Over the past two years, Business Improvement Areas and their member business have faced numerous challenges and 2022 is proving to be equally as challenging. As the Province of NB navigates new variants of the COVID-19 virus and balancing keeping the public safe while trying to ensure our economy and businesses are able to continue to operate, Downtown NB is trying to keep our members as informed as possible on programs both Federally and Provincially that may provide some relief for those businesses who are directly impacted. Although we have no control over the decisions being made as the province moves from COVID operational levels, we will continue to advocate for all businesses in our BIA’s to continue to operate in a safe manner in order to ensure they may stay open and operational.
GNB COVID Winter Level Measures:
The Province of New Brunswick has set a 3 level system of business and community operations for the winter 2022. Providing information on business operations, gatherings, schools, events, and permitted operations during each level, information on the levels can be found on their Level Measures Plan.
GNB Small Business Grant Program Program:
Opportunities NB is launching a third phase of the New Brunswick Small Business Recovery Grant program, extending until the end of February 2022.
Phase 3 of the program includes enhanced eligibility for businesses impacted by recent pandemic measures. Businesses that accessed the grant under the first phases remain eligible to apply for the full amount available under Phase 3 – $10,000 – which applies to the reduction of sales incurred beginning December 2021.
In order to meet eligibility criteria for Phase 3, small businesses, employing between two and 99 full-time equivalent employees, must submit:
• their number of employees;
• evidence of revenue decreases of 20 per cent or more compared to the same month in 2019/2020, or 10 per cent or more compared to previous year if they are a new business in operation started after Dec. 1, 2020; and/or
• evidence that they were subject to elevated Public Health measures (such as modified Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 or Lockdown) for at least one week and/or that their level of activity has been significantly reduced due to reductions in travel into their Public Health Zone from Dec. 13, 2021, until Feb. 28, 2022.
Funding will take the form of a maximum payment of up to $10,000 per business. Included in the one-time payment, applicants may receive up to $300 for supplementary work provided by additional accounting or bookkeeping staff required to assist with the preparation of an application, provided they can demonstrate evidence of additional costs incurred.
Applications can be made online through the Opportunities NB website beginning on Jan. 24 and will be accepted for the period ending Feb. 28.
Provincial Support for Self-Employed Businesses
Opportunities NB is launching a financial support program that offers non-repayable grants to self-employed business people who have had to close due to restrictions put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19. Businesses eligible for the Self-Employed Lockdown Fund include those who do not have employees but were ordered to close under the COVID-19 Winter Plan. Funding will take the form of a one-time grant of $2,000.
In order to be eligible for the program, businesses must meet the following criteria:
• be a permanent New Brunswick-based business or organization physically operating in the province;
• had been actively operating or conducting business before being ordered to close;
• possess an active and valid CRA Business Number;
• be in good standing with the provincial government and with the Corporate Registry of New Brunswick; and
• provide evidence of annual gross business income of more than $30,000.
Applicants will be required to produce recent tax documents, like a T2, HST, or a copy of form T2125, Statement of Business or Professional Activities, from their personal income or corporate tax return.
Applications can be made online through the Opportunities NB website beginning Feb. 1. More information, including application requirements, is available by contacting Opportunities NB’s Business Navigators by email at email@example.com or phone at 1-833-799-7966.
Can your business be open during the COVID-19 Crisis?
Do your business members have questions about being open and how some businesses can operate. If you have any questions the Government of NB has set up a Business Navigator phone line at 1-833-799-7966 and an email firstname.lastname@example.org , if you have any specific questions you can contact them and they will provide you an answer or get you the answer.
2022 Federal COVID-19 Support Programs:
As a reminder, the federal government still has a number of programs to assist both employers and employees – including lockdown benefits. All federal programs can be found here.
CEBA Loan Repayment Period Extended:
This week the federal government announced that the repayment deadline for CEBA loans to qualify for partial loan forgiveness is being extended from December 31, 2022, to December 31, 2023, for all eligible borrowers in good standing. Repayment on or before the new deadline of December 31, 2023, will result in loan forgiveness of up to a third of the value of the loans (meaning up to $20,000).
Outstanding loans would subsequently convert to two-year term loans with interest of 5 per cent per annum commencing on January 1, 2024, with the loans fully due by December 31, 2025.
The government is also announcing that the repayment deadline to qualify for partial forgiveness for CEBA-equivalent lending through the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund is extended to December 31, 2023.
Changes to Testing Protocols in New Brunswick:
As of 11:59 pm on January 4, 2022, the Government of New Brunswick has changed its COVID-19 testing regime.
PCR tests will be reserved for:
• People in areas at highest risk, including health-care workers and those who live or work in long-term care facilities, homeless shelters and correctional facilities.
• People who are symptomatic and aged 50 and over.
• People who are symptomatic and immunocompromised or pregnant.
• People who need a PCR test for travel.
• People who are identified as a priority by Public Health.
Everyone else, including those who are symptomatic but under 50 and do not live in a vulnerable setting, will be advised to take point-of-care rapid tests when symptomatic.
A positive rapid test will be treated as a positive result for COVID-19 and people will be asked to register their result through a new form that will be available online next week.
They will also need to follow new isolation guidelines:
• Vaccinated people who have tested positive, as well as vaccinated, asymptomatic, close household contacts, will need to isolate for five days.
• Unvaccinated people who have tested positive, as well as unvaccinated, asymptomatic, household contacts, will need to isolate for 10 days.
Upon release from isolation, people must wear a mask continuously and avoid vulnerable settings and gatherings for the next five days.
For more information, click here.
AGM’s and Online Meetings vs. In person
Many BIA’s are wondering what to do about their AGM’s, since their current by-laws only allow for in person AGM’s. With the COVID-19 situation, DNB has received confirmation that based on the restrictions on gatherings it is appropriate for a BOD to make a motion to postpone their AGM to a later date in 2020, and make their members aware of the postponement. Once restrictions on gathering are lifted they can then hold their meeting.
If a BIA wants to consider an online video conference AGM, they can consider getting a Court Order for a not-for-profit to hold its annual meeting using electronic means. We encourage your BIA to contact a lawyer to handle this for your organization.