Skip to content

Business Resilience

Advocacy-Update
Yellowknife Chamber's Response To COVID-19 Pandemic

These are unprecedented times and the Yellowknife business community is in crisis. The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have been devastating for the Yellowknife business community and our 383 members and their employees. Some businesses have demonstrated creativity to remain partially in operation, while many others have been forced to close due to the nature of their businesses. Overhead costs are quickly depleting financial reserves and businesses are struggling to survive.

To help us react quickly to the needs of our membership, the Board of Directors established the Business Resilience Working Group, with the goal of making policy recommendations for the municipal, territorial and federal governments. 

Federal Recommendations: View our April 8, 2020 letter to MP McLeod here.

Territorial Recommendations: View our April 9, 2020 letter to Minister Nokleby here.

Municipal Recommendations: View our April 9, 2020 letter to Mayor Alty and City of Yellowknife Councillors here.

Update May 5, 2020: The Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce has been included on Senator Anderson's list of Northern witnesses, which will be submitted to the Senate Committees on Finance and on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, which currently have oversight of the COVID-19 emergency legislation.

We provided Senator Anderson with a formal submission, urging her to support our federal recommendations. View our written submission here.

Our Collaborative Approach:

April 6, 2020: The NWT & NU Chamber of Mines has recommended that all mining operations, exploration and development companies should qualify for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy regardless of whether they have a 30% decrease in revenue. View their letter here.

We fully support this recommendation and will be lobbying for the federal government to waive the 30% decrease in revenue for all Northern businesses.

April 15, 2020: The GNWT Supports NWT and Nunavut and Yukon Chamber of Mines' letter submitted to the Federal Government. Read the media statement from Minister Nokleby here.

May 8, 2020: The NNCA urged the federal government to provide the NWT and Nunavut Housing Corporations with much needed infrastructure funding to help address the Northern housing crisis.

Check out the NNCA's formal submission here.

The Business Resilience Working Group fully supports this recommendation and commits to being a vocal supporter of increased infrastructure investment to stimulate the economy, create jobs and work towards addressing the NWT's urgent housing needs.

Press Releases

April 6, 2020: The Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce announces the launch of the Business Resilience Working Group. Check it out here. 

April 24, 2020: The Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce's federal recommendations to support businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic have been gaining traction across the Northwest Territories.

"The support that we've received for these recommendations demonstrates the importance of adjusting the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program to account for the challenging operating environment that businesses face across the North," said Tim Syer, President of the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce. Check it out here.

Letters Of Support

Update April 17, 2020: Michael McLeod, Member of Parliament for the Northwest Territories shared a letter with Minister of Finance, The Honourable Bill Morneau, supporting our federal recommendation regarding the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program. Read his letter here.

Update April 17, 2020: Thank you to our partners, the NWT & Nunavut Construction Association, for providing a letter supporting our recommendations. View their letter here.

Update April 17, 2020: Thank you to our partners, the NWT & Nunavut Chamber of Mines, for providing a letter supporting our recommendations. View their letter here.

Update April 17, 2020: Thank you to our partners, CDETNO, for providing a letter supporting our recommendations. View their letter here.

Update April 24, 2020: Thank you to the City of Yellowknife for providing a letter supporting our federal recommendations. View their letter here.

Update April 27, 2020: Thank you to Minister Nokleby for issuing a media statement supporting our federal recommendations. View the media statement here.

Update May 11, 2020: In their issues document, NWT Tourism and the NWT Chamber state that they both support our federal recommendation. View their document here.

Update May 11, 2020: Thank you to the City of Yellowknife for providing a letter supporting our territorial recommendations. View their letter here.

Recommendations For Federal Government

Recommendation #1: Waive the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy programs 30% reduction in gross revenue requirement for any Northwest Territories businesses that have incurred losses as a result of COVID-19 and government-imposed restrictions.

Recommendation #2: Work with the Government of the Northwest Territories to develop a COVID-19 Commercial Rent Strategy for the Northwest Territories. This strategy should focus on providing rental relief for businesses who have been forced to close or are unable to generate revenue as a result of COVID-19.

Policy Win! For the most part, this has been addressed through the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency's Northern Business Relief Fund and the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program. For more information about these programs, click here.

