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COVID-19 Update | New Support Programs Announced

The Canadian response to COVID-19 is rapidly changing as new information is brought to light & new support programs are announced for Canadian residents who have been financially affected by the social distancing measures put in place all across the country. Tourism Prince Rupert is closely monitoring COVID-19's effects on our local tourism sector and will continue providing updates as they are announced. 

What Is Tourism Prince Rupert Doing to Respond?

Our mission at Tourism Prince Rupert is to successfully market Prince Rupert externally to strengthen economic viability for our members and the community. We have been working closely with our partners at Northern BC Tourism and Destination BC in order to provide support and start developing a comprehensive recovery strategy to help mitigate the longterm effects this pandemic will have on our local and regional tourism sector.  We have also started a weekly stakeholder email newsletter to provide up-to-date support & resources. We will continue to provide updates & links to relevant resources as they are announced by way of this newsletter. Finally, we have paused all scheduled paid marketing campaigns for summer 2020 in order to conserve funds for recovery efforts & to help our local tourism stakeholders.

Local Updates
A local state of emergency was declared in Prince Rupert after a resolution passed unanimously at Prince Rupert's City Council meeting on Monday, March 25th.

On March 26th, the Provincial Government issued an order suspending all local states of emergency in BC.  This order includes the following measures: 
  • Supply chain: Establishing a new Provincial Supply Chain Coordination Unit to co-ordinate goods and services distribution; taking a more active role in co-ordinating essential goods and services movement by land, air, marine and rail; and suspending any bylaws that restrict goods delivery at any time of day.
  • Protecting consumers: Banning the secondary resale of food, medical supplies, personal protective equipment, cleaning and other essential supplies; and restricting quantities of items purchased at point of sale. 
  • Enforcement: Enabling municipal bylaw officers to support enforcement of the provincial health officer’s orders for business closures and gatherings, in line with offences under the Public Health Act.
  • Travel: Ensuring all passenger and car-ferry services provide minimum service levels and priority access for residents, and essential goods and workers.
  • Protecting B.C.’s most vulnerable: Making it easier to support critical services for vulnerable people, like food banks and shelters.
  • Co-ordination: Suspending local states of emergency specific to the COVID-19 pandemic, except for the City of Vancouver; giving municipal councils the ability to hold more flexible meetings to expedite decisions; and co-ordinating potential use of local publicly owned facilities, like community centres, for self-isolation, testing, medical care, warehousing and distribution.
Read more about the Province of BC's latest order.

For a complete list of updates from the City of Prince Rupert, visit: 
http://www.princerupert.ca/covid19

Prince Rupert's local MLA, Jennifer Rice, has also developed a resource with up-to-date information on the Provincial Government's response to COVID-19. To view this resource, visit: http://jenniferrice.ca/covid19/
Federal & Provincial Advisories
Federal Response:  As of March 26th, 2020, the Federal Government has taken the following measures:
  • The House of Commons passed an emergency bill, C-13, COVID-19 Emergency Response Act, which is now before the Senate. If passed through the Senate, this bill will allow the government to support Canadians immediately. The Health and Finance committee will be convening virtually on a regular basis moving forward to discuss the government’s progress. 
  • The government is merging two previously announced employment insurance benefits for Canadians who are out of or off of work due to COVID-19. The new benefit combines the Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit into the ‘Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)’, which will provide $2,000 a month for four months to people who are off of work without an income as a result of this virus. This includes those who have lost their job, contractors, self-employed, those who are sick, in quarantine or taking care of children or seniors. All employees of a business, including the owner, are eligible. Online portal applications will be available soon, and Canadians will be able to receive the benefit within 10 days of applying. The government is hoping to have this initiative in place by April 6th.
  • A new payroll support program for small employers was introduced, which can be accessed immediately. Eligible small employers (payroll of <$1 million) are granted a temporary wage subsidy equal to 10% of renumeration paid for a period of three months up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer.
Learn more about the Government of Canada's actions in their COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. The plan also includes the following measures:
  • A reduction of 90% of payroll taxes for companies with payrolls under $1 million. Liquidity measures for business that will be available through banks, other financial institutions as well as BDC and EDC
  • Extending the deadline to file your income tax and benefit return until June 1, 2020. The deadline to pay any balance due for your individual income tax and benefit return for 2019 has also been extended from April 30, 2020, to September 1, 2020.
  • Extending the deadline for businesses to pay any income tax amounts that become owing or due after March 18, 2020 and before September 1, 2020 to September 1, 2020. This means you will not be assessed any penalties or interest if your balance due is paid by September 1, 2020.
  • Temporarily boosting the Canada Child Benefit payments, delivering about $2 billion in extra support.
  • Introducing a new six-month, interest-free reprieve on student loan payments.
  • Introducing a new Business Credit Availability Program (available through Export Development Canada and the Business Development Bank of Canada)
The federal government has also outlined a number of measures aimed at protecting Canadians and promoting social distancing:
  • Canada will deny entry to travellers who are not Canadian citizens or Permanent Residents. Some exceptions apply. Update: the Canada-US border has now been closed to all non-essential travel.
  • Air operators have been formally mandated to prevent any travellers with symptoms to board an aircraft at point of origin to Canada.
  • International passenger flight arrivals will be redirected to four airports: Vancouver International Airport, Toronto Pearson International Airport, Montréal-Trudeau International Airport, and Calgary International Airport.
  • All Parks Canada locations are now closed indefinitely.
  • Canadians are strongly recommended to avoid non-essential travel outside Canada, including to the US. Anyone who chooses to travel outside Canada must self-isolate for 14 days on their return.
  • Canadians are advised to practice social distancing to prevent further virus spread.
 
