One Year In: Five Crucial Steps to Take Right Now

Jan 19, 2021 | Business News and Tips, From the Desk of the President


It is hard to believe. It has been one year since the World Health Organization declared the SARS-CoV-2 virus a pandemic, and began sharing epidemiological information and recommendations across the global network

This past year tested our strength as individuals, our resilience as leaders, and sometimes, our sense of well-being and community. To date, more than 700,000 Canadians have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and more than 18,000 have died from it. Across the province, we’ve seen 25,000 publicly reported confirmed and probable cases and endured the loss of 769 Manitobans. Meanwhile, businesses have been battered and lost, health challenges remain, and we now understand that the coming months are likely to test us even further. With new virus variants emerging, recently announced travel requirements, and continued operating restrictions, the pandemic will be a reality until we flatten the curve again and get more people vaccinated.

Right now, if you’re a business owner, here are 5 crucial steps you should be taking if you haven’t already:

1) Share your thoughts with the Government of Manitoba. Its current engagement survey, Safely Restoring Services and Activities in Manitoba, is related to pandemic operating restrictions and Manitobans’ priorities on re-opening. If you haven’t yet done so, provide your feedback now. In the meantime, click here to access the chamber network’s recommendations on a re-opening strategy, as shared with Global TV last week.

2) Educate yourself about all available federal relief and assess your eligibility. Last week, in conjunction with Vexxit, we hosted a free webinar moderated by CJOB’s Lauren McNabb of The Start, and featuring Leilani Kagan of TDS Law and Ken Goodridge of Lazer Grant LLP. Click here to join the Vexxit community and access a free recording of this event for a solid intro to the big three: Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS), Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), and Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loan. More materials are yet to come from this great discussion, including answers to the abundance of questions we received from participants.

You may also want to explore the Regional Recovery & Relief Fund managed by Western Economic Diversification Canada, the loan guarantee from Export Development Canada (EDC), and the co-lending program from Business Development Canada (BDC), among others. Complete details about the Government of Canada’s Economic Response Plan for businesses can be found here.

3) Check out relief programs still in effect, including the Manitoba Bridge Grant (now open to new applications to Jan. 31/2021) for bricks and mortar businesses, as well as Stream B for full-time home-based businesses.

If you’re a dine-in restaurant owner/operator, the Dine-In Restaurant Relief Program can help defray food delivery fees incurred during Code Red, thanks to a $5M grant from the Province of Manitoba.

Visit the City of Winnipeg’s website for information about a $1,500 grant available to those affected by lock-downs:

4) Apply for government grants to help you defray a considerable portion of the wages to onboard youth employees for the summer. Apply to Canada Summer Jobs (open to applications to Jan. 29/2021) or the Province of Manitoba’s Urban and Hometown Green Team for employment between May 1 to Aug. 31/2021 (application window closes Feb. 15/2021).

5) Continue to think, act, and spend local, whether you’re building a supply chain for your business, buying a gift for a loved one, or doing your personal grocery shopping. Order take-out or delivery from local restaurants (#FriedChickenFest is on now!), and be willing to go the extra mile to purchase from independent retailers.

Even though vaccination may be seeing some light at the end of the tunnel, this is not the time to let down our guard. All organizations and individuals share a responsibility to continue following COVID-19 prevention orders in law and in spirit. Remain diligent, and maintain the creativity and customer-focused mindset that has built our economy and our communities.

As your provincial chamber, we have been working hard since March 2020 to gather our members’ opinions, consult with industry partners for their expertise, advocate on behalf of Manitoba’s business community with government, and deliver information and financial support to keep you in the race. Together, with the efforts of our local chambers and the leadership of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, I am confident that we have proven the network to be relevant, reliable, cohesive, and effective.

As always, do not hesitate to contact us with your questions or as needs arise. We will continue to do all we can to support you in 2021.

Working on your behalf,

Chuck Davidson, President & CEO

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