Recommendations For Territorial Government

Recommendation #1: Amend to Employment Standards Act’s requirement to recall laid off employees within 60 days of lay off in order to give employers the ability to recall laid off employees up to 30 days after the lifting of the Northwest Territories state of emergency.

Policy Win! The Employment Standards Officer will consider requests for extensions to temporary layoff periods beyond 45 days. For more information, click here for a May 22, 2020 letter from Minister Wawzonek. 
If an employer requires an extension to the 45 day temporary layoff period, they can request an extension at: Employment_Standards@gov.nt.ca

 

Recommendation #2: Allow liquor off-sales and delivery for businesses who sell liquor regularly as part of their food service.

Policy Win! Effective today, the Department of Finance has introduced amendments to the NWT's Liquor Regulations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The amended regulations allow all Class A and Class B licensed establishments in the NWT to sell beer, wine and spirits for take-out and delivery without the need for an off-premises extension to their license.

For more information, please see the GNWT's Public Service Announcement here.

Recommendation #3: Issue payment to all GNWT vendors within 15 days of receiving an invoice.

Policy Win! The GNWT has removed all payment terms from invoices and is committed to paying vendors as quickly as possible. For more information and to ensure you're following the correct process for submitting an invoice, click here.

Recommendation #4: Provide another intake for BDIC’s Working Capital Loan program, and transition loans already under this program and any new ones to be interest-free until 2021 and include creative repayment options with a grant component. One option could be similar to the federal program: if the balance of the loan is paid on or before December 31, 2022, there will be loan forgiveness of 25% (up to $6250).

Notable Progress! The BDIC has continued to offer low interest loans for NWT businesses. Loans of up to $25,000 are being made available to qualified businesses at a rate of 1.75%. For more information, or to apply for this program, click here.

Recommendation #5: Waive WSCC premiums for 2020 in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut and consider waiving 50% of premiums for 2021.

Notable Progress! Effective April 1, 2020, the WSCC has suspended late payment interest charges and further extended the assessment payment deadline to August 1, 2020. For more information, click here.

Recommendation #6: Provide a top-up to the federal wage subsidy program for eligible businesses. This top-up would be available in respect of salaries that are greater than the federal subsidy contemplates ($58,700) and should be an amount that reflects the higher costs of doing business and costs of living that Northerners face.

Notable Progress! On May 12, 2020, the GNWT announced a 16-week program starting April 1, 2020 to top up the wages for employees who earn less than $18 per hour from April 1, 2020 to July 31, 2020. We consider this a big win for Yellowknife businesses! For more information about this program, check out our resource page here.

Recommendation #7: Work with the federal and municipal governments to develop a COVID-19 Commercial Rent Strategy for the Northwest Territories. This strategy should focus on providing rental relief for businesses who have been forced to close their doors or have seen decreases in revenue as a result of COVID-19. The Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency’s mandate may make that agency a good partner for this program.

Policy Win! For the most part, this has been addressed through the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency's Northern Business Relief Fund and the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program. For more information about these programs, check out our resource page here.

Update May 15, 2020: The Honourable Caroline Wawzonek, Minister of Finance, sent a letter requesting the Yellowknife Chamber's help to notify our members of the Northwest Territories Wage Top-Up Program. View her letter here.

Recommendations For Municipal Government

Recommendation #1: Invest some of the $833,000 in the Downtown Development Reserve and some of the $2.4 million from the Revitalization Initiative Reserve into a COVID-19 Relief Program. Members of the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce’s Business Resilience Working Group would be willing to work with the City of Yellowknife to determine the most efficient and effective solutions.

Recommendation #2: Provide interest-free deferral of property tax instalments scheduled for March through to December 31, 2020.

Policy Win! The City has not charged any new late fees, interest, or City-imposed non-sufficient funds (NSF) charges for tax bills. Businesses do not need to apply for an interest free break, as no interest charges are being applied. It is Administration's intention to continue this grace period through to December 31, 2020. For more information, visit the City's website here.

Recommendation #3: Provide interest-free deferral of water/wastewater payments for all businesses from March through to December 31, 2020.

Policy Win! The City has not charged any new late fees, interest, or City-imposed non-sufficient funds (NSF) charges for utilities and wastewater bills. Businesses do not need to apply for an interest free break, as no interest charges are being applied. It is Administration's intention to continue this grace period through to December 31, 2020. For more information, visit the City's website here.