Provincial Response: On March 23rd, the British Columbia Provincial Government released a summary of their $5 billion dollar COVID-19 Action Plan. This includes the following measures:
  • The B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers, a one-time, tax-free $1,000 payment to both workers who are eligible for employment insurance (EI) and those who are not available for EI, such as people who are self-employed or parents who are at home with their children.
  • The ability for businesses to defer employer health tax payments until September 30.
  • The school tax cut in half for a number of businesses, which the province says will generate $500 million in immediate relief for commercial and industrial property owners, savings that will be passed on to tenants paying triple-net leases.
  • Filing and payment deadlines for the provincial sales tax (PST), municipal and regional district tax, tobacco tax, motor fuel tax and carbon tax have been extended to September 30th, 2020.
  • B.C. will delay its planned carbon tax increase, and delay the application of PST to e-commerce and sweetened carbonated beverages. Starting March 30, all student loan payments will be on hold until September.
  • B.C. will be expanding its existing Climate Action Tax Credit, and that British Columbians will be able to request flexible payment plans or payment deferrals from BC Hydro, at no charge. Insurance Corp. of British Columbia (ICBC) customers will be able to renew their policies online. 
  • A total of $1.1 billion of the $5 billion plan is dedicated to boosting incomes, though the details of this have not yet been provided.
  • $1.5 billion has been set aside for for B.C.'s economic recovery plan, which will focus on encouraging investment and supporting B.C.'s competitiveness when the time is right
The Province is also implementing a number of additional measures to keep people housed and protect their health. The full list of immediate measures includes:
  • The new temporary rent supplement will provide up to $500 per month, paid directly to landlords.
  • Halting evictions by ensuring a landlord may not issue a new notice to end tenancy for any reason. However, in exceptional cases where it may be needed to protect health and safety or to prevent undue damage to the property, landlords will be able to apply to the Residential Tenancy Branch for a hearing.
  • Halting the enforcement of existing eviction notices issued by the Residential Tenancy Branch, except in extreme cases where there are safety concerns. The smaller number of court ordered evictions are up to the courts, which operate independently of government.
  • Freezing new annual rent increases during the state of emergency.
  • Preventing landlords from accessing rental units without the consent of the tenant (for example, for showings or routine maintenance), except in exceptional cases where it is  needed to protect health and safety or to prevent undue damage to the unit.
  • Restricting methods that renters and landlords can use to serve notices to reduce the potential transmission of COVID-19 (no personal service and allowing email).
  • Allowing landlords to restrict the use of common areas by tenants or guests to protect against the transmission of COVID-19.
The Provincial Government has also issued the following advisories:
  • Gatherings or events larger than 50 people are not permitted in British Columbia until further notice. This includes indoor and outdoor sporting events, conferences, meetings, religious gatherings and other similar events. 
  • Casinos, including community gaming centres and bingo halls, are closed until further notice.
  • All Provincial Parks are now closed indefinitely.
  • Bars and clubs are unable to meet the requirements for social distancing and are therefore closed until further notice.
  • All personal service businesses, including nail salon & hair salons, massage, & physiotherapy, have been asked to close. 

