Reopening Canada’s Economy
A National Guide for Business
CBRN’s Reopening Toolkit
As businesses prepare to reopen or revamp their operations amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there are numerous issues and challenges to consider. This toolkit prepared by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s Canadian Business Resilience Network is designed to provide guidance, or access to guidance, for business owners and senior managers responsible for re-establishing their operations while ensuring the health and safety of operators, staff, customers and the general public is at the forefront.
With this document in hand, you should have the resources you need in order to:
- Update your Operations Plan.
- Update your Health and Safety Plan.
- Communicate those plans and procedures to your staff, customers and suppliers.
- Know how to access any required personal protective equipment.
- Continue to access government financial supports.
- Understand the social services, such as childcare, that are available to you and to your staff.
- Be aware of the wide array of additional supports, resources and guides that are available.
In developing any plans, one of the primary challenges for businesses is to determine the rules and regulations in place across a wide variety of jurisdictions, including federal, provincial/territorial and municipal. Additionally, guidance or best practices may be available from industry-specific associations. Please be aware that this toolkit primarily focuses on the regulatory framework put forward by the federal and provincial/territorial governments; as such, there may be additional municipal codes your business must comply with that are not addressed in this toolkit.
Sourcing personal protective equipment (PPE) is top-of-mind for many business operators. This includes both suppliers, many of whom have not traditionally produced PPE, and purchasers, again many of whom have not previously needed to purchase PPE. To this end, the Canadian Business Resilience Network is pleased to be collaborating with the Rapid Response Platform. The RRP Canada project allows producers and purchasers to find each other in order to enable PPE business transactions. Having a PPE supply on-hand may be a requirement for compliance with many regulations, depending on the nature of your operation.
In order to ensure the safety of staff, customers and suppliers and to assist with smooth operations, clearly communicating with these groups is essential. This includes conveying information about the rules and procedures to follow and providing reassurances to your staff, customers and suppliers feel safe in your environment.
As businesses reopen, government will undoubtedly wind down some of the financial support programs. However, at the time of this writing, financial support programs continue to be widely available, and some are being expanded (such as the Business Credit Availability Program) or extended beyond their original cut-off dates (such as the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy). Please continue to consult the available financial supports to determine if they can assist your business during your reopening and ongoing operations.
The reopening of workplaces may create challenges for employees who have children or other dependents who are at home because of school, daycare or long-term care home closures. The lack of care availability means that some staff may only be able to return to the workplace part-time or may need to continue to work from home. Business operators are encouraged to work with their staff to find flexible solutions until care options become available again. This toolkit also provides information, to the extent it is available, on available childcare solutions for you and your staff. Finally, while the events of the past months are unprecedented, we remain in this together. Countless businesses have created programs to help their communities. Others have revamped their operations to provide critical services or supplies. Numerous organizations and associations have produced guides of their own. We are pleased to share access to as many of these tools as we can to help all Canadian businesses prepare, persevere and prosper.
A Message from the Hon. Perrin Beatty, PC, OC, President and CEO, Canadian Chamber of Commerce
It’s hard to even enumerate all of the social and economic challenges Canadians have faced over the last weeks and months. Nobody knows when the pandemic will end, or what the end may eventually look like, but it will undoubtedly take years for our economy to fully recover. To say that we are living in unprecedented times scarcely does the situation justice.
Yet, despite all the challenges, I have been continually impressed by the innovative spirit, cooperation and resilience shown by Canadian businesses as they navigate this crisis. We have all heard the stories of businesses finding a new way to reach their customers or a shop making shelf-space for locally produced goods. Businesses that are able to are donating supplies and expertise. Manufacturers are overhauling their operations to produce much-needed personal protective equipment. Without this perseverance, the situation today – as bad as it is – would be much, much worse for Canadians.
Now, as we start to turn our attention to reopening our businesses and national economies, we need to demonstrate the same spirit our community has shown over the past number of weeks and months. I hope we will continue to pull together, to support one another and to share our collective knowledge and experience with each other. This way, Canada’s economy can come back strong.
