COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Update

OpenForBusiness

The Canadian Association Movers (CAM) and its 400 members, are committed to everyone’s health and safety during this extraordinary time. CAM has been in regular contact with its members since the end of January with updates and allaying concerns about conducting business. Moving and warehouse storage are considered essential services. While most of our members are open, some have made the difficult decision to temporarily suspend their operations. To find a certified, professional mover near you, visit CAM's home page to access our mover search function.

Update:  April 6, 2020

Thanks to our members who are sending us real-time updates to help keep everyone informed!

The Province of Ontario has just updated its list of essential services. As far as we're concerned, until otherwise notified, movers and their warehouse services fall under Section 8 - Transportation > #21. Here's the link to review the list.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB): Starting April 6, 2020, if you haven’t already applied for EI, you will be able to apply for the CERB. You cannot apply for the CERB if you are going to be receiving the wage subsidy through your employer. We strongly suggest that you get direct deposit for your benefit in case mail delivery gets halted. Again, the CERB is $2,000 a month (taxable income) for 4 months and your application will be quickly reviewed every 4 weeks with a quick questionnaire as to whether you are working or not. Here's where you can find information about the benefit ou en français.

Depending on your birth month, you will be able to apply on the following dates:

  • Monday, April 6 – those born in January, February and March
  • Tuesday, April 7 – those born in April, May and June
  • Wed. April 8 – those born in July, August and September
  • Thurs. April 9 – those born in October, November and December

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS): The Prime Minister announced on March 30th an update on the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. If you have experienced a reduction in business revenue of at least 30% due to COVID-19, you will be eligible for the subsidy. The number of employees you have will not determine whether or not you get this support. It will apply to companies both big and small.

Workers: If you work for a company that has been impacted by COVID-19, the government will cover up to 75% of your salary on the first $58,700 that you earn. That means up to $847 a week. This will be backdated to March 15, 2020.

A message from Prime Minister Trudeau:

“I want to offer a word of caution. We are trusting you to do the right thing. If you have the means to pay the remaining 25% that is not covered by the subsidy, please do so. And if you think you can’t take advantage of or gain … don’t. There will be serious consequences for those who do. This unprecedented situation calls for unprecedented action and it calls for good faith and trust between everyone involved. For this to work everyone has to do their part. Every dollar of this should go to workers. You should make every effort to top up their wages and every effort to hire back those workers who have been laid off in the past two weeks because of COVID-19.”

Access to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy will be available in early April. We’ve heard that the on line portal may be ready by April 6th. This will be confirmed and we’ll have the link available on this site as soon as we can.

Relocation Service Restrictions Related to COVID-19: COVID-19 (Corona Virus Disease) continues to have a massive impact on the global economy. This includes travel and transportation. Here’s an interesting map that shows the effect COVID-19 currently has on the global relocation industry.

Want up-to-date statistics on the spread of COVID-19? Click on this interactive map.

Canadian Forces Response

  • Here's an article from the Ottawa Sun (March 27, 2020):  'IDENTIFYING THE FORCES REQUIRED:' Military on notice to provide logistic support, help the vulnerable. Canada’s top general says the military is in the process of determining what forces would be required to assist federal and provincial governments in responding to the novel coronavirus.
  • News out of Ottawa is that the Canadian Forces leadership is expected to soon decide whether to cancel the annual movement of thousands of military personnel and their families to new jobs across the country.  Capt. Kathleen Soucy, spokesperson for Military Personnel Command has indicated that they are waiting for additional guidance and that a decision could come within the next week. Read more from the Ottawa-Citizen.

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CAM and the moving industry are equally concerned about the spread of the coronavirus during any step of the move process, particularly as our busy season approaches.  We have to protect our customers, our crews and coworkers, and be especially mindful of the vulnerable sector or our community – the elderly and those with health deficiencies that make them more susceptible to viruses. 

CAM continues to closely monitor COVID-19 and the response from all health agencies, as well as the Canadian government, as they provide updates on the latest developments with respect to this virus.

We are closely monitoring the risks faced by our moving crews and staff whether it be at the office, in public gatherings, in our trucks, or at the customer’s residence or worksite. 

