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Petro-Canada takes action after confirmed case of COVID-19

After a confirmed case of COVID-19 associated its location at 1977 Kennedy Rd in Scarborough, Ont., Petro‑Canada outlined a number of safety measures it is taking to keep customers and staff safe at it gas locations.

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Scarborough site where COVID patient worked.

In a statement, the company said the team member’s last shift on site was overnight on March 24 and all other employees that may have been exposed are self-isolating for the required 14 days.

Petro-Canada immediately closed the location for a deep-clean and sanitization before reopening the site. The local public health authority was notified and “out of an abundance of caution,” the company said it was reaching out to known guests of the site and in the vicinity of the site.

“It has been challenging for us all over the last few weeks, as we work together to slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep essential services running.  We’re proud of everyone in Canada who is doing their part to support this effort,” the company said in a statement, adding Petro‑Canada locations across Canada are taking a number of additional steps to proactively support physical distancing, they include:

  • placing indicators on store floors to ensure people remain at a safe distance from one another
  • installing plexiglass shields at the main pay counters
  • limiting the number of customers at a time in larger stores
  • encouraging customers to pay at the pump where and when possible

“We are also continuing our increased cleaning and sanitizing procedures, focused on high-touch surfaces,” the company added.


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7-Eleven increases franchisee support during COVID-19 crisis

7-Eleven Inc. has committed nearly $95 million to support its franchisees in this crucial time as they provide their local customers the food, beverages, household essentials and other critical supplies they need in a clean and safe environment.

7E_Acrylic Shield 1-teaser“7-Eleven franchisees are on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic serving the communities in which they operate,” said Chief Franchise Officer Greg Franks. “I’m proud of the leadership and commitment to customers that each franchisee has shown since the health crisis began by providing food, beverages and other critical supplies to the communities they serve.”

The corporate commitment to franchisees includes support in the following areas:

OPERATIONS CREDITS

  • 7-Eleven provided direct payment of credits that will result in millions of dollars in cash-flow assistance to franchisees in March, April and the coming months. These adjustments include direct payments of Operations Credits to franchisees, waiving the April advertising fee, waiving the interest that franchisees pay on their inventory, and passing along third-party renegotiated maintenance fees.

INVESTING IN CLEAN & SAFE STORES

  • The company is installing plexiglass sneeze guards at the front sales counters to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
  • 7-Eleven continues to purchase and supply franchisees with necessary cleaning supplies, at its own expense, to support franchisees in keeping their employees safe and their stores clean. Supplies include hand sanitizer, hand soap, sink sanitizer, gloves, disinfectant, social distancing floor decals, thermometers, face masks and face shields.
  • Leveraging the brand’s strong relationships in merchandising and procurement, 7-Eleven is committed to keeping the stores stocked with essential supplies that are in high customer demand, including pantry essentials, fresh foods, over-the-counter medications and paper products.

FINANCIAL CONSULTING

  • 7-Eleven set up a Franchise Financial Solutions Center to further support franchisees during this turbulent time. The purpose of this resource is to work together with franchisees to navigate their individual issues caused by the COVID-19 crisis.
  • 7-Eleven is also engaged in continuing efforts to enhance the ability of franchisees to obtain loans through government stimulus programs.

“This is a very fluid situation,” Franks told Convenience Store News in an exclusive interview. “Everybody in the company is working every day to understand the stores’ needs and to respond to those needs.”

About two weeks ago, the Irving, Texas-based company set up a 24/7 Command Center to accept questions from the field and quickly respond. “The Command Center took in 606 issues and turned around 602 of them in the first 10 days,” Franks shared.

Sharp, crisp and frequent communication has been a key component of 7-Eleven’s corporate response to the COVID-19 pandemic. There’s a daily morning call between senior leadership and field leadership. There are also frequent calls between 7-Eleven’s CEO Roundtable, a group of leading franchisees from around the country who advise the CEO, and the company’s National Business Leadership Council, another platform designed for addressing challenges and issues facing 7-Eleven franchisees. Additionally, there are daily field leadership calls among zone vice presidents and marketing managers.