This toolkit is assembled with that spirit in mind. It provides advice, guidance and access to resources from across Canada. It provides tangible information that you, as a business operator, will need to bear in mind and put to use. It encourages all of us to continue to be flexible and innovate as we navigate a world with COVID-19 where we must prioritize the health and well-being of our teams, our customers, our communities and ourselves.
Canadian businesses — and all the people behind those businesses — should feel proud of the job we have all done to get this far. But the work is not over yet, and so as we all carry on in the days, weeks and months ahead, remember: we have been, and continue to be, in this together. We will succeed together.
Hon. Perrin Beatty, PC, OC
President and Chief Executive Officer
Canadian Chamber of Commerce
National Reopening Government Regulation Tracker
In order to operate, businesses must abide by all national, provincial/territorial and local codes issued by our governments. This includes when and which businesses are allowed to open, an array of health and safety measures, social distancing standards, occupancy limits and more.
The new rules will inform how your operations and health and safety standards must be adapted to the current situation.
Sourcing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Ensuring the health and safety of Canadians throughout this pandemic has been the top priority for businesses, institutions and individual citizens. Indeed, never before have such drastic measures been collectively undertaken to meet this goal.
Reopening the economy – and keeping it open – hinges on our collective ability to maintain the health and safety for our staff, customers, the general public and ourselves. If we are unable to succeed in this objective, it is possible that governments would order businesses to close.
Measures surrounding the use of PPE (what types are required, when it is needed, how to use it, etc.) should be included in your Health and Safety Plan, informed by the federal, provincial/territorial and local regulations.
If you are having difficulty sourcing PPE, you are not alone; the current situation surrounding PPE is unprecedented. There is exceptionally high global demand from all industries, sectors and individuals. Particularly since many of the health and safety regulations issued across Canada require the use of PPE in order to be in compliance. In order to meet this demand, many manufacturers have retooled their operations to produce PPE, but they have limited experience interacting with PPE supply chains. This situation creates logistical challenges.
Introducing the Rapid Response Platform
The Rapid Response Platform is free to use and connects suppliers, manufacturers and businesses in need of PPE supplies in Canada. It further simplifies the procurement process through automated matching. The CBRN and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce are proud supporters of RRP Canada.
The portal currently includes the following PPE: hand sanitizer, disposable surgical masks, disposable N95 masks, gowns and coveralls. On May 27, it will be expanded to additionally include surface sanitizer, face shields, nitrile/vinyl gloves, testing kits, thermometers and ventilators.
The success of the RRP Canada portal is dependent on participation on both the supply and demand side. Please register and participate in the matchmaking service.
Communications amid Reopening
Communications is always important to ensure your staff, customers, suppliers and the general public understand the situation, what your business has to offer and what to expect from your business. This is especially true during times of crisis when there is a great deal of uncertainty.
This section of the toolkit provides guidance, examples and access to ready-made posters and graphics as well as a template you can customize for your own needs.
This advice contained in this section will likely need to be customized for your specific operation.
A Communications Guide
The goals of your communications activities are:
- To ensure your staff, customers and suppliers have a clear understanding of the situation and rules that are in place.
- To explain the roles, responsibilities and procedures your staff, customers and suppliers must abide by.
- To provide confidence that your business is being safely operated.
Your audiences for these communications are:
- Your staff, including volunteers and family members lending a hand.
- Your customers.
- Your suppliers, including couriers and other delivery services.
Depending on the nature of your business, you likely have numerous communications channels at your disposal to convey the required information, including:
- A staff email list and phone numbers.
- A customer email list or newsletter.
- A supplier email list and phone numbers.
- Direct mail or unaddressed ad mail.
- Social media.
- Traditional paid advertising (billboards, newspaper, TV, radio, etc.)
- Space inside or around your business for signage.
For internal communications with your staff, consider sending an email outlining:
- The procedures they will need to follow.
- How they can respond to questions from customers and suppliers.
- How they can address customers and suppliers who may not be following the health and safety procedures.
