Weekly Digest – 24 June 2020

Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. We hope you and your family are safe and doing well. Read on for this week’s update.

COVID-19 Contact Tracing App coming soon

Canada is the latest in a string of countries developing contact tracing apps aimed at enabling faster response to local outbreaks. Shopify and Blackberry have been working with local governments to develop a new app called COVID Alert which will use Bluetooth connections to swap randomly-generated codes with users in a geographic vicinity.

Those who have tested positive for the coronavirus self-report their status within the app using an eight-digit number from health officials to verify their positive result. The app will then alert people who came into contact with them. The new app is expected to be launched in July in Ontario, and then rolled out nationally.

Is now a good time to hire new staff?

Unfortunately, many companies have had to lay off staff and downsize because of COVID-19. That means there is actually a window of opportunity for businesses looking to hire. There is a wealth of exceptional talent out there now that might normally be snapped up. It might not be this way for long so it could be the perfect time to hire. You need to do what’s best for you and your business and we’re happy to chat to help you make the best choice.

Here are some ways to make the most of a growing talent pool according to an article by the Harvard Business Review:

  • Ask your top leaders to list three to five great players they would have liked to have hired over the past five years and then check in with those people.
  • Set up a task force to source potential candidates from target sectors and companies who may now be either jobless or open to change.
  • Interview and check references remotely with the same rigour you would in person.
  • Go out of your way to motivate the best candidates.
  • Don’t ignore the sourcing, retaining, and development of in-house talent.

Helping Businesses Go Digital

While the government is committed to find a technological solution that will stop COVID-19 in its tracks, the Ontario government has also recently partnered with the federal government to help businesses reach more customers with a $57 million investment in Digital Main Street, which will help up to 22,900 businesses in Ontario improve their online presence.

A part of this program is the Digital Main Street Grant, where a $2500 grant will be administered by the Ontario BIA Association for small businesses to adopt new technologies and embrace digital marketing. This is a definitely a good opportunity for you to improve your profitability in these challenging times! You can read more here or drop us an email if you need assistance in taking advantage of this new grant.

Assistance for Businesses in Canada

In order to help small- and medium-sized businesses gain easier access to the capital they need to see them through the COVID-19 situation, the Government of Canada has launched new loan programs including:

  • The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) provides interest-free loans of up to $40,000 for small businesses and not-for-profits. The eligibility criteria for this program has been expanded to include “many owner-operated small businesses”. Businesses with payroll less than $20,000 are now eligible to apply. Get in touch with us to stay updated and let us help you assess if you meet the requirements for these loans.

  • Export Development Canada (EDC) will guarantee new operating credit and cash flow term loans to small- and medium-sized businesses, up to $6.25 million, under the Business Credit Availability Program Guarantee. This financial support is available until or before 30 September 2020.

  • The Co-lending Program will bring Business Development Bank of Canada together with other financial institutions to co-lend term loans to small- and medium-sized businesses to provide additional liquidity and help them meet their operational cash flow requirements.

  • The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) provides eligible employers a subsidy of 75% of employee wages for up to 24 weeks. This has recently been extended to August 29 and changes have been made to extend the eligibility of the program. As of June 8, only $10.5 billion in wage subsidies have been paid, out of the total budget of $45 billion. So if you haven’t applied for the CEWS yet, get in touch with us. Additional details on the CEWS can be found here.

  • The Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program provides relief for small businesses experiencing financial difficulties due to COVID-19 by offering unsecured, forgivable loans to eligible commercial property owners to reduce the rent owed by their impacted small business tenants. Property owners must offer a minimum of 75% rent reduction for the months of April, May, and June 2020. More information for property owners and tenants can be found here.

If you are unsure which relief assistance programs are best for your business, don’t hesitate to contact us and we will help you assess based on your current financial situation and business needs.

What’s next?

We’ll keep you updated as and when things change but we are glad to see things easing recently. We now turn our attention to helping you develop a plan for recovery and future business success.

Get in touch

Contact us if you have any questions or want to discuss your next steps for your business.