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Downtown Winnipeg BIZ: Memo - The latest information for BIZ Members

Dear Downtown Winnipeg BIZ Member,

While the weather seems to have turned for the better and we can finally look forward to double-digit temperatures, we know the challenges you face as a business owner are not getting any easier. At the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ, spring is typically the time we get excited about all of our new summer programs. We dream about planting flowers, our spring clean-up, concert series, outdoor market and pop-up parks. But this year is different. We continue to shift our efforts to best support you and your immediate needs.

BIZ members shared with us that increased advocacy and more promotional and marketing support would help now and in the coming weeks and months. So that's what we're going to do. If you have any ideas you'd like to share with us please reach out. In the meantime, we've highlighted new government supports below along with some of the results from our recent BIZ member COVID survey that closed on Monday. Be well and I hope you can find some time to enjoy the sunshine!

Manitoba Gap Protection Program (MGPP) providing non-interest loans

The province will advance eligible small and medium-sized businesses a zero interest forgivable MGPP loan of 6,000 dollars. The loan will be forgiven on Dec. 31, 2020 if the business has not received any major non-repayable COVID-19 federal supports. Application information will be available soon.

To be eligible for the MGPP funding, a business must:

  • have been operational on March 20, 2020;
  • have temporarily ceased or curtailed operations as a result of a COVID-19 public health order and have been harmed by the health order;
  • be registered and in good standing with the Manitoba Business and Corporate Registry;
  • have not qualified for federal government COVID-19 grant support; and
  • have an email address and a bank account.

Province of Manitoba announces rent assistance with details to come

On April 21, the Manitoba Government announced the province will devote 16 million dollars to the federal rent-assistance program.

The Federal Government plans to introduce the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program that will provide loans and/or forgivable loans to commercial property owners, who will lower or forgo the rent of small businesses for the months of April (retroactive), May, and June.

More details on both initiatives will be available soon.

Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba Surplus Available to Eligible Employers

The Workers Compensation Board (WCB) is returning a 37 million dollar surplus to aid businesses. In May, eligible employers will receive a credit to their account based on 20 per cent of their 2019 premium program that will provide loans and/or forgivable loans to commercial property owners, who will lower or forgo the rent of small businesses for the months of April (retroactive), May, and June.

To be eligible to receive the surplus:

  • Employers must have fulfilled their payroll reporting responsibilities for 2019
  • Paid a WCB premium in 2019.

Employers can still report their 2019 payroll to receive the surplus distribution.

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Calculator for Employers available online

To help employers keep and re-hire workers during the pandemic, the Government of Canada is implementing the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS). CEWS provides a 75 per cent wage subsidy of up to 847 dollars per employee per week, to eligible employers, for up to 12 weeks, retroactive to March 15, 2020.

Employers can apply for CEWS as of April 27, 2020. A wage subsidy calculator is available on to determine how much your business is eligible for through the subsidy program.

COVID-19 survey results reveal financial support and advocacy are top needs

Thank you to everyone who filled out our survey regarding COVID-19. We understand this is an unprecedented time for businesses and we appreciate your feedback. We are still working through the survey results but for now, we wanted to share a snapshot of some key responses from the more than 100 members who filled out the survey.

Downtown Winnipeg BIZ Member COVID-19 Survey

Members told us that commercial rent forgiveness and direct financial support from the provincial government are the biggest priorities for their business right now. The Downtown Winnipeg BIZ, along with the International Downtown Association Canada, have been lobbying the federal government for more business support specific to cash infusions, commercial mortgage obligation assistance and commercial rent support. While new programs have been announced and we await details, we know you need more help. We will continue to work with partners and advocate on your behalf for immediate financial support from both the federal and provincial levels of government.

As we increase our advocacy efforts, we are also looking to increase our promotional and marketing supports for your business. This is another way you told us we can help!

Current promotional/marketing support available to you at no charge:

Please share your business updates and ideas you have with the Marketing, Events and Communications team: or 204-806-2506.

If you didn't get a chance to fill out the survey, contact us at or 204-958-4640 to let us know what your business needs.

Thank you,

Kate Fenske, CEO
Downtown Winnipeg BIZ