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Saskatchewan: 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 Saskatchewan 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.

Province Announces Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan

Premier Scott Moe and Saskatchewan's Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab have announced the Re-Open Saskatchewan plan. Re-Open Saskatchewan is a plan built on a methodical and phased approach to slowly lifting restrictions so that more businesses can open and more employees can go back to work.  The plan introduces five phases to methodically, gradually and cautiously re-open businesses and services across Saskatchewan, beginning May 4, 2020.  The plan also details physical distancing measures and restrictions that will remain in place throughout the five phases and provides a number of factors to inform decisions regarding the lifting of long-term restrictions.

Over the next several weeks, restrictions will be gradually lifted by adding more types of businesses to the allowable businesses list, meaning that they can re-open if they so choose. All businesses and public venues will be required to continue following physical distancing and cleaning and disinfection practices to protect both employees and customers.  Members of the public will be expected to follow physical distancing rules and to stay home if they are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms.

For additional information, please visit the provincial government's Re-Open Saskatchewan website.

 

Do you have questions about how to safely get back to business as Saskatchewan’s economy reopens?
As the province starts to lift restrictions and reopen the economy, CFIB has put together tools and resources to help you get back to business and keep your staff and customers safe:

 

If you have any outstanding questions or concerns about the province's reopening plan please contact CFIB directly at 1-888-234-2232 or email at [email protected] 

You can also contact the Government of Saskatchewan's  Business Response Team by calling 1-844-800-8688, email [email protected] or by visiting www.saskatchewan.ca/covid19-businesses.

 

Five Phases of the Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan

The Re-Open Saskatchewan plan consists of five phases.  The timing and order of the businesses and workplaces included in each phase is subject to change throughout the process based on a continuous assessment of transmission patterns and other factors.

 

Phase One (Beginning May 4, 2020): Re-opening previously restricted medical services, Opening of golf courses, parks and campground

  • The first phase of the plan includes the re-opening of medical services restricted under the current public health order, and the resumption of low-risk outdoor recreational activities, including fishing and boat launches, golf courses and a fixed date for parks and campgrounds.  The size restrictions of public and private gatherings will remain at a maximum of 10 people.
  • On May 4, public access to medical services will be reinstated, including access to dentistry, optometry, physical therapy, opticians, podiatry, occupational therapy and chiropractic treatment.  When it is not possible to physically distance, providers will be required to take precautionary measures as outlined by the Chief Medical Health Officer.
  • Low-risk outdoor recreational activities will be allowable with precautionary measures, including fishing and boat launches (May 4), golfing with physical distancing guidelines (May 15) and a fixed date (June 1) and clear guidelines for the operation of parks and campgrounds.

 

Phase Two (May 19): Re-opening retail and select personal care services

  • The second phase of the plan includes the May 19 re-opening of retail businesses and select personal services that were previously not deemed allowable.
  • The size restrictions of public and private gatherings will remain at a maximum of 10 people.
  • A full list of retail businesses and select personal services that will be deemed allowable in phase two is included in the Re-Open Saskatchewan plan, along with guidance, protocols, and physical distancing measures that allowable businesses and services are required to observe.

 

Phase Three (June 8): Re-opening restaurants and food services at 50% capacity, gyms and fitness centres, licensed establishments and child care facilities, re-opening remaining personal care services, increasing the size of  indoor public and private gatherings to 15 people

Personal service businesses that did not open in Phase 2 are also allowed to begin providing services.

This includes:

  • Estheticians;
  • Tattoo artists;
  • Make-up applicators;
  • Electrologists;
  • Manicurists;
  • Pedicurists;
  • Sun tanning parlours;
  • Facilities in which body piercing, bone grafting or scarification services are provided; and
  • Other personal service facilities  

 

Guidance for restaurants, fitness facilities and other businesses and services opening is now available:

 

 

For additional information about sector specific guidelines in the Reopening plan, please see visit the Government of Saskatchewan's website.

As restrictions on businesses and services are gradually lifted in the province, additional information continues to be added to the Re-Open Saskatchewan plan based on direction from public health officials and input from businesses and service providers.

The size of indoor public and private gatherings will increase to 15 people in Phase 3, while the size of outdoor gatherings will increase to 30.

All businesses that are eligible to re-open must follow the guidelines in the Re-Open Saskatchewan plan and the current public health order.