Remember, movers are open for business!  Keep in touch with your clients and remind people on social media that you can help them plan their move now, so they’re ready when it’s time.

Frequently Asked Questions & General Advice

Emergency Relief

Emergency Funding

The Government spending bill received Royal Assent on March 25th. Here is an update on the emergency funding available for businesses and individuals.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) package:  Here are the highlights of a CTV interview with Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment and Workforce Development:

  • CERB is for Canadians who are NOT working, not those who are working with reduced hours.
  • CERB is the consolidation of two previously announced benefit packages for non-EI eligible participants and those who are eligible for EI sickness and EI regular benefits.
  • The current EI system was not built for a pandemic situation such as that we are experiencing. A program and portal must be built to handle the sheer amount of requests forthcoming.
  • If you’re a worker and have had $5,000 worth of income in the last year and you are a resident of Canada, you qualify. And if you cease to work, you qualify (whether you are self-employed, a contractor, a small business, a worker, on furlough, been laid off).
  • Effective as of March 15, 2020.
  • If you haven’t been working, you will get paid as of March 15, 2020.
  • Anyone who has applied for EI and their application hasn’t been processed yet, will be processed as of March 15th and will be funneled into the CERB.
  • 4-week terms - $500 a week for 4 weeks. You don’t need to reapply after 4 weeks. In 4 weeks, you will be asked if you are still not working. If your answer is “yes”, you will get the benefit for 4 more weeks.
  • If you are EI eligible right now, apply for EI now. As soon as the system is up (beginning of April) within days you will get a cheque (because it will be fully automated).
  • CERB is taxable.

On March 27, Prime Minister Trudeau announced two small to medium business initiatives that will help qualifying businesses. Details will be available in a few days. It is currently not available online (at 11:30 am). We will post the information when it becomes available.

  • 1. The salary subsidy will increase from 10% to 75% backdated to Sunday, March 15, 2020 in hopes that you will rehire your staff.
  • 2. $40,000 loans that will be guaranteed to the government through the Canada Emergency Business Account. This loan will be interest free for the first year and for those who meet certain conditions, $10,000 of that will be forgivable.

How to Apply for EI During COVID-19

Here is some useful information on how to apply for employment insurance benefits during COVID-19 that was provided to CAM by an HR specialist.

Tax Payments and Filing Deferred

Individuals now have until June 1, 2020 to get their taxes filing done. If you owe money, you will have until August 31, 2020 to pay. Need to know more? Click here. Businesses can defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today and before September 2020. This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as installments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period. For more information, click here.

Relief for Small Business Owners

New relief packages for businesses are being finalized and will be available in early April. For more information, click here

Essential Services

Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia have officially ruled that movers and companies that supply warehousing and moving supplies are deemed essential services. Whether or not a company is open is based on their individual business model. Please check with your local companies to see if they are open.  To find a certified, professional mover near you, visit CAM's home page to access our mover search function.

According to the Canadian Self Storage Association, self-Storage has NOT been officially declared an essential business at this time. The CSSA is seeking clarification on their status and hope to have further information on their ability to continue business shortly. Movers that use self-storage services will need to contact their service-provider for details.

Moving Locally? – Moving services have been reduced. You may find that some companies are limiting the number of crews in a truck to 2 men and may have two trucks show up at your home.

Moving a longer distance? – Moving services have been reduced. Continue communicating with your mover regarding delivery times as there may be a delay due to demand.

Moving into an apartment or office building? Connect with the building manager to confirm their protocols regarding entry into the building and elevator use at this time.

Moving to or from the USA? – Moving services have been reduced.  On March 21st, Canada and the U.S. closed the border. Only essential or urgent travel is being permitted for the foreseeable future, as well as the transit of goods. Until we are notified otherwise, cross-border household goods transportation is "business as usual" and household movers are not being restricted at this time.

Reports from some of our members indicate that they've had no problems crossing the border. However, more and more US cities are going into lockdown, so make sure you work with your moving company to see how that affects your move. Also communicate with your mover regarding delivery times as there may be a delay due to demand.

If you are paying in $CAD, the final charge will be based on the current rate of the dollar, which is fluctuating at this time.

