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Newfoundland and Labrador: COVID-19 relief measures for your business

We know that this is a difficult time, full of uncertainty. The information you need to run your business changes rapidly, and it can be hard to keep track and make sense of it all.  

In order to relieve some of the pressure on small businesses such as yours, we are gathering all the information you need about government services and supports in Newfoundland and Labrador and putting it in this one location. We will continue working with governments to ensure additional relief measures become available for your business as the situation evolves.

Please check back regularly. We will update this page as more information becomes available.

Closures

Consult our guide to learn which businesses are currently closed in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Municipalities

Want to know what your municipality is doing to help businesses? We've got all the information on our municipal breakdown.

Re-opening the Economy

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has released a plan to re-open the economy. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business pushed for the release of a plan, so you could make crucial decisions affecting your business.

 

Government Employer Resources
The provincial government has released guidance for sector-specific businesses as well as public health posters that may be appropriate for your business:

Cleaning and disinfecting for public settings

Washroom Door poster

Hand-washing poster

COVID-19 Best Way to Prevent poster

 

On May 1, the provincial government established a Business Response Team to support businesses as they prepare to re-open. Businesses who have questions will be able to email [email protected] or call 1-833-771-0696.

 

Alert Levels

The government will implement its plan based on five alert levels. Newfoundland and Labrador is currently at Level 5. If certain public health criteria are met, alert levels will be reduced every 28 days beginning with Alert Level 4 on May 11. There are different restrictions for businesses at each level, so it is necessary for you to understand where your business fits in.

Alert Level 4

Beginning on May 11, businesses deemed to be low-risk are allowed to open. Those businesses include professional services (like accounting, law, and financial services firms), gardening centres, and animal daycares. Recreational businesses (e.g. gyms, dance studios), retail stores not offering essential services, and in-dining restaurants remain closed.

Alert Level 3

Retails stores offering non-essential services and personal services (e.g. spas, tattooing and tanning salons) can open with restrictions or guidelines. Restaurants can re-open at reduced occupancy. Recreational businesses (e.g. gyms, dance studios) and bars, lounges, and cinemas remain closed.

Alert Level 2

Gyms and fitness facilities are permitted to open, with restrictions. Bars and lounges are permitted to open with reduced occupancy.

Alert Level 1

Businesses are open, but have to operate according to the public health measures still in effect.

 

Workers' Compensation Support

WorkplaceNL has provided employers with a workers' compensation premium payment deferral until August 31, 2020 with no interest or penalties.

Clearance letters will continue to be provided during the payment deferral period to allow contractors that meet certain reporting criteria to continue to bid on work and operate.

The interest-free payment plan is extended beyond 2020 to March 31, 2021 to allow employers more flexibility to pay.

Safety training certificates are extended to August 31, 2020 for confined space entry, fall protection, mine rescue, power line hazards, traffic control person, first aid and OHS committee members.

Trainers and training providers have new guidelines from WorkplaceNL for in-class instruction for certification safety training during COVID-19.

WorkplaceNL is offering reduced services at this time, but is prepared to help with any questions business owners may have. Employers are able to revise their payroll estimates at any time.

For more detailed information, please visit the Newfoundland and Labrador COVID-19 information page on the WorkplaceNL website. 

Webinar Information:

WorkplaceNL offers regular webinars on a variety of occupational health and safety topics. All webinars run from 10am to 11.30am (unless otherwise indicated on the registration page).

May 20 - Identifying Psychological Hazards at Work

May 27 - Are You Wearing the Right Respirator?

May 28 - Getting to the Root Cause of Workplace Incidents

June 3 - Safe Work Procedures - Completing the Job Safely from Start to Finish

June 8 - Creating a Harassment Prevention Plan

June 9 - Psychological Health and Safety: Make it Your Business

Support for Liquor Licensees

On May 1, the provincial government and Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation announced initiatives to support liquor licensees during the pandemic. Specific supports include:

  • Temporary direct sale of alcohol with takeout/curbside pick-up and delivery orders
  • Brewers, wineries and distilleries can offer home delivery
  • Liquor licence fees are waived for the 2020-21 fiscal year (a refund will be provided for those fees already paid)
  • A 5 per cent wholesale pricing discount for licensees on wine, spirits and ready to drink beverages
  • An increase in product commission discounts for non-NLC distributed products to 55 per cent for those producing 1000 HL or less
  • Ferment-on premises operations can temporarily bottle customers' beverages

For further information, please refer to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador press release.

Other Supports for Business

The government announced a one-time credit on electricity bills as early as July as a result of fuel savings at the Holyrood Thermal Generating Facility. The Public Utilities Board will determine the details of the credit, including the amount and timing, and it will apply to Island customers only.

The government is providing $2.5 million to waive interest on overdue accounts for residential and general service (commercial) customers in the province. It will be for a period of 15 months beginning on June 1, 2020.

In June, the government will launch a red tape reduction portal for businesses to suggest opportunities to ease regulatory pressures.

Businesses are eligible to have a portion of vehicle registration fees for vehicles registered to the business refunded, if they are not in use.

Commercial vehicles of 4,500 kilograms or greater are not required to have their safety inspection completed while they are not operational.

Deferral of requirement for businesses to file yearly returns under Companies and Deeds Online (CADO) and remittance of the accompanying filing fee.

Compensation is available to private sector employees who had staff self-isolate due to COVID-19 travel restrictions; the self-employed are included. The compensation is related to federal funding, including the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. There are criteria applied to the provincial funding.

