COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus)
As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, the Uptown Waterloo BIA continues to closely monitor the developments and their impact. Our first priority is to protect the health and safety of our staff, volunteers and membership. We wanted to take this opportunity to provide you with an update on the actions that are being taken by our association.
We have followed the advice of federal, provincial and local governments as well as Public Health. With those recommendations in mind, we have determined that BIA-related events in March until mid-May are all cancelled or postponed. These events require commitments of time and effort to plan and execute and the hard work of our staff and volunteers does not go unnoticed. We want to thank everyone who has helped and supported these events.
As the situation unfolds, we will continue to monitor the situation and the advice of public health officials. We may have to make further decisions surrounding our services, events and activities in the future.
We will continue to post all news and updates on this page.
See which businesses are open and which are closed on the following page:
“While You’re At Home” Video Series
Help us promote your business! Inspired by our friends in Downtown Kitchener, the Uptown BIA is launching a video campaign to help promote business during the COVID-19 situation. Read more about this here.
Resources for Small Businesses
The following resources are specific to COVID-19.
- Ontario Ministry of Health Guidelines
- Financial/Government Support
- Security & Safety
- Tips for Working Remotely
- Online/Social Media
- Other Business Tips
- KWCF Announces $300,000 to support COVID-19 assistance to Waterloo Region charities
- Federal Commercial Rent Abatement Strategy
- WSIB Financial Relief Package
- Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) Resources
- Supplemental Unemployment Benefit Program
- Federal Work-Sharing Program Information
- City of Waterloo Financial Relief Measures for Residents and Businesses
- Government Programs to Support Canadian Entrepreneurs
- Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan: Support for Canadians and Businesses
- Federal Government Support Announcement
- Provincial Government Support Announcement
- COVID-19 Wage Subsidy
- How to Apply for Employment Insurance
- CCIM – Landlord Strategies for Handling Rent Relief Requests
- BDC – Support for entrepreneurs impacted by the Coronavirus COVID-19
- Facebook Small Business Grants Program
- Canada’s Regional Development Agencies – Info Sheet
- Blackberry Secure Connectivity Tools – free for 60 days
- Occupational Health & Safety Number – to report a health and safety incident: 1-877-202-0008
- BMO – How to Avoid the Coronavirus Phishing Scam
- Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre – List of Known COVID-19 Scams
- Business Self-Security Audit – from WRPS
- Toronto Region Board of Trade – Business Support Portal
- How to Apply for the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
- Help My Restaurant
- Save Hospitality (Coalition of Independent Canadian Restaurateurs)
- Accelerator Centre Free Virtual Workshops
- Free Video Tools from Vidyard
- Information, Tools and Resources for Local Businesses During COVID-19
- National Crowdfunding and Fintech Association Resources and Guides for Businesses and Individuals
- Webinar: Adjusting Growth Strategy for COVID-19
- Retail Council of Canada – Resources for Retailers
- FREE Webinars and Resources from Waterloo Region Small Business Centre
- Destination Ontario is looking for inspirational and/or entertaining consumer-facing tourism virtual experiences to promote on their platforms. If there is anything from your destination, event, organization or operation that you think would fit the bill (like a live concert, tour, lecture, or other experience) please feel free to send to DO.email@example.com.
If you have an idea for a virtual experience, but need support to get it off the ground please contact Andrea Gardi at Regional Tourism: firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to discuss how we can partner on that initiative.
Update: April 8 - Update to Canada Wage Subsidy
Update: Wednesday, April 8, 2020
Federal Government Update
Today, the Prime Minister announced further details on the eligibility requirements for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), which included flexibility for employers to access the subsidy. In order to address the realities faced by the not-for-profit sector, high growth companies and new businesses, the Government proposes the following additional flexibility:
- To measure their revenue loss, it is proposed that all employers have the flexibility to compare their revenue of March, April and May 2020 to that of the same month of 2019, or to an average of their revenue earned in January and February 2020.
- For March, the Government proposes to make the CEWS more accessible than originally announced by reducing the 30-per-cent benchmark to 15 per cent, in recognition of the fact that many businesses did not begin to be affected by the crisis until partway through the month.
- In recognition that the time between when revenue is earned and when it is paid could be highly variable in certain sectors of the economy, it is proposed that employers be allowed to measure revenues either on the basis of accrual accounting (as they are earned) or cash accounting (as they are received). Special rules would also be provided to address issues for corporate groups, non-arm’s length entities and joint ventures.