The Province of BC has also created a dedicated phone service to provide British Columbians with non-medical information about COVID-19, including the latest information on travel recommendations and social distancing. Information is available in more than 110 languages, seven days a week between 7:30 am-8 pm:
 
1-888-COVID19 (1-888-268-4319) or via text message at 1-888-268-4319.
Tourism Advisories & Updates
On March 19th, Destination BC released their 3-phase response to help support the tourism sector in the immediate future and in the aftermath of COVID-19.

You can view Destination BC's plan
HERE.

The Tourism Industry Associations of BC and Canada have also been working to advocate for tourism-specific supports and stimulus packages in the wake of COVID-19. They have proposed the following measures specific to the tourism sector. These measures are currently under review, and updates will be provided as they are available.
  • Tax relief measures such as deferring corporate tax liability and allowing payments over a multi-year period;
  • Extend EI benefits to sole proprietors to help keep small businesses afloat;
  • Waive the seven-day waiting period to collect EI for Canadians under a temporary layoff notice, similar to the provisions provided to those under self quarantine;
  • Eliminate the 30-day waiting period for the Work Share Program to allow individuals to job share while topping up with EI sooner than later;
  • Temporarily adjust the percentage of hours worked while on lay off to allow staff to work more than 50 percent of their regular hours without reducing their EI benefits. Similarly, reduce the deduction to benefits from 50% to 30% to allow staff members to gradually return to work;
  • Extend the maximum temporary layoff benefit from 13 weeks to six months, given the uncertainty on the resumption of normal business operations;
  • Adjust the EI system to pay employers directly as a method to ensure there is no processing lag time in the case of lay-offs;
  • For airports, in addition to immediate rent relief, provide financial support to address reduced cash flow;
  • Implement a program to direct new funds to airports to compensate for their lost revenues and increased costs, as well as to ensure that airports and local economies continue to be stimulated by capital spending;
  • Suspend the federal excise tax on jet fuel;
  • Suspend the Air Transport Security Charge;
  • Suspend NavCanada navigational fees;
  • Stimulus funding for the industry, including additional marketing dollars for Destination Canada;
  • Tourist incentives to visit and travel within Canada (e.g. free park admission program);
  • Streamlined visitor visa application processes; and
  • Tax credit for domestic tourism/travel related expenses to encourage the return of domestic tourism after the COVID-19 crisis subsides.
For more information on their work, please visit: 
Please note that the following tourism-specific travel advisories are also in place:
  • Note that all Air Canada flights from Prince Rupert (YPR) to Vancouver (YVR) suspended from March 26th to April 30th. The Northwest Regional Airport in Terrace remains unaffected at this time. Air Canada has issued a response to COVID-19 here.
  • WestJet has issued a response to COVID-19 here.
  • Transport Canada: Cruise season delay announcement.
  • Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has announced an update to the February 7 guidelines for cruise passengers and crew. The additional enhanced screening measures in response to COVID-19 are effective March 4, find them here.
  • Destination Canada has cancelled Rendez-vous Canada 2020. find the full statement here.
  • Find the Vancouver Convention Centre’s update on COVID-19 here
  • The following parks & trails in Prince Rupert are closed indefinitely:
    • Prudhomme Lake Provincial Park
    • Diana Lake Provincial Park
    • Kitson Island Marine Provincial Park
    • Rushbrook Trail
    • McClymont Trail
    • All municipal parks & playgrounds, including Sd52 school playgrounds
For up to date information on the effects of COVID-19 on the tourism sector in British Columbia, please visit https://www.destinationbc.ca/news/coronavirus-update/
 
Tourism Prince Rupert will be working hard to provide you with email updates regarding any new advisories or support programs as they are announced.

Please note we are only providing new information each week. For access to our past newsletters, please visit our Newsletter Archive page.

 
If you have any questions, please contact:

Ceilidh Marlow
Executive Director, Tourism Prince Rupert
Phone: 778-361-0440
Email: ceilidh@visitprincerupert.com

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