Weekly Digest – 25 January 2022
Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. Read on for the latest updates and some ideas to help us all move forward.
Canadians Must Now Be Fully Vaccinated to Travel to US via Border
The US Department of Homeland Security requires all foreign travelers, including Canadians, to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter the country. The US had already required travelers entering the country via air transport to be fully vaccinated, but this rule has now been extended to those entering via land ports of entry and ferry terminals.
COVID-19 Vaccination Rate for Children Remains Low
Pediatric doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine were approved for children aged 5 to 11 on 19 November 2021. However, in the two months since the vaccine was approved, only 51% of children in that age group have had at least one dose.
One reason could be that provinces started offering pediatric doses just as the Omicron variant began to spread.
Inflation Rate Rises to New 30-Year High
The Consumer Price Index increased at an annual pace of 4.8% in December, as sharply higher prices for food led to the cost of living going up at its fastest rate since 1991.
Latest data from Statistics Canada showed that grocery prices increased by 5.7%, the biggest gain since 2011. Aside from food, shelter costs have gone up by 5.4% in the past year, faster than the overall inflation rate.
Canada’s Top 3 Business Risks
A new report by Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS)’s Risk Barometer 2022 found that business interruption, cyber incidents, and climate change are the top 3 risks facing Canadian businesses this year. Last year, business interruption, the COVID-19 pandemic, and cyber incidents were dubbed as the greatest risks for consumers in both Canada and across the globe.
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Grant for Small Businesses in Ontario
Ontario is rolling out a new $10,000 grant for small businesses forced to close due to the pandemic. Eligible businesses include gyms, museums and galleries, tour services and before- and after-school programs.
Businesses that qualified for the Ontario Small Business Support Grant and that have been forced to close will be pre-screened for the new grant, and need not apply.
COVID-Business Aid Loan Repayment Extended to 2023
The federal government is extending the deadline for small businesses to pay back their Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loans to the end of 2023.
Originally, if claimants repaid the balance of their loan on or before the end of 2022, the government planned to forgive up to one-third of their loan. Now, eligible businesses “in good standing,” will have until 31 December 2023 to repay and be eligible for up to $20,000 of debt forgiveness.
Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit Open for Applications
The federal government announced that the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit is open for applications. It gives temporary income support of $300 a week to employed and self-employed people who can’t work due to a COVID-19 lockdown.
The Canada Revenue Agency said British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador and Nunavut are designated as lockdown regions.
Payments will be retroactive to 19 December.
COVID-19 Recovery Programs
The government is taking immediate action to support Canadians and businesses facing hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You will find support for individuals, businesses, sectors, communities, and other measures here.
Ontario Extends Paid Sick Leave Program Into 2022
Labour Minister Monte McNaughton is extending the pandemic paid sick leave to 31 July. Originally, the provincial program was supposed to wrap up on 31 December. However, with the more contagious Omicron variant, the Labour Minister announced that it would continue.
HASCAP Loan Applications
Loan applications from the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP) is available until 31 March 2022.
Loans start at between $25,000 and $1 million for a single business depending on the size of the operation, and run up to $6.25 million for companies with multiple locations like a chain of hotels or restaurants. Interest rates are set at 4% across the board, terms will be up to 10 years, with up to a 12-month postponement of principal payments at the start of the loan.
To be eligible, companies will have to show a year-over-year revenue drop of at least 50% over three months, not necessarily consecutive, in the eight months before the application.
Further details can be found here.
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