- How they can participate in ensuring a safe environment for staff, customers and suppliers alike.
In addition to the email, it may also be advisable to conduct a teleconference or video conference with staff prior to their arrival on site in order to provide additional re-orientation and address any questions or concerns they may have, including about proper PPE usage. When onsite, conduct a walk-through with staff and highlight any changes from previous operations.
Finally, signage/posters in staff areas of your business can provide guidance and reminders related to proper hygiene, social distancing and PPE usage. Template and ready-made posters are provided below.
For external communications with customers and suppliers, much of the same health and safety information and procedural instructions must be conveyed. In your communications with customers, consider being proactive in an email or newsletter and on your website and social media ahead of your reopening.
Tell customers and suppliers:
- When you will be reopening.
- Your hours of operation.
- The rules they will need to follow and any impacts this may have on your services.
Providing clear expectations and practical instructions ahead of time will help ensure everyone is on the same page, avoid disappointment if there are some service disruptions and help enable smooth operations.
Additional signage/posters in your business are also important to ensure everyone onsite has important information readily available about procedures (for example, where to form socially distant lines at the checkout counter) and health and safety protections (such as the use of PPE, hand sanitizer stations and social distancing). Remember that not everyone visiting your operation will have seen your proactive communications.
If you have the budget and/or capacity, consider also including this information in any flyers or print advertising your business is using.
As the pandemic continues and the rules in place change, follow-up communications with staff, customers and suppliers will likely be required through the same channels outlined above. Additionally, it may be helpful to provide a Q&A or Frequently Asked Questions document, if you find you or your staff are regularly being asked similar questions as the situation carries on.
Above all, work to ensure your staff, customers and suppliers are informed about what is going on and how they can contribute to a successful outcome. It is important for everyone to be aware that we are all in this together.
Template and Ready-made Signage
Making use of clear, highly visible signage within your business to promote good health and safety practices is important to providing a safe environment for your staff, your customers, your suppliers and yourself. It is likely appropriate to post signage in both staff and public areas to ensure everyone onsite is aware of important health and safety information in all areas of your facility.
Signage may also be used to help explain procedures that are in place to allow your business to operate amid COVID-19, including basic information such as the location of hand sanitizer stations, where to form lines and reminders to respect social distancing measures.
In posting signage, it is good to remember to ensure signs:
- Provide clear information using straightforward language.
- Are easily legible.
- Balance the need to provide sufficient information with the need to avoid a jumble.
Health and Safety Signage from the Government of Canada (PDFs):
- Poster: About coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
- Infographic: Know the facts about COVID-19
- Poster: Help reduce the spread of COVID-19
- Poster: Cleaning and disinfecting public spaces during COVID-19
- Infographic: Wash your hands
- Poster: Physical distancing
- Infographic (three pages): Preventing COVID-19 in the workplace
Additional health and safety awareness graphics and information from the Government of Canada are available here.
Operations Signage from CBRN (right click on preferred format and select ‘Save Target As…’):
- Poster: Line up here – Word / PDF
- Poster: Store at capacity – Word / PDF
- Poster: Curbside pickup only – Word / PDF
- Poster: Social distancing in effect – Word / PDF
- Poster: We apologize for the delay – Word / PDF
- Poster: Blank template (enter your own text) – Word / PDF / PNG. The suggested font to use is Century Gothic.
- Download all CBRN posters in a zipped package here.
Financial Support Programs
A wide array of financial support programs continue to be available from the federal and provincial/territorial governments. Many of these programs are compatible with businesses that are reopening and rehiring staff, such as the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) or the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program.
Many credit solutions, including forgivable loans, are available through local financial institutions, Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC). Please note that EDC is providing significant support to domestic businesses, so please explore this resource even if you are not involved in the export market.
Regional Development Agencies are additionally providing nearly $1 billion of COVID relief funding for SMEs.
