Employers are implementing strategies to protect their workforce from the COVID-19 virus while endeavouring to operate their business. Although many businesses have shifted to remote work, other businesses are unable to. This section provides tools and links to help employers and employees continue to operate in accordance with public health guidelines.
The Government of Canada has also made a number of resources available to help individuals and businesses cope with the COVID-19 outbreak on its website.
Identifying Critical Industries and Services
As government authorities manage the COVID-19 outbreak, there is an urgent need to identify critical industries and services and exempt their workforces from isolation orders in order to help Canadians and keep supply chains going.
Remember to focus on the health and safety of these workers – as well as to thank them for their service during these times.
Most workers fall under provincial and territorial jurisdiction, and the links cited below will help navigate regulations that will apply to your business.
Movement across the Canada-U.S. Border
The border is currently closed, apart from essential travel. Exemptions to self-isolation for fourteen (14) days will be provided to healthy workers who provide essential services. This includes workers in the trade and transportation sector who are important for the movement of goods and people across the border, such as truck drivers and crew on any aircraft, train or marine vessel crossing the border. It also includes healthy people who have to cross the border to go to work, including health care providers and critical infrastructure workers.
Employment and Human Resources Strategies
COVID-19 has forced many of us to work from home. However, thanks to modern technology, it is possible for employees to be as productive at home as they would be in the office.
Having the right tech tools in place for your team is essential, but you also need a plan for keeping everyone engaged and focused on their work.
Most families are now quarantined in their homes together, so employees are facing more distractions than normal. Your employees may also be anxious about their health and safety.
Communicating with Employees
- Embrace consistent, transparent communication. This is especially important as the COVID-19 situation develops. Ensure you have multiple ways to reach employees, including chat software and email.
- Get your team on video. Video conferencing tools, like Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Google Hangouts, are ways to keep your regular meeting schedule. Encourage participants to turn on their cameras to increase social interaction. Don’t worry about family “background noise” – it helps team bonding.
- Project management: Help keep your team on track and maintain regular workflows by using project management tools such as Trello, Basecamp, Asana, Airtable or Monday.com. These tools make is easy to assign and break down tasks, provide status updates and track progress.
- Don’t forget about corporate social culture. Use video conferencing and internal direct messaging for virtual socializing and team building activities.
Working from Home Tips
- Establish a dedicated workspace. Working from the kitchen table or couch might be easy but setting up a dedicated desk will make you happier and more productive.
- Establish a morning routine and stick to it. Just because you are working remotely doesn’t mean you don’t need to get ready in the morning. While some people enjoy working in their pajamas, many find that getting ready like they were going to the office helps them maintain focus and work effectively.
- Make sure your tech works. Invest in reliable internet access and be prepared to use your phone as a backup.
- Create an online “small talk” space with coworkers. Create general conversation Slack channels, spend some time making small talk in video calls and meetings and generally put an emphasis on getting to know each other.
- Grant Thornton: Working from home: Securing your new workplace
Travel and Events
An official global travel advisory is in effect. The Government of Canada has instructed Canadians to avoid non-essential travel outside Canada until further notice. Travel advisories can be found on the government’s website.
Essential transportation workers, such as truck drivers, rail or air crew, are required to travel to ensure the movement of goods and people necessary for the COVID-19 response and the ongoing functioning of the country. Essential workers are not required to self-isolate for 14 days after work-related travel but are required to self-monitor closely for symptoms and to self-isolate immediately if they develop even mild symptoms.
Cancelling or Postponing Events
While cancelling an event can hurt your bottom line and create other inconveniences, public health officials have made it clear that large group gatherings can only help the virus spread and that avoiding crowds is one way to protect yourself against infection.
More organizations are making the decision to cancel or postpone events. As a result, many event planners, ticket sellers and airlines are offering to refund tickets or waive cancellation fees if organizers decide to cancel.
Your decision on attending personal gatherings or events should be made based on the best public health information available at the time.
