Q: I’m an employer and I have questions about my employees, EI and work-sharing:
- Employment and Social Development Canada covering Federal Employment Insurance, Child Benefits, Pension, Student loans.
- Tourism HR Canada for tourism workforce resources and links including Provincial/Territorial Health Authorities, Industry associations, and a great summary of Federal program support (download “Helping Employers Deal with Worker-Related Issues” COVID-19 presentation from March 20, 2020 here PDF, 1.3MB).
Q: I’m an employee and I’ve lost my job or have reduced or zero income. How can I get financial support from the federal government?
- To learn more about temporary income support for individuals visit the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) website. The program launches April 6 2020
- Important! If you are not normally eligible for Employment Insurance, please register for your CRA My Account and direct deposit in advance of the application launch.
- Additionally, you can apply for Employment Insurance here.
Q: I’m an employer and I’m trying to find support to avoid laying off staff. Is there federal support for that?
- The Government of Canada has launched the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. Learn more here.
- April 8, 2020: Government provides further flexibility for employers to access the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. Learn more.
Q: I’m a small business owner and I need financial support. Where can I get financial support?
- The Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan webpage lists available federal programs for employees and employers.
- Additionally Business Development Bank of Canada has two financing programs available: the Canada Emergency Business Account and SME Loan and Guarantee program.
Q: When will the travel ban be lifted and how can I keep up with all the travel advisories?
- Public Health Agency of Canada Travel Advisories lists all travel restrictions and advisories including this advisory specific to COVID-19.
Q: I understand the government of Canada has communicated an estimated date to which the travel ban will be lifted?
- As of March 30, the government of Canada has updated its public-facing language on travel restrictions to reflect the uncertainty of the situation. Please see the Public Health Agency of Canada for official government messaging. Due to the uncertainty and quick moving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, please note that any end date for international travel bans published by the government may change as the situation requires. This means the travel ban might be lifted sooner or later than any published date.
- As tourism industry professionals, our best advice is to treat these published end dates as “to be confirmed”. Destination Canada will relay any change in travel restriction dates as soon as the information becomes available on this page.
April 1, 2020 Webinar Q&A
(Answered by the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages)
Please note that all answers below are accurate as of April 1, 2020.
Q: Can you please clarify support for small, self-employed tour operators?
- You have to decide if it makes sense to keep your employees employed with the 75% subsidy by covering the additional 25% of employee wages. We have helped you to have access to more liquidity. Also, the $40,000 interest free loan is a credit line and if you pay it back by December 31, 2022 you may keep $10,000 of that loan.
- You must have a CRA account - please register now.
- We know that the tourism industry is deeply impacted so you should be able to show 30% losses needed to access this support. We understand seasonality is a part of the negative impact this is having.
- You can go through your personal bank for the loan, and you do not have to have a personal guarantee.
- Should you decide to not take a wage subsidy - you can tell your employees they have access to the Emergency Response Benefit starting April 6, 2020. They should register through CRA - Destination Canada will post how to do this. This provides them $2000 per month over four months.
Q: What aid is available for the events industry?
- Festivals are supported by Heritage Canada and Regional Development Agencies. Minister Guilbeault and I have asked that we are flexible—if you already have grants you can keep them to mitigate losses e.g. cancellations. I invite you to go to your regional development agencies for support and advice.
- We realize the event industry is seriously impacted and we continue to look at how we can support.
Q: We are in the fishing business (May-September) and are concerned about seasonality and if we are not able to open until later this year. What can you recommend for us?
- The Emergency Response Benefit is applicable to those who do not have enough hours under the normal EI benefit. This is why the EI was extended so no one falls through the cracks.
- We need to use programs already in place - fastest and quickest ways to provide financial support.
Q: I am an independent freelance tour guide and most business comes directly from international visitors—what should I do?
- As a self-employed tour guide, you have access to the Emergency Response Benefit - contact CRA and ensure you have an account. Pre-register and ensure you are part of the system. We will be making bank transfers within 10 days.
Q: What recourse do we have if our tourism association refuses to hire us back after our temporary layoff following Mr. Trudeau's announcement that we qualify for the 75% wage subsidy?
- Two additional measures I want to make mention of and then I will answer this question:
- Canada Child Benefit increased by $300/child to support costs of having children at home.
- We increased GST tax credits. Middle and lower income families will receive reimbursements /credits linked to the GST –starting in April [Note change in date from webinar].
- We need to make sure that labour laws are enforced across the country to support employees during this time and when we recover.
- When you think about what is going on - the Tourism Sector is the canary in the coalmine. We saw it coming first - Chinese tourism downturn began affecting provinces across the country. We hear you and know that - TIAC /ITAC has never been more important. The more you are organized and working with me, the better I can do my job. I bring tourism to the COVID-19 Cabinet Committee and we are making decisions by the minute.