“It was absolutely critical and appropriate that convenience stores were designated an essential business,” said Franks. “We are so proud of our franchisees and corporate store leaders across the country that, despite the threat to their own safety, are staying open and playing a critical role in supplying food, beverages and other merchandise to their communities.”

Irving-based 7-Eleven Inc. operates, franchises and/or licenses more than 70,000 stores in 17 countries, including 11,800 in North America.

Originally published by Convenience Stores News.


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Video and printable guidelines remind customers to shop smart

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Retail Council of Canada (RCC), on behalf of the retail industry in Canada, is sharing a short video and other resources outlining the precautions and guidelines convenience, grocery and drugstore shoppers should follow to keep everyone safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s a welcome move, as retailers struggle to keep themselves and staff save from customers who “just don’t get it.”

Convenience Store News Canada and Octane asked c-store and gas operators about how the crisis is affecting their business and here’s what we heard in terms of how customers are behaving in-store.

“We still have groups of young kids/teens coming in together for snack items. We still have adults who indicate they are ‘bored sitting at home’ so they come to the store for chips or ice cream – non-essentials when they should be minimizing their social interactions.”

“I have an elderly mother who is on the at-risk list. I myself am on the at-risk list. My teenage daughter is on the at-risk list. I want to be here for my customers who need necessities – cleaning supplies, food, personal care items, medications. But the number of customers who are buying snack food and lottery, and nothing else, without regard for the risk they are putting staff in, as well as every other customer we come into contact with, is staggering.”

“People are not staying home, many citizens in our community have viewed the last couple of weeks as a paid holiday and their everyday habits haven’t changed.  Nice spring days our stores are often as busy as they were during Christmas.  People need to stay home!”

“We still have tourists coming in to our store.  We are located in a tourist town, but people are still coming up from neighbouring  cities rather than taking self isolation seriously.” 

“I’ve been quite lucky, our customers are understanding of limits. Customers are abiding by the floor markers we’ve put down indicating acceptable spacing limits for line ups,  It’s nice when customers thank us for being open, and nice to see the Prime Minister acknowledge front line workers.” 

Indeed, c-store and gas operators are front-line workers and deemed essential businesses. However, everyone, including shoppers, has a role in play in keeping people safe and stopping the spread of COVID-19.

“The way we live our lives has fundamentally changed over the past several weeks.  So, what does that mean for the activities that many of us still need to do each week, like shopping for food or other essential needs?  While your shopping experience at your local grocery or drugstore has changed, it’s important for each of us to recognize the role we need to play to help keep front-line workers in stores safe,” Diane J. Brisebois, president and CEO, Retail Council of Canada, said in a release.  “On behalf of retailers across the country, RCC wants to thank employees who are keeping grocery stores, pharmacies and other essential retail services operating – helping keep Canadians fed and well.”

In addition to the video, there are printable signs that operators can post outside their as a reminder to shoppers. Download the Shop Smart poster here. 

Or, create your own, with these rules, courtesy of RCC:

BEFORE WE SHOP

  • If you’re sick, or have been asked to quarantine at home, don’t go to your local grocery or drugstore. Use contactless delivery and have someone drop them off at your door, knock, then retreat to a safe distance!
  • While we all feel isolated and look for ways to fill our days, to keep our loved ones busy, we need to remember that we must avoid planning our grocery or drugstore trips with others in tow. Just designate one person to shop! Shop alone.

WHILE WE SHOP (alone)

  • Practice Physical Distancing – 2M or 6ft. (That’s the length of an average hockey stick 😊)
  • Be considerate. Only buy what you need! Only touch what you take.
  • Wash your hands before and after you shop and use sanitizer whenever you can.
  • When paying for your goods, use contactless debit or credit / tap wherever possible.
  • If you use re-usable bags – wash them before and after your shopping trip – and if possible, bag items yourself – or don’t use them at all right now.
  • Be kind – we are all in this together.