Transitioning to Virtual Events
COVID-19 has caused many companies to cancel or postpone key events, such as customer/partner meetings, product launches or significant announcements or employee symposiums. These gatherings, no matter the size, are critical forums for important conversations and information exchange. An alternative is to replicate events virtually.
The tools to power these virtual events are readily available, and home-bound employees are becoming adept at using them.
Live streaming and video conferencing are the most common. The key to creating a successful virtual event is how you use these platforms:
- Live streaming – Platforms like LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook Live, Workplace or VIMEO Enterprise are best considered for sharing information from a few select presenters with a small to large group (20 to 1,000+ participants).
- Video conferencing – There are many options for hosting a video conference or a webinar, including: Zoom, WebEx, GoToMeeting, Join.me and Google Hang Out. These platforms are effective for creating a more intimate exchange and an active discussion.
Your company may already have existing relationships with providers and/or your company’s technical ecosystem may also have features and functions that can be used.
Communicating with Clients and Suppliers
- Reach out and check in. Call your clients and suppliers. Don’t email them and don’t avoid their calls. A personal touch is extremely important. Ask your clients how they are doing, both personally and professionally.
- Be honest and listen. Be upfront with clients and suppliers about your issues as soon as possible so they can start to deal with the situation. Be ready to hear them out. Your clients will likely have a lot of questions, and it is important to answer them to the best of your ability.
- Show empathy and concern. Clients and suppliers will be worried about a wide range of issues, such as future income, losing contracts or laying off employees. Or, they may be worried about their health or a loved one.
- Respect clients’ comfort levels. Respect that some clients may not want to speak with you right away. There are various stages in accepting a situation such as this, and if and when a client wants to reach out, they will.
- Follow up. Take notes and ask follow-up questions every time you speak with a client or a supplier. Acknowledge their concerns and show that you care.
Provincial and Territorial Resources
Government of Manitoba: Business Continuity Planning for Disease Outbreak
Government of Manitoba: Information for Workplaces and Employees
Manitoba Chamber of Commerce: Pandemic preparedness Toolkit for Manitoba Businesses
Manitoba Chamber of Commerce: Tools and Resources for Businesses
Government of New Brunswick: COVID-19 Guidance for Businesses
Newfoundland and Labrador
Government of Newfoundland and Labrador: Supports for Residents, Families and Businesses
Government of Northwest Territories: COVID-19 Information for Businesses, Tourists and Program Applicants
Government of Northwest Territories: Resources for Businesses
Northwest Territories Chamber of Commerce: COVID-19 Resources
Government of Nunavut: Small Business Support Program
Government of Ontario: Support for People and Businesses to Improve Cash Flow
Government of Ontario: Stop the Spread: Business Information Line
Government of Ontario: Interest and Penalty Relief for Businesses
Ontario Chamber of Commerce: COVID-19 Pandemic Preparedness Toolkit for Ontario Businesses
Ontario Chamber of Commerce: Business and Employee Supports
City of Toronto: Economic Support & Recovery for Businesses
City of Toronto and Toronto Region Board of Trade: Support for Business
Prince Edward Island
Government of PEI: COVID-19: Support for Businesses
Government of Quebec: Concerted Temporary Action Program for Businesses
Government of Quebec: Flexibility Measures for Individuals and Businesses
City of Montreal: Support Measures for Montreal Businesses
Business Continuity Planning
- World Health Organization: COVID-19: Business and Employees
- Canadian Chamber of Commerce: Pandemic Preparedness Guide
- Canadian Chamber of Commerce: Business Continuity Guide
- Canadian Chamber of Commerce: Crisis Communications Planning Guide
- Calgary Chamber of Commerce: Emergency Preparedness Kit
- Canadian Federation of Independent Business: Small Business Help Centre
- Deloitte: Practical Steps for Pandemic Preparedness
- Ontario Chamber of Commerce: COVID-19 Pandemic Preparedness Toolkit
- KPMG: The Business Implications of Coronavirus
Employment and Human Resource Strategies
- Borden, Ladner, Gervais LLP: Employer Strategies for Managing Coronavirus Risks in the Workplace
- Deloitte: Practical Workforce Strategies that Put Your People First
- Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP: Key Business and Legal Implications
- Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP: Best Practices in the Workplace
- Globe & Mail: Employment lawyer Daniel Lublin answers frequently asked questions from workers
- Fasken: Pandemic Planning for Employers
- Grant Thornton: 5 tips for extending cash flow
- Deloitte: COVID-19: Managing cash flow during a period of crisis
- Deloitte: COVID-19: Managing Supply Chain Risk and Disruption
- IATA TACT: Cargo Airlines Operations Status
Canada Post – Hold Mail and Mail Forwarding for business customers
For essential businesses that are open as usual, mail delivery service continues. Those businesses do not need to take any extra steps to continue receiving their mail.
