COVID-19 Resources for the British Columbia Golf Industry

via AGA-BC
Posted on April 5, 2021
Last Updated: April 23, 2021

The landscape in which the golf industry operates is continually changing and keeping up to date with the latest support, benefits, health orders, etc. can be daunting. In addition to changes to support programs, the Provincial Health Officer is continually updating regulations and guidelines to provide accurate and effective control measures.

The most recent comprehensive provincial update, as provided on April 23 extended and expanded the measures to limit the spread of COVID-19. The latest revisions will be in place until midnight on May 25th.

The orders closing indoor dining at restaurants, prohibiting indoor activities and limiting outdoor gatherings to 10 people have been extended; travel for sport continues to be prohibited as are outdoor group sports now clarified to include Golf (Tournaments) and now stronger non-essential travel restrictions, have been ordered in Ministerial Order M172 by Solicitor General and Minister of Public Safety, Mike Farnworth, effective April 23 – midnight May 25th.

With the majority of courses in the province either open or in the process of preparing to welcome players, both golf and ancillary services (restaurants, pro-shop sales, etc.) will continue to be significantly impacted by these guidelines and Health Orders.

There are, however, signs of hope. The stricter restrictions put in place now will help “save our summer season” and Dr. Bonnie Henry’s “green-light” to gather outside to a maximum of 10 will undoubtedly mean record levels of interest in golf as the season swings into action. With full tee sheets expected, the AGA-BC has published a guide on How to Golf Responsibly Amidst COVID-19 to help ensure we are all doing our part and keeping our fellow golfers safe.

Changes to restrictions and health orders may happen at any time, so the AGA-BC encourages all golf-operators to stay up to date on the overarching health orders pertaining to the services the golf industry relies on, such as gathering and events, food and liquor serving establishments, and travel restrictions. Golf businesses are advised to plan using the current guidance and best practices because even if the economy reopens following the current “circuit breaker”, restrictions may revert to the stricter versions to address surges in more transmissible variants of COVID-19.

This means that in order for courses to maintain the level of operations we are currently working within, the AGA-BC will continue to clarify the nuance of these changes and all golf industry owners, managers, employees, and industry partners should regularly review all available resources and links so that we are all in the best position to continue safe and healthy operations.

To that end, the Allied Golf Association of British Columbia (AGA-BC) has compiled the following summary of resources.

Sections of Information in this Article:

British Columbia Golf Updates
Canadian Society of Club Managers
Golf Canada Updates and Resource Page
National Golf Course Owners Association Canada (NGCOA) 
PGA of Canada COVID-19 Member Resource Hub – member login required
Tourism Industry Association of BC
Tourism Industry Association of Canada
Destination BC

Federal Government of Canada:

COVID-19 Economic Response Plan
Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) – Benefits and Services
Managing Your Business During COVID-19

Government of British Columbia:
Province-wide restrictions remain in place until at least May 25th – British Columbia’s Response to COVID-19
BC’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan
BC’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan
BC’s Health Regions – map

Ministerial Orders Relevant to the Golf Industry:
Ministerial Order of the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General for Travel Restrictions
Ministerial Order pertaining to Province-Wide Restrictions – In Effect until At Least May 25th

*The above orders currently supersede many items in individual orders for the duration noted. For example, additional restrictions have been placed on gatherings that replace the November 10th PHO pertaining to gatherings and events.

Ministerial Order of the Provincial Health Officer for Food and Liquor Serving Premises
Ministerial Order of the Provincial Health Officer for Gatherings and Events
Ministerial Order of the Provincial Health Officer for Workplace COVID-19 Safety Plans
Travel Restriction Information

Provincial Programs, Information, and Support:
Launch Online – Grant funding up to $7500 to develop online storefronts/reservaiton systems
Digital Marketing Bootcamps – BC Government is covering tuition costs for BC Tourism Businesses
Digital Economy Rapid Response and Resiliency (DER3) – personal advisory services for technology adoption and digital expansion
Small Business BC
BC’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan
BC’s Restart Plan
BC’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan
COVID-19 Supports for Businesses
Provincial Small and Medium-sized Business Recovery Grant
COVID-19 Provincial Support and Information
Managing COVID 19 Stress, Anxiety and Depression
COVID-19 BC Support App and Self-Assessment Tool – Download on the App, Get it on Google Play or visit the Self-Assessment Website

COVID-19 Information and Resources
COVID-19 and Returning to Safe Operations – Phases 2&3
COVID-19 Returning to Safe Operations Frequently Asked Questions
COVID-19 Safety Plan* REQUIRED of every golf course in operation
Exposure Control Plan* REQUIRED of every golf course in operation
Restaurants, Cafes and Pubs: Protocols for Returning to Operations
Retail: Protocols for Returning to Operations
Office: Protocols for Returning to Operations

If you are currently operating:

Best Practices for BC Golf Operations Amidst COVID-19

WorkSafeBC’s Guide to What Employer’s Should Do
WorkSafeBC’s Guide Information and Resources
go2HR’s Updated Information Regarding Maintaining Your COVID-19 Safety Plan

Government of Canada – Support and Programs for Businesses & Canada Emergency Rent Support
Government of BC – COVID-19 Supports for Small Businesses in BC
BDC – How to cope with the effects of COVID-19 on your business

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (75% Subsidy)
The Federal Government has extended the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) through to June 21st, 2021. (Information and How to Apply).