- Registered charities and non-profit organizations would also be able to benefit from the additional flexibilities being provided to employers with respect to the revenue loss calculation. In addition, to recognize that different types of organizations are experiencing different types of funding pressures, it is proposed that charities and non-profit organizations be allowed to choose to include or exclude government funding in their revenues for the purpose of applying the revenue reduction test.
The proposed CEWS would apply at a rate of 75 per cent of the first $58,700 normally earned by employees – representing a benefit of up to $847 per week, per employee. The program would be in place for a 12-week period, from March 15 to June 6, 2020. Employers of all sizes and across all sectors of the economy would be eligible, with certain exceptions including public sector entities. An eligible employer’s entitlement to this wage subsidy will be based entirely on the salary or wages actually paid to employees. All employers would be expected to make best efforts to bring employees’ wages to their pre-crisis levels.
As well, the Government is proposing that employers eligible for the CEWS be entitled to receive a 100-per-cent refund for certain employer-paid contributions to Employment Insurance, the Canada Pension Plan, the Quebec Pension Plan, and the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan. This refund would apply to the entire amount of employer-paid contributions in respect of remuneration paid to furloughed employees in a period where the employer is eligible for the CEWS.
The Prime Minister said that the government is working hard to have CEWS funds available to distribute to business as quickly as possible, indicating 3 weeks as a possible timeline. We will provide updates as they become available.
To support businesses and young Canadians, the Government of Canada announced temporary changes to the Canada Summer Jobs program that will help employers hire summer staff and provide young Canadians access to the jobs they need. The temporary changes to the program for this year include:
- an increase to the wage subsidy, so that private and public sector employers can also receive up to 100 per cent of the provincial or territorial minimum hourly wage for each employee
- an extension to the end date for employment to February 28, 2021
- allowing employers to adapt their projects and job activities to support essential services
- allowing employers to hire staff on a part-time basis
For workers who have had their work hours reduced to 10 hours or less per week due to COVID-19, the Prime Minister indicated that information will be released soon as to how they can apply to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). We will provide an update once those details have been released.
Provincial Government Update
The Provincial government announced today that Ontario is extending construction hours for essential construction projects, like critical projects in the health care sector, to 24 hours a day. Work on new hospital builds, expansions, and COVID-19 assessment centres will be able to continue any time of the night or day in order to help accelerate the construction of these important projects and enable employers to take additional steps to protect the health and safety of workers on these job sites. Ontario will temporarily limit local noise bylaws from applying to these types of essential construction activities beginning April 7, 2020. Extending hours for essential construction will also give worksite managers more flexibility to stagger shifts, limit the number of people in one place, and take reasonable precautions to keep workers safe and healthy under the recent guidelines issued by Ontario’s Chief Prevention Officer for construction sites.
Ontario is also making essential workplaces across the province safer during the COVID-19 pandemic by:
- Redeploying more than 30 employment standards officers to help businesses understand and comply with health and safety requirements;
- Working with health and safety associations to deploy up to 30 specialists to support employers and workers in the field;
- Issuing health and safety guidance notes to support specific sectors;
- Doubling the capacity of Ontario’s Health and Safety Call Centre from 25 to 50 phonelines;
- Providing job-protected leave under the Employment Standards Act for workers who need to self-isolate or care for a loved one because of COVID-19;
- Issuing a call to recently-retired inspectors who may be able and willing to return to their positions;
- Providing compliance assistance and enforcing the emergency orders issued under the Emergency Measures and Civil Protection Act.
Statistics Canada Survey
Statistics Canada is asking citizens to participate in an Impacts of COVID-19 on Canadians survey. All levels of government need reliable information on the current economic and social situation, as well as on people’s physical and mental health, to effectively assess the needs of communities and implement suitable support measures during and after the pandemic.
Update: April 7 - Set Up Your CRA Business Account + More
Update: Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Federal Government Updates
For businesses who will be applying to Federal government relief programs, it is encouraged that business owners register on the CRA My Business Account if they haven’t already. Having this account will enable direct deposit of funds and speed up the process of receiving relief when it is available.
- The Prime Minister announced that those who are working reduced hours due to COVID-19 will soon be able to apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit – details and eligibility will be announced soon. Learn how to apply here.
