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December 9, 2020

The Winnipeg Chamber’s Director of Policy, Colin Fast, highlights five things Winnipeg businesses should be aware of this month:

New Public Health Orders

The province has extended the “code red” public health order to January 8, 2021, with minor changes to allow for some drive-in events, permitting thrift stores and acupuncturists to open, and adding holiday decorations and school supplies to the list of essential items available for sale in stores. The Winnipeg Chamber and other business organizations had suggested the province consider allowing very limited in-person shopping in small retail outlets, perhaps on an appointment basis to allow for easy contact tracing, but the province largely maintained the existing retail restrictions. Read More.

New Business Supports

  • With the extension of the public health order, the Manitoba Bridge Grant has also been extended for another period. Businesses that have been directly impacted by mandatory closure orders now qualify for an additional $5,000 support payment in January. www.gov.mb.ca/covid19/programs/bridge-grant.html Also, a separate stream of the Bridge Grant has been introduced for businesses that operate from home-based offices. A separate www.gov.mb.ca/covid19/programs/bridge-grant-home-based.html. The Winnipeg Chamber is having conversations with provincial officials about the possibility of increasing the Bridge Grant payments to ensure the entire amount budgeted for the program is spent on business relief.
  • The Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy has launched. This program subsidizes a percentage of business property expenses, on a sliding scale, up to a maximum of 65%.  An additional 25% Lockdown Support is available to organizations forced to close their doors due to public health orders. Read More. 
  • A new funding opportunity from the provincial government could help Chamber members engage their audiences while contributing to the fight against COVID-19. The Manitoba Safe At Home Grant will provide up to $50,000 to organizations to develop programming to keep Manitobans healthy and active while at home over the next few months. This could include activities like virtual fitness classes, online concert series or gaming challenges, or even neighbourhood decorating contests. Applications are open now – Apply Here.
  • The province has expedited new legislation that allows retailers to set their own hours of operation. Starting Saturday, Dec. 12, businesses are no longer required to close after 6 p.m. on Sundays and certain holidays. The Winnipeg Chamber has advocated for changes to Sunday shopping restrictions for several years, and encouraged the government to implement the legislation as soon as possible to give retailers flexibility to meet the current demand for curbside pick-up and in-store shopping.

New Budgets

The City of Winnipeg released its draft 2021 budget on November 27th. The budget is primarily an update to the four-year budget plan that was adopted by City Council earlier this year, with changes to reflect the impact of the pandemic on city finances. Of particular note for businesses, the budget proposes to:

  • Freeze the business tax at its current level and increase the Small Business Tax Credit threshold from $35,700 to $44,200, which will remove nearly 1,000 businesses from the tax roll.
  • Introduce an Economic Support Program that will provide a non-repayable grant of up to $1,500 to businesses and not-for-profit organizations that have fewer than 100 employees.
  • Allow property owners to defer payment of their 2021 city taxes until next fall.

On November 30, the Government of Canada announced its 2020 Fall Economic Statement, offering the clearest picture of federal finances and economic assumptions in over a year. The Statement reaffirms the economic road ahead remains long and challenging even after a vaccine for COVID-19 is approved and deployed in Canada. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce breaks down the significant news for the business community. Read More.

Bottom Line For Business – Building Permits

In the latest edition of Bottom Line For Business, Economic Development Winnipeg’s Senior Economist Chris Ferris takes a look at building permit values in the city. Read More.

21 Charts For 2021

The team at RBC Economics has put together a fascinating compilation of charts that tell Canada’s economic story as we head into 2021. Explore our transformation into a decentralized society and see how it may influence consumers, business and policymakers in the coming year. Read More.

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