Federal Financial Supports
Regional Development Agencies
- Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA)
- Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions (CED)
- Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor)
- Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario)
- Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario (FedNor)
- Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD)
Provincial/Territorial Government Financial Supports
- Alberta: Financial Supports
- British Columbia: Financial Supports
- Manitoba: Economic Support Centre
- New Brunswick: Guidance for Businesses
- Newfoundland and Labrador: Business Supports
- Northwest Territories: Business Support
- Nova Scotia: Support for businesses
- Nunavut: Where can I get funding for my business?
- Ontario: Support for businesses
- Prince Edward Island: Supports and Services
- Quebec: Financial assistance
- Saskatchewan: Support for Businesses
- Yukon: Support for businesses
Childcare and Social Services
As most economic reopening plans across Canada involve several stages or phases spaced out across weeks or months, a foreseeable challenge to overcome will be the availability of childcare and other social services as employees return to the workplace.
The reality is that most schools, daycares, summer camps and traditional family support networks (such as grandparents) are largely unavailable, with reopening timelines often unknown. This unprecedented situation necessitates flexibility by all involved to ensure children and other dependents can be cared for at the same time as businesses reopen. This means some staff may need to work from home or work part-time while some may not be immediately available to return to the workplace.
For essential workers in most provinces, childcare remains available.
Childcare Resources by Province and Territory
Based on data last updated May 26, 2020. We are working to provide regular updates to this section to reflect the most current information available.
- Schools are closed until at least Stage 2 reopening (date TBD).
- Expanded childcare for essential workers is available. More information.
- As of May 14, Stage 1 allows daycares and out-of-school care to open with limited occupancy. Summer camps, possibly including summer schools, are also able to open with occupancy limits.
- Parents should have been contacted by their schools by May 22 regarding partial reopening on June 1. More information is available here.
- Temporary emergency childcare for essential workers is available for those with children under age five. More information.
- Essential workers may apply for childcare here.
- A temporary system has also been created for people now returning to work. Services are limited to a maximum of 16 children each. More information is available here.
- Schools are to remain closed until September.
- As of May 19, up to 50% of childcare centres may reopen. On May 22, early learning and childcare centres may reopen outdoor spaces. On June 1, up to 80% of childcare and early learning centres may reopen. More guidance for parents is available here.
- On May 29, low contact team sports will be permitted. On June 19, overnight camps will be allowed to reopen. More information is available here.
- Schools are to remain closed until September.
Newfoundland and Labrador
- Limited childcare is available for essential workers. More information is available here.
- At Alert Level 4 (as of May 11), additional childcare services are available. More information is available here.
- Schools will remain closed for the rest of the school year. Teachers may access schools beginning June 1. More information is available here.
- A list of operating childcare centres and contact information is available here.
- Schools are closed for the remainder of the school year.
- Unregulated childcare centres were allowed to remain open.
- The province is aiming to reopen childcare by June 8. More information is available here.
- Schools are closed until at least May 22 (the school year is scheduled to end on June 5).
- As of June 1, daycares and playgrounds may reopen.
- All schools are closed until the next school year.
- Schools are closed until at least May 31. More information is available here.
- The government is supporting a plan for online learning over the summer months. More information.
- A list of professionals eligible for emergency childcare and contact information for childcare centres is available here. All other childcare centres are closed until Phase 2 reopening.
Prince Edward Island
- Childcare for essential workers is available. More information is available here.
- As of May 22, all unlicensed and licensed childcare providers will reopen under the guidance set by the Chief Public Health Office. More information is available here.
- Schools are closed for in-person classes for the remainder of the school year. More information is available here.
- All schools in Montreal will remain closed until September.
- High schools (grades 9-12) across the province will remain closed until September.
- As of May 11, preschools and elementary schools outside the Montreal area will be progressively reopened. Return to class is voluntary.
- More information on schools is available here.
- As of May 11, childcare centres outside of Montreal may progressively reopen.
- As of June 1 (planned), childcare centres in the Montreal-area may reopen. More information is available here.
- Schools are closed until at least September. More information.
- Childcare resources are available for essential workers. More information.
- Childcare facilities services will open up in Phase 3, but exact dates are TBD. They will be limited to 15 children per location, and children will be restricted to one facility.