We are also hearing from members that the "rules" for cross-border movement of personal effects are changing daily. To date, all truck traffic and freight is still moving as it was. The exception is Canadians moving to the USA. If they are not already there and have a work permit or valid I-94, they may have an issue getting into the US under the personal restrictions of travel. Without the I-94 showing they are in the USA, moving companies cannot take the goods across. We will update this as we learn more.

Moving internationally? – Moving restrictions are in place.  As countries start restricting the movement of people, unique challenges are being experienced with their shipments.  If customers have not yet arrived, or are in self isolation, many of our members are offering bonded storage until the customers are able to clear customs and receive their shipments.  As well, many of our members are offering to keep the shipments in storage in Canada for the time being because the situation is so fluid and it is unknown what implications can be experienced at the destination. It is critical that customers keep in touch with their movers at this time.

Advice for Movers

*NEW* WorkSafeBC Addresses COVID-19

Although this is workplace safety information for British Columbia, you may find this of interest. Check with your local health authorities to see if there is similar documentation for your province.

CFIB Answers COVID-19 Questions

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is posting up-to-date information on the government relief measures and providing answers to common questions related to COVID-19 as it affects businesses. Here's the CFIB's latest COVID-19 newsletter.

Managing Temporary Lay-offs

Our industry is known historically for temporary lay-offs of staff. We’ve attached an article that may be of interest to you in regard to the extraordinary circumstances with COVID-19. We feel it is important to have open dialogue with your employees about the situation and make sure that they understand that you have every intention of hiring them back when the work ramps up again. Remind your employees that the COVAID package the government is rolling out (soon) is there to help them. We stress that you check your provincial employment standards act to confirm your actions. READ MORE.

Managing Cash Flow in a Crisis

Our friends at Deloitte have forwarded us this article with tips on how to manage cash flow during a crisis. While it may not all affect you, there certainly is some great information to consider as we plan for the next six months of viability.

Sharing insights and lessons learned from Deloitte’s Governance Practice in China and beyond

With apocalyptic news about the COVID-19 coming around seemingly every corner this week, the implications for business and the economy are profound. This short article, while aimed at Board of Directors, can easily be considered by your management team within your moving operation. Thanks for our friends at Deloitte for providing this succinct information.

Take action to ensure your moving company survives

We are no stranger to the concept of COVID-19 by now. However, it remains impossible to comprehend that we, the international moving industry, must brace ourselves for many months without revenue. I suppose, the only comfort is knowing that we're not alone. READ MORE.

Suggested SOP

CAM Member Firemen Movers Inc. shared their new protocols for standard operating procedures in light of the COVID-19 outbreak on all of their moves and customer contact as of Monday, March 16th. FMI are sharing their protocols with their clients to inform them on what they can expect to see in advance of the moves. We’d like to thank Board Member Lorne Babiuk for sharing this with us. While circumstances will be different for each moving company, we consider this a very proactive approach to protecting both staff and the public.

Suggested Hand Washing Kit for Truck Crews

Firemen Movers have also informed us that hand washing kits have been set up today for each of their trucks in case items can't be supplied at the moving sites. The kit includes:

  • one roll of paper towel
  • 10 micro fiber towels
  • one pump container of hand soap
  • one bar of hand soap.

Don't Be a Deer in the Headlights

Mark Oakeshott, a friend to our Association, has some measured and calm words with regards to the current crisis. Thanks to Mark for the wise words!

Don’t be a “deer in the headlights” during this crisis:

  1.  Reduce your overhead and fixed costs in incremental phases;
  2.  Take the blinkers off – you are a “transport company” – not just a moving company;
  3.  If you owe money, communicate and establish a payment plan;
  4.  Report outstanding invoices to FIDI, LACMA and IAM within the required time period to seek some protection;
  5.  Use the time to look at cloud-based technologies that will drive future efficiency;
  6.  Prepare for the rebound.

Come back stronger and leaner! #movers (Click here for Mark's LinkedIn post.)

Planning for Disruption During COVID-19

During an infectious disease outbreak, issues may come up about how to keep you company operational, and at the same time, how to protect your workers from the effects of illness. Your workplace likely will be affected by staff absenteeism, shortages of supplies, and decreased numbers of customers. Get prepared and READ MORE.

