By Patrick Flannery
As COVID-19 becomes the “new normal” and our businesses adjust, the rate of news is slowing down. Plus, we’re all getting a bit sick of reading and hearing about this all the time. We’re going to back off the COVID updates to a Friday roundup of the week’s developments.
Fenestration Canada’s Summer Conference is going ahead as an online event today.
Nice overview of the BC construction sector’s response to COVID in the Vancouver Sun. Big takeaway: WorkSafeBC has allowed only one claim for COVID contracted on a construction site. Numbers around the country appear to be similar – Ontario has less than six construction-related COVID claims.
The April building permit statistics are out. They are not good. Average 17 per cent decline in April in permits issued – the largest month-to-month decline measured since the 2008 financial crisis.
Government resources pages for businesses
Links to the regional agencies delivering federal funds to assist business.
- Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
- Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions
- Regional Relief and Recovery Fund – Northern Ontario
- RRRF – Southern Ontario
- Western Economic Diversification Canada
- Northern Business Relief Fund
- Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy
- Export Development Canada (Canada Emergency Business Account)
- Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance
- Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
- Ontario Ministry of Health
- Toronto Public Health
- Peel Public Health
- Public Health Ontario
- Public Health Agency of Canada
- World Health Organization
Fenestration BC has done a great job keeping members connected and apprised of critical pandemic information. Here’s its latest update on developments in BC.
Great news segment from CTV Vancouver featuring Anton Van Dyk from Centra Windows explaining measures his teams are taking on installation sites. Good job, Anton!
Officials in the Toronto area are indicating manufacturing plants and warehouses appear to be at higher risk for outbreaks, perhaps due to numbers of people clustering indoors.
If your staff’s lift operating certifications are running out, IPAF has online options for them to renew their training and certificates.
Here’s a chance to hear from some top experts on their predictions for the economic recovery from the lockdown and advice on how to get your business ready. Q&A session to follow the webinar.
Ontario’s suspension of time-of-use electricity pricing is supposed to expire Sunday. Maybe Doug Ford will have something to announce about this today…
Facebook Canada has launched a bunch of supports for small businesses…including direct grants! Don’t know how easy it will be to get the grants, but one thing everyone has access to is the advice and help setting up an online presence and e-commerce site. Now, I know everyone in the window and door industry is a digital wizard and doesn’t need any help with internet stuff, but I just thought I’d post it anyway…
Trudeau wants provinces to require employers to offer 10 paid sick days per year as part of the COVID “recovery phase”…
…the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses is not a fan of making this permanent.
Here is Dan Kelly, CFIB president, talking about it:
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The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has teamed up with Salesforce to offer $10,000 COVID relief grants to 62 lucky small businesses. Applications open Monday.
Some economists are seeing signs of improvement in the housing market. Others are predicting double-digit drops in prices in 2020. The moral of the story is that, as usual, no one has the slightest idea what is going on with the housing market.
The Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program opened for applications yesterday. Did your landlord apply?
BC Building Trades is calling for a public inquiry into COVID protection protocols on construction sites. It’s executive director pointed to a “culture of non-compliance.”
Alberta jobsites are legally exempt from the 50-person gathering limit but industry leaders are saying measures will be taken to prevent too many workers clustering together.
Some voices in Nova Scotia’s construction industry are calling for a pause as cases in the province start to mount.
Fenestration Canada is lobbying for energy-efficient building policies to help members recover from the pandemic. Could be a smart way to kill two birds with one stone. As long as you have to shovel money into the economy anyway, why not encourage better buildings and fight climate change at the same time?
Dan Kelly from the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses explains recent changes to the Canada Emergency Business Account. What would we do without him?
Dan also tweets out this message that really needs to make the rounds:
Nearly a third of Canadian businesses are now fully open, according to this report. Alberta has the highest rate of open businesses, while Ontario has the lowest.
