March 19, 2020 – 4:00 pm
Good afternoon members,
At today’s news conference, Premier Blaine Higgs declared a State of Emergency in New Brunswick. All retail and public-facing businesses have been immediately and mandatorily ordered to close. Exceptions have been made for:
- Grocery stores
- Liquor Stores / Cannabis NB locations
- Financial and Lending Institutions
- Automobile Repair Shops
- Post Offices
- Hardware and Auto Parts Stores
- Gas Stations and Convenience Stores
- Restaurants (takeout or delivery only)
Businesses that are not public facing may continue to operate while continuing to protect their employees. In order to protect employee and public safety, businesses that remain open are required to take every reasonable step to:
- Ensure that there is minimal interaction of people within two (2) metres of each other
- Reduce operations to critical functions only
- Prevent people with symptoms of COVID-19 to enter their workplace
- Prevent people who have travelled internationally within the past 14 days to enter their workplace
- Lounges and special facilities under the Liquor Control Act must cease operations
- Construction activities that are public-facing must stop
- Owners and operators of premises where people may gather in large numbers must take all reasonable steps to ensure that no gatherings of 10 or more occur
- Landlords are prohibited from evicting residential tenants for non-payment of rent through 31 May 2020
- Registrations, licenses, etc., that were valid on 16 March 2020 remain valid through 31 May 2020
- All businesses required to stop admitting patrons are permitted to sell online or over the phone and to arrange delivery or pick-up of purchases.
The declaration of state of emergency can be found here.
The government’s news release can be found here.
We continue to seek answers at both the federal and provincial level regarding next steps and expectations for businesses.
You can find all of our previous updates and all other resources we’ve complied on our COVID-19 resource page here.
We have received some answers on questions raised by yesterday’s announcement of $82B in federal support and deferrals:
- The tax deferral only applies to income tax at this time, not other remittances such as HST.
- The wage subsidy works as an offset mechanism. So if you pay your employees $10,000 this month in gross wages, and you have to remit $2,000 in payroll remittances to CRA, you could reduce that to $1,000 because of subtracting 10% of the wages from the total.
- BDC is also hosting a webinar on 25 March 2020 at 1:00 pm to provide information on the additional $10 billion in available funding announced 13 March 2020. Register here.
We continue to advocate to the federal government for further direct financial assistance for small businesses and have asked the provincial government for the following through the New Brunswick Coalition of Employers:
- holiday from all payroll taxes for at least 60 days – specifically this would include workers compensation.
- defer all other taxes and fees until revenue streams improve – specifically this would include property taxes.
- freeze all payments to government entities including regulated utilities without penalties or interest.
- apply a minimum three-month deferral on all business loan payments and related interest charges due to the government, as of April 1, 2020. ACOA has already implemented this as have other provincial governments.
The full letter from the Coalition to Minister Mary Wilson can be found here.
The challenges facing NB businesses are changing daily, even hourly. So is the information that businesses have available to them. Relevant information can be lost in the shuffle as you have questions. Business Leaders and subject matter experts are coming together in a weekly COVID-19-specific video series where they will answer questions on topics faced by many of you. If you have specific topics you would like covered in the series, contact us and we will pass along your suggestions. The first in the series, which will be online next week, will focus on Workforce and Employment Standards. Email us your thoughts and questions, and we will work with the organizers going forward. Details on how to watch will be available next week.
We also still want to hear how the COVID-19 Crisis is affecting your business and any specific ways that the government can support you at this time. Contact either myself or our Policy & Research Manager, Morgan Peters to share information or ask questions.
firstname.lastname@example.org / (506) 461-5165
email@example.com / (506) 470-5593
Krista Ross, CEO, Fredericton Chamber of Commerce