For French and Chinese versions, visit the RCC website. 


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Commercial landlords offering rent deferrals for businesses hit by pandemic

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Major commercial landlords in Canada are offering rent deferrals to tenants as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many businesses to close their stores.

RioCan, Choice Properties, and CT real estate investments trusts all said last week that they were working with tenants who need support because of the financial challenges brought on by the outbreak.

Loblaw landlord Choice Properties REIT said it would grant 60-day rent deferrals on a case-by-case basis for “qualifying” small businesses and independent tenants.

“We understand and acknowledge the extraordinary financial pressures on parts of our tenant base, especially on independent and smaller businesses,” said Choice chairman Galen Weston in a statement.

Choice REIT, which holds 6.1 million square metres (65.8 million square feet) of leasable space across 726 properties, says it has also withdrawn its 2020 outlook because of the uncertainty around the duration and impacts of the pandemic, but that it is well-positioned to weather the volatility because of its high proportion of necessity-based retailers.

RioCan, which has about 3.6 million square metres of leasable space over 220 properties, said it was offering an automatic 60-day interest-free rent deferral for independent commercial tenants who have asked for relief, to be paid back over a year.

“We are committed to supporting all of our stakeholders through this difficult time,” the company said in a release.

Canadian Tire landlord CT REIT said it was “committed to working with those of our tenants who need our support,” but did not give specifics on its relief plans.

The company said tenants representing about 6.2% of its annual base rent are currently not open or operating, and that tenants representing about 2.8% of annual base rent didn’t pay their full rent on April 1.

CT REIT, which holds 2.5 million square metres over 350 properties, says that tenants representing a further 33.5% of its annual base rent are operating on a limited basis, including 132 Canadian Tire stores that are now only serving customers through curbside pickup or online.

The deferral options come after the retail segment of commercial real estate saw a huge drop in April payments after many stores and restaurants were forced to close.

Payments range significantly between real estate companies, but CBRE vice chairman Paul Morassutti said that anecdotally he’s hearing from large mall owners that only about 15 to 30% of retail tenants paid rent for April.

“When you sell stuff, or when you sell food or cut hair or whatever, if nobody’s allowed to go out, you know, it’s devastating.”

He said the scale of the issue meant that almost all landlords had given some sort of rent deferral.

“I think every landlord in Canada, with the exception of maybe a bunch of small ones, are showing flexibility, because they have to, they have no choice.”

The rent issue on the commercial side was largely on the retail sector, with office, industrial and even multi-family holding up relatively well, he said.

Rent payments could be a bigger issue in May with a full month of business disruption on top of the half-month of March, but government programs should also have rolled out by then to give some cushion, said Morassutti.

Government programs could help soften the blow, but the key issue is how long the outbreak and the forced business closures to fight it drag on.

“I would think most restaurant owners would tell you they’ve got about a month or two of cash flow to get them through a crisis, many of them not even that much. So will there be enough government relief to save them all on a wide scale basis? I hate to say it but the answer is probably no.”

He said that if the virus is relatively short-lived and restrictions ease by summer then things could bounce back in a significant way, but it will be quite a different picture if it drags on.

“If our approach to containing the virus sputters, and if it really is prolonged, there will obviously be a significant impact on the real estate industry.”

 


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Breakdown of co-op partnership sparks layoffs and lawsuits

Screen Shot 2020-04-07 at 11.12.25 AMWhen a relationship breaks down after more than 60 years of mutual benefit, feelings are bound to get hurt.

In the ongoing dustup between grocery and fuel retailer Calgary Co-op and Saskatoon-based supplier Federated Co-operatives, the fallout also includes the closing of a massive Calgary warehouse this month, hundreds of layoffs and a lawsuit claiming millions of dollars in damages.