In partnership with the Government of Canada, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce has launched the Canadian Business Resilience Network to help Canadian businesses navigate the COVID-19 reality and prepare for recovery. This site will:
- Provide tools and supports to businesses in their business continuity efforts – from development to implementation.
- Provide a consistent and reliable flow of accurate, up-to-date, authoritative information.
- Work closely with government to ensure the right supports are in place and to be a conduit for information from the government to the private sector.
Provincial Government Updates
In order to ensure grocery store shelves remain full and families have food on the table during the COVID-19 outbreak, the Government of Ontario is launching a new web portal, connecting workers with employers looking to fill positions in the agri-food sector. This new online tool will make it easier to match people to essential jobs and training resources throughout the provincial food supply chain.
Ontario’s agriculture and food industry relies on hundreds of thousands of people to work in diverse jobs from farming and food processing to transport and food retail, and the need for workers in many other parts of the food system remains strong. Ontario.ca/AgFoodJobs provides access to information on job opportunities and training resources in all parts of Ontario’s food supply chain – from grocery retailers to bakeries and cheese processing plants to opportunities on farms.
KW Chamber of Commerce Webinars
- Wednesday April 8, 2:00pm EST – Top 5 COVID Questions asked by Small Business presented by BDO
Ottawa Board of Trade (OBOT) Webinars
A new webinar series designed to support you in our current economy and beyond. Led by local business leaders with subject matter expertise in the areas most important to you.
- April 9, 2020 – Resilience: The Art of Bouncing Back
- April 14, 2020 – Tax Measures and Business Assistance Programs
- April 16, 2020 – Practical Guidance to HR Issues Related to the COVID-19 Crisis
- April 23, 2020 – Culture, Engagement & COVID-19
Wednesday, April 8 at 9am
How to Market Your Business Through the Covid-19 Crisis
- How to communicate with your customers
- How to update your marketing plan
- Social media strategies
- Update your website
Wednesday, April 15 at 9am
How to Operate Remotely and Online Through the Covid-19 Crisis
- How to plan your day
- The best tools to work online
- How to create an online presence
- Best apps to allow you to keep working
CERIC Free Webinar Series | Thriving Through Chaos: How to Manage Your Mental and Emotional Well-Being and Help Your Clients Do the Same – March 31, 2020 to April 9, 2020 (if you can’t attend, register to receive the webinar recording)
CERIC Free Webinar Series in April & May | Career Theories and Models at Work: Ideas for Practice
Various dates in April and May (if you can’t attend, register to receive the webinar recording with captions in both English and French)
Update: April 6 - Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) Available Now
Update: Monday, April 6, 2020
The Ontario government is offering direct financial support to parents while Ontario schools and child care centres remain closed as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. The new Support for Families initiative offers a one-time payment of $200 per child 0 to 12 years of age, and $250 for those 0 to 21 years of age with special needs.
Read more about this and watch the Premier’s address here.
Canadian Emergency Response Benefit
The Government of Canada has created the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) – a short-term, basic income of $2,000/month for up to four months to assist people who have stopped working because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The benefit will be available to workers:
- Residing in Canada, who are at least 15 years old;
- Who have stopped working because of COVID-19 and have not voluntarily quit their job or are eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits;
- Who had income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application; and
- Who are or expect to be without employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days in the initial four-week period. For subsequent benefit periods, they expect to have no employment or self-employment income.
Learn how to apply here.
Canada Post Service
We have heard from other BIAs that some businesses are not receiving mail and learned that, for security reasons, Canada Post has suspended mail delivery to business that are currently closed. Delivery of mail may be affecting business that are open too.
During the province’s mandatory business closure order, if you are closed or are experiencing some mail delivery issues, we strongly recommend that you redirect your business mail to an alternate address (preferably your residence or post office box).
Canada Post is offering FREE mail forwarding services during the pandemic for up to one year – simply register for a Canada Post account and follow the prompts to forward your business mail. After you have been asked for your address information, a prompt will pop up asking if your residence has been impacted by a natural disaster – click YES. This will initiate the FREE service. You will still need to provide credit card information, but there shouldn’t be a charge. You may need to go into the post office to show some identification along with a code that will be emailed to you at the end of your forwarding request.
To make an account with Canada Post and forward your mail, visit the Canada Post website.