The CEWS program was also redesigned in November and additional information about eligibility, payment amounts – Information about the new program details can be found here: Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Updates and Eligibility

The important details from the Government’s current legislation:

- Extended the program, with redesigned program details, until June 21, 2021 – noting that the budget, as introduced on April 19th, proposes to extend this program further, to September 25th, 2021 with declining rates and changes to the eligibility. (Application Guide)
- Make the subsidy accessible to a broader range of employers by including employers with a revenue decline of less than 30 percent and providing a gradually decreasing base subsidy to all qualifying employers. This would help many struggling employers with less than a 30-per-cent revenue loss get support to keep and bring back workers, while also ensuring those who have previously benefited could still qualify, even if their revenues recover and no longer meet the 30 percent revenue decline threshold.
- Introduce a top-up subsidy of up to an additional 25 percent for employers that have been most adversely affected by the pandemic. This would be particularly helpful to employers in industries that are recovering more slowly.
- Address certain technical issues identified by stakeholders.

How to Apply
Eligible employers would be able to apply for CEWS through the Canada Revenue Agency’s My Business Account portal as well as a web-based application.  Employers would have to keep records demonstrating their reduction in arm’s length revenues and remuneration paid to employees. 

Ensuring Compliance
- Prime Minister Trudeau announced serious consequences for those who abuse the system with his funding announcement.

- In order to maintain the integrity of the program and to ensure that it helps Canadians keep their jobs, employers would be required to repay amounts paid under the CEWS if they do not meet the eligibility requirements.  Penalties may apply in cases of fraudulent claims and may include fines and imprisonment.

Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy
The Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy provides a subsidy of up to 65% for eligible expenses. This support measure is based on revenue decline and uses a sliding scale to determine the level of subsidy received. The program mirrors the structure of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and more information about eligibility and definitions of eligible expenses can be found on the Department of Finance’s dedicated CERS page.

Lockdown Support for Businesses Facing Significant Public Health Restrictions
Further to the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy, the federal government also introduced further support for businesses affected by significant impacts as a result of public health restrictions. For an organization to qualify for the Lockdown Support the following conditions must apply:

- the organization qualifies for the base Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy; and
- the public health order requires that the organization
   - completely shut down the location; or,
- cease some or all of the activities at the location and it is reasonable to conclude that the ceased activities, in the appropriate pre-pandemic prior reference period, were responsible for at least approximately 25 percent of the revenues of the entity at that location.

More information about the Lockdown Support can be found in the Finance Department’s Lockdown Support Announcement

Canada Emergency Business Account
The Canada Emergency Business Account will provide interest-free loans of up to $60,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits, to help cover their operating costs during a period where their revenues have been temporarily reduced.

To qualify, these organizations will need to demonstrate they paid between $50,000 to $1 million in total payroll in 2019.

Applications are being accepted until June 30, 2021 and it is worth noting that repayment prior to December 31, 2022 will result in loan forgiveness of 33 percent (up to $20,000)

Employment Termination / Lay-Off Resources:
Province of BC resources and information about terminations and layoffs
-  Employers must give notice and/or pay to end employment or temporarily lay off employees.
-  The amount of written notice and/or pay is based on how long an employee has been employed.
    - Employed for three months = one week of notice and/or pay
    - Employed for one year = two weeks of notice and/or pay
    - Employed for three or more years = three weeks of notice and/or pay, plus one week of notice/pay for each additional year of employment (to a maximum of eight weeks)

Temporary Lay-offs
- An employee is laid off when they’re given less work or no work – with the plan that the employee will return to a regular work schedule. If an employee’s hours are reduced, they are considered laid off as soon as they earn less than 50 percent of their weekly wages at the regular rate (averaged over the previous eight weeks
- Temporary layoffs can only be up to 13 weeks in a period of 20 weeks. **However, if the layoff is due to COVID-19 the layoff can be extended to up to 12 months, depending on the start date of the layoff. More information about the various maximum length and recall date requirements can be found on the Government’s Extension of lay-off periods page
- They are only considered temporary if the layoff is part of an employment contract or the employee agrees to the layoff.  You must have them sign a voluntary temporary lay-off agreement.
- You do not have to pay out vacation nor statutory severance.
- If the temporary layoff is longer than 13 weeks (or applicable duration based on the date of lay-off and special extensions), it becomes a termination of employment. The start of the layoff is the termination date and the employer must give pay for length of service based on this date

Record of Employment:
How to Complete the Record of Employment Form
- If your employees are directly affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) and they are no longer working, you must issue a Record of Employment (ROE).
- When the employee is sick or quarantined, use code D (Illness or injury) as the reason for separation (block 16). Do not add comments.
- When the employee is no longer working due to a shortage of work because the business has closed or decreased operations due to coronavirus (COVID-19), use code A (Shortage of work). Do not add comments.
- When the employee refuses to come to work but is not sick or quarantined, use code E (Quit) or code N (Leave of absence), as appropriate. Avoid adding comments unless absolutely necessary.