Common Commercial Coverages During COVID-19

Businesses may be wondering about potential coverage for losses related to COVID-19. Here is a general guide of how common commercial coverages may respond in the event of a claim related to COVID-19. Thanks to CAM member NFP Canada for providing this general information. If you have questions about your coverage or a potential claim, contact to your own insurance service-provider.

Advice for Consumers

Are movers open for business?

CAM does not keep a running tally of which movers are open for business and which are not. While most of our members are open, some have made the difficult decision to temporarily suspend their operations. To find a certified, professional mover near you, visit CAM's home page to access our mover search function.

I want to get a move estimate.

Many moving companies have virtual survey software and can provide an accurate move survey without having to come directly to your home.   Another option would be to have a Skype or Video Chat with your moving consultant.  You can also email or text photos to your moving consultant.

I am concerned about my safety on moving day and any possible exposure to illness. 

*NEW* Ask your moving consultant about the workers who’ll be moving you.  Who’ll be handling your goods?  Have they travelled recently?  Have they had any recent illness?  Your moving company will want to know the answers to these questions as well.  At the same time, you should advise your consultant before moving day if you or someone in the home has been ill or have travelled to any infected regions in the recent past.  The workers will have their own concerns as well and will be taking precautions. Here's a short video from CAM member El Cheapo Movers Ltd. about some mover precautions.

I want to help the workers to take normal health precautions.

Wearing masks and gloves may not be practical for the moving crews or the customers when in the home.  There simply aren’t enough to go around. There are steps you can take while the moving crew is at your home. Thanks to Larry Kruger at McWilliams Moving & Storage for this short video on preparing for your movers.

  • While it is our custom, do not shake hands with the moving crew.  A simple “hi” will do.  Consider having a dedicated washroom for them to wash their hands; make soap, sanitizer or wipes, and paper towels available to them. 
  • Have your own pen handy to sign any documents.
  • After the workers leave, wipe down surfaces they may have touched, like taps, door knobs and railings.  Then, wash your hands.
  • And, as always, inform the moving crew as soon as possible, if someone in your home is sick, has been exposed to someone who has COVID_19 or has been in quarantine.

I want to move internationally soon.

  • Make sure you understand what’s happening in the world and where current restrictions are.  Things are changing rapidly.  What was safe today, may not be tomorrow.
  • Be patient – if you were planning on moving in the next 4 weeks, don’t try to rush it, rather postpone it, if you are able to, until the situation is more stable.
  • Help your movers help you. Be informed and prepare yourself for possible delays, cancellations, last minute changes and adhoc processes.
  • Use a registered moving company! This gives you the best chance to successfully move.
  • Be considerate – if you’re frustrated, imagine how it is for the moving company. This is their livelihood so they will do everything in their power to make your move a success, even if it doesn’t go perfectly.

Public Health

*NEW*  We are checking the official public health and government agencies for any announcements and risk assessment. Here are links to provincial government COVID-19 websites.  

*NEW*  Here's a simple comparison of the coronavirus and other flu- and cold-like symptoms - but always rely on the advice of your medical practitioner.

symptoms

We recommend the following websites for the latest information on the coronavirus.

World Health Organization (WHO)

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)

The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) - here are some recommended best practices.

General priorities are as follows:

  • Practicing appropriate hygiene everywhere including in the office, washroom, warehouse, moving truck and customer’s home or worksite.
  • Frequently washing hands with soap & hot water.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Coughing or sneezing into your elbow or a tissue and dispose of tissues immediately in lined wastepaper receptacles.
  • Being sensitive when greeting people.  CAM and all customers will understand that a simple verbal greeting will suffice as opposed to a handshake when you arrive at the customer’s home or worksite.
  • Trying to maintain a 2-metre distance between you and others.
  • Workers with health issues should not perform in-person estimates or be sent out on moving jobs.
  • Promote a tap-and-pay option or pre-approved credit cards to limit any handling of cash.

The Canadian Association of Movers (CAM) is a non-profit trade association that does not dispense legal or business advice. Any ideas, concepts, or theories that are discussed should be reviewed by your own legal counsel. Issues related to the coronavirus are evolving rapidly and what may be accurate today could be outdated tomorrow.