Canada Post is also posting delivery service updates on their website here.
Update: April 3 - Updated List of Essential Businesses
Update: Friday, April 3, 2020
Following advice from Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, on April 3, 2020, Ontario updated the list of essential businesses that can remain open. The restrictions are aimed at further reducing contact between people and stopping the spread of COVID-19.
By 11:59 p.m. Saturday, April 4, 2020, businesses that are not identified on the list must close their physical locations.
- See the list here.
Today the province also shared Health Officials’ projections of the disease’s effect on Ontario, both if proper measures are taken and if they are not – read more about this here.
Grand River Transit Offers Free Service
Grand River Transit announced it will be offering service for free until May 31, 2020. This includes buses, ION light rail and MobilityPLUS. If you have an April monthly pass, you will automatically receive a monthly pass when free service ends.
Transit is to be used for essential trips only and while maintaining a safe physical distance from other riders while on board.
For more details, visit the Grand River Transit website.
Survey: Impact of COVID-19 on Your Job
The Workforce Planning Board of Waterloo Wellington Dufferin (WPBWWD) is conducting a survey (see link below), with Workforce Planning West, to learn about how COVID-19 has impacted people’s jobs in our region. The Board wants to hear from a variety of perspectives and would like to invite you to share your experience. This survey is open March 30th to April 9th, 2020.
Upcoming FREE Webinars
- Monday, April 6, 9:00-10:30 am:
How to Manage Your Finances and Cash Flow During this COVID-19 Crisis
- Monday, April 6, 1:30 pm:
Connecting the Dots: Navigating Government Support for Business During COVID-19
- Monday, April 6, 2:00-3:30 pm:
Your COVID-19 Employment Questions Answered
- Thursday, April 9, 12:00 pm:
Get Your Store Online in Changing Times presented by Shopify
Update: April 2 - Real-time Case Updates Available from Region of Waterloo Public Health
Update: Thursday, April 2, 2020
- Region of Waterloo Public Health has updated their website with the following additions:
- Real-time updates on Positive Cases in Waterloo Region
- Self-assessment tool – we encourage businesses to consider having their employees who are still working complete the assessment before beginning work every day.
In his announcement to the province today, Premier Ford promised a full briefing from health officials on Friday, detailing how the virus has and could affect Ontario. He also mentioned an update to the list of essential businesses to come shortly.
As a reminder, businesses that are still open should ensure they are enforcing physical distancing as directed by government and health officials; this may include placing markers on the floor at check-out lines, etc. to encourage the recommended 2 metre distance between people.
Update: April 1 - Further Info on Wage Subsidy for Businesses
Update: Wednesday, April 1, 2020
We’re deeply saddened to learn of the passing of John Tsai, promoter and manager with The Drink Uptown, Becky’s Apartment and Ace Ping Pong Lounge. We are sending our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends for their devastating loss.
Federal Government Update
Today, Finance Minister Bill Morneau, the Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, Mary Ng, and the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, Navdeep Bains, announced the details of the proposed Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy:
- The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy would apply at a rate of 75 per cent of the first $58,700 normally earned by employees – representing a benefit of up to $847 per week. The program would be in place for a 12-week period, from March 15 to June 6, 2020.
- Eligible employers who suffer a drop in gross revenues of at least 30 per cent in March, April or May, when compared to the same month in 2019, would be able to access the subsidy.
- Eligible employers would include employers of all sizes and across all sectors of the economy, with the exception of public sector entities.
- For non-profit organizations and registered charities similarly affected by a loss of revenue, the government will continue to work with the sector to ensure the definition of revenue is appropriate to their circumstances. The government is also considering additional support for non-profits and charities, particularly those involved in the front line response to COVID-19. Further details will be announced in the near term.
- An eligible employer’s entitlement to this wage subsidy will be based entirely on the salary or wages actually paid to employees. All employers would be expected to at least make best efforts to top up salaries to 100% of the maximum wages covered.
The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy is a key measure to ensure that workers are able to count on a source of income through this difficult time. It will enable employers to re-hire workers previously laid off, and to keep those who are already on payroll, so that Canada’s workforce and supply chains are able to return from this crisis in a strong position.
Eligible employers would be able to access the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy by applying through a Canada Revenue Agency online portal. More details regarding how to apply for the program will follow. Those organizations that do not qualify for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy may continue to qualify for the previously announced wage subsidy of 10 per cent of remuneration paid from March 18 to before June 20, up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer.