The increasingly poisonous relationship runs counter to the central “co-operative” theme that has driven the formation of co-op organizations around the world, said Tom Webb, an adjunct professor at the Sobey School of Business at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, who has studied and written about co-ops for decades.

“One would have hoped that both co-operatives would have posted the co-operative purpose, values and principles up in their boardrooms and executive office walls and referred to them every time they made a decision,” he said.

“My guess is that the current dispute comes from a long line of decisions, big and small, by both sides that dented, damaged or left in tatters the purpose, values and principles that were supposed to form the basis of their relationships.”

The relationship breakdown emerged publicly last August when Calgary Co-op announced it had served notice to FCL that it was switching to Vancouver-based Save-On Foods as grocery supplier in the spring of 2020, promising to “elevate” customer experiences with more local, healthy and convenient items and a new range of exclusive private brands.

It said it would continue to buy fuel from FCL.

Federated responded in November with an announcement that it would close its massive Calgary Food Distribution Centre, resulting in the elimination of over 200 local jobs.

“By aligning itself with a competitor, Calgary Co-op has directly and negatively impacted our employees, their families and Calgary’s economy,” charged FCL vice-president Vic Huard at the time.

The battle then spilled into the courts.

Calgary Co-op filed a statement of claim against Federated in February over a new “Loyalty Program” FCL had introduced that requires participants buy at least 90% of their products for resale from Federated in order to receive “patronage” (essentially, profit-sharing) payments.

For the year ended Oct. 31, 2019, Calgary Co-op – one of the largest of FCL’s 168 retail co-op members in Western Canada -received $47.7 million in patronage payouts, of which $38.6 million was related to its fuel purchases on a cents-per-litre basis.

The new loyalty program was designed to “prejudicially target” Calgary Co-op, it charges in its suit, asking the court to order Federated to continue to pay its fuel-related patronage, along with unspecified damages.

In its statement of defence filed March 23, Federated points out that despite its size, Calgary Co-op has the same rights and obligations as any other member _ and adds that 163 of 164 eligible members have already enrolled in the loyalty program, with the lone holdout being Calgary Co-op.

“Single members of FCL do not have the authority to dictate to FCL what programs management may or may not offer to its membership,” the document reads. “FCL acts for the benefit of the co-operative membership as a whole.”

In its counterclaim, Federated demands damages from Calgary Co-op, charging it breached confidentiality obligations when it negotiated the grocery deal with a direct competitor.

It says losing Calgary Co-op’s grocery business will result in the loss of over $385 million from FCL’s annual revenue and more than $20 million from net income, cause it to incur severance charges of $4 million for managers and more than $2 million for unionized employees as it lays off staff, force the windup of a local wholesale produce company and reduce its efficiency in providing services to customers and co-operative members.

Despite the current pressure on the grocery supply chain as customers stock up to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, FCL spokesman Cam Zimmer says the layoff notices have been sent and warehouse employee contracts are to end as of April 13.

Calgary Co-op spokeswoman Sage Pullen McIntosh, meanwhile, says the plan to switch grocery suppliers at mid-month is proceeding as scheduled, with grocery products to be shipped through Save-On’s Edmonton warehouse and distribution arm.

In fiscal 2019, FCL reported $9.2 billion in sales, $959 million in net income and $649 million in patronage allocation.

The latest figures from Statistics Canada show there were more than 5,800 active non-financial co-ops in the country in 2018 generating $53 billion in revenue, but only two dozen of those had more than 500 employees. The average co-op had fewer than 18 workers.

“Our co-op movement is actually really small and fragile,” said Webb. “It seems big but it isn’t that big.”

About 44% of Canada’s co-ops are located in Quebec, where traditional support for worker co-operatives remains stronger than in most of the country, Webb said.

In his message in FCL’s recent annual report, CEO Scott Banda summed up his level of frustration while revisiting highlights of the last fiscal year.

“The most disappointing news of 2019 was Calgary Co-op’s decision to move its food business to a competitor,” he wrote.