Recommendation #4: Waive all development fees for April 1 to December 31, 2020.

Recommendation #5: Waive all business-related permit fees until December 31, 2020.

Recommendation #6: Transition all business licensing and permitting online by December 31, 2020.

Recommendation #7: Work with the federal and territorial governments to develop a COVID-19 Commercial Rent Strategy for Yellowknife. This strategy should focus on providing rental relief for businesses who have been forced to close or are unable to generate revenue as a result of COVID-19.

Policy Win! For the most part, this has been addressed through the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency's Northern Business Relief Fund and the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program. For more information about these programs, click here.

April 27, 2020: Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce President, Tim Syer and Executive Director, Deneen Everett presented to City Council.

View our presentation here.

View the response prepared by City Administration here.

View the video of the entire presentation and the response prepared by City Administration here.

Update May 15, 2020: The City of Yellowknife provided a written response to our municipal recommendations. View their letter here.

In the Media

Radio Taiga. (April 30th, 2020). Yellowknife doute des recommandations de la Chambre. Retrieved from: https://www.radiotaiga.com/post/yellowknife-doute-des-recommandations-de-la-chambre?fbclid=IwAR2goMOFT-4jLcVAth7CzdLgW22WRyF-19XzeTfaYLDhXMqXz_saV_ZU4dU 

CBC North. (April 30th, 2020). N.W.T. officials aim to release plan next week for lifting COVID-19 restrictions. Retrieved from: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/nwt-restrictions-to-remain-for-two-to-three-weeks-1.5550049

Cabin Radio. (April 28th, 2020). Setting out separate plans, chambers battle for small businesses. Retrieved from: https://cabinradio.ca/35798/news/economy/setting-out-separate-plans-chambers-battle-for-small-businesses/?fbclid=IwAR3GCH_-Xku3yIr8kWgy0TAsqjVUF_O6R3c3KAO8nUXXQJmAn8TR4eskBRc

Yellowknifer. (April 27th, 2020). Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce calls on city to provide financial aid to businesses. Retrieved from: https://nnsl.com/yellowknifer/chamber-of-commerce-calls-on-city-to-provide-financial-aid-to-businesses/

CBC North. (April 27th, 2020).Yellowknife councillors lukewarm to some Chamber of Commerce recommendations. Retrieved from: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/yellowknife-city-council-lukewarm-to-some-chamber-of-commerce-asks-1.5547213

CBC North. (April 27th, 2020). Some N.W.T. businesses can now apply for federal wage subsidy relief Social Sharing. Retrieved from: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/federal-wage-subsidy-program-applications-open-1.5547122

Yellowknife. (April 23rd, 2020).Yk businesses relieved at CanNor fixed costs assistance offer. Retrieved from: https://nnsl.com/yellowknifer/yk-businesses-relieved-at-cannor-fixed-costs-assistance-offer/

Yellowknifer. (April 16th, 2020).Covid-related benefit expanded to include more essential workers, low-income earners. Retrieved from: https://nnsl.com/yellowknifer/covid-related-benefit-expanded-to-include-more-essential-workers-low-income-earners/

CBC North. (April 15th, 2020).N.W.T. leaders welcome millions in federal funding, but say it's not enough. Retrieved from: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/north-covid-19-federal-funding-reaction-1.5533372

CBC North. (April 10th, 2020).Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce asks 3 levels of gov't to help businesses survive COVID-19. Retrieved from: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/yellowknife-chamber-commerce-covid-19-recommendations-1.5528955

My Yellowknife Now. (April 9th, 2020).YK Chamber of Commerce recommendations for COVID-19 response. Retrieved from: https://www.myyellowknifenow.com/47837/yk-chamber-of-commerce-remondations-for-covid-19-response/

CBC North. (April 9th, 2020). Federal COVID-19 relief program leaves Yellowknife yoga studio in the lurch. Retrieved from: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/federal-benefit-cerb-yellowknife-yoga-studio-1.5526987 

Yellowknifer. (April 7th, 2020). Network to help Yellowknife businesses hurt by Covid pandemic. Retrieved from: https://nnsl.com/yellowknifer/network-to-help-yellowknife-businesses-hurt-by-covid-pandemic/ 

Scroll To Top