Provincial Government Update
Emergency Declaration Extended
In an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 and keep people home, the Government of Ontario has extended the Declaration of Emergency and associated emergency measures, including the closure of non-essential workplaces and restrictions on social gatherings. In addition, Ontario is issuing a new emergency order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act to close all outdoor recreational amenities, such as sports fields and playgrounds, effective immediately. These actions are based on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health until April 13, 2020:
To ensure the province is able to continue its extensive efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19, Ontario will also extend the March 17, 2020 declaration of emergency and subsequent emergency orders, regulations and amendments issued under s.7.0.1 and 7.0.2(4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.
The following declaration and orders have been extended and will be in effect until April 13, 2020:
- Declaration of a provincial emergency
- Closure of public places and establishments with exemption for emergency child care for health care and frontline essential service workers
- Prohibiting events and gatherings of more than five people
- Enforcement of emergency orders
- Work deployment f or health service providers
- Work deployment for long-term care homes
- Electronic service of documents
- Electricity pricing
- Drinking water and sewage
- Closure of non-essential workplaces
- Traffic management
- Prohibiting unconscionable pricing for necessary goods
- Streamlining requirements for long-term care homes
Smart Serve Ontario Fees Waived
To support Ontarians and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic and in partnership with the AGCO, Smart Serve Ontario is offering free training from April 1st to 30th.
Federal Commercial Rent Abatement Strategy
For those of you who participated in the savesmallbusiness.ca coalition and coinciding survey, this is the strategy that came out of that initiative (see below). This letter is being shared by other BIAs with their Council, MP and MPP.
Update: March 31 - Wage Subsidy Increase for Businesses
Update: Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Federal Government Update
As a follow up to the Prime Minister’s announcement on Friday outlining increased financial assistance for small and medium-sized businesses, more details were made available yesterday about the wage subsidy to help businesses keep their staff employed. Details about the 75% of wage subsidy include:
- Businesses with a revenue decrease of 30% or more due to COVID-19 will be eligible
- Not for profit and charitable organizations will be eligible for the wage subsidy, as will businesses of all sizes
- Number of employees that an organization has is not an eligibility requirement
- This program will cover up to 75% of the first $58,700 earned (or up to $847/week)
- The wage subsidy will be backdated to March 15, 2020
- For those businesses who can afford to top up their staff’s wages to cover the remaining 25%, the Prime Minister is encouraging them to do so
Read more and see Prime Minister Trudeau’s announcement about this here.
Provincial Government Update
The Government of Ontario announced providing electricity relief for families, small businesses and farms during COVID-19 on March 24, 2020 effectively immediately. Residential and small business customers on time-of-use (TOU) pricing will pay 10.1 ¢/kWh no matter what time of day the electricity is consumed. The Government has indicated that it intends to keep the 10.1 ¢/kWh pricing in place for 45 days. The 10.1 ¢/kWh pricing applies automatically – no customer action is required. Some customers may receive a bill before their utility or unit sub-meter provider is able to implement the price change, in which case they will receive a credit on the following bill.
The Province of Ontario announced new penalties to combat price gouging and hold offenders accountable for raising prices significantly on the necessary goods Ontarians need to protect themselves and their families from COVID-19. Effective immediately, the government has issued an emergency order that retail businesses and individuals in Ontario cannot charge unfair prices for necessary goods. Individual offenders can face a ticket of $750, or, if summoned to court and convicted, could face a maximum penalty of a $100,000 fine and one year in jail. If convicted, a company director or officer could face a fine of up to $500,000 and up to a year in jail, and a corporation could face a fine of up to $10 million.
Necessary goods include:
- Masks and gloves used as personal protective equipment in relation to infections.
- Non-prescription medications for the treatment of the symptoms of the coronavirus.
- Disinfecting agents intended for cleaning and disinfecting objects or humans.
- Personal hygiene products, including soap products and paper products.
Consumers can report an individual who is price gouging by filing a complaint at 1-800-889-9768 between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday, or by filing a report online.
MPAC Assessment Update Postponed
As part of the Ontario Government’s Economic and Fiscal Update on March 25, the Hon. Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance, announced the Province’s decision to postpone the 2020 Assessment Update.
