COVID-19 Resources

Last updated: August 4, 2020

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 August 4, 2020 for another 14 days until August 18, 2020.

On May 6, the provincial government announced a four-phase plan to gradually re-open British Columbia’s economy. Learn about the BC Restart Plan. On June 24, 2020, B.C. moved to Phase 3 of the province’s Restart Plan.

Stay Informed

Questions?

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

The categories below are presented in alphabetical order:

Business preparedness and continuity planning

Financial assistance and economic recovery

  • Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) — The BCAP will support access to financing for Canadian businesses in all sectors and regions. Through this program, Export Development Canada (EDC) and the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) will provide direct lending and other types of financial support. BCAP includes the following programs:
    • EDC Loan Guarantee for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises allows financial institutions to issue operating credit and cash flow term loans of up to $6.25 million to existing clients, with 80 per cent guaranteed by EDC; and
    • BDC Co-Lending Program for Small and Medium Enterprises provides term loans for operational and liquidity needs of businesses up to $6.25 million.

On May 11, BCAP was expanded to provide mid-sized companies with larger financing needs. Support for mid-market businesses will include loans of up to $60 million per company and guarantees of up to $80 million. For additional information on any of the BCAP programs or to apply, Businesses should contact their primary lender, where they have a pre-existing relationship.

  • Canada Emergency Business Account — Interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits, to help cover their operating costs during a period where their revenues have been temporarily reduced. To qualify, these organizations will need to demonstrate they paid between $20,000 to $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019. Repaying the balance of the loan on or before December 31, 2022 will result in loan forgiveness of 25 percent (up to $10,000). Business owners can apply for support from the Canada Emergency Business Account through their banks and credit unions.
  • Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy — Companies of all sizes, non-profits, and charities that have been affected by COVID-19 may be eligible for a subsidy of 75% of employee wages for up to 12 weeks, retroactive from March 15 to August 29, 2020. This wage subsidy will enable organizations to re-hire workers previously laid off as a result of COVID-19, help prevent further job losses, and better position you to resume normal operations following the crisis. To be eligible for the wage subsidy, the organization must have experienced a 30% decrease in revenue compared to the same month last year. Companies may also use the average of the revenue earned in January and February 2020. This subsidy will cover the first $58,700 per employee – up to $847/week per employee. Calculate your total wage subsidy. Businesses can apply now for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. UPDATE: On July 17, the federal government announced proposed changes to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) that would broaden the reach and extend the program until December 19, 2020. Highlights of the proposed changes include:
    • Extending CEWS until December 19, 2020, including redesigned program details until November 21, 2020.
    • Making the subsidy accessible to a broader range of employers by including employers with a revenue decline of less than 30 per cent and providing a gradually decreasing base subsidy to all qualifying employers. This would help many struggling employers with less than a 30-per-cent revenue loss get support to keep and bring back workers, while also ensuring those who have previously benefited could still qualify, even if their revenues recover and no longer meet the 30 per cent revenue decline threshold.
    • Introducing a top-up subsidy of up to an additional 25 per cent for employers that have been most adversely affected by the pandemic. This would be particularly helpful to employers in industries that are recovering more slowly.
    • Providing certainty to employers that have already made business decisions for July and August by ensuring they would not receive a subsidy rate lower than they would have had under the previous rules.

    Click here for more details, including the revised rate structure of the base CEWS.

  • Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) — Provides $2,000 per month for up to 24 weeks 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. UPDATE: On July 31, the federal government announced plans to transition CERB recipients to the Employment Insurance (EI) program when the program runs out this fall. More details about what will come after the CERB will be released in the coming weeks.
  • Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) — The program will lower rent by 75 per cent for small businesses affected by COVID-19. Qualifying commercial property owners will receive forgivable loans to cover 50 per cent of monthly rents payable by small business tenants experiencing financial hardships during April, May, June and July. The loans will be forgiven if the commercial property owner agrees to reduce their small business tenant’s rent by at least 75 per cent for three months under a rent forgiveness agreement. The agreement must also include a term not to evict the tenant while the agreement is in place. The small business tenant would cover the remainder, up to 25 per cent of the rent for the months of April, May, June and July. To qualify, the small business tenants must be: paying less than $50,000 per month in rent; and have either temporarily ceased operations or have experienced at least a 70 per cent drop in pre-COVID revenues. The program will be administered and delivered by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. CECRA. Apply todayUPDATE: On July 31, the federal government announced CECRA has been extended once again, and will now cover a portion of August’s rent for businesses that qualify.
  • Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF) – Provide bridge financing to Canada’s largest employers, whose needs during the pandemic are not being met through conventional financing, in order to keep their operations going. The objective of this support is to help protect Canadian jobs, help Canadian businesses weather the current economic downturn, and avoid bankruptcies of otherwise viable firms where possible. This support cannot be used to resolve insolvencies or restructure firms, nor will it provide financing to companies that otherwise have the capacity to manage through the crisis. Learn more.
  • Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) — $250 million to assist innovative, early-stage companies that are unable to access other COVID-19 business supports. IRAP provides advice, connections, and funding to help Canadian small and medium-sized businesses increase their innovation capacity and take ideas to market.
  • Futurpreneur Canada — $20.1 million in support for Futurpreneur Canada to continue supporting young entrepreneurs across Canada who are facing challenges due to COVID-19. The funding will allow Futurpreneur Canada to provide payment relief for its clients for up to 12 months.
  • 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 — Direct support to Canadian workers and businesses (cost and implementation)
  • WorkSafeBC — WorkSafeBC has taken several measures to support employers facing challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic:
  • 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. Applications accepted as of May 1.
      • 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.
  • COVID-19 Temporary Layoffs – The Province of British Columbia has extended the temporary layoffs provisions to a maximum of 24 weeks expiring on Aug. 30, 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. More information about employment standards around temporary layoffs.
  • 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 COVID-19 Relief Fund for small businesses 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.
  • BC Temporary Rental Supplement Program
    • As part of the province’s $5 billion action plan, the BC Temporary Rental Supplement Program gives tenants and landlords temporary support towards rent payments for renters impacted by COVID-19. Payments are made directly to the landlords of eligible households.
  • 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 & safety, and mental health resources

Regional Safety Advisors
BCCSA’s regional safety advisors are available to assist contractors who have safety questions or concerns, are looking to develop safety programs and materials, or want to prepare for COR™ (Certificate of Recognition). These services are available at no cost to all construction (sector 72) employers, and select aggregate and ready-mixed employers. Learn more.

  • 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]

Smith Bros. & Wilson Ltd

NEW: WorkSafeBC – Selecting and using masks in non-health care settings

On April 7, Canada’s Council of Chief Medical Officers issued a statement about the use of non-medical masks or facial coverings by the public, which said: “Wearing a non-medical mask (e.g., homemade cloth mask) in the community has not been proven to protect the person wearing it. However, the use of a non-medical mask or facial covering can be an additional measure you can take to protect others around you.”

When asked about the national statement, B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, clarified that use of non-medical masks by the public is “not a recommendation – it is a permissive use.”

“For short-term, [wearing non-medical masks] can protect others around you from your droplets … it’s not going to protect you from getting infected with this virus,” Dr. Henry said.

“I think we have to be very careful not to say that it is required or recommended for everybody, but it is an option particularly if you are not sure you’re going to be able to cover your cough if you need to.”

Watch Dr. Henry’s full comments starting at 30:45.

Non-medical cloth masks are your choice during COVID-19: Dr. Bonnie Henry

Human Resources

Legal

Alexander Holburn Beaudin + Lang LLP

Borden Ladner Gervais LLP

BTM Lawyers LLP 

Canadian Construction Association

Dentons Canada LLP

Hamilton Duncan

Jenkins Marzban Logan LLP

Miller Thomson LLP Barristers & Solicitors 

Singleton Urquhart Reynolds Vogel LLP

Whitelaw Twining Law Corporation

NEW: B.C. Government creates COVID-19 temporary layoff period

Alexander Holburn Beaudin + Lang LLP

Borden Ladner Gervais LLP

BTM Lawyers LLP 

Dentons Canada LLP

Hamilton Duncan

Harris & Co

McQuarrie Hunter LLP

Miller Thomson LLP Barristers & Solicitors 

Roper Greyell LLP 

Singleton Urquhart Reynolds Vogel LLP

Industry helping industry

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