“While FCL teams worked diligently to assess the impact of this decision and adapt our business to ensure long-term success, the damage done to local co-ops stemming from Calgary Co-op’s decision will be felt for some time.”

 


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Topline: COVID-19’s impact on food and consumer goods manufacturers

FCPC members report an increase in demand and production in response to COVID-19

Screen Shot 2020-04-06 at 6.03.55 PMThe spread of  COVID-19 in Canada has triggered panic-buying and hoarding, and food and consumer goods manufacturers are working to keep pace.

According to a survey of its members, Food & Consumer Products of Canada (FCPC) says orders were at all time highs in the last two weeks of March.

In fact, members reported a 500% increase in demand during that time. And, 80% of those surveyed said they had increased production.

Conducted by: FCPC conducted the survey of its members to “provide critical insight into business impacts and responses related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”

Key findings:

  • 80% of FCPC members reported normal or manageable pressure on warehouse and freight capacity.
  • 75% of members are confident in the supply of raw materials for 2-to-5-plus months, if current trends continue. (Five per cent project possible supply issues within one month; 20% don’t expect any issues at any time, even with current trends.)
  • 70% of members have focused production on their most in-demand products. These include: paper products, canned goods, rice, pasta, disinfectants/ household cleaning and baby food.
  • 95% of members said they are receiving adequate guidance from public health authorities

“It appears likely the COVID-19 pandemic will entail a prolonged period of uncertainty for Canadian businesses and consumers,” said FCPC president and CEO Michael Graydon in a press release. “Quantifying the profound impacts of COVID-19 on our production, supplies, and workplaces is critical to making smart preparations for continuing the smoothest possible operations to make the food, cleaning, household and health products Canadians need.”

Originally published at Canadian Grocer.


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CFIB battles for benefits for COVID-19 affected business

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After weeks of pressure from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), the federal government announced new programs to support businesses during the COVID-19 public health crisis.

The wage subsidy will increase from 10% to 75%. “We asked for this from the beginning and won the battle thanks to member support,” the CFIB said in a public statement. The program will run for 12 weeks, from March 15 to June 6 and apply to the first $58,700 earned by an employee.

Also, the Canadian Emergency Business Account will offer businesses interest-free loans of up to $40,000 with up to 25% in a forgivable loan if it’s repaid by the end of 2022.

CFIB president Dan Kelly says: “75% temporary wage subsidy and $40,000 loans, we fought for them and won, but we’re not done.” 

Indeed, CFIB has brought several recommendations to government, urging officials to take quick action to ensure that business owners, from c-store to gas and car wash operators, have confidence they can access the subsidy to protect jobs: 

           Eliminate the 30% test for small and medium-sized firms or the need for a test for firms ordered by governments to fully or partially close.

           Create a different test to ensure that new or rapidly growing firms can access the support as well.

           Ensure flexibility for firms with special circumstances, including those affected by major events in 2019, where accounting rules do not allow access or facing giant increases in costs.

           Reduce the 30% test to 15% for March to reflect that the major impacts on business began in mid-March.

FAQ about the 75% wage subsidy to eligible small businesses:

Who is eligible?

           Businesses (regardless of the number of employees)

           Individual employers 

           Partnerships

           Not for profit organizations

           Charities

 

How do I calculate a 30% reduction in revenue?

You will have to compare your revenue for the month you wish to receive the subsidy with your revenue for the same month last year and show a 30% decrease.

As the subsidy is for salaries paid since March 15, the three claiming periods are the following:

           March 15 to April 11: compare March 2020 over March 2019

           April 12 to May 9: compare April 2020 over April 2019

           May 10 to June 6: compare May 2020 over May 2019

For employers established after February 2019, eligibility would be determined by comparing monthly revenues to a reasonable benchmark.

What is the eligible period?

For salaries paid between March 15 and June 6.

How much can I receive?