The provincial government has indicated that property assessments for the 2021 taxation year will continue to be based on the fully phased-in January 1, 2016 current values (i.e., the same valuation date in use for 2020 taxation year).
MPAC will continue to conduct business, including updating property information, capturing new assessment, analyzing sales, completing tax applications and managing Requests for Reconsideration and appeals.
Update: March 30 - What Learning Resources Would You Like to See?
Update: Monday, March 30, 2020
The BIA continues to work on updating our Business Operations During COVID-19 page; if you don’t see your business there and would like to be listed, please connect with Tahnee Hipel: email@example.com.
Additionally, we are collaborating with the Downtown Kitchener BIA on creative ways we can work together to promote the uptown and downtown. Keep an eye on our socials for collaborative campaigns and contests.
Resources for Small Businesses
The BIA has been working with other partners, e.g. Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Centre, City of Waterloo Economic Development, other local BIAs etc. to ensure businesses are equipped with different helpful resources during this time of uncertainty, and we have been sharing any that may be relevant on our website and via e-mail. There have been a lot of free webinars and online workshops shared on topics like e-commerce, social media best practices, how to make your business more profitable and more.
Is there any other topic you would like to learn about? We appreciate you taking the time to share your feedback in this survey.
Rogers Media Operation Support Local Campaign
Submit your business info via the links below to have your business featured on-air!
Digital Main Street
A Statement from WRPS
The Waterloo Regional Police Service continues to offer essential service to the community.
We understand business owners may be feeling anxious at this time of uncertainty. We want to reassure you that it is business as usual for us and officers will remain on patrol throughout Waterloo Region responding to calls for service.
This is a time when our community needs to come together, to help each other, and to watch out for one another. We remind business owners and residents of this community to report any suspicious activity or individuals to police.
For more information and to be in touch with police, visit www.wrps.on.ca.
Update: March 27 - Prime Minister Announces Financial Support for Small Businesses
Update: Friday, March 27, 2020
Prime Minister Trudeau Announces Financial Support for Small Businesses
Today, the Prime Minister announced a major increase to financial supports for small and medium-sized businesses. Those supports include:
- Tax payments: Businesses, including self-employed individuals, will have more time to make HST and GST payments, which are being deferred until June 2020
- The wage subsidy available for qualifying businesses has increased from a 10% subsidy to a 75% subsidy for up to three months, and will be retroactive to Sunday March 15, 2020
- The federal government is launching the Canada Emergency Business Account for small businesses that will see banks offer loans of up to $40,000 government-guaranteed loans that will be interest free for the first year. If certain conditions are met, then the first $10,000 of the loan will be forgiven.
- The government will be providing an additional $12.5 billion to the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC)
Advocacy in Waterloo Region
Today, the region announced the creation of the Business and Economic Support Team of Waterloo Region (BESTWR). This initiative is a partnership between the region, all seven area municipalities, Waterloo EDC, Communitech, the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce, and the Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce to help all types of local businesses cope with the challenges caused by COVID-19.
In addition to the partners noted above, members of BESTWR will include representatives from the Region and all area municipalities, and representatives from many other organizations engaged in supporting our local businesses and the local economy. More information about BESTWR will be available in the coming days.
Update: March 26 - City of Waterloo Financial Relief for Residents and Businesses
Update: Thursday, March 26, 2020
City of Waterloo Financial Relief for Residents and Businesses
Yesterday City of Waterloo Councillors approved a COVID-19 Economic Relief Plan valued at approximately $750,000 to assist residents and businesses dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Read about what the plan includes, as well as other relief efforts from the Region and more here.
Update: March 25 - Message to BIA Members
Read a new message from the BIA team here.
Update: March 24 - Letters to Federal and Provincial Government
Update: Tuesday, March 24, 2020
Ontario BIA Association (OBIAA) Letters to Provincial and Federal Government
On behalf of BIAs across the province, the Ontario BIA Association (OBIAA) has sent letters to both Prime Minister Trudeau and Premier Ford highlighting the need for direct relief measures designed to support a cash infusion/stimulus for downtown/uptown businesses.
Read the letters below:
We are working with OBIAA to ensure the voices of small businesses are heard at the Provincial and Federal level, and working on a letter to Minister of Finance and Minister of Small Business.