For some organizations, it’s not business as usual. For instance:
- businesses that have had to temporarily relocate or close;
- businesses that remain open but have had to reduce hours; therefore, they are not open when
Canada Post delivers their mail;
- facilities that are working with restricted access to their premises.
Since the end of March, Canada Post has been holding mail addressed to businesses facing those
circumstances. That mail is secure at their facilities and will be delivered as quickly possible when
those businesses are able to receive it.
Businesses that have been receiving mail but would like Canada Post to start holding their mail can
sign up for the service at canadapost.ca/holdmail. The fee will be refunded. Any Hold Mail services
purchased online since late March will also be refunded.
Canada Post is also offering free Mail Forwarding service. Businesses can sign up for it at
Customers who have questions or concerns can contact Canada Post Customer Service at 1-877-683-5895.
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- Claudiu Popa and Stouffville Chamber of Commerce: Webinar, COVID-19 Scams
Perrin Beatty and Rick Hansen discuss the challenges COVID-19 poses for persons with disabilities, what employers can do to help and how we can all deal with adversity.
Self-employed Business Owners
Government of Canada Resources
- Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)
- Resources for Canadian Businesses
- COVID-19 Economic Response Plan: Support for Canadians and Businesses
- Advance Payments Program for Agricultural Producers
- Call to Action: Canadian Manufacturers Needed to Help Combat COVID-19
- Government of Canada – Canada Business App
- Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19): Employment and Social Development Canada
- Business Continuity Plan and Templates for Entrepreneurs (Business Development Bank of Canada)
- How EDC Is Helping Canadians During COVID-19 (Export Development Canada)
- Mass Gatherings Risk Assessment
- False and Misleading Claims
- Health Product Complaint
- Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre: COVID-19 Fraud
General Business Resources
- Grant Thornton: Guiding Businesses Through COVID-19
- Business Council of Canada: Speaking of Business Podcast – Special COVID-19 Episodes
- Canadian Federation of Independent Business: COVID-19 Small Business Help Centre
- Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters: COVID-19 Resources
- Canadian Franchise Association: COVID-19 Resources
- Facebook: Business Resource Hub
- GardaWorld: COVID-19 Live Updates
- Gowling WLG: COVID-19 Resource Hub
- Professional Meetings & Conventions Association: Coronavirus FAQ
- RDC: COVID-19 Resource Portal
- KPMG: COVID-19: Leading Successfully in Turbulent Times
- Google: Helping Your Business Through COVID-19
- EDC: Webinar: Guide for getting COVID-19 financing and support for your business
- Kleanr: Anti viral deep cleaning for commercial and residential spaces
- NATIONAL PR: Change Management Resulting from COVID-19
Marine Industry Trusted Partners
- Chamber of Marine Commerce: Marine Industry Trusted Partners for COVID-19 initiative
- World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO): COVID-19 Policy Tracker and Information Repository
- Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO): COVID-19 and CIPO operations
“We know that Canadian businesses of all sizes are facing incredible economic hardship in these difficult and uncertain times. Our government is taking strong and decisive action to provide them with immediate relief—helping them keep costs low, keep up with their operational costs like rent, and keep Canadians employed. The Canadian Business Resilience Network will support businesses and keep them informed as we navigate this incredible challenge.”Hon. Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade
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