 

Phase Four (Date TBD): Re-opening indoor and outdoor recreation facilities, increasing the size of public and private gatherings to 30 people

  • The fourth phase will be implemented following an evaluation of transmission patterns of COVID-19, and does not have a pre-determined date.  The fourth phase will include the re-opening of indoor and outdoor recreation and entertainment facilities.
  • All businesses and customers will be expected to maintain physical distancing practices, guidelines and recommendations.
  • Other than in allowable businesses, the size of public and private gatherings will increase to a maximum of 30 people.

 

Phase Five (Date TBD): Consider lifting long-term restrictions

 The fifth phase will be implemented following an evaluation of transmission patterns of COVID-19 and the preceding four phases, and will include the consideration of lifting long-term restrictions.

Monitoring Transmission of COVID-19 and Phase Advancement Criteria

As restrictions are gradually lifted, the Government of Saskatchewan and Dr. Saqib Shahab, Chief Medical Health Officer, will carefully monitor the daily number of reported cases and other important indicators.  These factors will inform decisions regarding the pace at which the restrictions can be lifted or put back in place if required.

  • Transmission is controlled;
  • Health system capacities are in place to test, isolate and treat every case and trace every contact;
  • Outbreak risks are minimized in special settings like health facilities and nursing homes;
  • Preventive measures are in place in workplaces, schools and other essential places;
  • Importation risks can be managed;
  • Communities are fully educated, engaged and empowered to adjust to the new norm.

The plan will also provide clear guidance to the public so they can continue to follow current public health orders and prepare accordingly for lifting of restrictions.

 

Long-Term Restrictions on High Risk Areas Remain In Place

A number of long-term measures and restrictions that are related to the highest risk areas will remain in place for the foreseeable future.

These long-term restrictions include:

  • Maintaining the current Provincial State of Emergency;
  • Recommendations against non-essential international and interprovincial travel;
  • Mandatory 14-day self-isolation following international travel, exposure to COVID-19, or a positive COVID-19 test;
  • Visitor restrictions limited to compassionate reasons at long-term care homes, hospitals, personal care homes and group homes;
  • The suspension of classes in all primary and secondary educational institutions, both public and private; and
  • Large public gatherings remain prohibited.

Recommendations throughout all Phases

The following recommendations should remain in place through all five phases:

  • Protective measures for vulnerable populations;
  • Individuals should continue working from home if they can do so effectively;
  • Physical distancing must be maintained, wherever possible;
  • People must stay at home when they are sick;
  • Vulnerable individuals, such as seniors and those with underlying health conditions, should continue to exercise caution and minimize high-risk exposures, such as public outings;
  • Personal hygiene will continue to be a key prevention measure;
  • Enhanced cleaning and disinfection should take place in workplaces, public spaces and recreational facilities;

Although the public health order regarding the size of gatherings does not apply to businesses and workplaces, they are expected to follow the recommended public health measures, including: physical distancing for staff and clients; regular cleaning and disinfection; frequent handwashing and sanitizing; use of PPE where available and appropriate; and keeping staff who demonstrate or report COVID-19 symptoms out of the workplace; and
Long-term care and personal care homes must ensure that each staff member works in only one facility.

To find out which business services were permitted to continue operations during the COVID-19 pandemic in Saskatchewan, please see the provincial government's list of critical public services and allowable business services.
 

COVID-19 Information for Saskatchewan Residents

Residents of Saskatchewan should remain diligent in maintaining physical distancing and practicing good hygiene.  For information regarding the latest COVID-19 updates and to read the full Re-Open Saskatchewan plan, visit www.saskatchewan.ca/COVID19.

 

Personal Protective Equipment Suppliers in Saskatchewan

Businesses resuming operations as part of The Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan may be required to utilize Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) in order to protect themselves and their clients/customers and help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In an effort to help Saskatchewan businesses source the PPE they need, the provincial government has compiled lists of PPE suppliers. The list of PPE suppliers & list of Saskatchewan producers approved by Health Canada to manufacture hand sanitizers can be viewed here on the Government of Saskatchewan’s website.

Please note – these lists of suppliers are not exhaustive and the provincial government does not endorse nor certify any of these companies. Businesses are responsible for conducting their own due diligence should they choose to utilize any of these suppliers.

Support for business

May 8: Emergency Support Program For Saskatchewan Small Businesses Extended

The Government of Saskatchewan announced the Saskatchewan Small Business Emergency Payment (SSBEP) program will be extended to the month of May for businesses that are required to remain closed or substantially curtail operations after May 19. Businesses will not need to reapply to the program. Businesses that qualify for the program will automatically receive a second payment after May 19.