Update: March 23 - All Non-Essential Services to be Closed
Premier Doug Ford announced that all non-essential businesses in Ontario are to be closed by Tuesday, March 24 by 11:59 p.m. The province will be releasing a list of essential and non-essential services on Tuesday.
We continue to add resources we think may be helpful to you on our list of Resources for Small Businesses above.
Update: March 20 - A Message to Our BIA Members
Read the message from the BIA team here.
Update: March 19 - Waterloo Regional Tourism Survey
Update: March 19
Waterloo Regional Tourism has put out a survey on the impact to businesses and tourism organizations; follow the link below to provide your feedback:
Update: March 18 - Ontario State of Emergency
Update: March 18
On Tuesday, March 17, the Ontario government declared a state of emergency across Ontario. This included an order for the closure of all facilities, including:
- indoor recreation programs
- public libraries
- private schools
- licensed childcare centres
- cinemas and concert venues
- all bars and restaurants except to provide takeout food and delivery.
See the video of Premier Doug Ford’s address here.
In line with updated recommendations from the Government of Canada and the Chief Medical Officer of Health of Ontario, Region of Waterloo Public Health’s Acting Medical Officer of Health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang also urged Waterloo Region residents to avoid large gatherings of over 50 people. This includes:
- indoor and outdoor sporting events
- religious or social gatherings
- festivals, markets or other similar events
More COVID-19 Information
Stay up-to-date on COVID-19 in Waterloo Region, Ontario and Canada via the following websites:
- Region of Waterloo Public Health
- Government of Canada – FAQ
- Province of Ontario
Financial Support for Businesses and their Employees
- To help businesses hold on to their employees, the federal government is providing a temporary wage subsidy equal to 75% for the first $58,700 of salary, up to $847 per week. All businesses – the number of employees on the payroll doesn’t matter – that have seen revenue drop by 30% or more because of COVID-19 are eligible for the wage subsidy. This measure is retroactive to March 15. Businesses can re-hire recently let-go workers and place them on subsidized wages. The Department of Finance will release technical information (e.g. how to obtain the wage subsidy) for employers in the coming days.
- To help businesses avoid layoffs, the federal government is also enhancing the Work-Sharing Program. The program works this way: Instead of being laid off, multiple workers’ hours and pay are reduced, with the federal government making up the shortfall in the workers’ income.
- More credit is available to Canadian businesses through the new Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP). You can access the BCAP via BDC or EDC.
- Through the Canada Emergency Business Account, banks will soon offer $40,000 loans, guaranteed by the government and interest-free for the first year, to small businesses. If recipients meet certain conditions, $10,000 will be forgivable. The government will release more details in the coming days.
- More generally, the federal government is providing additional liquidity to Canadian banks. In return, the banks have committed to working with companies to help them get through COVID-19. Talk to your bank if you haven’t already done so.
- Businesses can defer, until after Aug. 31, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after March 19 and before September. In addition, GST/HST payments, as well as duties and taxes owed on imports, are deferred until June.
- In Ontario, the provincial government is helping businesses with cash flow through a number of measures: payment of most provincial taxes is deferred for five months without penalty or interest; Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) payments are deferred for six months; municipalities will be providing property tax relief; and most businesses are not required to pay the Employer Health Tax.
Uptown BIA Office
With the City of Waterloo announcing the closure of City Hall to the public at 4:30 p.m. on March 18, we made the decision to close our own office (which is located inside City Hall), starting on March 19 until further notice.
Our team continues to work daily – remotely or while practicing social distancing. We will still be answering our phone (which has been forwarded to staff) to assist with any membership needs and address questions from the public.
For those requiring parking tokens – the City of Waterloo has announced that there will be free parking available at the Uptown Parkade (provided you aren’t parking in accessible spaces or fire lanes) until further notice.
We are moving fast in unchartered waters and we thank you for your understanding and support.
Regarding Spotlight Waterloo Events/Funding:
We will continue to assess information collected by the Region of Waterloo Public Health, Destination Ontario and Destination Canada and update the status of upcoming events.
If you have received Spotlight Waterloo funding and are considering cancelling your event, please send us communication in writing as soon as possible so that we can work together to come up with an action plan. This may include re-scheduling your event – in which case you may still be entitled to the approved funding.
If re-scheduling your event is not an option, and you have received 50% of your approved Spotlight funding, we will require the 50% funding deposit returned to us and will require submission of a new Spotlight application if you are planning to run your event at a later date.