In the third Business resilience Series webinar, the panel took a look at some things applicants should be considering as they work relief programs into their strategy for navigating the pandemic. This week’s panel included:

  • Jeffrey Boutilier, President Ascent Strategy (also moderating)
  • Craig Reed, Partner Virtus Group
  • Dave Sullivan, COO Global Ag Risk Solutions
  • Sean Stefan, President Rusty Shovel
  • Kevin Stricker, CEO Fries Tallman
  • Kirk Morrison, CEO Krugo

Here are some of the takeaways from this week’s webinar:

Support Program Updates

Emergency Wage Subsidy

Last week the federal government launched the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Calculator, which allows businesses to determine the amount they can expect to receive from the benefit. The wage subsidy, which covers 75% of employee payroll, will be payed out retroactively for 12 weeks of wages from March, April, and May. Recipients can expect to receive their first payment by May 7.

The panel reiterated the importance of good record-keeping, given that proof of eligibility is currently being fast-tracked and may results in audits down the line. Jeff Boutilier recommended businesses discuss their subsidy application with their accountant ahead of applying to ensure their reported revenue meets the eligibility requirements to avoid having to pay back the benefit in the future.

For more information on available business supports, visit our COVID-19 Business Resources hub.

Commercial Rent Assistance

Last week details were also released regarding the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program, which offers a forgivable loan to landlords equal to 50% of three months rent if they reduce eligible business tenants’ rent by 75%. In order to be elidable, the business must have themselves experienced a 75% decline in revenue and must pay the remaining 25% of their rent.

As the panel succinctly put it, the program is designed to spread out the amount of hardship experience between landlord and tenant, with the federal government picking up the bulk of the remaining cost.

For more information on available business supports, visit our COVID-19 Business Resources hub.

Non-Government Financial Assistance

This week’s panel highlighted the fac that there are several lesser-known financial assistance programs being delivered by entities aside from the federal and provincial government including:

  • $287M in new funding for rural business from Community Future.
  • $250M in funding for innovative or early stage businesses through IRAP who may be in a growth phase and can’t qualify for other revenue-based programs as a result.
  • Funding for Young Entrepreneurs ($20.1M) through Futurpreneur.
  • $667M in funding through regional development agencies (Western Economic Diversification in Saskatchewan) for small/medium sized businesses that cannot access other supports

Jeff Boutilier recommended that business owners remain watchful for other new programs and not assume that their options are limited to supports announced by government.

Insights from Business Owners

During the Q&A portion of the program, the panel shared suggestions and challenges based on what they’ve been seeing in their own businesses.

Kevin Stricker suggested that business owners continue to be flexible with employees as some businesses begin to open up. Since daycares and school are still closed for the foreseeable future, Stricker emphasized that it will still be quite difficult for parents to physically return to work. Craig Reed echoed this sentiment, adding that many working from home are doing so under less than ideal working conditions. Owners and managers should understand and accept that this will likely effect productivity. Offering flexible and compassionate solutions is important, particularly as some employees return to work while others may not be comfortable returning yet.

Sean Stefan stressed the importance of developing a presence online and establishing which elements of your business can be achieved digitally. Stefan reminded owners that, in this new normal, it is key for your customers to be able to find you online and buy from you as easily as possible through your website or social media. As businesses begin to reopen Stefan believes that moving your business online in combination with implementing effective social distancing measures for limited in-person customer interactions will greatly improve business owners’ chance of success.

To connect one-on-one with one of Regina's business leaders, sign up for the Audacity Mentorship Program

Planning for Reopening Saskatchewan

The panel agreed that business should not assume reopening will mean going back to normal. Stefan used the example of bridal shop where customers can’t touch or try things on, in a reality where many weddings may not even be happening. Businesses should use this time when they have access to subsidies and deferrals to adapt, pivot, and plan for the coming year when they may not be able to rely on the current available benefits.

Stay tuned to the business resilience series website for the next webinar.