 

The Saskatchewan Small Business Emergency Payment (SSBEP) provides a one-time grant for small and medium-sized enterprises directly affected by government public health orders related to COVID-19. Grants will be paid based on 15% of a business’ monthly sales revenue, to a maximum of $5,000.

The $50 million program will provide financial support to small and medium-sized businesses that have had to temporarily close or significantly curtail operations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To give maximum flexibility to businesses, the grant is not dedicated to specific cost pressures. Through the consultation process, many businesses made it clear they are facing acute cash flow pressures in the immediate term due to fixed overhead costs, such as rent and lease payments. The SSBEP will help businesses address these immediate pressures.

How is the payment calculated?

The payment is based on 15% of the business’s monthly revenue in either April 2019 or February 2020. The business may select either of those months to calculate their payment. The maximum amount payable is $5,000 per business.

What are the eligibility criteria?

To be eligible a Saskatchewan business or not-for-profit must:

  • have been carrying on business in Saskatchewan on February 29, 2020;
  • have been ordered to temporarily close or curtail operations through a COVID-19 public health order;
  • have less than 500 employees;
  • attest that they have experienced a loss in revenue due to a COVID-19 public health order and that they plan to reopen operations following the cancellation of the COVID-19 public health order;
  • have not received any payments or amounts from any other sources, including insurance, to replace or compensate for the loss of sales revenue other than amounts from other government assistance programs; and,
  • apply on or before July 31st, 2020.

 
What types of businesses are eligible?

  • Businesses that were ordered closed include bars, restaurants, recreational and entertainment facilities, and personal service facilities such as a hairdresser. Businesses that provide dental, optometry, ophthalmology, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Podiatry, or Chiropractor services were ordered to provide emergency services only. Restrictions have been placed on childcare facilities. Retail services are also eligible if not considered a critical or allowable business service.
  • Businesses that are still permitted to operate and are considered “Critical Public Services to Address COVID-19” or are allowable business services such as those on the list available at the following link, are not eligible to receive benefits under this program

The Saskatchewan Small Business Emergency Payment (SSBEP) is now accepting applications. You can find further information on the SSBEP here and submit your application here.

If you have questions on how to complete the application or need some clarification on program eligibility after reviewing the SSBEP webpage, you can contact the SSBEP team by email at [email protected] or by calling 1-800-667-6102 or 306-787-6645 in Regina and selecting option #3.

 

April 30 Update: Supports for Outfitters and Businesses Operating in Provincial Parks

The Government of Saskatchewan nnounced new supports for northern outfitters and businesses operating in provincial parks.  Amendments to the Saskatchewan Small Business Emergency Payment (SSBEP) program will ensure these small businesses are eligible for grants up to $5,000.
 
This is in addition to measures taken by the Ministry of Environment to waive lease fees for outfitters for the 2020 season and providing flexible licensing arrangements for those suspending outfitting activities.
 
A modified application will be available in the coming days and can be accessed by visiting www.saskatchewan.ca/covid19-businesses.

 

Three Month PST Remittance Deferral and Audit Suspension

Effective immediately, Saskatchewan businesses who are unable to remit their PST due to cashflow concerns will have relief from penalty and interest charges.  Businesses that are unable to file their provincial tax return(s) by the due date can submit a request for relief from penalty and interest charges on their returns. Audit program and compliance activities have been suspended to allow businesses time to focus on the health and safety of their customers and staff, reduce impacts to business operations, and minimize the spread of the virus through reduced audit travel.

May 22 Update: Changes to Employment Standard Regulations

In addition to changes made to The Saskatchewan Employment Act that introduced a new unpaid public health emergency leave and removed the 13-week employment requirement to access sick leave and the requirement for a doctor’s note to access sick leave, The Employment Standard Regulations have been amended to

    These amendments create a balance for employers and employees where the difficult decision may be made to lay-off employees due to public health emergencies. In this circumstance, employees would have immediate access to new federal employment insurance programs, while keeping employers financially stable to ensure employees have a job to return to.

    • Ensure that during a public emergency, businesses will not have to provide notice or pay in lieu of notice when they lay-off staff if it is for a period of 12 weeks or less in a 16-week period; and
    • With the amended regulation, if the employment relationship provides for layoffs, an employer  may temporarily lay off an employee for up to two weeks following the public emergency period without having to provide notice or pay instead of notice to the employee.
    • Employees on a temporary layoff would still be considered employees but would be able to apply for Federal Employment Insurance Benefits.