For employees hired before March 15, the subsidy will cover the lesser of:

           75% of the pre-crisis weekly remuneration paid (up to $847 per week); or

           Current weekly remuneration paid (up to $847 per week).

For new employees (hired after March 15), it will cover 75% of the current remuneration paid (up to $847 per week).

Do I have to pay the remaining 25%?

All employers would be expected to at least make their best efforts to top up salaries to 100%.

How can I apply?

Businesses will be able to apply through the CRA’s My Business Account portal, as well as a web-based application. Businesses will have to apply every month.

 


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Why empty shelves don’t mean we’re out of food: How Canada’s supply chain works

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Shoppers are facing empty shelves at some stores due to unprecedented demand for food and other goods even as grocers assure Canadians coping with the COVID-19 outbreak that plenty of new items are on the way and manufacturers say they have the raw materials they need.

Temporary shortages are to be expected in spite of a supply chain working in overdrive, experts say, because the system isn’t built to predict extreme, large-scale changes in buyer behaviour.

Shoppers stockpile for a number of reasons, said Mike von Massow, an associate professor at The University of Guelph. Some fear stores may close amid the pandemic. Others buy in bulk with the goal of shopping less frequently to avoid unnecessary exposure.

That means right now, “we are seeing demand-based shortages, not supply-based shortages,” he said.

Shelves keep getting restocked with goods still flowing to the stores. Limited hours have been introduced in part to allow time to unpack and display replacement products.

Canada tends to operate with what’s knows as a “just-in-time food system,” von Massow said. That means grocers and other stores tend to receive food products just before they are ready to put them in the store.

It’s more cost effective for companies than keeping a large surplus that takes up unnecessary space. Some food, like fresh fruits and vegetables, can spoil. Rotten food that can’t be sold brings up the cost of the product for customers.

For non-perishable items, like toilet paper or canned black beans, too much so-called buffer inventory ties up money otherwise available for other things and requires storage space, he said. “By minimizing inventory, we keep prices lower in the store.”

Companies determine the exact amount of inventory to order and keep through “a bit of a science and also a bit of an art,” said von Massow, who worked for about two decades in the industry during which time he helped with forecasting.

Data helps companies make predictions. They’ll look at historical and recent sales, special events (the Superbowl, for example, may boost demand for avocado as football fans make guacamole for the big game), what influencers are saying about the product and more, said von Massow.

Increasingly, computers crunch the data and make suggestions. A human then looks at these figures and determines if they need to be adjusted up or down.

“The numbers can help you make a decision. They can’t make the decision for you,” von Massow said he teaches his students during a class about forecasting.

Both manufacturers and grocers will forecast demand, and the level of collaboration and information they share can help make their guesses much more accurate.

This model doesn’t work as well during an unexpected and widespread change in shopper behaviour. As the COVID-19 crisis took hold, Canadians purchased toilet paper, cleaning products and other items in droves. Photos of empty store shelves circulated online, further feeding the buying frenzy.

Canada’s major grocers have worked to reassure customers there’s no food shortage on the horizon as they work with suppliers to keep delivering essentials into their stores and catch up to the demand.

About three-quarters of members of Food & Consumer Products of Canada, a national association for manufacturers, say they’re confident in raw materials supply for two to five months or more, if current trends continue, according to a recent survey of the association’s members.

A fifth projected no issues at any time, even with current trends, while just five per cent foresaw possible supply issues within one month.

This data supports evidence of a demand-based shortage.

If it were a supply-based shortage, von Massow said, shelves would remain empty because manufacturers can’t produce the products or farmers can’t grow or raise the food.

For example, if a disease wiped out 90 per cent of the country’s chicken population, it would be next to impossible to find fresh eggs.

The lag in seeing some products reappear on shelves – such as flour or antibacterial wipes – in this case comes from the supply chain catching up to the spike in demand.

The level of collaboration and integration across a supply chain is another important factor, said Giovani Caetano da Silveira, a professor of operations and supply chain management at the University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business.