Ottawa has entirely lifted payroll requirements for CEBA loan eligibility. It’s initial floor of $50,000 payroll eliminated many businesses that pay through dividends, hire contractors or work alone.
The CECRA rent-relief program opens for applications on May 25. Of the various programs announced in this pandemic, this one is getting the most negative attention. It’s hard to see why landlords would volunteer to fill out a bunch of paperwork in order to receive 75 per cent of the rent they are owed…unless it meant the difference between keeping the tenant or not.
CSA says it is doing special inspections and field evaluations again.
Ottawa will redirect planned assistance for provincial infrastructure projects to support COVID-preparedness infrastructure.
CFIB is happy with Ottawa’s plan to expand the CEBA to take in more small businesses.
Trudeau has announced the federal CEWS wage subsidy will extend through the summer.
Here’s a thorough discussion of legal issues facing Canadian construction companies during the pandemic. Delays, force majeure, essential services and more.
Fenestration Canada has posted a handy PDF sheet with guidelines for installers and customers.
The Canadian Real Estate Association sees activity drop around 56 per cent in April.
Ontario has lifted its restrictions on construction activities. Get back to work, safely.
Ontario has posted a list of PPE suppliers for businesses opening up. It’s a great resource, but you have to make an agreement with the Queen herself before you log in! (First line on the terms of service.)
Here’s an extensive report on the pandemic’s impact to Q1 Canadian construction from the Canadian Institute of Quality Surveyors. Takeaways: workloads down modestly, expectations down sharply, margins likely to drop.
Ontario to lift “essential” restrictions on construction: report
MasterCard is offering free cybersecurity assessments to small businesses.
Need something to spray down equipment, vehicles and your shop? Check out Larson’s electrostatic sprayer.
When it comes to lockdowns, there are as many opinions as there are people. Here’s a video from Journal of Commerce showing what leading voices around the industry had to say.
Fenestration Canada’s Ontario Committee and the Siding and Window Dealers Association of Canada are calling on Queen’s Park to allow residential renovations to go forward with appropriate health and safety protocols. There’s a form letter to MPPs that everyone is encouraged to sign and send.
Fenestration Canada has released the agenda for its online Summer Conference. Test your skills on Trivia Night…do you know more than Fenestration Canada’s technical director?
The International Powered Access Federation will host a webinar advising how to minimize COVID-19 exposure when using aerial equipment.
The Canadian Construction Association has released a recording of its very detailed webinar on the various financial assistance programs available for construction companies. Believe me, you will know how to apply after this one.
Export Development Canada is making loans available to larger companies ($50 to $300 million revenues) that can’t access finance through their regular channels.
Quebec has opened up commercial construction sites and developers are happy. But there’s little hope of getting back on schedule.
Experts warn that forehead thermometer checks are not enough to ensure workers don’t have COVID-19.
McMillan is hosting a webinar Friday to discuss construction sector recovery. There’s some big hitters on the panel.
Provincial workers compensation boards say they are only allowing claims for COVID infections if the workplace put the workers at increased risk for getting the virus. And you don’t even have to report if the worker’s case doesn’t seem to fit the criteria. But whether workers were put at risk will be adjudicated on a case-by-case basis. If someone comes down with COVID in your company, are you better safe than sorry? One thing is for sure: PPE, distancing and handwashing are absolutely essential to protect your operation against claims.
Architects from around the world chime in in this Canadian Architect article on how the pandemic might permanently change how we think about cities and development. The fear of a return to suburban sprawl is palpable.
The construction season is going ahead in Saskatoon.
Trudeau is extending the CEWS through June.
Some people are not happy with Quebec reopening.
Do you love numbers? Here’s StatCan’s raw pandemic data since January.
Surrey. B.C., city council has approved an impressive slate of assistance measures for residents, including cuts to municipal development fees. How does it compare to what your jurisdiction is doing?