    For more information, please see the Government of Saskatchewan's COVID-19: Questions and Answers on Leaves, Layoffs and Occupational Health and Safety in the Workplace

    Business Response Team

    To provide support to Saskatchewan businesses seeking to navigate the uncertain conditions caused by COVID-19, the Government of Saskatchewan will be establishing a single window information webpage for businesses to access information and receive timely updates on provincial support initiatives.  This will be complemented by the establishment of a Business Response Team, led by the Ministry of Trade and Export Development, which will work with businesses to identify program supports relevant to particular businesses available to them both provincially and federally.

    An email address and toll-free telephone number have been created to provide businesses a single point of contact to help answer questions.  A single window information webpage has also been developed for businesses to access information and receive timely updates on provincial support initiatives.  The webpage includes information on both provincial and federal support measures, including the province’s recently announced financial support program.

    For more information, businesses can contact the Business Response Team by calling 1-844-800-8688, emailing [email protected] or by visiting www.saskatchewan.ca/covid19-businesses

    SaskBuilds Single Procurement Service

    The Government of Saskatchewan has been contacted by many businesses, individuals and groups who have offered ideas and solutions.  As such, the SaskBuilds Single Procurement Service will serve as a central point of contact and co-ordination. If you are a Saskatchewan business, innovator, or supplier and you think you have a solution that can help us fight COVID-19, you may direct your submission to [email protected].

    Saskatchewan WCB offers relief measures for employers

    Premium penalties waived for employers effective April 1 until June 30, 2020 during the COVID-19 crisis

    The Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) is introducing additional relief measures for employers who are unable to pay their WCB premium payments. Effective April 1 until June 30, 2020, the WCB will waive penalties and interest charges for late premium payments.
     
    To provide further relief for Saskatchewan employers, the WCB is:

    • Forgiving interest and penalties for late payments on 2020 premiums applied in the month of March.
    • Prioritizing employer payroll revisions to help employers reduce their premiums.
    • Suspending payroll audits until further notice except in situations where an employer may be eligible for a refund.
    • By giving employers extra time to submit their payments without facing any penalties, they will be able to communicate their revised payroll estimates to the WCB and determine payment plan options.

    Employers who have reduced their workforce are encouraged to submit revisions to their 2020 assessable payroll estimates, which the WCB will use to recalculate their required premiums. Employers who have concerns about paying their 2020 premiums should contact the WCB to discuss their options.
     
    Effective immediately, to ensure employers can release payment to their contractors promptly during the COVID-19 crisis, clearance letters will be available for employers that meet specific criteria, even in cases where the contractor’s WCB account has not been paid. Employers will not be liable for any outstanding WCB premiums the contractor owes.

    For more information, please see Saskatchewan WCB's News Release: Sask. WCB offers relief measures for employers

    Other support measures

    Crown Corporations - utility payment relief

    Crown Utility Interest Deferral Programs:

    SaskPower

    On March 20, the provincial government announced a crown utility interest deferral program waving interest on late bill payments for up to six months. Effective immediately, the crown utility interest deferral program is available to all crown utility customers, including business owners.

    In response to the COVID-19 issue, SaskPower has instituted the following additional measures to ease potential challenges for customers. These include:

    • Stopping active collection activity on overdue accounts
    • Stopping disconnections of residential power service for non-payment
    • Not installing devices to limit electrical supply to customers who are in arrears

    Crown utilities are waiving interest for six months to help residents and businesses deal with the economic impacts of COVID-19. Over this period, no late payment charges or interest will be applied. After six months, the balance of regular monthly payments will be due.

    To help customers get back on their feet, they will have a year after that six-month period to pay off any outstanding balance over the next year with equal monthly installments. No additional interest will be charged. In total, this provides customers with 18 months to recover from the impact of the pandemic to their finances.

    For more information, please see SaskPower's website.

    SaskEnergy

    In an effort to provide some relief for customers, effective March 18th, SaskEnergy also implemented the government's Crown Utility Interest Waiver Program. Over the coming six months, late payment charges and interest fees will be waived. During this time, SaskEnergy will not be disconnecting customers for non-payment.

    After the close of the six-month program, any outstanding balance can be paid back over the following 12 months through equal monthly installments – with no additional interest charged on these payments. In total, this provides customers with a period of 18 months to recover from the impact of the pandemic to their finances.

    If you are experiencing financial hardship due to the ongoing pandemic, please call SaskEnergy at 1-800-567-8899 or 1-306-777-9200 to discuss the program and payment plan options.

    For more information, please see SaskEnergy's website.

