COVID-19 Resources page

**This page is updated regularly**

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is an illness caused by a novel coronavirus. COVID-19 has now spread worldwide, including to British Columbia. The outbreak was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11, 2020.

British Columbia’s provincial health officer declared COVID-19 a public health emergency on March 17, 2020. The next day, the B.C. government declared a provincial state of emergency, which was extended last on March 31, 2020.

Stay Informed

The categories below are presented in alphabetical order:

Financial

  • Canada Emergency Business Account — Up to $40,000 loan, interest free for one year through financial institutions but fully backed by the federal government. For some businesses, up to $10,000 may be forgivable
  • Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy — Will help companies of all sizes, non-profits, and charities that have faced revenue decreases of at least 30% by providing employers a 75 per cent wage subsidy, back-dated to March 15. This subsidy will cover the first $58,700 per employee – up to $847/week per employee.
  •  Business Credit Availability Program — Support financing in the private sector with $65 billion in direct lending and other types of financial support. Contact your financial institution to access the program
  • Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) — Provides $2,000 per month for four months to any workers who have lost their income for reasons related to COVID-19 including reasons of sickness, quarantine, taking care of those with COVID-19 as well as working parents needing to stay at home with children. This applies to wage earners, contract workers, and self-employed individuals. Applications for this benefit will begin April 6 at the earliest, with payments to Canadians set for April 16.
  • Tax Flexibility — Businesses can defer paying income tax until September 1, 2020. GST payments, duties, and other remittances can be deferred until June
  • Opportunities for Canadian Manufacturers — Call to action: Businesses that can assist in combating COVID-19. Additional details for needed products and services found here
  • Employment and Social Development Canada — Details for employers on EI applications for their employees and Work-Share Program
  • COVID-19 Economic Response Plan — $27 billion in direct support to Canadian workers and businesses (cost and implementation)
  • BC COVID-19 Action Plan — $5 billion plan that includes $2.2 billion for businesses and recovery. Plan includes tax changes and additional benefits. Highlights include:
      • Enhanced tax flexibility — The Province is extending tax filing and payment deadlines for the PST, the Employer Health Tax, the municipal and regional district tax, the carbon tax, the motor fuel tax, among others to September 30, 2020
      • Deferral of carbon tax increase — The provincial carbon tax increase scheduled for April 1 will be delayed and reviewed by September 30
      • Tax relief for Class 4, 5, 6 property classes — School tax on the business property class as well as the light- and major-industry classes will be cut in half for 2020
      • Delay of new PST registration requirements — The new PST registration requirements on e-commerce and the implementation of PST on sweetened carbonated drinks will be delayed and their timing will be reviewed by September 30
      • BC Emergency Benefit for Workers — Tax-free one-time payment of $1,000 to British Columbians (EI-eligible and non-EI eligible) whose ability to work has been impacted by COVID-19, to be aligned with federal government program
      • Recovery Plan — $1.5 billion allocated to support long-term economic recovery, to be allocated once the pandemic has passed
  • COVID-19 Leave: Changes to Employment Standard Act — Employees who are unable to work due to COVID-19 related reasons are permitted to take unpaid, job-protected leave. This is retroactive to January 27, 2020.
  • BC Hydro
    • The COVID-19 Relief Fund allows eligible residential customers who have experienced job loss to receive three months of free credit on their BC Hydro bill based on their average consumption. The fund also allows eligible small businesses that needed to close due to COVID-19 to have up to three months of electricity charges waived.
    • Major industries, like pulp and paper mills and mines, will have the opportunity to defer 50% of their bill payments for three months.
    • For residential and commercial customers that are not eligible for our COVID-19 Relief Fund, we have the COVID-19 Customer Assistance Program available which allows you to defer bill payments or arrange for flexible payment plans with no penalty.
    • Residential customers facing temporary financial hardship and are unable to pay their bills due to job loss, illness, or loss of a family member may also be eligible for grants from our Customer Crisis Fund. If you meet the eligibility criteria for both, you can apply for both the Customer Crisis Fund and the COVID-19 Relief Fund.
    • BC Hydro rates have also decreased one per cent as of April 1, 2020.
  • Insurance Corporation of BC
    • Customers on a monthly Autoplan payment plan who are facing financial challenges due to COVID-19 may defer their payment for up to 90 days with no penalty. Payment deferral is also available for fleets.
  • VRCA members can access investment tax credits (ITCs) offered by the federal government to offset the cost of innovation and problem-solving in the construction industry. Learn more

Health and Safety (including Mental Health resources)

  • COVID-19 Help Line: COCA has set up a member Help Desk for Covid-19 WorkSafeBC-related questions and concerns in an effort to expedite and, where possible, provide interim answers to your questions. Please forward your questions using the template to [email protected]

Human Resources

Our education, events and COVID-19 updates

  • Where possible, VRCA has moved its classroom courses to an online format and is actively sourcing new online content.  Click here for details.

March 2020

  • March 26 – The provincial government defined the construction industry as a non-health essential service provider in the context of COVID-19 response and recovery. As such, construction sites should remain open provided they follow the orders and guidance provided by the provincial health officer (PHO) to minimize the risks of COVID-19 transmission and illness. Read more.
  • March 26 – VRCA hosted a call with members of its General Contractors Division to share pandemic response plans and best practice COVID-19 safety protocols for construction sites. Thank you to the member companies that made presentations and willingly agreed to share their plans and resources across VRCA’s three Divisions. The documents can be downloaded from VRCA’s COVID-19 Resources page.
  • March 23 – In response to all governments’ increasing calls to limit non-essential interactions, VRCA decided to close its office effective 1 p.m. on Monday, March 23. In an email to member companies and their employees, Fiona Famulak, VRCA president, explained the impact this decision has on the purchase of CCDC seals, Commission of Oaths services (statutory declarations) and VRCA print/scan services. Read more.
  • March 22  The provincial government released additional safety guidance for construction companies to manage their sites during COVID-19. All companies in the industry must follow these requirements to ensure the utmost protection of their workers, their families and our communities. Read more.
  • March 21  The Canadian Construction Association issued a statement outlining how Canada’s construction industry is responding to COVID-19. The release included an urgent call for the Government of Canada to undertake several actions and provide additional information. Read more.
  • March 18 – VRCA shared that it received clarification from the provincial health officer that her March 16, 2020 order regarding mass gatherings does not apply to industrial sites. The provincial government also confirmed that the reference to industrial sites includes construction sites. In addition to clarifying the earlier order, the provincial health officer also suggested several precautions to reduce the risk of spreading the virus on industrial sites, including: reducing the number of people on site; practicing social distancing by maintaining two metres separation between workers; and not congregating in break areas and lunch rooms. For now, this means construction sites remain open with additional health and safety precautions in place. Read more.
  • March 17 – VRCA emailed its member companies and their employees to share that VRCA’s was office remaining open, however, minimally staffed to process essential business, including statutory declarations, and that the balance of VRCA’s staff will work remotely to minimize the risk of spreading the virus. Read more.
  • March 13 – VRCA emailed its member companies and their employees to share the association’s plans for in-person events and education courses through April. Read more.
  • March 12 – VRCA issued an email to member companies and their employees advising what the association is doing to help keep its visitors, guests and staff safe from risks associated with the COVID-19 virus. Read more.

Partner associations links

Questions?

If you have questions or suggestions about the content on this page, please email David Weir at [email protected]