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As employers, we are responsible for the health and well-being of our employees in the workplace. This has never been more important than now, as we find ourselves in the middle of a pandemic.  Movement and exercise can lift our spirits, improve our physical fitness, keep us engaged and increase our productivity.  As a result, we are sharing some information with you so you can share it with your team.

Here are this week’s topics for you:

  1. Encouraging Health & Wellness for your team
  2. NEW: Update to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit
  3. EXPANDED: Canada Emergency Business Account
  4. NEW: Canada Emergency Rent Assistance

Encouraging Health & Wellness for your team

Staying active, and challenging your team to maintain or even increase their normal physical activity is so important for health and wellness, particularly at this time.  Factoring in the need for physical distancing, staying active now will help with mental health, concentration, focus and memory, productivity, disease prevention and weight management.  Being active also lifts our mood which is so critical at this challenging time.  It helps our body lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol profiles, and factors into a lower risk of heart disease and other illnesses.  Most importantly, being active helps us manage stress better, improves our sleep, and buffers our moods as we all get through this challenging time together.

Emotionally and mentally, the benefits are amazing.  Just moving – either with at-home gym equipment, or simply through walking, hiking, doing push-ups, practicing yoga, standing at your desk, getting in and out of your chair every hour, or walking up and down stairs counts. Anything that elevates your heart rate and gets you moving, ideally for at least 30 minutes a day.  Exercise mitigates symptoms of anxiety and depression; lifting your mood and enhancing feelings of calm and happiness.  Staying active helps you get your sweat on, and it can help you tune out the world in a way few other activities can.

Keeping physical distancing in mind:

  1. Mimic the office environment – this can help increase activity. If you used to walk to a colleague’s office, choose to walk around the house when you are chatting on the phone. Take your stairs instead of an elevator. Enable reminders on your phone to avoid sitting for long periods of time.
  2. Get outside – fresh air in your neighbourhood, a walk at the beach, or a hike in the forest are all uplifting and great forms of low-impact activity
  3. Join a friend – while not the same as being together, connecting and talking virtually is the next best thing; think about working out and motivating each other because it’s easier to be motivated together. Play some music and do a little dancing
  4. Go online – take advantage of free classes that are popping up all over the net on YouTube, Instagram, etc.; they cater to every level of ability and interest
  5. Convert a corner of your home or apartment – dedicate and let this be the place where you take time for you and your exercise routine
  6. Gather your gym equipment – it may be a gym, or a set of dumbbells, or it might be an old set of nylons for resistance bands, or a container of laundry soap for a dumbbell.  Just do it!

Here are a few links to additional information:

You can keep your team moving and feeling good with a focus on health and wellbeing while keeping everyone focused on work projects. You could consider some friendly virtual fitness contests, share healthy cooking recipes and tips on what each employee is doing to stay active. Most importantly, keep smiling, and stay healthy, safe and strong, ideally with some exercise!

Canada Emergency Response Benefit Update

Yesterday, Prime Minister Trudeau announced more flexible rules for claiming the CERB and it will help employers encourage workers to stay working or potentially return to their jobs because it allows the employee to work reduced hours as long as they are earning $1000 a month or less.  This will be particularly helpful part-time and seasonal workers to earn additional money and still remain eligible for the $2,000/month benefit.

While details have not been finalized, employers can consider how this might help with re-opening or sustaining ongoing operations.

The announcement also included support for workers whose unemployment benefits may have run out and also provided a wage boost for essential workers in long-term care facilities.

Department of Finance – CERB  

Canada Emergency Business Account – CEBA

This morning, Prime Minister Trudeau has expanded eligibility to more small businesses for this loan program with the intent to help support non-deferrable operating costs. This program provides interest free loans to small businesses and not-for-profits up to $40,000, with 25% of the loan forgivable if the loan is re-paid before December 31, 2022.  There are already 195,000 approved loans through financial institutions, providing $7.5 billion in credit to small businesses.

The new qualifier expands the range from the previously announced $50,000 to $1 Million in 2019 payroll to a new range of $20,000 and $1.5 Million in total payroll.

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance – CECRA

Many businesses are struggling to re-negotiate their business premise lease and rental contracts to provide some financial relief on this significant and ongoing commitment to their landlord.  The federal government has announced today its intent to introduce the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program for small businesses. The program is to be directed to commercial property owners and will provide loans, including forgivable loans, so landlords can lower or forgo the rent of small businesses for the months of April, May and June.

This program will require coordination with the provinces and territorial governments as they have responsibility for owner and tenant regulations. More to come on this soon we hope!

BC Coronavirus links:

At TallSky Consulting, our Virtual HR Services are here for you!  We continue to offer our expertise as/when you need it, and from our virtual offices to yours.  Please contact us to discuss how we can help your organization continue.

During these times, tough situations won’t last – tough and resilient people will!  Let us help you.

Please feel free to contact us for assistance or support by email or phone at any time. Stay healthy, stay connected and let’s all work together to support our teams, local businesses and our communities.

DISCLAIMER The information is provided as general information on these topics, and given the rapidly evolving environment, they may not be relevant with recent updates or changes on the topic. These materials are not meant to be a substitute for specific legal advice. Please do not rely solely upon this information for making decisions regarding employees in your workplace.