A classical, textbook example of a supply chain includes at least four players, he said – not only the manufacturer and store where the product is sold, but also distributors and wholesalers.

They could share all kinds of information, such as inventory levels, promotional plans and what markets they may want to serve in the future, he said. Major players may manage multiple parts of the supply chain and be more integrated.

Companies with well-integrated supply chains “can react more quickly … to sudden changes in demand,” he said.

But extreme changes in demand, such as what companies experienced recently with COVID-19 panic buying, are nearly impossible to anticipate, he said.

He noted Canada’s grocery chains seem to have responded well despite the unpredictable spike. That may be explained by the number of companies with collaborative, integrated supply chains that were able to respond to the unanticipated demand quickly, as well as a strong, capable logistics network to move the product from the manufacturer to the stores.

“There appears to be quite a good logistics capability here in Canada, in this case,” he said, particularly for grocery stores and consumer products. “So that also might be an explanation.”

 

 


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Newfoundland allows specialty vape shops to remain open during COVID-19 crisis

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The Canadian Vaping Association (CVA) is commending the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador for allowing specialty vape shops to continue to operate under strict social distancing protocols during the COVID-19 crisis.

“Allowing vape shops to operate using only contactless curbside pickup protocols will prevent thousands of Newfoundlanders from being forced back to combustible tobacco, a product known to kill one in two users,” the association said in a statement.

“We applaud the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador for having found an appropriate means to care for the physical and mental health needs of vapers while ensuring the safety and protection of all individuals in their province.  The vapers in this province will continue to have access to the low nicotine harm reduction products which are only available in adult access product vape shops, while strict social distancing protocols implemented will serve to protect the public and staff,” said Darryl Tempest, executive director of The Canadian Vaping Association. “The CVA has repeatedly voiced our concern over limiting access to harm reduction products. The decision to ensure vape shops continue to operate under the condition that they use curbside pickup will prevent thousands of vapers from returning to smoking, thus saving the lives of many Newfoundlanders.”

The CVA is calling on other provinces to amend their essential services list to include vape shops.

However, the Ontario Convenience Stores Association is calling out some vape shops on social media, highlighting the number of vape shop operators ignoring government directives to close: “These are the stores that Ontario Health Ministry believe can handle adult products better than c-stores. Convenience stores are your trusted neighbourhood business.”

In another Tweet: “Vape shops in Ontario are ‘not’ an essential service retailer but vape supplies are available in convenience stores during these unknown times.”


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How can the federal wage subsidy program help your business?

Unknown-3For those in the convenience, gas and car wash industry who are struggling or worried about keeping staff on board during the COVID-19 crisis, the  Federal Government is outlining new measures to help operators stay in business and support staff.
“I would suggest that convenience store operators and regional chains prepare to take advantage of this wage subsidy as it will allow us to keep employees in every community,” Dave Bryans, CEO if the Ontario Convenience Stores Association, said in an email to members.
On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau outlined more details regarding the previously announced Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program, which is to provide an up to 75% wage subsidy for qualifying businesses for up to three months, retroactive to March 15, 2020. This goal is to help businesses to keep and return workers to the payroll.
Note:
  • If your revenues have decreased by 30% you will be eligible for this subsidy

  • The number of employees will not determine your eligibility

  • This subsidy applies to not-for-profit organizations and charities, as well as companies big and small

  • The government will subsidize 75% an individual’s salary on the first $58,700 earned, which will mean up to $847/week.

Businesses are being asked to do everything they can to retain employees in the wake of closures and mass layoffs across the country. In addition, operators are encouraged to pay staff full and fair wages whenever possible.

“We are trusting you to do the right thing. If you have the means to pay the remaining 25% that’s not covered by the subsidy, please do so,” said Trudeau. “And if you think this is a system you think you can take advantage of or game. Don’t. There will be serious consequences for those who do.”

The unprecedented situation calls for unprecedented action and good faith and trust. For a comprehensive list of what the Federal Government is doing to support business owners, click here.