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2020-04-21 - COVID-19 Update

Good afternoon, 

Our thoughts are with our friends and colleagues in Nova Scotia today as the entire province deals with a tragedy the breadth of which we are only beginning to comprehend. The scope of the shootings and dealing with the aftermath – especially in the context of COVID-19 is beyond heartbreaking and I know all New Brunswickers are thinking about our Maritime neighbours at this time.  


With consistently low numbers of positive COVID-19 cases in New Brunswick, the public discourse is starting to turn toward the economic recovery process and what that might look like rolled out in a phased approach. In my most recent commentary from April 8, I wrote about how NB’s finances affect both the response to the crisis and the planning process for recovery. Last week we wrote to Premier Higgs to talk about the importance of beginning to articulate a vision and to try to bring some shape to the recovery process. New Brunswick is doing well fighting the virus. As Dr Russell says, it’s not time to let up our efforts, but it is time for government, the private sector and other stakeholders to get to work on a plan to making our economic reopening as efficient and seamless as possible. 

 The deadline for participation in the Canadian Survey On Business Conditions has been further extended to Wednesday, April 22. This is a joint effort by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and Statistics Canada and the data will be used to help shape the government’s COVID-19 response and recovery efforts. The response rate for Atlantic Canada is currently lower than the national average – we need your help to get our numbers up and ensure our voice is heard. 

Congratulations on a collaboration between two New Brunswick companies to manufacture face shields for medical workers. Bouctouche Bay Industries, in Saint-Édouard-de-Kent, normally makes equipment for growing oysters and components for lobster traps. Sure Grip of Upper Kingsclear manufactures hand controls and driving aids for the disabled. Well done! 


Today Prime Minister Trudeau announced that the online portal to apply for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (“CEWS”) is due to be live on Monday 27 April 2020 through your CRA My Business Account. They have published online tools, including a calculator, to help applicants determine their eligibility and size of their subsidy. 

David Akin, Chief Political Correspondent with Global News reported the following regarding the CEWS from a briefing by federal government officials: 

  • The government is advising businesses to use the calculator tool this week. You will be able to print out your results and then use that printout to enter data into the application app on Monday. Doing this work now will mean filling out the app Monday will take 5 minutes.  
  • All applications received April 27 through May 3 will be processed on May 4 through an automated verification process.  
  • CRA expects 90% of CEWS applicants will be automatically approved. But they’ve re-assigned 3,000 CRA auditors to manually verify the rest.  
  • If an employee applied for and got the CERB and then their employer qualifies for the CEWS and hires them back and pays retroactive wages, the employee will have to pay back any CERB funds received. 

The Prime Minister also announced a $350-million Emergency Community Support Fund Tuesday for charities and non-profits that are helping vulnerable communities affected by COVID-19. 

On Friday 17 April 2020, the PM announced a slew of new financial support commitments including: 

  • $675 million to give financing support to small and medium-sized businesses that are unable to access the government’s existing COVID-19 support measures, through Canada’s Regional Development Agencies. 
  • $287 million to support rural businesses and communities, including by providing them with access to capital through the Community Futures Network. 
  • $500 million to establish a COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations.   
  • $250 million to assist innovative, early-stage companies that are unable to access existing COVID-19 business support, through the NRC of IRAP. 
  • $20.1 million in support for Futurpreneur Canada to provide payment relief for its clients for up to 12 months. 

The April 17 news release can be found here


Today Premier Higgs stated that planning for New Brunswick’s economic recovery is underway and will be discussed by the all-party COVID-19 cabinet committee this week. He stated that more communication will be forthcoming soon and emphasized that the process will be in phases with restrictions and will be implemented gradually as public health and safety allows. He also said to expect the provincial borders to remain closed for some time.  

The premier also announced that non-profit organizations could apply grants through RDC’s Community Investment Fund if they have been financially impacted by COVID-19. This funding will provide eligible small to medium-sized non-profits with grants between $500 and $10,000. 

Today’s new release can be found here. Provincial news releases since our last update can be found: 

Permission to sell alcohol with take-out and delivery is within NB’s State of Emergency declaration, but in their recent update, Restaurants Canada stated that government has indicated that it is their intention to make these provisions permanent once the Legislature is in session. We will work with other stakeholders and government to make this a permanent change as soon as possible.  


  • The Office of the Chief Medical Officer has published a COVID-19 Guide for Take Out Restaurants, Food Trucks, and Ice Cream Shops – which are all permitted to operate during the State of Emergency declaration provided they ensure social distancing and other required measures as ordered. 
  • CHSR 97.9FM is offering free advertising on our airwaves to local businesses in the Fredericton area that have been negatively impacted by the current pandemic. To participate, send a message including the name of your business and what services are available during the social distancing era to


Mental Health 

  • Horizon Health is reminding the community about their Mobile Mental Health Crisis Services. Anyone in the community can call 1-888-811-3664 24 hours a day. Mobile response teams are available from 8:00 am to midnight daily.  
  • The federal government launched a new portal dedicated to mental wellness. Wellness Together Canada will connect Canadians to peer support workers, social workers, psychologists and other professionals for confidential chat sessions or phone calls and will make it easier to find credible information and help address mental health and substance use issues. 
  • The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has joined with 20 other partners in support of WellCan, a free collection of digital resources to support the mental health of all Canadians during COVID-19. 


Our updates for the past five weeks have been very serious in nature and so I wanted to try to include something lighter from the business world and I just loved this piece in Huddle about reporter Cherise Letson’s life working from home. Huddle has a great team that supports business in New Brunswick and we appreciate them! PS #TeamChamber has had Nebula & Theo (the cats), Lily & Max, Alexis & Hudson, Sully & Amelia and Rachel provide occasional kid and cat cameos in our Zoom calls! 


If you haven’t yet checked out the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce’s Open, Operational and/or Offering help business directory, now would be a great time to do so. We have made it more user friendly and continue to ask all local businesses that are open, operational and/or offering help to fill out this brief form to help us populate the page.  And please continue to share, share, share so our community knows the services that are available!  The resource now contains more than 400 product and service listings by businesses and organizations and how you can access them – including nearly 20 offering free services to assist you during this time!! 


You are receiving this message because you are on our email list. If you know other individuals or organizations that could benefit from our information, ask them to join our mailing list here. Of course, all daily emails are also available on our website by clicking here we are continuing to share them on our social media vehicles (FacebookTwitterLinkedInInstagram). 

We also still want to hear how the COVID-19 Crisis is affecting your business and any specific ways that the government can support you at this time.  Contact either myself or our Policy & Research Manager, Morgan Peters to share information or ask questions. / (506) 461-5165 / (506) 470-5593 


Krista Ross, CEO, Fredericton Chamber of Commerce 


Chamber Blog

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