Supplemental Unemployment Benefit Plan – EI Top-Up:
Government of Canada Information and Resources – Supplemental Unemployment Benefit Plan
- Employers can use a Supplemental Unemployment Benefit Plan (SUBP) plan to increase their employees’ weekly earnings, to a max of 95% of their average earnings without it affecting an employee’s claim, when they are unemployed due to a temporary stoppage of work, training, illness, injury or quarantine.
- Payments from SUBP that are registered with Service Canada are not considered as earnings and are not deducted from EI benefits (pursuant to subsection 37(1) of the EI Regulations).
Supplemental Unemployment Benefit Guide

Unpaid Job-Protected Leave:
NEW COVID 19 leave – Information about the Province of British Columbia’s Leave Programs

Tax Changes:
Updated February 18 – Province of British Columbia’s tax and tax-related changes, incentives and benefits

Provincial changes include:
- Deferral of payments on the Employer Health Tax (EHT), municipal and regional district tax, tobacco tax, motor fuel tax, carbon tax, and PST
- Tax incentives for Employment and Select Machine Purchases
- The province is cutting the school tax by 50% for light- and major-industry property classes, expecting the tax cut to be passed on to business owners with triple-net leases.

Launch Online Grant Program
March 17th, The Province of British Columbia announced a $30million expansion to the Launch Online grant program. This initiative will pay for up to 75% of eligible expenses, up to a maximum of $7,500 per business for eligible businesses to develop or enhance their online storefront. This biggest change for BC golf courses is that the eligibility has been expanded to include online booking systems, not just online storefronts.

Grant recipients can use the funding for a variety of online-related expenses, including pictures, creating an online inventory system, advertising costs, subscription costs of an e-commerce platform and training staff to manage the website.

More information about the program, eligibility, and details about how to submit your application can be found on the Launch Online website.

Other Initiatives: 
- The Bank of Canada has reduced the benchmark interest rate to 0.25% as of its March meeting and rates are forecast to remain at low levels for the foreseeable future. March 10th, 2021 update
- BC Government announces Companies, societies, co-operatives now able to meet electronically
- Provincial Small and Medium-sized Business Recovery Grant


Working within the COVID-19 Pandemic:
WorkSafeBC’s Guide to What Workers Should Do

Financial Assistance:
- Canada Emergency Response Benefit – As of September, the CERB program has ended and it is being replaced by an enhanced Employment Insurance (EI) program and the Canada Response Benefit
    - Information about Transitioning to new Benefits – Government of Canada

Canada Response Benefit
From the Government of Canada Website: “The Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) gives income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are directly affected by COVID-19 and are not entitled to Employment Insurance (EI) benefits. The CRB is administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). If you are eligible for the CRB, you can receive $1,000 ($900 after taxes withheld) for a 2-week period.”

- Employment Insurance (EI) Regular Benefits
    - Apply for EI here
    - How much you could receive – We cannot tell you exactly how much you will receive before we process your application. For most people, the basic rate for calculating EI benefits is 55% of your average insurable weekly earnings, up to a maximum amount. As of January 1, 2021, the maximum yearly insurable earnings amount is $56,300. This means that you can receive a maximum amount of $595 per week.

- Working While on EI vs Working on CRB
    - If you work while receiving regular EI benefits and have served your waiting period, you will be able to keep 50 cents of your EI benefits for every dollar you earn, up to 90 percent of the weekly insurable earnings used to calculate your EI benefit amount. This 90 percent amount is called the earnings threshold. If you earn any money above this threshold, we will deduct it dollar for dollar from your benefits.
    - If you are receiving CRB Benefits you may not earn more than $38,000 in the calendar year – if your net income is more than $38,000, You will have to reimburse $0.50 of the benefit for every dollar of net income that you earned above $38,000
    - For either Regular Benefits or CRB, when you work and receive benefits at the same time, you must report your work earnings and hours for each week you work, in the week in which the work occurred.
    - For more information, visit the Working While on Claim and/or CRB FAQ.
- Family Caregiver Benefits – As of September 27, 2020, additional allowances and access to EI Benefits have been added where individuals are required to provide care to a family member.
- Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit – The CRSB provides $500 per week for up to a maximum of two weeks, for workers who:
    - Are unable to work for at least 50% of the week because they contracted COVID-19;
    - Are self-isolated for reasons related to COVID-19; or
    - Have underlying conditions, are undergoing treatments or have contracted other sicknesses that, in the opinion of a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, person in authority, government or public health authority, would make them more susceptible to COVID-19.

Additional Assistance:
The recent changes to the benefit programs and support measures create multiple options for employees who find themselves without work due to COVID-19. For more information about programs and eligibility you are encouraged to connect directly with government representatives to learn more about which options apply to your situation:

Government of Canada
Province of British Columbia