B.C. is going to allow municipalities to hold public hearings online to make sure no one loses the opportunity to scream about a proposed development in their area.
Quebec has pushed back the date for Montreal retail stores opening amid an increase in hospitalizations, but construction and manufacturing are still set to go on May 11.
Expiry of working-at-heights certificates in Ontario has been pushed back one year. If you got your certificate between February and August 2017, it is good for four years instead of three. In other words, you don’t have to update it this year.
SAWDAC has launched a petition calling on the federal government to save jobs and the environment with its promised $40,000 home renovation loan program.
FeneTech has taken its annual user conference virtual for the first time ever.
Clera Windows is being careful, offering video consultations.
Jeld-Wen has some advice on designing healthier indoor environments.
CFIB welcomes the start of reopening but praises a measured approach.
A step-by-step guide to applying for CEWS from the Canadian Business Resilience Network.
B.C. extends its temporary layoff period to 16 weeks.
The Winnipeg Construction Association will host a webinar May 6 on Implications of COVID-19 for the Surety Industry.
Something to keep in mind when trying to keep your staff safe: female workers can struggle with poorly fitting PPE.
Lots of horror stories circulating of landlords refusing to participate in the CECRA commercial rent relief program. The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses has posted a template letter you can use to request CECRA rent relief from your landlord.
New Brunswick may have this thing licked.
Newfoundland goes a second day with no new cases, too.
Tiger Stop offering consultations on changing shop floor process
Fensterbau looking ahead to 2022
Changes from earlier proposals (per Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses) :
- Employers who qualify in one month qualify for eight weeks of support
- Businesses may compare March 2019 OR average Jan./Feb. 2020 revenues to determine revenue decline
- Accrual or cash accounting may be used to compare revenues
- Only 15 per cent reduction in March required to qualify. Threshold for April/May is still 30 per cent.
- Business owner and family member salaries are covered IF they are paid through usual payroll system and not through dividends
- More details
Changes, per Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses:
1. Small firms will be able to compare gross revenue against either (a) the same month in 2019 or (b) January and February 2020. This will help new and rapidly growing firms gain access to the wage subsidy.
2. Only a 15% gross revenue decline will be needed in March (30% for April and May). Now firms that had a decent first half of March (but were hit in the second half) will be able to use the wage subsidy.
3. Firms will be able to choose between cash and accrual accounting to determine the 30% drop. This will help many firms whose gross revenue may look good on paper during the 3 months, but may not have the $ to pay wages.
The government has also clarified that pre-covid wages will be based on average weekly remuneration from Jan 1 to Mar 15, 2020.
Arcola Building Supplies has come up with a novel use for All Weather’s products
CFIB reporting Canada Post will waive fees for forwarding business mail to home addresses. Nothing on the Canada Post site about this yet.
Ontario Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development warns jobsites will be shut down if they don’t sanitize toilets.
Mass gathering limits
BC – 50
Alberta – 10
Saskatchewan – 10
Manitoba – 10
Ontario – 5
Quebec – 2
New Brunswick – 10
Nova Scotia – 5
P.E.I. – 5
Newfoundland and Labrador – not specified “avoid crowds”
AXYZ invites fabricators to group making PPE and other COVID-fighting products
Ontario keeping highway service centres open for truckers
Golden Windows to reduce operations:
“In light of the COVID-19 Pandemic declaration by the World Health Organization and the Government of Canada,
Golden Windows has been taking various precautionary measures and adjusting our operations to ensure the health
and safety of our employees, vendors and customers. At this time, we have reached the decision to operate on a very limited scale while ceasing plant operations from Monday, March 30, 2020 to Friday, April 10, 2020, with our full return on Monday, April 13, 2020. To our valued customers – if you have any questions related to an order, delivery, or service, please contact your sales representative. Also, you can continue to process your payments as always. We are taking this situation seriously and want to ensure that we all remain healthy and safe. May you experience health and peace during these trying times!”