Weekly Digest – 2 March 2022

Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. Read on for the latest updates and some ideas to help us all move forward.

Canada’s New Travel Rules

Canada eased several travel measures on Monday for people entering the country. However, some rules remain, including the pre-arrival COVID-19 test requirement. Learn more about the new travel rules in Canada here.

Alberta Lifted Almost All COVID-19 Restrictions

Almost all remaining public health restrictions in Alberta have been lifted as it proceeds with the second phase of moving to an endemic approach to COVID-19. Indoor masking, limits on social gatherings, among others will no longer be in effect.

Ontario Lifted Vaccine Certificate System

Ontario lifted all remaining capacity limits in indoor settings and scrapped its vaccine certificate system on Tuesday. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination is no longer required at most restaurants, gyms, and movie theatres.

Economy Grew 6.7% in Q4 2021

Canada’s economy grew 6.7% in the fourth quarter of 2021 on an annualized basis, beating analyst forecasts of 6.5%. Meanwhile, January GDP most likely rose 0.2% after stagnating in December, according to Statistics Canada.

Bank of Canada Hikes Key Interest Rate to 0.5%

The Bank of Canada raised its benchmark interest rate to 0.5%— the first time the bank has raised its rate since 2018. The Bank of Canada’s rate affects the rates that consumers get on things like mortgages, lines of credit, and savings accounts at their own banks.

Relief Funds for Small Businesses Affected by Trucker Protests

The government is allocating up to $20 million in relief funds to Ottawa small businesses affected by the ongoing trucker protests. Small businesses will be eligible to apply for up to $10,000 in funds for non-deferrable payments not covered by other federal programs.

Pandemic Support for Commercial Tenants

Businesses, non-profit organisations, and charities who have seen a drop in revenue during the pandemic may be eligible for a subsidy to cover part of their commercial rent or property expenses through one of the following:

Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program (THRP) – Rent (Effective: Until 7 May 2022)
Hardest-Hit Business Recovery Program (HHBRP) – Rent (Effective: Until 7 May 2022)

You can learn more about these subsidies here.

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.

COVID-Business Aid Loan Repayment Extended to 2023

Originally, if claimants repaid the balance of their Canada Emergency Business Account 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. 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. Further details can be found here.

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