Provincial business tax payments, like the Health and Post-secondary Education Tax and the Retail Sales Tax on insurance premiums, have been deferred until June 23, 2020. Additional details are available here.

The Department of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation has announced a number of business supports:

  • Loan payments on business loans administered by the Innovation and Business Investment Corporation are deferred by six months.
  • The hiring eligibility for commercial Research and Development will be temporarily increased between April 1 and September 30.
  • Contribution levels have been temporarily increased (up to 75 per cent) for eligible project applications under Research and Development commercial and business development support.

 

Supports for Aboriginal Businesses

The Ulnooweg Development Group has been providing loans and business support to Aboriginal businesses in Atlantic Canada since 1986. The group has announced two measures to help support Aboriginal businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • payment deferrals and interest relief on loans between April 1 and June 30, 2020, and
  • a one-time grant of up to $5,000 for consulting services to help entrepreneurs access and apply for federal and provincial COVID-19 business support programs.

Information on the support is available on the Ulnooweg site.

Employment Standards

The provincial government has placed FAQs on the website of the Department of Advanced Education, Skills and Labour to provide information on labour standards during COVID-19. If you need to temporarily lay employees off during this crisis, you may have to seek legal advice on what notice should be given.

When a co-worker tests positive for COVID-19 or is ordered to self-isolate

When there is a case of COVID-19, Public Health will complete contact tracing; this involves finding and informing people that an infected person has been in contact, so they can get counselling, testing, and treatment (if necessary).

Public Health will advise whether self-isolation or self-monitoring is needed. If Public Health determines a business may be at risk, they will notify the employer and provide advice on appropriate follow-up. 

Note: The Personal Health Information Act will prevent Public Health from releasing the patient's name to the employer. 

Mental Health Resources

With Canada firmly in the grip of COVID-19, it is anything but business as usual.  Many businesses are closing their doors and laying off staff, others have employees refusing to come to work. We are all stressed and everyone is worried about their health and financial well-being.  Amidst this turbulence, you as a business leader are scrambling to keep your business afloat while leading your staff through these uncertain times.

Here are links to resources you can access if you’re feeling overwhelmed:

Newfoundland and Labrador

Mental health and addictions
Provincial Mental Health Crisis Line: 1-888-737-4668 or (709) 737-4668 
Mental Health and Addictions Systems Navigator: 1-877-999-7589 or (709) 752-3916 
CHANNAL Peer Support Warm Line: 1-855-753-2560 or (709) 753-2560

Federal

Newfoundland and Labrador State of Emergency

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced a public health state of emergency on March 18, 2020. As a result, the following facilities have been ordered to close:

  • Gyms and fitness facilities, including yoga studios, tennis and squash facilities
  • Dance studios
  • Businesses that hold a license under the Liquor Control Act whose primary purpose is the consumption of beer, wine, or spirits and that do not otherwise qualify as an exception
  • Cinemas
  • Arenas
  • Performance spaces
  • Bingo halls
  • All private health clinics, expect physician and nurse practitioner clinics (if clinicians can provide virtual care, they are encouraged to do so)
  • Personal services establishments including spas, esthetic services, hair salons, body piercing, tattooing and tanning salons; and
  • Retail stores, unless those stores provide services essential to life, health or personal safety of individuals and animals, which include the following:
    • food;
    • pharmaceutical products, medicine and medical devices;
    • personal hygiene products;
    • cleaning products; 
    • baby and child products; 
    • gas stations; 
    • computer and cellphone service and repair; 
    • electronic and office supplies
    • hardware supplies; and
    • pet and animal supplies.

Restaurants are permitted to offer take-out, delivery and drive-thru services. In-person dining is prohibited.

Gatherings of 10 people or more are not permitted. This includes funerals, visitation and weddings.

With exceptions, as of March 21, 2020, anyone returning from outside Newfoundland and Labrador is required to self-isolate for 14 days. The exceptions are identified here

A corporation found in breach of these orders could face a fine of $5,000 to $50,000.

What is CFIB doing?

CFIB’s legislative team in Newfoundland and Labrador are working to ensure the provincial government knows what your business needs. We recognize the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador does not have the fiscal means to provide substantial financial support. However, there are low-cost or no-cost options available to it that can help business owners. The following has been asked of the provincial government:

  • Create a web portal for red tape reduction ideas;
  • Allow alcohol to be sold with restaurant take-out and delivery orders and craft breweries to deliver;
  • Protect businesses from eviction by landlords;
  • Introduce a three-month small business rent guarantee program;
  • Implement a small business loan guarantee program with the credit unions;
  • Make changes to the legislated provisions to temporary lay-offs;
  • Extend operating permit and licence renewals for six months;
  • Work with Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro and Newfoundland Power to provide electricity cost relief.

In the past, we have also asked the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to do the following:

  • Provide a direct wage subsidy to supplement the federal wage subsidy;
  • Pause tax filings and payments for Harmonized Sales Tax, Health and Post-secondary Education Tax, etc.;
  • Provide a six-month extension of permits and licences set to expire by March 31, 2020;
  • Freeze all audits across the provincial government;
  • Ensure there is no requirement under provincial labour standards to give or pay notice for temporary layoffs; and
  • Create a Joint Red Tape Reduction Committee with the goal of streamlining government processes and reducing the amount of required paperwork for government licence and permit approvals.

FAQ on COVID-19

We’re dedicated to supporting your business through this difficult time by compiling answers to the most common COVID-19 questions and keeping you up to date on the latest relief measures from the federal government. Visit our Small Business Help Center to learn more.