Fast Five – Policy Update: October, 2020

October 11, 2020

The Fast Five comes directly from the desk of the Winnipeg Chamber’s Director of Policy Colin Fast, and highlights five policy items Winnipeg businesses should be aware of this month.

  1. The federal government is introducing a new rental assistance program to help business owners whose revenue has declined because of the pandemic. The Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy will provide rent and mortgage support until June 2021 directly to businesses, charities and non-profits. The program will subsidize a percentage of expenses, on a sliding scale, up to a maximum of 65%, and an additional 25% subsidy will be available to organizations forced to close their doors due to public health orders. The program replaces the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program which was criticized by many business owners and organizations — including the Winnipeg Chamber — for forcing landlords to apply for the program and requiring them to reduce their own revenues to qualify. Full details on how to apply for the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy will be announced in the coming weeks.
  2. The Canada Emergency Business Account is being expanded to allow eligible businesses and not-for-profits to access an additional $20,000 interest-free loan. Half of this additional financing would be forgivable if repaid by December 31, 2022. Additionally, the application deadline for CEBA is being extended to December 31, 2020. Further details, including the launch date and application process will be announced soon.
  3. The City of Winnipeg is seeking public feedback on its new draft Transit Master Plan. The plan would see the development of several “rapid” and “frequent” lines throughout the city that would offer service every 5-15 minutes through the day. In the downtown, a separated bus lane will be developed along Portage Avenue, and Union Station will become a central transit hub. The proposal includes changes to many different bus routes and schedules which could impact travel patterns for your staff or customers. READ MORE.
  4. The Winnipeg Chamber has partnered with Economic Development Winnipeg on a new monthly series that will take a closer look at important economic indicators and how they might impact your business going forward. The first installment of “Bottom Line For Business” takes a look at trends in the local retail market and how Manitoba is faring compared to the rest of Canada. READ: Bottom Line For Business 2020, Issue 01
  5. In addition to pledging continued support for the fight against COVID-19, Manitoba’s Throne Speech on October 7th included several measures the Winnipeg Chamber has been advocating for, such as: beginning the phased elimination of the education property tax; exploring the creation of a provincial venture capital investment fund; strengthening the connection between education outcomes and labour market needs; investing in economic development and tourism initiatives; and continuing to reduce carbon emissions and build Manitoba’s clean energy economy. READ MORE.