prime Minister today indicated that there would be a further announcement tomorrow involving financial measures, and we anticipate this will include expanded measures to provide employees/employers with financial assistance as a result of COVID-19.

Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits

In the interim, a separate phone line has been set up through Service Canada for queries related to EI sickness benefits relating to COVID-19. The phone number is 1-833-381-2725 . The federal government has waived the one (1) week waiting period for Canadians requiring EI sickness benefits for COVID-19, including those who are in a 14-day isolation period. Canadians can apply right away. For employers who do not offer sick leave, or for employees who have exhausted sick leave entitlements, this is an option to provide some compensation.

We have reached out to Alberta Labour with the goal of setting up a webinar to discuss the legal realities and minimum requirements for employers when a pandemic occurs. We will keep you posted as we have information to share.