Weekly Digest – 15 July 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.

Canada- U.S. Border Closure To Be Extended for Another 30 Days

Canada and the United States are set to extend a ban on non-essential travel that was put in place to prevent further spread of the coronavirus. The ban, which started in March, has been extended several times and will now continue into August, despite calls from U.S. members of Congress to consider a phased plan for reopening.

The extension comes after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump spoke on the phone on Monday about a range of issues including the border closure.

Ontario Set to Move to Stage 3 of Regional Reopening

The Premier of Ontario has announced that most regions in Ontario, except for the Greater Toronto Area and other specific exclusions, will move forward to Stage 3 of reopening as of July 17, 2020 at 12:01 a.m.

Under the Three-Step Framework for Reopening, Stage 3 involves loosening public health restrictions in nearly all businesses and public spaces. Gathering limits will also increase to 50 people for indoor gatherings and 100 people for outdoor gatherings, with social distancing measures in place. For more information about the framework and the list of regions that will remain in Stage 2, visit Ontario.ca/reopen.

Ontario Launches Online Training to Promote Safe Workplaces

The Ontario government announced last week that it is investing $3 million to provide free online health and safety training, as the province gradually reopens its economy. These real-time virtual courses will make it easier for workers and jobseekers to acquire essential qualifications, while practising social distancing to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

Up to 100,000 job seekers can now take free online workplace health and safety training through Employment Ontario. There are 10 courses on offer, which include topics such as infection control, conducting health and safety incident investigations, ladder safety, slips, trips and falls prevention, and preventing workplace violence and harassment. To enroll, contact an Employment Ontario service provider in your area.

Canada’s Medicago Starts Human Trials of Plant-Based COVID-19 Vaccine

Canadian biotech, Medicago, said on Tuesday that it has started testing its plant-based COVID-19 vaccine in an early-stage clinical trial, as it races against larger pharma companies to develop a treatment option to fight the coronavirus. This makes it the first vaccine from Canada among the more than 20 experimental vaccines being tested in humans.

Medicago’s potential vaccine uses the leaves of a plant from the tobacco family to produce the S-spike protein, which is one of the three spike proteins of the novel coronavirus.

Running a business in a post-pandemic world

They say the worst of times can bring out the best in people– and this is also true for businesses. Last week, we put businesses showing resilience in the face of adversity in the spotlight, and shared the creative ways they serve their customers and communities amid the COVID-19 crisis.

This week, we talk about the hallmarks of an organisation designed for speed, as outlined by McKinsey & Company (see page 40). Below is a list of characteristics of operating models they’ve identified that result in faster speed to market, increased customer responsiveness, greater efficiency, and enhanced employee satisfaction. These characteristics will help companies stay competitive in the post-pandemic business environment:

  • Flatter organisations with less hierarchy and streamlined decision rights
  • Faster information flows and decision-making, powered by embedded data and analytics
    • As number-crunchers – we love this one!
  • Cross-functional teams collaborating to tackle common missions through test-and-learn approach
  • Flexible ways of working, including affinity for hybrid remote/ in-person teams
  • Dynamic allocation of talent deployed against mission-critical priorities
  • Agile, resilient talent able to move fast, adapt to change, and continuously learn

This Forbes article also shares tips on how to future-proof your business for a post-pandemic workplace, including:

  • Making flexibility as a core benefit
  • Upgrading equipment and investing in technology
  • Prioritising employee health and wellness
  • Increasing communication
  • Investing in management development
  • Creating a sustainable company culture

The future of businesses will no longer be determined by what has worked, but instead, what will work in the post-pandemic world. While the “when” and “how” of the end of the pandemic remain unknown, reimagining your organisation and re-evaluating the way you work can help you rise to the occasion and lead your business as the “new normal” we hear so much about takes shape.

If you want to talk about your specific situation, please get in touch with us and we’ll help you work out a strategic plan.

Digitally-Connected Business Registration Access

On June 30, Canada launched the Multi-jurisdictional Registry Access Service (MRAS), which connects 14 business registries across Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia. By consolidating the business registries, the government hopes to reduce the registration complexity and cost for businesses.

Recently, the Ontario government has also partnered with the federal government to help businesses reach more customers with a $57 million investment in Digital Main Street, which will help 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 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

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce and Salesforce announced on June 29 that 62 businesses across the country have received the $10,000-grant from the Canadian Business Resilience Network Small Business Relief Fund.

Aside from this grant, the Government of Canada has launched new loan programs for small- and medium-sized businesses to gain easier access to the capital they need to see them through the COVID-19 situation. These financial assistance schemes include:

Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)

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 now includes “many owner-operated small businesses”. Businesses with payrolls of less than $20,000 are now eligible to apply. We can help you assess if you meet the requirements for these loans.

Business Credit Availability Program Guarantee

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 support is available until 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.

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) scheme provides eligible employers a subsidy of 75% of employee wages for up to 24 weeks. Justin Trudeau announced the extension of the federal wage subsidy program until December and changes have been made to extend the eligibility of the program to include organizations, such as partnerships and educational and training institutions. As of July 6, only $18 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, now might be a good time to do so. Additional details on the CEWS can be found here, but feel free to chat with us for any clarifications or questions you may have.

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance

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, June, and July 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.

Get in touch

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

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