    Supports for self-employed

    Self-Isolation Support Program

    Administered by the Ministry of Finance, the program will provide $450 per week, for a maximum of two weeks or $900. The program is targeted at Saskatchewan residents forced to self-isolate that are not covered by recent federally announced employment insurance programs and other supports. The program is designed to ensure that all Saskatchewan residents are covered by either a federal or provincial program to ensure no one is faced with choosing to work instead of protecting their family and community from COVID-19 by self-isolating.

    The program applies to Saskatchewan small business owners that meet the following eligibility criteria:

    • They have contracted COVID-19 or are showing symptoms;
    • They have been in contact with an individual infected with COVID-19;
    • They have recently returned from international travel and have been required to self-isolate;
    AND
    • If they are not eligible for compensation including sick leave, vacation leave from their employer
    • If they do not have private insurance covering such disruptions
    • If they are not covered by other programs such as federal employment insurance that has been updated

    For more information, please see the Government of Saskatchewan's Self-Isolation Support Program webpage

    Support for employees

    Information on support for workers

    A website has also been launched to provide information on support for workers who have had their employment impacted by the current economic situation.  Workers can visit www.saskatchewan.ca/covid19-workers  for more information
    Leave for Employees during Public Health Emergencies: The provincial government has introduced amendments to The Saskatchewan Employment Act which ensure employees have access to job protected leaves during a public health emergency. The amendments to the Act are:

    1. to remove the requirement of 13 consecutive weeks of employment with the employer prior to accessing sick leave;
    2. to remove the provision requiring a doctor’s note or certificate; and
    3. Introduction of a new unpaid public health emergency leave that can be accessed:
      1. When the World Health Organization has determined that there is a public health emergency and the province’s chief medical health officer has also issued an order that measures be taken to reduce the spread of a disease; or
      2. The province’s chief medical health officer has independently issued an order that measures be taken provincially to reduce the spread of a disease where it is believed there is sufficient risk of harm to citizens of the province. The orders would also be made public to ensure everyone is aware of the direction.

    The amendments to the Act are retroactive to March 6, 2020.

    Taking care of your mental health during the COVID-19 crisis

    There are a number of mental health resources available to Saskatchewan residents including:

    Employee and Family Assistance Programs can assist with mental health supports and counselling for qualifying employees and their dependents.

    For example:

    The Ministry of Education continues to offer Mental Health Capacity Building support for staff and students in five schools during school closures, through online and social media platforms.

    Ministry of Social Services staff are supporting clients, service providers and Approved Private Service Homes.  All CBO agencies continue to offer counselling by phone or virtual technology.

    What is CFIB doing?

    CFIB’s Saskatchewan legislative team is working around the clock to make sure government officials know what your business needs are. Currently we are asking the Government of Saskatchewan to:

    1. Shift from tax deferrals to tax holidays on Provincial Taxes & Fees: 71% of Sask small business owners say tax deferrals are not enough and that governments need to shift to tax holidays. We therefore recommend the provincial government consider tax holidays (e.g. three months) on some of the key business taxes (e.g. PST), fees, licenses, and WCB costs for Saskatchewan employers.
    2. Introduce a Hardship Fund: We urged the provincial government to introduce a Hardship Fund with additional emergency money for businesses with significant revenue losses, significant cost increases and/or who are at risk of permanent closure due to COVID-19 to help small businesses pay rent and offset other fixed costs. Priority should be given to businesses that were forced to close and those not covered by federal programs. Result: We are pleased the Government of Saskatchewan listened to your concerns and introduced the Saskatchewan Small Business Emergency Payment (SSBEP) on April 9th, which is a one-time grant of up to $5,000 for small and medium-sized businesses directly affected by government public health orders related to COVID-19.
    3. Introduce temporary eviction protections for commercial tenants during this COVID-19 crisis (e.g. NB & NS)
    4. Ensure that Employment Standards cover the COVID-19 period, work with federal programs, and do not inadvertently create additional costs and stress for employers. For example, if COVID layoffs go beyond existing employment standards provisions the provincial government should ensure that employers are not faced with severance costs and constructive dismissal claims
    5. Encourage municipalities (excluding those who have already done so) to provide commercial property owners with a property tax holiday for a minimum of 3 months OR at least waive all interest and penalties for unpaid property tax bills for a minimum of three months (e.g. City of Saskatoon has extended the 2020 Property Tax deadline by three months to September 30, 2020)
    6. Postpone property tax reassessments being conducted this year for the 2021 tax year (similar to Ontario)

    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 and the Saskatchewan municipalities. Visit our Small Business Help Center to learn more.