- As of May 25, licensed child care operators can now provide care for the children of all Yukon families. Child care operators can return to their pre-COVID-19 enrolment numbers. New guidelines for operating child care centres during COVID-19 are in place. More information is available here.
- Schools are closed for the remainder of the school year.
Additional Resources and Guides from Across the CBRN
The CBRN is a collection of more than 570 business organizations across Canada, representing thousands of businesses and millions of Canadians. Below, listed alphabetically by source, is a collection of just some of the resources made available by those groups. Still more resources are collected across this website.
- BDC: Support for Entrepreneurs Impacted by Coronavirus
- Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP: Key Business and Legal Implications
- Borden, Ladner, Gervais LLP: Employer Strategies for Managing Coronavirus Risks in the Workplace
- CBRN: Business continuity tips and advice
- CBRN: Data and research
- CBRN: Financing available during COVID-19 with Grant Thornton
- CBRN: Health and safety
- CBRN: Step-by-step guide to apply for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)
- CBRN: Webinar: How to navigate government programs with KPMG
- CBRN: Webinars, videos, and podcasts
- Canada Life: COVID-19 Tips for Business Leaders
- Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety: Pandemic (COVID-19) Tip Sheets
- Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety: Food processing guidelines
- Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety: Pandemic information
- Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety: Tips for employers
- Canadian Chamber of Commerce: Business Continuity and Recovery Planning Guide
- Canadian Chamber of Commerce: Crisis Communications Planning Guide
- Canadian Chamber of Commerce: Pandemic Preparedness Guide
- Canadian Payroll Association: Payroll and COVID-19
- Chamber of Marine Commerce: Marine Industry Trusted Partners for COVID-19 initiative
- Deloitte: Orchestrating the Recovery of Organizations and Supply Chains
- EDC: Webinar: Guide for getting COVID-19 financing and support for your business
- Facebook: Business Resource Hub
- Fasken: Pandemic Planning for Employers
- Fredericton, Greater Moncton and Saint John Region chambers of commerce: Re-Opening & Recovery of New Brunswick, A Guide for Businesses and Organizations
- Google: Helping Your Business Through COVID-19
- Gowling WLG: COVID-19 Resource Hub
- Restaurants Canada: COVID-19 Reopening Best Practices
- Retail Council of Canada: Retail Recovery Playbook and Retail Recovery Checklists
- Medicine Hat & District Chamber of Commerce: 5 Steps for Business to Relaunch
About CBRN and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce established the Canadian Business Resilience Network to bring together its vast network of over 450 chambers of commerce and boards of trade, and over 100 of Canada’s leading business and industry associations, including the Business Council of Canada, the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters and the Retail Council of Canada, to help the business community prepare, persevere and ultimately, prosper as we collectively face the COVID-19 pandemic.
In partnership with the Government of Canada, we are executing a coordinated, business-led, inclusive campaign in both official languages, with the overarching goals of mitigating the impact of the pandemic on our economy, our communities and our citizens and positioning business to help drive Canada’s economic recovery.
To achieve these goals, we need to help businesses:
- Prepare – By providing insights, best practices and tools to help businesses be ready to sustain operations through the crisis, and a potential second wave, and to plan for a strong and speedy recovery.
- Persevere – By advocating for timely and effective economic policy and stimulus, providing information and insights to inform decision-making and highlighting services to support operational health.
- Prosper – By introducing new policy recommendations, program ideas and recovery initiatives that can be implemented while remaining vigilant about COVID-19.
Today, CBRN has more than 570 member associations representing the whole of Canada. You can contact us here.
About the Canadian Chamber of Commerce – Because Business Matters
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce helps build the businesses that support our families, our communities and our country. We do this by influencing government policy, by providing essential business services and by connecting businesses to information they can use, to opportunities for growth and to a network of local chambers, businesses, decision-makers and peers from across the country, in every sector of the economy and at all levels of government, as well as internationally. We are unapologetic in our support for business and the vital role it plays in building and sustaining our great nation.
Learn more at Chamber.ca.