- I want to know how these measures are landing - how are they supporting the industry? We heard we needed to do more - we are learning as we go. We do not want to increase inequality across the country. The more you are able to show concrete examples on whether the measures are working - this will help inform our decisions.
- Marketing to Canadians - first response is Canadian supporting Canadian tourism experiences. One of the goals of the Federal tourism strategy is to increase shoulder/off season visitors and rural and remote visits. What we should be doing together is using this crisis to get to the systemic issues within our own sector. Canadians should explore and know their country—we need to look at issues/cost of access to different regions. We can be more resilient at home with Canadians travelling their country—this will be good for the industry and support recovery efforts as Canadians discover the most beautiful country in the world.
- There will be efforts to increase international travel again, but we need to work together to ensure visitors to Canada trust that they will be safe and taken care of while travelling across Canada.
- None of us knew this was coming and we were not prepared to deal with a pandemic during our lifetime. More and more as we work shoulder to shoulder, the better the outcome will be. We should bear in mind the sentiments of many Canadians “it will go well” - I am here for the industry.
March 20, 2020 Webinar Q&A
Please note that all answers below are accurate as of March 20, 2020.
Q: Would you be able to offer any advice on how SMEs can receive assistance from Destination Canada to start marketing to the local market?
A: It is critical for you to work with your provinces and cities. But we also recognize how city destinations are being heavily impacted. Make sure you have your info fed into your provincial tourism organizations. They are all looking to market domestically and therefore are the best first place to reach out to for marketing support.
Q: When will DC be issuing refunds for ITB Berlin (which was to be held in March)?
A: Destination Canada is making this a priority, focusing on SMEs and city DMOs so they don’t have to bear the costs of the cancellation.
(Answered by Tourism HR Canada and Business Development Bank of Canada)
Q: Our few remaining staff are on drastically reduced wages, are forced to stay at home, and also manage childcare. They are not eligible for EI. What other support is available for them?
A: This is why the Government of Canada put together the Emergency Care Benefit. Funds are available for these employees.
Q: A consolidation loan would reduce our monthly payments and help us with our cash flow issues we expect to have this summer. Will these types of consolidation loans be available through our tier one banks?
A: We (BDC) believe so. The first place to look is your financial institution and they will assess your situation and your needs. They understand the biggest need right now is to deal with cash flow.
Q: Where do we apply for the 10% wage subsidy for employees? Further, this is not enough funds to keep workers employed. What is being done to try and increase this amount?
A: We are waiting for more information and we will be broadcasting this out as soon as info is available. We do know a number of associations including TIAC and CFIB have recommended that the wage subsidy be increased. TIAC has put out a press release calling on the government to do more for tourism. Also a campaign will start on Monday - where businesses can draft a letter to send to local MPs. Information and links are available on TIAC’s website. The Hotel Association of Canada (HAC) and Restaurants of Canada are joining with TIAC to implore the government to take additional steps and increase the wage subsidy.
Q: Small business loans are not the solution right now. What other funding is being available to businesses such as ours?
A: BDC offers loans, which is our mandate. There are other provincial organizations, which may be able to provide subsidies. It is important for businesses to look to their provincial government to help them get different kinds of financing. BDC is focusing on getting loans at best rates but we don’t offer subsidies.
Q: As a seasonal tourism operator, we don’t generate any revenues from November-May. The financial assistance programs currently being offered appear to require information on current losses due to COVID-19. How will companies like ours be able to obtain assistance for losses in the coming months?
A: BDC does serve seasonal businesses. We are used to these issues - so don’t hesitate to contact your financial institutions who will assess your situation. If you are already a BDC client, contact your account manager.
Seasonal businesses can apply for Business Credit Availability Program support by contacting their financial institutions for an assessment of their situation. Financial institutions will refer to EDC and BDC their existing clients whose needs extend beyond what is available through the private sector alone. Of note, businesses need to be financially viable entities prior to the impact of the coronavirus for this program.
And a reminder that there are programs being put in place to support cash flow so visit here to get the latest updates on support to Canadian businesses.
Q: Yesterday I received a call from FedDev Ontario and was informed I do not qualify for funding as my business is less than 2 years old. Where do I get help?
A: Even if you are a startup - don’t hesitate to contact your financial institutions. Together they can work with BDC and EDC to find support for new businesses
Q: Typically, we will see hundreds of people coming to our campgrounds in the summer season. Many are seasonal, long-term campers returning annually. What impacts are we likely to see in terms of COVID-19 impact to regulations and laws the 2020 camping season that we should be preparing for now (i.e. health standards, WorkSafe, emergency preparedness etc.)?
A: Parks Canada has been working hard to ensure worksafe practices are continuing across all National Parks. We have also relied on the trusted recommendations of the - Public Health Agency of Canada. An excellent resource is Canada.ca/ Coronavirus - which has a section dedicated to health professionals on how to stay healthy and safe.